The Golden Fleet – owned by Prince Khalid Bin Sultan and comprising the 123m Golden Odyssey and three further superyachts – has relocated from its home port of Nice to Porto Montenegro. Captain Mike Hitch explains to The Superyacht Owner how “the biggest problem was that our new boat was too big for Nice. Boats are getting bigger, but in the traditional spots, there’s nowhere to go. Cannes is only suitable up to about 70m, Monaco is very difficult unless you’re a resident and Antibes is apparently going back under government control.”
France was not top of the list anyhow, as the owner had already travelled around the region extensively. Malta, Italy and Barcelona were all put forward as options but ultimately, Porto Montenegro felt like the best decision. “Many marinas are looking for client deposits before they start construction – so they have massive plans but little else. When we came to Porto Montenegro, they had probably already put in €50million worth of investment – all the infrastructure was here already, a five-star hotel was being built, half the marina was here – and since then it’s just expanded. There was much less risk.”
The owner’s love of nearby Croatia means the marina is also well-placed. Corfu – another owner favourite is just 21 hours away. And, of course, the home port is a destination in its own right. “The first thing that hits you is its natural beauty,” explains Hitch. “There are only 300,000 people living here, it’s a tiny country – it’s really the last undeveloped place in the Mediterranean. But they are on the list to join the EU and money is slowly starting to trickle in – there is currently a €12m house for sale across the bay!”
Porto Montenegro was recently sold by original owner Peter Munk to the Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund and there are still huge amounts of development going on. Hitch expects the additions of Portonovi and Lustica Bay to drive yet more traffic to the country, citing a lack of space in more traditional ports as another driving force. For the Golden Fleet, Hitch believes they secured a ‘hell of a deal’ – buying five berths with 30 year leases, an apartment and a storage for far less than it would have cost elsewhere. Further benefits include duty free fuel, an enormous saving on a boat the size of Golden Odyssey. “You have to pay customs on anything that comes in of course, but it’s still a huge saving,” adds Hitch.