VALLETTA, MALTA, September 2011 – What do German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish King Juan Carlos 1 and Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias have in common?
They’ve all been to Malta and they’ve all slept in the same bed. This particular bed is found in the executive suite at the five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior in Floriana.
Speaking to General Manager, Norbert Grixti, Vida found out that there is a long list of celebrities – musicians, politicians and athletes – who have chosen this specific suite in which to catch their 40 winks while in Malta. Three flights of stairs bear testimony to this, with photos of Cliff Richard, the Black Eyed Peas, referee Pierluigi Collina, Dione Warwick and so many others taken with the Excelsior staff.
Our two-hour long discussion covers many topics and of course the national airline woes are always a concern for anyone in the tourism industry. Asked whether low-cost airlines have impacted the business negatively his answer is a clear ‘No’. A low-cost airline, he clarifies, does not necessarily mean a low-budget client. ‘People will choose their airline based on convenience. Why would you pay more to travel to an airport that’s further from home simply to use a more expensive carrier? The money that is saved in flights will probably be spent anyway while on holiday.’ The national carrier has done far more for tourism and the economy than it is given credit for. They will operate routes that are not making a profit as there are destinations that are not as popular, and that also may benefit the nation economically while not really helping the airline. Of course there is also the employment factor too.
And while it may have taken a few twists and turns over the last few weeks, there is also the crisis in Libya. ‘Occupancy shot up for a few weeks,’ he says, ‘as people fled the area and chose Malta as their destination.’
As we spoke we couldn’t help looking out over the Grand Hotel Excelsior’s private marina with views of the Sliema cityscape. ‘It is exclusive to our guests’ he says. ‘Although commercially it is a prime location, we focus on providing the highest standard of service to our clientele.’
As we head back out of the hotel we pass through the restaurants. During the summer months Wednesday evenings are themed Global Tastes where guests can try a vast selection of cuisines – Italian, Indian and Turkish. During the rest of the year eight cooking stations are available to cater to all tastes for the Sunday lunch buffet.
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