| 10.7°C Dublin

Dream ended in ruins that are 'used to pave locals' driveways'

IT was a stellar setting for James Bond in 'Casino Royale', but Michael Fingleton's foray into Montenegro has been less of a success.

The former chief executive of the Irish Nationwide Building Society was not the first or last Irish native to try to cash in on a burgeoning property boom when Montenegro -- the 'Black Mountain' perched on the Adriatic sea -- secured its independence in 2006.

Tourism is key to prosperity in the Balkan state, which is a candidate for membership of the European Union, and the sale of the Hotel Fjord was seen as essential to the development of tourism in the resort region of Kotor.

Mr Fingleton's New Fjord Developments, a special purpose vehicle set up to acquire assets in the area, looked at numerous sites and, according to sources, wanted to build up a land bank in Montenegro.

In 2007, he stood to gain a massive windfall from the planned sale of Irish Nationwide.

The sale never proceeded and Mr Fingleton's fortunes appeared to have waned since those halcyon days.

He listed the Montengrin property as his most valuable asset in a recent High Court action, but there is no current market valuation for the property, which is lying in ruins.

One intrepid traveller felt so moved by the plight of the hotel, now a "brooding, soulless hulk" that she dedicated a blog to it.

"The paving stones on the huge patios are being pulled up and carted off by locals to use in their gardens and driveways," said the blogger.

"The swimming pool is empty and cracked, but the waterfront platform next to the bay is used by locals for free swimming.

"They carefully pick their way through the rubble and broken glass to get to the edge."

Irish Independent