Vol. III No. 10 October 2014
Matthew Mullan Inside the workings of a new GM
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October 2014 Vol III Issue 10 Cover: Matthew Mullan - page 41 Photographer: Sean Mallia
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41 04 Editor's Letter 07 From the MHRA President 10 Capitalising on our Strengths 20 The Romance of Wine 24 The Council Members In Depth: Malcolm Jones
26 Faith based Tourism 33 A Sizzler of an Oven! 36 Another 50 great years of Medina Restaurant
41 Heard the one about the Irish GM?: Matthew Mullan
48 GO delivers more Innovation
47 One of Life's Little Pleasures: Piscopo Gardens
50 The Delicata Winemaking Family 53 Corporate Websites: far from just an Online Business
56 Sustainability: a Key Driver for 2015 61 Best Practices and Business Opportunities 64 Effective Leadership in Hospitality 71 Visiting Valletta made virtually better: City Explorer
74 Visiting The World of Payments: John Bayliss
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The President and Council of the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association, on behalf of the members, would like to thank the Sponsors for their support and commitment towards the MHRA. The long-term agreement reached with the sponsors has enabled the MHRA to take a more long-term perspective to its operations.
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EDITOR’S LETTER: Inside Change When I was young and had fashionably long hair, my father was aghast but I ignored his exhortations to chop it off. I was due to work a short stint in a hotel restaurant but the first thing they told me was that my hair had to go so of course, being young and carefree, bang went my stint. I proceeded to move to another summer job and disregarded my father’s pleas to get back to short back and sides. Times pass, fashions move on and hairlines recede or worse. Besides the missed opportunity to join the hotel trade, my hair was also - when it was there in resplendent glory - a trademark of rebellion. But, although a lot changes in our life, as many writers and philosophers have said, the more things change the more they remain the same. Now that I am my father’s age at that momentous time (or older), I am aghast at individuals covered in tattoos. Some 20 years ago I even hesitated to employ someone because of what seemed to me an unbelievable number of piercings, which I considered something that could reflect on her character. I now realise that all she had were three, understated, earrings. Thankfully I did take her on and she was brilliant at her job.
Life is all about perspective and change. But while embracing change we must appreciate that it is rarely earth-shaking. What we do now and think is revolutionary was done yesterday and probably since the day humans inhabited the world. We think that we discover new worlds when we travel far, but back when man lived huddled in caves even going to a nearby cave was a discovery and a big step. Outside was the fear of the unknown. The cave-dwellers who moved around were travellers in search of the new, the unexplored, as adventurous as future space-travellers. But there was one thing the cave next door needed to make us want to go back to visit. This is warmth, the warmth of welcome, the warmth of fellowship.
totally new outlook to Hilton Malta. He seems laid back, garrulous and a contrast to his most successful predecessor. Mullan’s story is enticing and he is full of admiration for what Clement Hassid did—and wants to build on that success rather than change just for the sake of it. In this issue we also celebrate an amazing feat. Half a century for a restaurant is great news. When that restaurant is also a bastion of quality, that is a celebration for all of us to bow to. Hurrah for such successes - and a great hurrah to the Medina Restaurant.
The shape of the cave, the style of the dwellers’ hair and also the beauty or otherwise of the cave’s wall drawings could have been important to make the visit enjoyable. But without the warmth nothing is enjoyable or memorable. This warmth remains the thing that keeps our destination and anything connected to it talked about and in demand. Insider celebrates in this issue a new GM taking over from an old and tried hand. Matthew Mullan brings a
From the MHRA
Small is Beautiful Our greatest advantage as a country is that we are small. All amenities are within reach, on the whole we all know each other and our standard of living is good. We tend to work hard; some also believe ours is the perfect country, but, as the old axiom goes, “every rose has its thorn”. Indeed, a quick look around us reveals an establishment with a myriad of public agencies, departments,
specialised units, committees and action groups all working separately to come up with policies, initiatives and new legislative frameworks which often end up duplicating or at times even contradicting previous efforts, leading to confusion and gross loss of money and resources. This situation is not a new one and has probably been a recurrent issue for every successive government since Independence in varying degrees. But the scope
of my editorial; my first as MHRA President, is to look constructively at our future, in particular as representative of the motor of our economy – the tourism sector. The recently launched Pre-Budget Document 2015 embodies the Government’s commitment to ensure that the whole of society can benefit from the economic stability and successes achieved so far.
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We need to invest more in a holistic plan that sees various parts of
government working together towards one goal – as one
Titled ‘Creating Opportunities, Not Dependencies’, the document lays out the government’s vision for the upcoming Budget 2015, which will look towards ensuring that social welfare reflects the government’s objective of creating opportunities while discouraging dependencies. Government emphasises that, at the same time, sustainable social protection will be guaranteed. MHRA believes that this is an interesting vision but definitely no easy feat to achieve. It’s not that we don’t believe that it can be attained but rather we are still not convinced that enough groundwork has been done to restructure and realign our public structures and policy towards wealth creation.
I will mention just a few examples. As a lobby group, in our daily work we still come across individuals in authority who do not comprehend the importance and vulnerability of the tourism sector for our economy, and this ultimately has an impact on our standard of living. We are pleased to note that government is sending out a clear message that it is there to support wealth-creating opportunities which do not only target the entrepreneur but also the keen worker. What concerns us is that there is still a long way to go before we get there and on the field a number of top executives across the public sector have not yet embraced this vision. Constructively MHRA is proposing that government should work to think long-term with a view to mark the new steps forward for this country. We need to invest more in a holistic plan that sees various parts of government working together towards one goal – as one. Our members still face situations where rhetoric, billboards and leaflets encourage them to do business and yet the reality they face is directly opposite to what is promised. The good news is that the Maltese islands have much to offer new travellers from current source markets and large emerging economies as well
as high-yield, long-haul travellers. However we still lack concerted efforts by our authorities to facilitate sustainable growth in our tourism sector. MHRA reiterates that tourism is not just a policy area that needs to be spearheaded by the Minister of Tourism but rather requires a coordinated holistic approach by government. Accordingly MHRA is proposing the setting-up of an intergroup on tourism in the Maltese parliament to monitor all political developments and relevant new amendments to legislature likely to impact on the tourism sector and accordingly ensure that the vision of positioning and promoting Malta as a premier destination is facilitated and achieved. The tourism product is not just for tourists, but for us Maltese too. We experience and enjoy our own product or whatever we create all year round, hence all government departments need to be fully focused. More significantly however, realising the full potential of Malta's tourism sector will require us to work hard and work together. We need to think differently and act faster and I augur that the coming Budget will indeed give more opportunities to the wealth creators of this country rather than punish them for working hard.
