When I first saw the 1.1 billion euro Lustica Bay project back in February this year, I was both blown away and extremely skeptical. Blow away because after 16 years of living in Croatia, it was incredible to see a major foreign tourism investment actually happening. Skeptical because the first of seven hotels, The Chedi, was set to open its doors in July, just five months later. In any normal country, this would have been almost impossible, but this was the Balkans, baby, where bureaucracy and unreliability are your biggest partners. But I was more blown away than skeptical, as you can read in the report I wrote at the time - Lessons from Montenegro: Why Lustica Bay Will Never Happen in Croatia.
And yet, here we are, just five months later, and The Chedi opened its doors this morning in July 2018, as promised. How to introduce The Chedi to you? Perhaps as any new visitor would see it. Guests can drive to reception, where the valet parking service is waiting to park your car, but a far more romantic way to arrive in my view is via the omnipresent golf cart buggies. Simply park your car in the car park at the top and wait for the buggy to take you to your desired location - hotel, marina village of residence. And while you wait (although service is very attentive and the wait will not be long, if at all), take in the first of the Lustica views.
The complementary and eco-friendly transfer service connects the outside world with The Chedi, because once you are on location, the rest of the world is far, far away. A true natural paradise which meets style and Montenegrin stone.
The Chedi installed the first ever Tesla destination chargers in Montenegro earlier this month, and the green revolution has been extended to its buggy fleet.
And the Tesla chargers have already produced some juice for real customers, with the co-director of the Nikola Tesla EV Rally at The Chedi a few days ago, testing the system. The Nikola Tesla EV Rally 2019 is due to come to Montenegro for the first time.
The Chedi and residences from the car park.
Now take a tour down to the hotel with the electric buggy service.
First view of the beach.
Unlike the other luxury resort close by, Porto Montenegro, The Chedi has its own beach within metres of the hotel. Total private, totally tranquil. While others may be stuck in traffic, the beauty of Lustica Bay is that is it a resort of a staggering 7 million m2, so the whole concept is controlled and designed to suit the needs of its guests.
The first morning at The Chedi beach, around 08:45. Divine.
Come on in, the water's lovely.
One of the things that has really struck me about Lustica Bay has been the attention paid to the landscaping. With a July opening, the pressure must have been on to open the doors as soon as possible, but the landscaping has been outstandingly done and really complements the resort.
Time for more a morning dip at one of the residences which surround the hotel.
My golf buggy ride was over - Welcome to The Chedi! I love the logo, simply and stylish.
All brand new, but Montenegrin stone which will weather well. The complex has a very authentic feel.
Quality stone with a high-quality finish at every turn.
Time to go inside - take a tour of reception and the bar in the video above.
There is a veyr multi-national feel to the staff, and one thing I have noticed during my 4 visits to Lustica over the last few months is the great team spirit, which is so important to deliver guest satisfaction. There is a real feeling that they are involved in an incredible project, and they all seem to be playing their part in making it happen. It is refreshing to see.
That signage again. Simple, yet stylish.
A quick look at the spa area - the reception.
And one of several pools at The Chedi, and a great chill zone before or after your massage.
Today is day one, and it will not be long before the marina will be filling up.
The water in the marina is getting clearer each day as the effects of the building dissipate. And the fish are loving it.
The view back to the resort from the end of the pontoon.
With a close up of The Chedi.
There is more to The Chedi than just the hotel, and work is ongoing at several additional facilities, and some are already open, such as restaurant Bistro 21.
A look inside.
The Chedi, too, will be offering fine dining of course. The first morning at The Spot.
And chefs being put through their paces on a first day in the kitchen.
As with everywhere at The Chedi, the water is not far away, and there is a generous outdoor dining space.
That signage again.
I didn't get to see the rooms (but check out this official 3D tour of one of the rooms), but the corridors were good enough for me. Gorgeous place, and a great addition not only to tourism in Montenegro, but to the entire region.