“The whole idea was absolute madness,” he says. “I love hotels citizen. He says he is on a mission to make Valletta “a worldclass destination within the next seven years”. and I wanted to create something different and exciting. It is a beautiful project that is full of life and vitality.” Admitting he is a serial risk-taker and likes nothing more Since then, the property has become one of Thailand’s most than a challenge, Weingard says he wants to become “part of sought-after hotels, with celebrities including the Kardashians a movement”. flocking to stay in one of its four private villas, which costs on “I want to make a change and do projects that make a average up to $2,000 per night. Although Iniala is a business difference. I am 50 this year and by the time I am 57, I want to venture for Weingard, it has a charitable arm which extends to stop doing active investment and go into passive investment, where I am a board member and just direct projects.” helping fund projects in education, health and rehabilitation. Five However, he is not throwing in the towel just yet and has per cent of revenue from Iniala (amounting to approximately $1 million per year) is donated to the Inspirasia foundation. several ventures in the pipeline, one of which is building “The foundation is the thing I am most proud of in my life,” three luxury houses in Barcelona worth between $11 million and $16 million each, with five per cent of the money being he says. “Philanthropy is a strange word. It is about helping donated to charity. Weingard’s latest projects include opening and looking for the root of problems rather than just giving. I want to teach people and be an inspiration. I want people to a second Iniala hotel next year. While still focusing on the understand that if they give just one per cent of their revenue “small and personal aspect” and exclusivity that Iniala has direct to charity, it would be a fortune." become known for, he says the new resort The foundation is dedicated to funding and will be more affordable, with rates ranging supporting projects in health and education from $200 to $2,250 per night. Other projects “I want people to for marginalised communities in Thailand, include building residential apartments, an Indonesia, India and Malta. It supports office block, multiple restaurants, shops and understand that if organisations financially and offers advice luxury homes. they give just one per “I have enjoyed travelling the world. I am a on how to make communities become more sustainable. Some of its latest projects have nomad,” says Weingard. “I hope to live until I cent of their revenue included helping children with cerebral palsy, am 76 because that means I am three-quarters direct to charity, it elderly stroke victims and those in need of through my life. The first quarter of my life I prosthetic limbs. was at school, the second I built my businesses, would be a fortune” Weingard says he never imagined being in a the third quarter I built a foundation and did position to help people. “I did not come from some fantastic projects. Hopefully the last a wealthy family. My father was a cab driver. I quarter I can [use to] travel the world teaching was a fairly normal kid who had fun with his friends. At the age charitable causes and just enjoy the last lap.” For Weingard, it is not about being lucky or unlucky, it is of 18, I had never even opened a champagne bottle,” he says. about not giving up. “If someone throws a ball at you, hard, Weingard left his home in the UK at the age of 20 and is the best thing you can do is hold out a bat and that ball will go confident he will never return permanently. Today home is back a long way,” he says. “But some of it is luck.” in the city of Valletta in Malta, where he hopes to become a
Weingard's foundation Inspirasia helps disadvantaged communities in Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malta 2016 JULY / AUGUST
Published on Jul 1, 2016
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