Join the MHRA and support it in its quest to safeguard the interests of the tourism industry and at the same time enjoy the benefits of membership. For further information contact the Membership Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPITALISING on our Strengths Andrew Agius Muscat
Malta and Gozo are islands of unparalleled beauty. Each year over a million and a half visitors from around the world, or 4 times our population, discover a treasure trove of natural and man-made wonders. They marvel at sights like the Hypogeum, magnificent Valletta and majestic Mdina, the scenic Three Cities and the spectacular Mediterranean coastline and countryside. Indeed this provides us with an exceptional platform for strengthening an already robust visitor economy, which generates jobs and economic growth across the Maltese islands. It is acknowledged by all today that the tourism sector in Malta is a key driver of the economy and accordingly, if nurtured to further growth, the whole economy will grow. The reverse is also true. This situation therefore exerts pressure on our politicians and public service/sector not to take this critical sector for granted but rather to invest wisely and generously in it for the wellbeing of our country. In this light, in the pre-budget document proposal, MHRA is calling upon Government to ensure that the forthcoming National Budget sends a clear message to all that Malta will apply tourism growth potential as the tool to position itself higher in the socio-economic spectrum of the Mediterranean region and the EU. This indeed is a first step in a new journey for Malta. MHRA proposes that the part addressing tourism in the National Budget 2014-15 should focus on four priorities: 1. Increasing awareness of Malta as a premier tourist destination in the Mediterranean Region; 2. Facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while ensuring the safety and integrity of Maltaâ€™s borders; 3. Encouraging product development and investments in Maltese tourism assets and products; and
4. Fostering an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality service and hospitality. Below are specific recommendations for each identified priority area. 4.1
Increase awareness of Malta as a premier tourist destination in the Mediterranean Region
To compete in a world in which consumers are bombarded with commercials - and given our country's relatively small size - Malta needs to set and embark on a clear branding strategy and innovative marketing to increase awareness of Malta as a premier tourism destination in the Mediterranean region. We must maintain a disciplined focus on key global markets and segments within these markets, based on wellfounded research. It is therefore being recommended that for the forthcoming National Budget 2014-2015 Government allocates adequate funding to support: 4.1.1 the MTA in devising branding and marketing strategies targeting both current source markets, namely the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Turkey and France and new international markets, namely India, China, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, US and Brazil. 4.1.2 the MTA and the private sector to focus efforts in developing effective strategy that improves Maltaâ€™s presence on the internet and social media. 4.1.3 the Mediterranean Tourism Forum, an initiative which is currently being spearheaded by the MHRA to bring together tourism industry stakeholders from different Mediterranean countries with a view to exploring avenues for collaboration and to promote a common Mediterranean identity.
4.1.4 the setting up of the Malta Conventions Bureau, a public/private partnership to promote the Maltese islands as a premier destination in the Mediterranean region for MICE business. 4.1.5 the setting up of an Intergroup on Tourism in the Maltese parliament to monitor all political developments and relevant new legislation or amendments to legislation with a likely impact on the tourism sector and accordingly ensure that the vision of positioning and promoting Malta as a premier destination is facilitated and achieved. 4.1.6 the promotion of Gozo as a destination which complements the characteristics of Malta as part of an archipelago in the Mediterranean sea. 4.1.7 the development of the film industry, as in itself this will serve to promote Malta through cinematographic scenes and potentially reach out to more travellers from current and emerging markets. MHRA is calling upon Government to positively consider giving incentives and assistance to, for instance, Bollywood producers to choose Malta for filming since the potential return here is very high considering the multiplier effect that can be generated. 4.1.8 the MTA and NSO to collate and analyse relevant tourism statistics in a timely manner. 4.2 Facilitate ease of access and movement for travellers while ensuring the safety and integrity of Maltaâ€™s borders.
the development of the film industry will serve to promote Malta through cinematographic scenes and potentially reach out to more travellers from current and emerging markets
To ensure that travellers feel welcome in Malta, we must better facilitate ease of access and movement, while ensuring the safety and integrity of our borders. Indeed tourism relies on the easy movement of travellers, but the Maltese archipelago consists of small islands set in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. This fundamental fact underlies some of Malta's transportation-related tourism challenges which also highlight the importance of aviation to the visitor economy in Malta and sea-based transportation for Gozo. Therefore competition among air carriers is strong on major routes into Malta and the unique ferry arrangement to access Gozo is critical. It is therefore being recommended that for the forthcoming National Budget 2014-2015 Government allocates adequate funding to support:
4.2.1 the restructuring process of AirMalta. Concretely, MHRA reiterates that AirMalta must retain its role in the economy and accordingly hold a very strong share of the tourism market. The restructuring process however must also happen in tandem with initiatives that support Low Cost Carriers (LCC) and hybrid airlines. 4.2.2 the relevant public entities in addressing with urgency issues related to the issuance of visas to tourists coming from non-Schengen countries, which has become a stumbling block for further growth in new markets. The national interest in safe borders and Schengen membership are important commitments that Government must ensure it pursues, however these cannot be used as an excuse to justify hindering inbound and transiting visitors arriving from third countries. While managing security is paramount, Government must restructure its operations to facilitate the flow of people, goods and services from such destinations. 4.2.3 MTA so that it is sufficiently empowered to increase seat capacity from underserved markets, particularly in the off and shoulder seasons. 4.2.4 the improvement of services related to internal transport, including public transport. 4.3 Encourage product development and investments in Maltese tourism assets and products. To remain competitive internationally, we must encourage product development and investment in Maltaâ€™s tourism assets and products. Malta's products must keep pace with changing tastes and global competition. Competitor destinations are investing in memorable new attractions and so must we. Long-term, focused investments and innovation will allow us to capitalise on the full extent of Malta's inherent advantages. This will lead to the high-quality, unique and enriching experiences today's travellers seek. We have product niches with strong growth potential and research shows tremendous international interest in authentic experiences. MHRA encourages Government to capitalise on this interest by developing and promoting exceptional experiences that support both business competitiveness and economic diversification. It is therefore being recommended that for the forthcoming National Budget 2014-2015 Government allocates adequate funding to support:
To remain competitive internationally, we must encourage product development and investment in Maltaâ€™s tourism assets and products.
