The Whole Enchilada
On a rainy Friday morning the five star Hilton Crna Gora Hotel in Podgorica is all abuzz. Six foot plus male and female bodyguards are lingering in the lobby, cameramen are mingling with journalists in the corridor, before hey presto a cavalcade of black Mercedes pulls up under the porte-cochère. Glamour Montenegrin style. Turns out the Presidents of the countries that made up former Yugoslavia are at the Hilton for a press conference. Casual.
“Podgorica means ‘Under the Hill’ in English,” explains Adrijana Husić, Marketing and Communications Manager of Portonovi, a luxury coastal Montenegrin resort. “The capital lies on five rivers. In summer it can reach 45 degrees centigrade. Podgorica is in central Montenegro away from the sea. All the Government municipal and administration work is here. All the media are basically located here. The focal point of the Old Town is the 18th century clock tower. Behind the clock tower is Pod Volat grill, a popular meeting place for politicians. There are two mosques in the Old Town.” The historic houses are a mix of single and double height villas, many surrounded by head height trellis-like wire netting. Odd.
It’s a land of figs and honey. Montenegrins love to eat and who could blame them with such divine natural resources? It’s easy to mistake a starter for a main course when actually it’s an oversized amuse bouche. And why have one pudding when you can try a few? In Porto restaurant on Stanka Dragojevica, the clubby part of town, salt baked fish is cooked on an open fire in front of guests. What a beguiling spectacle. Unusual.
Ahmet Erentok, Chairman of Azmont Investments who are funding Portonovi, relates, “I have many houses and satellite homes throughout the world. I have a foundation in Washington. But this the place where I am most comfortable. I wake up to a view of the Adriatic from my bedroom. You can swim at 9am and then go skiing!” Pavle Radulović, Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, the largest Government department, concludes, “Montenegro is like a New Zealand 2.5 hours from London.” Different.