Sveti Stefan (Serbian Cyrillic: Свети Стефан, pronounced [sv̞ê̞ːtiː stê̞faːn]; lit. "Saint Stephen") is a small islet and 5-star hotel resort on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) southeast of Budva. The resort is known commercially as Aman Sveti Stefan and includes part of the mainland, where the Villa Miločer (pronounced [vîla mîlɔ̝tʃe̞r]) is located. The hotel is now a 5-star franchise of the international group of Aman Resorts, completed in 2009 and operating under a 30-year lease.
Sveti Stefan was an island but is now connected to the mainland by a narrow tombolo. The resort in total contains 50 rooms, cottages, and suites on the island, and 8 grand suites at the Villa Miločer.
The island has a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) coast line in the central part of Montenegro Adriatic coast line. It is situated to the south of Budva between Pržno and Sveti Stefan villages. The pink sandy beaches of Sveti Stefan, Miločer Beach, and Queen's Beach are part of the coastline. The island encompasses an area of 12,400 m2 (133,000 sq ft). (0.0124 km²)
The earliest record of Sveti Stefan is as the capital city of the Paštrovići community, which became a protectorate of the Republic of Venice in 1423, having been independent since the twelfth century. The Paštrovići accepted Venetian sovereignty because they were fearful of attack from the Turks. They retained considerable autonomy and paid no tribute to Venice, in return for ceasing piracy against Venetian ships.According to a legend recounted by Stjepan Mitrov Ljubiša, the town fortification was funded after Paštrovići looted Turkish ships moored in front of Jaz during Barbarossa's siege of Kotor in 1539. The town was razed shortly after, during the Fourth Ottoman–Venetian War. After continuous pleas by Paštrovići, the Venetian Republic agreed to rebuild it in the 16th century. In the 15th century, the fortified village was built to defend against the Turks and became a haven for pirates of the Adriatic.Initially, the island with its fortress had 12 families. In the 1800s, a village was established on the island with a population of about 400 people. Villa Miločer was built between 1934 and 1936 as the summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic (1900–1961) of the Karađorđević family of Serbia, which was refurbished as part of the Aman Sveti Stefan resorts that opened in 2008–2009. The villa, surrounded by 800 olive trees, is laid out over a 32-hectare (79-acre) plot.The population of the island declined in the first half of the twentieth century, as residents left to join the armed forces or to move overseas. From 400 inhabitants in the nineteenth century, there were just 20 remaining by 1954. The Communist Yugoslav authorities converted it into a luxury hotel and moved the remaining inhabitants to the mainland, and the island village became an exclusive resort frequented by high-profile elites of the world.One of the four churches belonging to Praskvica Monastery on Sveti Stefan was turned into a casino by the Communists. The resort was visited by many celebrities, including Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Margaret, Carlo Ponti, Ingemar Stenmark, and Kirk Douglas. It was described as "a '70s Adriatic playground on a hilly peninsula that's barely connected to the mainland". It was also a venue for political conferences and an occasional chess venue, attracting top-class players such as Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. However, the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s brought a decline to the resort.
The Government of Montenegro proposed to recreate the old charm of the island, inviting international bids for a revitalization project. The contract was awarded to Aman Resorts in 2007, and the refurbished resort was completed in 2009. The Aman Sveti Stefan has a 30-year lease. On 13 July 2010 Montenegrin Statehood Day, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli gave a concert at the resort to mark the Golden Jubilee of the hotel. The hotel won the Hotel of the Year award from Gallivanter's Guide in 2010.
The Aman Sveti Stefan resort has 58 guest rooms, cottages, and suites, including 8 suites that are part of the Villa Miločer. The Villa Miločer was built between 1934 and 1936 as the summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic (1900–1961). Out of the eight suites of Villa Miločer, two are Queen Marija Suites forming an annex structure. The main dining of the resort on the island of Sveti Stefan is The Piazza, an open-air square in the heart of the island's village which includes the Taverna, Enoteca, Pasticceria, an Antipasti Bar, and a Cigar Room.