4.3.1 the financial sustainability of the hotel sector by alleviating Government-induced costs during low-season periods by, for example, considering reductions in the cost of National Insurance and offering improved conditions of payments for energy bills. 4.3.2 hotels and restaurants in investing and adopting measures to better manage the generation and use of energy. 4.3.3 the competitive level of the hospitality industry by encouraging and incentivising the renovation of hotel infrastructures through savings that could be made by decreasing hotel VAT back to 5%. This will generate a strong and positive multiplier effect on the economy as a whole. 4.3.4 the setting up of the Quality label for Restaurants to be spearheaded by MTA and supported by MHRA to initiate the process of sectoral selfregulation and positive discrimination in favour of operators investing in quality. MHRA is working to promote and extend this initiative across EU level through HOTREC. 4.3.5 the organisation of events during the shoulder and winter months. MHRA is spearheading the Mediterranean Diwali to be organised in Gozo, to be held in October 2015: 1) to encourage internal tourism, 2) to encourage tourism from India, since connectivity is available. Other advantages include: a) a significant number of affluent travellers in India; b) many speak English
and, India being an ex British colony like Malta, we share many common characteristics; c) India is one of the most important BRICS countries emerging very strongly in the international tourism sector; 3) to encourage tourism from other countries such as UK, the most important source market. Indeed in UK there are over 1.4 million citizens of Indian origin who could be targeted for such an event. Another event which MHRA is spearheading is the International Kites Festival in collaboration with the Office of the President of Malta. Better distribution of events is solicited to ensure maximum return on investment.
Development and upkeep of new and current beaches must occur in a sustainable manner.
4.3.14 Local Councils by sufficiently empowering and funding them as key stakeholders of the tourism industry.
4.3.6 the development of a master plan for the South of Malta to turn it into a region that attracts the luxury market.
4.3.15 the conservation and promotion of traditional local crafts by upgrading the crafts villages both in Malta and Gozo.
4.3.7 the cleaning, waste management and upkeep of the external environment including the road and built infrastructures.
4.3.16 innovation in the tourism industry through research and development by small and medium-sized companies.
4.3.8 the safety and security of tourists visiting the Maltese islands by setting up a Tourism Police Section with the Malta Police Force, comprising police on the beat, detailed work at localities within Tourism zones.
4.3.17 the rehabilitation of heritage sites and other amenities including churches/chapels, theatres located in villages, recreational areas etc..
4.3.9 the setting up of the Tourism Zones Foundation to act as an inter-ministerial forum in spearheading matters related to tourism product management and development. 4.3.10 the retrofitting by the private sector of buildings which could be used to embellish the area or to provide services directly to the tourism industry. Incentives here must suffice to encourage property developers to shift efforts from construction of new projects to retrofitting of current buildings. 4.3.11 the development of new and upkeep of current beaches in a sustainable manner. 4.3.12 accessibility to Gozo (not necessarily by investing in infrastructural connections) and accordingly promoting Malta and Gozo as two complementing destinations. 4.3.13 business development in the cruise line business, in particular where there are opportunities for home porting.
4.3.18 the promotion of art in public places including roundabouts and public gardens. 4.3.19 the relevant public authorities to address the issue of unlicensed tourist accommodation and catering activities. Such illegal operators are not only competing unfairly against fullylicensed operators since they are not incurring Government-induced costs emanating from regulations in this sector but are also posing a serious health and safety risk to consumers. 4.3.20 the relevant public authorities to compile and deliver a policy which favours sustainable management and development of the tourism industry. 4.3.21 the private sector to develop innovative tourism products and services by refocusing the operations and structures of Malta Enterprise, MEPA, MCST, MTA and other relevant public authorities to further support. 4.3.22 companies operating in the tourism sector to have better access to venture capital financing so that they will have the capital they need to create jobs and grow.
A culture of service and hospitality is crucial to competitiveness 4.3.23 the development of professional camping facilities. 4.3.24 the relevant public authorities to recover the sustainability of our energy sources by pursuing an Energy Policy which meets the forthcoming challenges mainly related to the feasible supply of gas, oil, alternative energy and efficient management and distribution of energy. 4.3.25 fostering cultural and sports tourism. MHRA supports incentives to support culture, arts, heritage, official language (Maltese), citizenship, youth and sports initiatives, all of which benefit tourism in Malta. 4.3.26 installing free access to WIFI across the Maltese islands. 4.4 Foster an adequate supply of skills and labour to enhance visitor experiences through quality service and hospitality. To enhance visitor experiences, we must foster an adequate supply of skills and labour that can deliver quality service and exemplary hospitality. The tourism industry relies on personal contact. Every personal interaction whether at an airport, restaurant, hotel, museum, park or show - has an impact on the visitor's experience. A culture of service and hospitality is crucial to the competitiveness of the sector. MHRA is seriously concerned that our tourism sector is currently facing a serious shortage of front-line staff. Traditionally, the tourism sector has relied heavily on younger workers. Many young people have found their first jobs in this industry and have learned about key workplace competencies such as teamwork, customer service and taking responsibility. However, the size of the younger segment of the labour force is decreasing, and competition for it is intensifying.
