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Checking in: Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort in Montenegro

Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay view of the resort

Our Editor spent an extended weekend at Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort – a beachfront resort surrounded by mountains in a fjord-like location by the Adriatic Sea in Southern Montenegro. Kotor Bay – or Boka Bay as called locally, is a jaw-droppingly beautiful coastal gem and largely unknow outside the region which under the UNESCO World Heritage protection for its rich history dating back to Venetian time. The nearby town of Kotor has even been named amongst 20 best places to visit according to Forbes, and is a great example of the era’s architecture. Other notable places nearby are the Old Lady of the Rocks church from 1450s and just across the bay is the old town of Perast.  

The resort has long been a wellness destination thanks to the unique combination of mountain and sea air known for its healing qualities, especially for respiratory health. The Hyatt Regency resort also has a doctor led wellness centre and a spa – see full details further down the article.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation took over the Kotor Bay resort in 2020 and welcomed its first guests in June this year after a total transformation and expansion, overseen by their experienced Resort Manager Larisa Jovanovich. We arrived in early October, just as the tourist season was nearing its end and the busy meetings and events season was getting under way.

What was our stay like?

Upon arrival, after a scenic 30 minute drive from Tivat airport, we were delighted to meet Ms Javonovich who was able to join us for lunch and to show us around parts of hotel. I had been looking forward to meeting her, especially as she is a female leader at a helm of a major international hotel in what’s still a very male environment, and even more so in the Balkans. She is clearly highly respected by her colleagues, and I admired her friendly and encouraging rapport with the staff. Being able to spend some time with this very busy and important lady was much appreciated. It was great to learn about the development that the resort had undergone and what the hotel can offer for both private guests and for businesses in particular. There is much on offer for event organisers, PAs and EAs looking for a destination in which to host an unforgettable event or an executive retreat, and without leaving Europe.

After a quick tour of the Vrmac Health & Wellbeing Retreat De’MAR (see full details of this amazing wellness centre further down) we headed to the beachfront Lighthouse Restaurant for lunch. It’s right next to the hotel’s private marina where guests can arrive by boat or jump onboard a private boat tour right at the hotel.

What was the food like?

The Lighthouse Restaurant specialises in Mediterranean cuisine and is located in a most idyllic setting by the sea. We chose a table on the large terrace, keeping cool under a tree on this unseasonably warm day – it was still +28 degrees. The menu boasts a great selection of fish and seafood as you’d expect but meat eaters won’t go hungry either. We chose a selection of starters to share; smoked salmon and prawn pates as well as incredibly fresh and delicate tuna carpaccio and the best grilled octopus salad I’ve tasted. The main course was an impressive salt baked sea bass served whole and so worth the extra 10 minute wait. It was simply delicious.

Take note of Montenegro wines

It’s worth giving local wines a try when in Montenegro. There is a long-established culture of winemaking, even older than in France and Italy, and several wine regions. Perhaps the best know is Crmnica thanks to its quality red wines like Vranac, an indigenous grape to Montenegro. Vranac reds are available in the UK, and in over 40 other countries thanks to the largest producer Plantaze carving a great export market for its delicious reds. The country’s largest lake, Lake Skdar, has a great number of small wineries, and the coastal vineyards produce more white varieties such as the delicious Chardonnay we enjoyed with lunch. Why not combine your event with a wine tasting or even a visit to a vineyard?

Great restaurants to choose from at Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay

The hotel also has another two restaurants and a piano bar, and will be opening a rooftop restaurant offering Balkan fine-dining with a modern twist soon. Olé! is a more casual South American style beach front restaurant and bar, great for a quick lunch when you want a break from your sun lounger, or a fantastic cocktail or two before or after dinner. It’s an open-air setting, perfect for romantic evenings right by the sea. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner of both fish and beef tacos. There are also European dishes such as fresh burrata and other salads.

The Blue Restaurant is the main restaurant, with entertainment during the high season. It also serves an extensive breakfast buffet with a hot and cold food, whether you fancy a full English or a healthy muesli with fresh fruit and berries it’s all on offer. You can also order ala carte menu options such as poached eggs and smoked salmon on sourdough, omelettes and American pancakes to name a few.

We didn’t dine at the Blue Restaurant, not did we take advantage of enjoying pre-dinner drinks at the piano bar simply as we run out of evenings to fit everything in. That will have to wait until next time.

The VRMAC Health & Wellbeing Retreat de MAR

The VRMAC retreat’s philosophy is very holistic, it’s a place for breathing in the life energy and tranquility at the same time. Kotor Bay is a unique place where the sea and the steep mountains surrounding the bay live in synergy creating air that’s rich in natural aerosols. The air and its nurturing effect is very much part of the Vrmac’s treatments.

Run by Dr Delić Marina, a Physiatrist and Pulmonologist, the retreat offers bespoke programmes for rehabilitation, weight loss, skin, respiratory, stress and cardiovascular needs as well as preventative therapies. Respiratory revitalisation is their signature product, it also helps post-covid lung healing and asthma.

Guests can rest assured that their treatment plans are medically best suited to their needs with Dr Delić Marina’s assessment and the care by an on-site nurse during their stay.

The programmes are based on adequate physical activity and a healthy diet in the clean environment, combined with treatments that are best suited to you. These can include highly effective detox treatments, natural immunity boosting, longevity and regeneration, respiratory revitalisation, anti-stress and also anti-aging beauty treatments. This sounds like a perfect offering for any stressed-our Executive or Assistant don’t you think?

