Balkan Bliss

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A dazzling seaside spa in Montenegro seduces spa-goers with its spectacular setting and herb-based treatments.

Considered by some to be a hidden gem in the Mediterranean, Montenegro captivates visitors with its snow-capped mountains, ancient forests, and breathtaking beaches. The island of Sveti Stefan, home to a cluster of stone cottages and churches for more than 600 years, has been transformed and now serves as the idyllic setting for the Aman Sveti Stefan. Across the bay stands Villa Miločer, the resort’s stately stone mansion, and the stand-alone Aman Spa. 

An enticing retreat for sophisticated spa-goers, the four-treatment-room spa benefits from its close proximity to the beautiful and dramatic coastline of the Adriatic Sea. “We draw from our surrounding nature and incorporate it into our spa,” says spa director Melany Martinez Thomas. “The natural light and environment can be enjoyed in every space, from the treatment rooms to the Pilates studio and gym.” For guests who want to enjoy a treatment on the island, there are also six Spa Cottages in which a range of massage and body treatments are available. The spa also features a 24-meter heated indoor pool that extends outdoors for another eight meters, allowing guests to enjoy the lovely locale.

According to Thomas, in addition to the spa’s spectacular setting, it’s the spa’s concept that makes it truly stand out. “We draw from the local tradition of harvesting herbs—there are more than 650 medicinal herbs in Montenegro—and incorporate these into our treatments in synergy with our own line of Aman products, which in turn are also highly therapeutic due to the quality of their ingredients,” says Thomas. In fact, the spa relies on local herbalist, Branislav Popovic, a third-generation phytotherapist, to provide the spa with herbs collected from the mountains of Durmitor and Lovcen. “It is the Montenegrin love for nature and herbal tradition that has inspired us,” says Thomas.

One of the spa’s most popular treatments is the signature Adriatic Rejuvenation ($315, 2 hours), which involves an exfoliation with mint-infused olive oil, raw sugar, and wild honey to cleanse the skin; an oat milk soak to hydrate; and an aromatherapy-based massage using lavender and palmarosa to calm the nervous system. Not impressed by ostentatious treatments, the well-traveled and spa-savvy guests prefer authentic and personalized services, notes Thomas. “Most want to decompress from their busy lives and enjoy the traditions of Montenegro,” she says.

In creating the menu, the goal was to impart emotional balance through aromatherapy; physical balance through fitness, Pilates, yoga, and therapeutic massages; and structural balance through treatments provided by in-house and visiting specialists. “We aim to create a balanced offering of wellbeing by providing an integrated approach between fitness and spa treatments,” says Thomas. “Our fitness experts communicate and provide feedback to the therapists and vice-versa so guests can leave with tangible results.”

For the future, Thomas and her staff are looking into creating retreats that will further entice guests to visit. In addition, they plan to promote the spa’s integrated approach to health by inviting internationally recognized experts to the spa to complement the in-house practitioners. According to Thomas, the greatest challenge is in keeping things simple yet still offering extraordinary service. Fortunately, there is also inspiration to be found in meeting such challenges and providing spa-goers with a truly unique experience.

Aman Spa (Sveti Stefan, Montenegro)

Owner: Adriatic Properties

Spa Director: Melany Martinez Thomas

Corporate Spa Director for AmanResorts: Greg Payne

Opened: May 2014

CLIENT BASE

50% female

50% male

MOST REPRESENTED COUNTRIES

U.S., Russia, UK

SPACE

17,000 square feet; 4 treatment rooms

PRODUCT LINES

Aman Spa, Davines, OPI

EQUIPMENT

Balanced Body, Caldera Spas, Manduka, Penguin, Takara Belmont, Technogym

ARCHITECT

Denniston (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and Architerra (Belgrade, Serbia)

INTERIOR DESIGNER

Mary Lou Thomson, Mary Lou Design (Sydney)