This is limiting the tourism industry's ability to realise its full potential as it is becoming dependent on foreign staff, thus impacting negatively the Maltese authentic experience. Furthermore the sector's business cycles are seasonal, with daily and weekly fluctuations in demand. These factors mean that the industry relies on parttime, seasonal and casual workers. Consequently, many tourism-related businesses have difficulty finding and keeping employees. The image of some tourism-related jobs as temporary placements can overshadow the competitive compensation and opportunities that come with the professional, supervisory and management positions across industries included in the sector. It is therefore being recommended that for the forthcoming National Budget 2014-2015 Government allocates adequate funding to support: 4.4.1 initiatives that aim to upgrade skills of employees working in the tourism industry with a view to offer them better opportunities that help them enjoy better career prospects and working/wage conditions. From the Tourism Industry perspective there is indeed an urgent need to train and develop front-liners, including waiters, housekeepers and receptionists who are key personalities in the industry. 4.4.2 further investment in Continuous Professional Development and Life-Long Learning opportunities. 4.4.3 the relevant public authorities to create better schemes to connect workers to potential employers who can offer better employment opportunities. 4.4.4 Maltese citizens with disabilities and others that fall within the category of â€˜disadvantaged groupsâ€™ to obtain work experience with small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism industry. 4.4.5 the introduction of a number of targeted changes to Employment National Insurance (NI) to make it a more efficient programme that promotes job creation, removes disincentives to work, supports unemployed Maltese and quickly connects people to jobs. 4.4.6 the relevant public authorities to address early school-leaving issues. 4.4.7 the creation of work in Gozo. The Public Sector/ Service should lead by example on this front by transferring back-office operations to Gozo.
4.4.8 working opportunities that complement the requirements to ensure the preservation of a strong family nucleus in our society and economy. 4.4.9 access to funds that support entrepreneurship, research and innovation, not only for start-ups, established companies and academic institutions but also to inculcate a culture amongst youth that appreciates the value of these factors. 4.4.10 research, education and training with new funding for universities, institutes and research institutions. 4.4.11 the re-organisation of the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) with a view to turning it into a centre for excellence for vocational training in the Mediterranean region. 4.4.12 the re-organisation of the Tourism and Travel Institute at the University of Malta with a view to turning it around into a centre for excellence for academic training in the Mediterranean region.
These strategies are often supported by significant financial investments in key tourism infrastructure, in events and activities, and in marketing. This is a threat for our industry, however the good news is that there is a tremendous opportunity for major growth in the Maltese tourism industry, based on the projected increase in global travel. Malta has much to offer new travellers from large emerging economies as well as high-yield, long-haul travellers. We have a strong foundation of natural, heritage and cultural tourism assets on which to build new world-class tourism experiences. We have a safe travel infrastructure, a relatively internationally-recognised tourism brand, a well-educated workforce and some of the world's most distinctive experiences. However, realising the full potential of Malta's tourism sector will require us to work hard and work together. Beyond any form of rhetoric MHRA now awaits Governmentâ€™s demonstration of its combined commitment to the tourism industry in the forthcoming National Budget.
5.0 Bringing it all together: Capitalising on our strengths In an increasingly competitive global environment, it is no surprise that mature markets are taking action to stay on top. Many of our neighbouring countries have put in place long-term tourism strategies that go well beyond marketing and promotion and include wholeof-government approaches. These approaches recognise that the global tourism marketplace is extremely dynamic and that all destinations need to be innovative, agile and collaborative to thrive.
Many of our neighbouring countries have put in place longterm tourism strategies that
Andrew Agius Muscat graduated in Business Management and also pursued a MA degree in European Studies from
go well beyond marketing and
the University of Malta. He held various senior
promotion and include whole-
public and private sectors including the Government
consulting and management positions in both the of Malta, the World Bank and the European Parliament. In 2011 Andrew was appointed Chief Executive Officer at MHRA.
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The ROMANCE of Wine
As they say, truth often transcends fiction. Imagine a French count who ranks high in the army, a lawyer from Palermo who saw the signing of the World War II Armistice, the lawyer’s modellike daughter, an amazing parcel of land in Sicily and a winery destroyed by an earthquake. Put them in a bag together, shake and add on a phoenix-like revival of the winery to produce some of Sicily’s most sought-after wine. Of this stuff is wrought the wine of Tenuta Rapitalà—a vineyard just outside Palermo.
If you want to add on some mundane facts put in that the count married the ravishing Sicilian and that one of the most important and resource-rich parcels of the vineyards is called Piano Maltese. I am due to meet Count Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais at Trabuxù in South Street, Valletta. Laurent, as he later asks me to call him, is the son of the owner and head of the Tenuta Rapitalà winery. I get there early and speak to John, the restaurant’s most amiable Catalan host. I try to feign nonchalance but then how many times have I met a Count who owns a winery in Sicily? I have a sip of the wine which will be on offer at the restaurant and at the homonymous wine-bar in Strait Street. The wine is a flavourful Nero D’Avola which strikes the palate rather differently from other Sicilian wines. A hint of its French roots I imagine. It is, I feel, slightly more refined. The count arrives and he is the easiest of people to chat to. When I tell him I am nervous about how to act with a count he laughs and tells me to please treat him like a normal person—because “I am exactly like everyone else. I work hard, have problems and no, I do not have a retinue of servants doing all I command.” I’m relieved but at the same
time I would have liked him to be an aristocrat of old, maybe telling me that sipping wine is just one of his pastimes to offer some festive fun for plebs like me to forget our sorrows. Instead the count—Laurent—is a qualified engineer and works an average of 14 staggering hours a day. Many might consider engineering one of the least romantic of professions and, at first sight, least connected to the fruit of the vine. He explains however that his engineering knowledge and training was of great help in looking at the practical side of growing vines, producing wines and moving the company forward. Wine, after all, is a most subjective of concoctions, but the study of what is enjoyed and the actual putting into practice of anything connected to that subjectivity deserves the eye, knowledge and planning of an engineer. In 1976 the Tenuta Rapitalà was born. The original Count Hughes Bernard, Comte de la Gatinais, after marrying Gigi Guarrasi, decided to rebuild and revive the winery that had been destroyed. The name of the land, Rapitalà, is Arabic for River of Allah, also the name of the stream that passes through the vineyards. The land had long been cultivated and always boasted vineyards although, before Laurent’s father took it over, wine was just one of the products that came from the land.
