The Malta Independent 22 October 2017, Sunday

The spread of boutique hotels

Thursday, 20 April 2017, 10:10 Last update: about 7 months ago

Last week we reported that the hallowed Macina building in Senglea is being restored and renovated to become an exclusive Cugo Gran Hotel.

Although noteworthy, this is not the only development involving a boutique hotel in Malta.

At the beginning of March, the Planning Authority approved the conversion of an iconic Sliema palazzo, The Cloisters, into a boutique hotel.

Some time ago, The Daily Telegraph, in a feature about Malta's hotels, waxed lyrical about Casa Ellul, a boutique hotel in Valletta, praising it for its high standards.

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These three examples are but the tip of the iceberg. Malta is breaking out in a myriad of boutique hotels - not just in Valletta and Sliema but also in the towns and villages. Many are still being done up and others are having a soft opening.

This new wave is a new development in Malta's tourism offer. We have come quite a long way from the massive hotels of past years. Such hotels have their uses, especially when linked to mass tourism either in the sea and sand category or in the MICE category.

But a boutique hotel offers a homely, relaxed stay where each guest feels welcomed as an individual, rather than as a member of a group.

Boutique hotels especially those in the villages offer an insight into Maltese town/village life which is a completely new experience for those used to the dubious charms of Malta's Paceville.

Boutique hotels are easier to manage and to service than the big hotels but only on condition that the service and the whole environment are kept strictly to standards and are not allowed to deteriorate.

In our towns and villages there are many buildings, many dating from centuries ago, many of them splendid palazzos with wonderful architecture which with loving care can be turned into boutique hotels instead of remaining empty and deteriorating.

Many such buildings are too large to become family homes and their upkeep would cost an arm and a leg. But if they became boutique hotels the running of the hotel could make business sense.

Having said all this, we also note that spread around Malta and Gozo there are still a number of closed up hotels left to deteriorate through neglect. When Malta is registering such a huge influx of tourists, it is a mystery why these closed up hotels remain shuttered up, many times in tourist zones, putting a dark shadow on the area as a whole. Perhaps the government can come up with some scheme for the restoration and upgrading of former hotels.

It is true we are witnessing a huge spread of Airbnb (unregistered and not really talked about) in Malta but tourists coming here will also relish to stay in a hotel of one or other form instead of burdening their holiday with self-catering woes.

The spread and development of boutique hotels shows there is a demand for such accommodation. 
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