Review: The Chedi Luštica Bay, Montenegro | Sleeper Magazine
Published by Sleeper Magazine, September 2018.
Montenegro is having a moment. Not a stamp-your-feet like a toddler mid-rage kind of moment, but rather a monumentally gorgeous coming of age. Slowly, surely, and with increased assuredness, it’s stepping out from the shadow caused by its separation from Serbia in 2006, finally forging its own path. Unsurprisingly, people are taking note. Enticed by its stretches of untouched coastline, staggering array of indescribable blues and warm hospitality of its people, investors from around the globe are suddenly turning their eye towards this diminutive Balkan nation, the General Hotel Management Ltd among them. In fact, such is the resounding confidence in this region that last month, the group opened an acclaimed Chedi venue there - only its second ever European outing.
The Chedi Luštica Bay is a key proponent of the brand new Luštica Bay development. At the centre of a staggeringly large project that in the coming years will become a fully functioning town with restaurants, bars, a school, medical facilities, and housing for locals, the hotel has been designed to attract deep-pocketed, yacht-owning tourists - a shiny jewel in the crown of a project that will benefit both residents and tourists. A five-star resort that takes pride of place in the marina, it evokes all the glitz, glamour and underlying serenity that in the past you’d be wont to relate to the Algarve, say, or maybe even the south of France.
That’s no surprise from a brand like Chedi. Famed purveyors of luxury while remaining standard-bearers for integrated, localised living, the word ‘chedi’ itself refers to a setting where one is able to find peace, and that you will find in abundance at the Chedi Luštica Bay, despite the leaning towards understated opulence. Because while there may be lavish touches simmering beneath the surface here, this is a hotel that’s been designed to fit snugly among the elements, a contemporary re-imagination of Montenegro’s rich and varied heritage.
“Our brief was to create an atmosphere that ensured guests felt relaxed as soon as they arrived,” explains lead designer Gauthier Guillaume of GG & Grace, the design team behind the project. “But respecting the natural environment, tradition and history of the country were also at the core of our objectives - we carefully studied local influences and prudently integrated them in subtle ways to the design.” Indeed, there are echoes of typical, craggy coastline everywhere you look at The Chedi, with natural wood features, cerulean soft furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows to channel the kaleidoscopic outside blues all combine to evoke a sense of Montenegrin coastal living.
The lobby, for instance, is awash with seaside references. Fabrics come in shades of sand and fawn with a soft but textured finish, furnishings from brands including SNS Group, Riva 1920 and Bontempi sing with hints of wind-blasted wood, and azure-hued hanging glass installations from Atelier Mel hang languidly above the reception desk, waiting patiently to catch a blast of that quintessential sea breeze. “The Chedi has a harmonious relationship with the landscape and a strong connection to the sea,” adds Guilliame. “The palette was designed so the senses relaxed and drifted off with the coastal surroundings.”
This dreamy, salt-kissed theme spreads throughout the hotel’s 111 rooms (of which 60 are condos). Splashes of aquamarine and pastel shades illuminate a predominantly subtle palette in the bedroom, while in the bathroom it’s all granular ceramic tiles, clean-lined, grey-flecked marble and luxurious bathtubs. Suites come with kitchenettes and a seating area - some have balconies overlooking the gently lapping bay below; others, mountain views. They’re marvels of indoor-outdoor living - spaces in which nature is seamlessly reflected in the composition while continuing to paint its own constantly evolving canvas just beyond the window.
This synchronised relationship between building and environment was mirrored in the Chedi’s construction, which included multiple green methods and energy saving technologies to ensure it - along with all Luštica Bay buildings - would slash the current regional energy consumption by a third. “The hotel was designed to fit as much as possible among existing terrain conditions,” explains senior construction manager, Spomenka Sotra. “But in addition, the hotel’s southern orientation, use of renewable green energy, natural ventilation, centrally maintained waste and sewage, LPG use and LED lighting all help to keep our carbon footprint to a bare minimum.”
An innovative use of outdoor space was also employed. “The site feels inviting,” adds Spomenka. “We’ve maximised our use of patios, decks and natural clearings so we need less indoor square footage - and that in turn means you get all the psychological and physical benefits of being outdoors.” That’s true - you certainly feel the essence of this ethos while sloshing around in the marina-facing infinity pool, and while dining on the one of the hotel’s two light-filled restaurants - The Restaurant, with its all-day Mediterranean fare, and The Spot, which focuses on Asian cuisine served on an alfresco terrace that spills out onto the bustling promenade.
And there are myriad other ways to slip wholeheartedly into the relaxed, Montenegrin way of life. The Lobby Bar - complete with its very own spitting, roaring fire pit for the colder winter months, is a great place for a drink before hitting the promenade. The Rock Beach Bar, built on the hotel’s specially made stretch of beach just a short walk from the hotel, is the perfect spot to cool down in the searing midday heat, and the Chedi Spa offers deeply relaxing treatments in a setting characterised by warm wood and ceramic walls, textured flooring, a gentle colour palette and sleek, sculptural furniture that reflects natural forms and shapes.
It’s rare to see a new hotel development living in such harmony with its surroundings, but at the red-topped Chedi Luštica Bay, they’ve pulled it off with ease, creating a space that serenades guests with the sweet song of Montenegro. The trick here is that it’s slick and luxurious enough to make them stick around, while still hinting quietly at the magic that lies beyond. Relax and recuperate here, it whispers, then go forth and discover a country on the cusp of greatness.