Move aside Croatia, Montenegro is the hot new summer holiday destination
Since lockdown began, people have been predicting that Covid-19 will reshape travel for good. Now it’s starting. First out of the blocks is One&Only. The upscale hotel brand is launching two new hotels in Montenegro, including a new health and fitness focused hotel brand to tap into our new-found concern for health.
Philippe Zuber, chief executive of Kerzner International, parent company of the One&Only and Atlantis brands, revealed details exclusively to Telegraph Travel. “After a year in which we’ve all thought more than ever about our health, people are really into their own body,” he said. “They have realised that they will be in a better position for life and to fight against any infection if they are fit.”
Most hotel brands have been increasing and improving their sports and wellness offering, from Westin which lends travelers running kit, to Aman which promises extreme sports. Zuber insists his new brand, called Siro (pronounced Sigh-row), will “take things to the next level”.
Every element of a Siro property will be designed with health and fitness in mind. The rooms will feature “an amazing spa shower where you can apply whatever pressure and temperature you need to invigorate yourself before exercise or recuperate afterwards.” Air filters, black-out blinds, sound-proofing and stickers to hide the annoying standby lights on TV screens, will promote sleep. “I hate the light on the TV!” Zuber laughed. There will be no unhealthy snacks in the mini bar.
Each property will have a vast gym “minimum 1,000 square metres”, and a pool where a dedicated trainer will work on the goals you’ve let him or her know you want to reach when you booked. If you’re lucky, you’ll be working out with one of the new brand’s star athletes. First to join is Adam Peaty, who won the gold medal in the 100-metre breaststroke at the 2016 Olympics and is favourite to win Olympic gold again later this year in Tokyo.
“We will work with athletes with personality and amazing enthusiasm for what we are doing,” said Zuber. “Now it’s the time of Adam. It is his space. And after a certain period of time, we’ll introduce female athletes.” Even if Peaty or future hires are not on property when you visit, Zuber says you will be doing regimes put together by them.
If the sport or exercise you want in the gym is not available in house, you can head outside or to local sports venues. “Cycling, running or tennis – my favourite, with a coach or hitting partner – is easy. But if you prefer something more niche, such as fencing, we can sort that, too,” he said.
The sports ethos extends to the spa or Recovery Lab as it will be called. Infra-red saunas and cryotherapy – freezing your butt off – will be available in the vast recovery area. The only massage available will be sports massage. “You won’t get soft touch or be able to choose fragrant oil,” said Zuber. But he will take care not to make the experience so hardcore that it puts off some guests. “We will cater for every fitness level. We will also have plenty of yoga […] as well as emphasis on overall wellness and meditation.”
Guests will be able to choose their diet – carb heavy, protein heavy, raw or, well, normal. “We do not want to be medical, and we do not want to impose anything,” Zuber said.
Siros won’t be resorts. They will be in towns and cities. The first in Montenegro will open in Boka Bay in 2023, just along the coast from the One&Only Portonovi, which opens in April, and is the first European outpost of the brand.
It has been chosen because the good weather offers outdoor exercise all year round. The opening is a further sign that Montenegro is developing into a new upscale short haul destination. Aman blazed a trail with the opening of Sveti Stefan in a 15th-century island fortress on an 80-acre coastal estate a decade ago. Tivat airport is becoming a popular destination for private jets.
Zuber thinks more urban business and leisure travellers will want to build exercise, fitness and health into their schedule and be able to pick up where they left off on their last Siro visit. Siro will offer digital classes and routines to guests when they are not travelling, to tap into the Peloton generation.
Zuber is not just relying on the Covid effect to get heads in beds. The pandemic is accelerating trends that were already working in favour of Siro. The wellness tourism market grew from $563bn to $639bn, or 6.5 per cent annually between 2015 and 2017 – more than twice as fast as the growth of tourism overall, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). By 2022, GWI predicts the market will reach $919bn – representing 18 per cent of all global tourism.
Luckily since Zuber is French the last question is a very easy one. Can I have a glass of wine after my workout? “There will be an amazing bar which will not just have those low calorie cocktails, just good cocktails. If you have done your sports, you know exactly the level of pleasure that you can have. Who knows? One bottle of Burgundy might not be enough.”