Tenuta Rapitalà is situated just outside Palermo, Sicily. Their wines offer a variety of selections including Alcamo, Nero D’Avola, Rosato, Catarratto-Chardonnay and Grillo. The estate’s selection includes Solinero, Hugonis, Grand Cru, Cielo Dalcamo, Nuhar, Casalj and Nadir, which are available in select top restaurants in Malta and can be found at Ten Green Bottles in Żebbuġ.
The name of the land, Rapitalà, is Arabic for River of Allah, also the name of the stream that passes through the vineyards. The original count, who introduced what were at the time revolutionary wine-making methods, was also amongst the first - if not the very first - to plant the great French wine varieties alongside the indigenous ones of Sicily. Tenuta Rapitalà was born and with it a most sophisticated array of wines to satisfy the discerning palates of the people of Sicily and beyond. The wines offer more freshness, more spiciness and fruitiness, usually not so prevalent in Sicilian wines. The winery uses the most modern techniques, from cooling equipment to steel fermenters with computerised systems to control all temperatures. While the love, passion and dedication to the terroir, wines produced and ways utilised remain pivotal in all Laurent plans, he also took an incredibly bold decision when he joined his winery in GIV (Gruppo Italiano Vini), the main Italian wine-grower and producer. It was only because Tenuta Rapitalà had the right and unique credentials that GIV agreed to this business
venture. Laurent’s business sense coupled with his love for wines and his engineering prowess ensured a good deal all round. The Sicilian wine which could have remained confined to the local region is now found, enjoyed and praised all over Italy and beyond. Laurent describes the Tenuta Rapitalà wines as having a French flag with a Sicilian heart. The place the wine comes from is connected by name to god and Laurent believes we must always remember that from the land of God, the garden of God, you get wine that produces happiness. Laurent’'s passion for wine is not restricted to making it. He also loves drinking it, enjoying its flavours, its accompaniments and the way it improves relations with family and friends. Laurent never drinks on his own, considering wine a true bond between nature, love and friends. Meeting this friendly, intensely down-to-earth count who loves anything connected to the land was as magical as the wine we enjoyed together.
In this series of articles we find out about the people who matter in the association that truly matters, the MHRA.
The Council Members
IN DEPTH Malcolm Jones
Position at MHRA: Council member Establishment represented: Westin Dragonara Resort Years in council: 2 Reason you are in hospitality: I first came in touch with hospitality in 1999 when I joined a large group of companies which had substantial interests in the hospitality sector. It gives me great satisfaction to form part of this industry which is one of the main pillars of the local economy and generates so much value for the country. Hospitality is all about creating an experience and, as product Malta has so much to offer in this regard, it makes it even more exciting and attractive to work in the hospitality sector. List previous places you worked in, owned or managed: I started my professional career with Deloitte, practising mainly in the audit segment. Apart from working locally, I was also given the opportunity to carry out audit assignments abroad. This experience gave me huge exposure to the accounting and finance reality. I then decided to swing my career towards the private industry and joined Alpine Holdings as Finance Director. Alpine was my first deep plunge into the hospitality sector, given the significant investment the group carried in this industry. I was fortunate enough to be part of a management team spearheaded by a leading local entrepreneur and a personality in the Maltese tourism industry. Apart from hospitality, Alpine group also had interests in the financial services sector, construction industry and other operations in the service industry. In 2004, I joined the Rimus Group of Companies as Group Financial
Controller. Rimus is mainly involved in the food industry, including manufacturing and supply to the local market as well as export. This was again a very interesting experience with its own intrinsic opportunities and challenges. Six years ago I returned to the hospitality industry, this time joining a leading five-star branded hotel, The Westin Dragonara Resort. This hotel is managed by the internationallyrenowned Starwood Hotels & Resorts and owned by highly-established local entrepreneurs, two key ingredients for success. I am Director of Finance and honoured to be part of a highly-committed and skilled team which strives to give a unique and unforgettable experience to guests, the ultimate goal of the hospitality industry.
What are Malta’s shortcomings in tourism? Malta and Gozo are a unique destination. I believe that shortcomings are all opportunities which, through the concerted effort of all, can be overcome and turned into positives. We are small and we can use this to our advantage in terms of versatility and adapting to the ever-changing market requisites. The first thing that comes to mind is seasonality. Now that the tourism industry has cracked the code towards maximising our summer numbers, we should grasp the opportunity to focus our efforts towards the shoulder and low seasons. This in turn will make the industry more sustainable by reducing the curves of our seasonal peak and troughs.
What are your aims for MHRA? I am very passionate and enthusiastic about my job and also the hospitality industry. I strongly believe that the MHRA is an ideal platform to contribute towards the continued success of the hospitality industry.
And what about the positives? Many positives, possibly too many to list! One thing is sure – we need to be appreciative and continue treasuring our positives to ensure a sustained environment for tourism to continue prospering. To mention a few: safety – the Islands are renowned for their safety. Our hospitality and friendliness is proverbial – we must continue promoting this welcoming attitude. Language – being widely conversant with the English language is definitely an attribute which facilitates tourists’ communication with the locals. Malta’s mild winters and year-round attractive weather – this is an opportunity I feel we can exploit further to spread our tourist numbers and reduce peaks. Our seas – the cleanliness and clarity of our seas is another asset which both bathers and divers alike can enjoy.
