How Porto Montenegro, with the addition of Adriatic 42, became a case study in placemaking for superyachts…
Following the announcement of the joint venture between Porto Montenegro and Drydocks World Dubai, we explore how Porto Montenegro and Montenegro more broadly can serve as a great example of how to develop a year-round superyacht location.
“I have been here almost 15 years to the day and one of the first things I did when I arrived was look at the old arsenal shipyard base that Porto Montenegro now occupies and then look at Adriatic Shipyards in Bijela,” starts Tony Browne, marina director of Porto Montenegro. “The original vision for Porto Montenegro was to have shipyard facilities, but not on site. Bijela Shipyard was a facility that hadn’t recovered from the economic sanctions imposed during the Balkan conflict in the 90s and it had sufficient shipyard capabilities for a mixed-use site with both a marina and a shipyard, but we decided it was important to create a superyacht luxury destination first (Porto Montenegro), with a complimentary shipyard facility off-site (Adriatic 42).”
As Browne explains, the plans for Adriatic 42 have been in the making for some time, with the tipping point coming when Porto Montenegro, in a joint venture with Drydocks World Dubai, was able to successfully tender for the facility itself. The resultant joint venture is a 50:50 partnership that leans on Porto Montenegro’s local expertise and relationships with the Montenegrin government and Drydocks World Dubai’s capabilities when it comes to shipyard activity. According to Porto Montenegro, the aim is quite simply to turn Adriatic 42 into a world leader for superyacht refit and maintenance activities.
The development of the facility involves the design and construction of new infrastructure and upgrading of existing facilities. Under the terms of the concession, Adriatic Marinas will invest approximately €20million over the first three years. On completion of an assessment, phase one of the development will include the testing of all existing infrastructure, integrity analysis, work on anchor points for the floating dock, construction of a travel hoist jetty, rehabilitation of the south jetty and refurbishment of the existing superstructure. On completion, Adriatic 42 will have a lifting capacity of 10000 tonnes, a 180m floating drydock and 720 tonnes travel lift, as well as the various other complimentary amenities and facilities required.
“The new project speaks directly to the industry itself and the trends that are taking place. The Adriatic is opening up, 15 years ago Montenegro was considered off the beaten track by the superyacht community and now it has become a regular cruising ground for most superyachts,” continues Browne. “As the yachts have become bigger and communications technology has improved, owners and charter guests have been able to spend more time onboard and become more adventurous. Furthermore, with order books full, marina capacity in short supply within the traditional hubs (especially for the largest superyachts), Montenegro is perfectly placed to capitalise on this. Having a shipyard facility that can cater to the market’s largest superyachts is vital to this strategy.”
Developing superyacht marina facilities in isolation can be successful, provided the region in question is only hoping to be a cruising destination, not a year-round hub. It is clear from the developments that have been undertaken in Montenegro that the plan is to not only turn the region into the legitimate cruising alternative that it has already become but to turn it into a superyachting centre of excellence. For superyachting to become the truly global market that it claims to be, the development of a premium service network is vital, and Montenegro is playing a key role in this development, especially in light of the fleet trends that Browne has already highlighted.
“For us, it was a case of building the marina and the supporting infrastructure and they will come, which has worked to a degree. However, you can’t just rely on that. Our marketing over the years has been noisy and there was already some underpinning industries and service providers in place,” explains Browne. “Importantly, as Montenegro has grown in popularity an increasingly large number of established businesses and service providers from Europe have engaged in the ecosystem and that is going to be very important for Adriatic 42. Building the infrastructure is the easiest part, but building the ambience and the activity around a location is far harder.”
According to Browne, Montenegro is at a slight advantage in terms of building its superyacht community because of how culturally rich and enjoyable Montenegro is of its own accord. However, he also stresses how important the creation of an engaging multi-faceted events programme is that targets all necessary stakeholders from owners (both superyacht and property) and guests, to crew and the general tourism market.
“We have an events strategy that targets all the various market segments, some we keep and some we don’t, but they range from international fashion festivals, rock concerts, cricket, wine, polo, winter sports events and everything in between,” says Browne. “This strategy is further supported by creating the necessary facilities to cater to all segments, such as a complimentary crew club.”
In only 15 years Montenegro has come a long way in terms of what it can offer the superyacht market and while it is now an established yachting location, it remains at the beginning of the journey. Upon completion of Adriatic 42, owners of the largest superyachts will have an alternative service facility in close proximity to one of the world’s most renowned superyacht marinas. While undoubtedly aided by Montenegro’s location and culture, Porto Montenegro and latterly Adriatic 42 provide an interesting case study for placemaking within the superyacht market.
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