Often referred to as the "jewel of the Montenegrin coast," Sveti Stefan is a tiny island protected by 600-year-old defensive walls inside of which nestle several dozen limestone cottages and a small church. The island is actually joined to the mainland by a causeway, with a gravel beach on each side. Originally a fishing village, it was fortified with sturdy walls in the 15th century to protect it from the Turks and marauding pirates. By the late 19th century, however, many residents had emigrated abroad, due to the poor local economy. In 1955, the few remaining inhabitants were relocated so that the entire village could be renovated and turned into a unique luxury hotel. The resort opened with a splash in 1960, attracting over the years international jet-setters and celebrities, from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Claudia Schiffer and Sylvester Stallone. But when the war hit in the 1990s, tourists stopped coming and the economy took a nosedive, leading Sveti Stefan to fall into total disrepair. Now, after years of exhaustive renovation, it has reopened as the Aman Sveti Stefan, an exclusive resort of luxury suites.
When there was every reason in the world to stay away and see the ruins, one woman traveled to Greece to get to work.More