Favourite pastime: I like following sports, particularly waterpolo, a sport I used to practise in my younger days, and football. In my limited free time, I relax either by attending a waterpolo match at the National Pool or watching my favourite football team on TV.
Last but certainly not least of our positives: our historical treasures are gems and that, paired with the fact that we have so many of them in such a small area, is unique. The ingredients are there for us to exploit and continue driving the incredible success of this thriving hospitality industry.
Dirty hands because of hands-on policy or better suited for delegating? Throughout my career, I have always adopted a hands-on approach. This allows me to keep a live pulse check on what falls within my responsibility, prioritise and give my input and support where required. However, I am also wary not to get too absorbed in small details as my role and responsibility certainly demand a bird’s eye view of things and thus my focus and contribution towards strategy, planning and direction.
Worldwide faith-based tourism and pilgrimage destinations receive millions of visitors a year and global religious travel is one of the fastest-growing sectors. Major pilgrimage destinations have invested heavily in their infrastructure as contemporary pilgrimages draw the largest regular crowds on earth. Faith-based tourism and pilgrimage, is considered recession-resistant and has withstood the global financial and economic crises. It is also a consistently-growing economic sector, in volume and prevalence. However, this growth globally has had hardly any effect on faith-based inbound tourism to the Maltese archipelago. Although tourism is a major segment of the Maltese economy and Malta is so rich in its authentic cultural and religious heritage it has not managed to foster faith-based tourism and to attract its deserved number of pilgrimage tourists. One may well wonder why, although several people and organisations have endeavoured in the past to promote visits and pilgrimages to Malta, seemingly unsuccessfully. Neither the MTA nor the NSO gather statistics on faith-based travel. Hence, lacking vital information and structure, incoming faith-based travel is classified as a niche activity, thrown
in within the niche of festas, fireworks, re-enactments and processions, connecting religion and pilgrimage to local festivals and events. The issue lies in that the aspects of religion presented to the outside world are centred around Maltese Catholicism. However, while the Catholic religion and its pilgrimages are quintessential to Malta, the islands have much more than that to offer in the spiritual realm. At present, traditional pilgrims and religious tourists do come to Malta (although the numbers are not known) to visit the shrines of the Virgin Mary or to follow in the footsteps of St Paul, albeit in relatively small numbers. These visitors are not only Catholics but also other, non-Catholic, Christians.
Even in smaller numbers, there are some religious travellers who are neither Catholic nor non-Catholic Christians but who fall in the category of New Religious Movements (NRMs), who visit Malta for a spiritual experience at our majestic Neolithic sites. The NRMs are a very diverse and somewhat secretive segment of the religious
Faith based Tourism:
Fact, Fiction and the way forward Dane Munro
Praying at sunset and for a moment all was well with the world.
infrastructure, there is no structure for faith-based tourism. What is lacking is a serious synergy between the key elements which make up the aspect of faith-based incoming tourism and pilgrimage to Malta: 1. the existing tourism infrastructure, 2. the
lawmakers, MTA, Church, Heritage Malta, Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, MHRA and other associations of stakeholders), 3. the stakeholders themselves (hotels, catering establishments,
academia, interest groups, site owners, site managers, tour operators, MICE operators), landscape, at present still on the fringe, albeit growing rapidly worldwide. In the Western world, the NRM participants seek to fulfil needs which the historic church cannot or can no longer fulfil.
4. literature and publishers, 5. the visitors themselves, 6. the sites and events of interest for faith-based travel. It
coordination between those key elements presents a serious problem, as the local tourism industry is very individualistically orientated and competitive, both on the micro and macro level.
Many are based on historical values of past religions or on symbolical or perceived values of the Neolithic or druidic past, such as seeking relationship with oneâ€™s ancestors, predicting the future, fertility and the celebration of the cycles of life and death. Others are what researchers label, â€˜designerâ€™ religions, based on modern needs. In order to classify the faith-based traveller, one must realise that there are probably many more than fifty shades of grey between a pure pilgrim and a sunseeker tourist. There are pilgrims, religious tourists and tourists with religion. There are also cultural tourists who visit churches for a number of reasons other than religious, and there are sunseekers who have an unexpected spiritual moment in a church.
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This is not the place to get swamped down by definitions, but it is important to realise that every pilgrim is also a tourist, since every tourist to Malta arrives and stays in a scheduled, structured and organised way according to the existing tourism infrastructure. The human yearning for fulfilment in faith-based tourism and pilgrimage is pivotal in all research being carried out about this subject. Fulfilment can thus range from ‘a great moment’ of dolce far niente to a ‘life-changing event’, for one’s self or for others. Faith-based tourism includes matters of religion, pilgrimage and tourism, and one can imagine that fulfilment plays a very important role in the success of it. There are many factors which may lead to fulfilment or the destruction thereof. In relation to faith-based tourism, questions such as belief, hope, confirmation of belief, prayer for one’s self or for others, reflection, purification, personal salvation, comfort of the soul and the tangibility of religious sentiment, are important matters. Then there are psychological matters, for example fulfilling a wish for closure, happy marriage, ambitions,
happiness, enchantment, acceptance, (self )acceptance, self-actualisation, restoration, a better fortune in life or empowerment. There are also health concerns, e.g. healing, fertility, safe birth. Other issues could be visitors’ satisfaction, or simply enjoying the moment. All these subjects are usually understood to be part of or to lead to fulfilment in the widest sense possible.
Interpretation at the site or event
Authenticity of the site or event
How the faith-based travellers see themselves and how they are viewed by the service providers
Spirit of place.
In order to create the best circumstances in ‘product Malta’ to help faith-based visitors reach their goal of fulfilment, there are five major aspects involved, namely
The big question remains: in what manner does ‘product Malta’, with regard to faith-based tourism, provide incentives or disincentives for those participants in view of the aim of fulfilment?