As a hotel guest you can also book any single treatment directly with Vrmac, it is not only for guests undertaking a treatment programme.

Aesthetic and other anti-aging treatments treatments are also very popular with guests and including fillers, Botox, mesotherapy and bio-stimulation. For an instant brightening and hydrating boost, I’d highly recommend the HydraFacial I enjoyed by one of the Vrmac’s experienced and knowledgeable beauty therapists. The facial was deep cleansing and super hydrating, incorporating the use of ultrasound, microdermabrasion, wonderful vitamin serums and masks using clinical grade Aria products from Serbia.

Luxury Soul Spa

There is also a luxury spa on site, operated by Soul Spa. I had the most wonderful Turkish hammam experience – a must-try on your visit! (And it’s the only Turkish hammam in Montenegro). The spa also offers an indoor pool with great sea and mountain views, a sauna and a steam room, plus the hotel has a well-equipped gym as you’d expect from a resort of this calibre.

The daily treatments are available for all hotel guests and include: Physical therapies (kinesy, hydro, electro, magneto, lasero, ultrasound, shock way and presso therapy).

Aesthetic and other anti-aging treatments treatments are also very popular with guests and including fillers, Botox, mesotherapy and bio-stimulation. For an instant brightening and hydrating boost, I’d highly recommend the HydraFacial I enjoyed by one of the Vrmac’s experienced and knowledgeable beauty therapists. The facial was deep cleansing and super hydrating, incorporating the use of ultrasound, microdermabrasion, wonderful vitamin serums and masks using clinical grade Aria products from Serbia.

What was our room like?

We stayed at a King Bed Pool View Premium room, which was really a suite with a living room with a dining table and kitchenette. The large 35sq m (376 sq ft) is great for families and also for a catching up with work with a couple of colleagues in total privacy. I liked the light colours and contemporary design, the very comfortable king-size bed, the sofa area, as well as a modern bathroom with walk-in shower. It also comes with a good size balcony overlooking the pool area and you can still catch a view of the bay and the mountains.

The capacity of the hotel is 205 guestrooms which is great for larger conferences and corporate retreats. There are also 21 Premium Apartments, 26 Deluxe Departments as well as beachfront apartments with one, two, three or four bedrooms.

The European shortage of hospitality staff also affects Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort and they have therefore recruited an incredibly international pool of seasonal workers, even from as far as from Nepal and Mexico. The different nationalities and cultures enrich the service and the atmosphere of the hotel enormously making it feel very inclusive and welcoming.

Meetings and Events spaces

I was also able to have a quick tour of the meetings and events spaces, with the Events Manager Lidija Bozovic and Director of Marketing Tamara Radisic as my expert guides. As you’d expect from such a high-end venue the rooms were beautiful, light and equipped with the latest audio visual tech, with a tech team available to help you create a fantastic style event. Currently the largest conference room sits around 130 people but work to build a new much larger space is about to start and will be completed by the autumn of 2024.

A unique selling point for all the event spaces is that delegates have easy access to the pool area which can host fantastic drinks receptions and even serve as break areas. There are two pools and pool bars as well. You can incorporate the retreat feel and holiday vibe of this gorgeous venue into your event – its sure to be a great add-on to boost delegate experience.

It’s easy to add excursions and activities to your retreat. We had a pleasure of taking a boat trip, straight from the hotel’s private marina, that took us to a few of the nearby attractions such as the the 15th century The Lady on the Rock Church island, a WW II submarine cave used by film crews including James Bond films, the Blue Lagoon where you can even jump off the boat to enjoy a quick swim in the incredibly blue water.

We ended our boat tour in Porto Montenegro in Tivat – also knows as Monaco of Kotor Bay. It’s much more than home to super yachts and top designer boutiques of the likes of Dior, Balenciaga, Gucci, Louis Vuitton to name but a few. The newly build area boasts luxury apartments, luxury hotels and fantastic restaurants and bars. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Marea, overlooking the marina and serving the best of the sea, including great sushi. Although specialising in seafood meat dishes are also highly recommended.

Built on the site of a former ship yard it has kept some of the old industrial charm on the outskirts of the area where outdoor events are popular during the summer. You can catch concerts or even fashion shows.

How to get to Kotor Bay from London

Flights from London and many other European cities are frequent to nearby Tivat airport, a scenic 30 minute drive away, but are operated only during the summer season, May until late October. Our EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Tivat took about two and a half hours. There are more options and winter flights if you fly to larger airports of Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro) three hours away, or Dubrovnic in Croatia, just across the border, a little closer with less than two hours’ drive away.

About Montenegro

Montenegro has a long and rich history. It was part of the Republic of Venice from the Middle Ages until the late 18th century hence its Italian name. The beautiful Venetian style architecture is evident in the old coastal towns. For most of the 20th century Montenegro was part of the former Yugoslavia and after the breakup of the state formed a federal union with Serbia. The two countries have strong and friendly ties still and share the same language – in fact Croatian and Albanian languages are similar too making it easy for the neighbouring countries to share commercial ties and the movement of labour is fluid. Montenegro is now an independent country, since 2006, and a Nato member since 2017, it is in negotiations with the EU and is widely considered as a strong candidate for a membership in 2025. It’s in the Eurozone and a good value destination for corporate events as well as for holiday makers.