I last stayed at Sveti Stefan back in 1994. Sveti Stefan is a picturesque island about 100 metres off the coast of Montenegro. The island is connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus – just about wide enough for a small car, although cars can’t drive onto the island.
Formerly a fishing village, the island became a hotel in the 1960s (with cottages converted to hotel rooms/bungalows), under the ownership of the Radenović family. During its heyday, Sveti Stefan was frequented by the rich and famous including Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Princess Margaret, Carlo Ponti, Ingemar Stenmark and Kirk Douglas.
When we stayed in 2004, the hotel was past its best. The island was still beautiful, but the cottages were quite basic. I remember our room had a giant water boiler for hot water that made noises like it might explode. There were also several wasps nests in the roofs of other cottages and the wasps were the number one reason I never returned.
The restaurant included a panoramic terrace, with fantastic views over the sea. Breakfast would have been a delight had it not been for the swarms of wasps that plagued our plates.
The restaurant service wasn’t bad, but partly due to the cost, partly quality and also the wasps, we preferred to cross the isthmus and have dinner at a beachfront restaurant close to the entrance. I’m not sure if that is still there.
The beaches, either side of the isthmus, were open to the public, as was the island for a few Euros fee.
The old charm of the island was proposed to be recreated by the Government of Montenegro. Aman resorts won an international tender in 2007. The refurbished, now significantly more expensive, resort was completed in 2009 and is now called Aman Sveti Stefan.
The beaches, either side of the isthmus, are now closed to the public, as is the island.
So why am I writing about this hotel ten years after I stayed there? Well, apart from seeing how times I could get the word ‘isthmus’ into a review, I wondered whether Aman resorts had cured the wasp problem. I searched trip advisor for Sveti Stefan and wasp and found this review. Below is an extract that deals with wasps:
— Wasps: They have a very serious wasp problem. Last year, we understand they were around all summer. This year they came out just at the end of July. Normally, they are apparently around for about a month. The resort has beautiful outdoor dining, but for breakfast and lunch, expect to be descended upon by wasps if you coincide with their season. They don’t seem to be aggressive with people, but they are aggressive with your food. One of the staff told us that they will sting if you try to compete too much re your food, so we should just leave them be. They burn coffee grounds to ward them off, which seems to be a hit-or-miss solution. To avoid them, we resorted to taking our breakfast inside the main dining room. For lunch, we found that the Olive Tree (perhaps because of the outdoor grill) and the tables in the lower terrace by the main pool attracted relatively fewer wasps.
I’m disappointed that despite the restoration, Aman haven’t managed to sort out the wasp issue. But with rooms/cottages ranging from EUR 700 – 1300 per night, you may console yourself that money can’t buy everything!