Dane Munro Melbourne, 1958) is an academic, educated in the Netherlands and in Malta. He has been acting as a cultural interpreter and a guide for over twenty years in Malta. He is currently reading for a Ph.D at the University of Malta on the topic of faith-based incoming tourism to Malta.
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A Sizzler of an Oven! When top international chefs and foodies agree about something the world should stop and listen. Josper charcoal ovens are now available in Malta and food can breathe easy. Taste has hit us, so move on, contact the agents and install a Josper oven now.
With a Josper oven, food that could have tasted special but doesn’t because it wasn’t cooked quickly enough, and lacks that lingering charcoal taste, can now be a reality. A reality that truly sizzles. Josper promise and deliver something different, something superior. They also deliver taste—added taste to the meat,
fish and vegetables you, or your chef, want to regale your diners with. Josper Charcoal Ovens are represented by AGP Systems Limited and one of the first to be installed was at Sciacca Grill in South Street, Valletta. The experience and the offering is
different from the run-of-the-mill restaurant. A definite must-go if you love meat but of course the Sciacca touch offers non-meat-lovers a few other plates to appease even vegetarians’ hunger pangs. Sciacca patrons do not just go to eat—they watch food being prepared and cooked. And the elegant—and super-fiery - Josper oven
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Sciacca Grill owner Chef Marvin Schembri and Becky Calleja working the Josper Grill at the far end of the restaurant is such a statement to see at work. Its fire will definitely ignite your taste-buds. The Josper range was started by two people nearly 50 years ago. One was a chef, the other a blacksmith. Their initial connection was that the chef would order iron ovens from the blacksmith. Both were truly talented— and both were Spanish, or as they would tell you Catalan. So they decided to merge their knowledge, forging ahead to make the world really enjoy food. And interestingly Spain today leads in food—their chefs are arguably kings—and in catering supplies. The range is available in nearly 100 countries where top restaurants do not just use the Josper, they swear by it. And diners obviously love it. So what makes Josper tick? The Josper is like a closed barbecue that burns
charcoal. The idea is to contain the heat and the smoky essence of the charcoal, adding the unique flavour of the finest embers, which gives a special texture and juiciness to all products. Working between 300°C in the chamber and 600°C on the grill (it can actually go up to 500°C), the ovens can grill a steak or roast a rack of lamb at the same time, preventing the product from baking and doing it in less time than needed if conventional ovens are used. There are two vents in the ovens, allowing the chef to increase or decrease the heat, and the closed section allows the charcoal to burn more efficiently than an open grill. When speed is of the essence, chefs and patrons alike appreciate the fact that a Josper oven cooks 35% faster than an open grill. And the dual ovengrill function offers the benefit of two machines in one.
Charcoal consumption is about 40% less than with an open grill and there are less flames, preventing food from drying out or burning. This also results in more quality in the workplace, removing the impact of constant heat on the chef as well as improved cleanliness, with the ash stored in a tray in a sealed cabinet below the oven. AGP Systems offer a more personalized service, giving clients assistance with startup, advice and an excellent after-sales service. When a top food writer like Niamh Shields says that “we need to talk about Jospers”, clearly this isn’t a normal oven, and the quality of the food produced in it is far from normal too. Call AGP Systems Limited now on 22792123 or email them on email@example.com. Your food will love you.
A Toast to another 50 great years of Medina Restaurant There are some places in the world that spell magic. Age hardly withers them—on the contrary time, usual culprit of making everything old and tired, keeps them alive, vibrant and special. Mdina must rank as one of these places, where time stood still and all is beautiful, all is magical. Deep inside Mdina’s winding roads lies one of its best-kept secrets, as magical as the medieval city itself. The Medina Restaurant has not only withstood the test of time—it has flourished and this year reached the venerable age of half a century.
It is said that Mdina was inhabited even in 4000BC, so the restaurant which bears the city’s old name is, by comparison, ridiculously young. But for a restaurant to have survived and kept its quality throughout all these years is more than a milestone. “It has been a great journey,” says Noel Debono, the brains behind most of the Medina success these last 35 years of the half century of Medina. “But obviously,” he goes on, “it took hard work, determination and vision. And the real success has been realising and accepting the need to move on and reinvent ourselves.” 50 years ago Malta was very different and, when the idea of the Medina Restaurant was hatched by the original owners, it was seen as worse than mad. It was a time when there were hardly any restaurants, diners numbered slightly more than what Mdina attracted back in the Stone Age, and the finesse of dining was also still a far-off dream. But a certain Michael Pullicino, a true gentleman and Mdina resident,
took the plunge and opened a restaurant in the heart of the Silent City. The building had previously housed a small tea-shop with a very limited offering, part of a bed and breakfast establishment run in typical style for those colonial times by two Englishwomen. Imagine the smell of tea, muffins, scones and toast with marmalade wafting around the beautiful courtyard. The place lent itself to Englishness—the languor, the architecture, the ferns and bougainvillea, were part of what attracted the Brits back then to come in droves and settle on our island rock. The clientele was limited mainly to fellow Brits and a few Maltese who knew their way around and felt comfortable mingling with the then overly-revered representatives of our masters. In 1964 Malta went through a great change and, just as Malta was preparing for independence, the Medina Restaurant was born. It was a great innovation—a restaurant in an old city with fine dining for patrons. The madness of Pullicino was proved otherwise as the venture, widely perceived as doomed to failure, became
a huge success. Malta was transforming itself and the time for restaurants had come. With Independence came some hardship and tough economic lessons but Malta learnt how to go it alone while changing its attitude to the British. Many still came to settle but the tourism industry boomed. Malta not only survived but, like the Medina, flourished. A young Noel Debono started working there after graduating in tourism—at the time also a first as hardly anyone looked upon tourism as a profession. Noel had worked in hotels abroad before he started to work at the Medina. In due course, young, enterprising, and born to be the perfect host, Noel, together with Carol Calleja, bought the restaurant from Michael Pullicino. Noel gave the restaurant a new look while introducing many events and happenings. Today displaying art, especially photography, in a restaurant is seen as a bit of a cliché but back in the 80s this was quite an innovation.
The Medina was transformed from just a place where the older generation dined to a buzzing centre for food. Dishes that had never been heard of before were introduced. Fine dining, exquisite food and ambience that captivated people from all corners of the world, became the trademark offering of the Medina. Success followed success and the diners who flock to the Medina bear testament to this. Royals, film stars and business moguls came to try out the food and spend a night to be remembered. Even royal siblings whispered sweet somethings to each other—to go and eat at the Medina. Princess Caroline was on a private holiday on a yacht in Malta—and her brother Prince Albert advised her to make sure she ate at the Medina. No visit to Malta, he said, is complete without a meal there. Independence brought affluence with it and, slowly but ever surely, Maltese diners were also becoming discerning and dining out in droves. And they too loved what Noel and his team had on offer. “My work is made easier,” Noel confides, “because the team really works. I had a chef for a long time who was part and parcel of the whole scenario at the restaurant—he knew my moods, my desires and my clients. We worked perfectly together. He moved on after a lifetime working with us to lecturing but the one who took over has fitted beautifully, like a glove. Just like his predecessor, who still comes and offers us his help and knowledge. The two chefs get on well—one is now an imparter of knowledge, the other a young man who wants to move on and change the world.” Noel admits he now takes it easier than he used to and would tend to
Medina's inner chamber stick to his tried and tested formulae. But he fights this attitude, realising that the new blood in the restaurant is what he was way back when he started –a pioneering young man out on a mission to change the culinary world. The Medina has had a chequered history, winning accolades from many, including a certificate of quality assurance awarded by a most prestigious organisation in England. The Medina has also featured regularly among the top restaurants in the Definitively Good Guide—even being voted second-best restaurant in 2013. Quite a feat for the restaurant with a heart of gold.
Eating at the Medina is always a joy, a celebration, with tastes to remember and service which sets a bar for others to follow. Noel’s son, Michael is a budding host too, an eager assistant to Noel while finishing his Business Analytic and Consulting Masters at Warwick Business School. He is a natural at making you feel at home with his charm and excellent manners. Like his father, and before that Michael Pullicino and the two English ladies, he puts true sparkle and magic into the job of hosting people at the Medina restaurant which will hopefully go on for at least another half century dishing out grand food in grand style and grander taste.
Heard the one about
the Irish GM?
Have you heard about the Irishman who went to the Hilton Malta and told them he was the new GM? They all roared. This is not a true story—it’s all baloney. But it’s the sort of joke the new Hilton GM could crack and love seeing all around him laugh. Matthew Mullan is an Irishman with a great sense of humour who has a great sense of commitment,
Photo: Sean Mallia
passion and vision for Hilton Malta.
Coming with 26 years of loyal service with Hilton worldwide, Mullan was undoubtedly singled out for this position because they know he can deliver. He is, after all, following in the footsteps of Clement Hassid, who was a most successful GM in the Hilton stable. Hassid was here for nearly nine years and, alongside his loyal team, managed to make the hotel the accepted benchmark which all hotels and restaurants want to emulate. The figures Hilton Malta reaches both in occupancy and rates are astonishing— and its reputation as one of the most successful Hiltons in Europe has been recognised by the hotel chain. For this Irishman to be chosen by the same chain to steer the hotel into new horizons was no mean feat. Meeting Mullan is a true joy. I always fear GMs, especially when I have to interview them at their own hotel. Their eyes are usually more on what’s happening around them than directly on mine. While proceeding to the Quarter Deck Terrace I ask Mullan how come he is so relaxed. He laughs
away my concern and says: “I’d worry if I didn’t have good people I trust to do their jobs close to perfection. As it is I know everything moves practically like clockwork so I really don’t need to look at the details obsessively. If a hotel this size and with so many facilities and guests needed my constant attention that would mean I should move on as I would be doing something drastically wrong.” Walking into the Quarter Deck Bar is like magic—whoever designed and thought out the place had more than a spark of genius. Inside you feel it is protecting you, like a beautiful bubble, and outside the view of the Portomaso Marina and the blue sea is another captivating part of our island. The bar is scheduled to be renovated—one of the first changes under the new GM. But my shock turned to satisfaction when I was assured the beauty of it— the dome-like structure, the painted ceiling and the flooring is to remain. Change is symptomatic of new leaders but if they know how to take the good of the past, move on and develop it for the future then that is a good
leader. Change is gradual and always necessary, according to Mullan. “Even if we are successful we need to keep on innovating, renewing our offering, looking at all the hotel and making even more leaps to keep the hotel the best there is here and abroad. This will be seen in all our plans for refurbishing and in reviewing our very successful F&B sector.” The F&B aspect is a most successful one for the hotel and more will be done to keep the client even more excited by what is on offer. To Mullan like most aspects of the hotel personnel the people behind the F&B sector at the Hilton Malta would be just as successful anywhere in the world. As we sit on the terrace enjoying the glorious view I ask Mullan how he feels stepping into such great shoes as Hassid’s. He tells me: “It truly feels good. He left a great legacy and people love him. I only need to carry on his own good work and, as he himself did, move on, add on, and make sure we remain a top jewel in a top destination.”
A portion of the Quarterdeck Bar's Outdoor area
“So Malta has weaved its magic on you already after your first months here?,” I ask Mullan. “I’m completely mesmerised by the island,” Mullan tells me. “People here are welcoming and friendly, it’s a safe and secure place, the history and heritage are astonishing: you really can’t ask for much more. “The sea and the weather are enticing too. And the numbers coming to the island and the work done by the stakeholders in the sector are way above scratch. All this makes my stay here easier and I really feel most welcome. My Irishness maybe helps but I already feel part of Malta. It is also very good for my wife and son, which does obviously help. Schooling is good and access from here to go back home visiting is easy, with very good connections. I was expecting good things when I was heading here but once you experience Malta all the positives grow instead of diminish when they are lived through. Which isn’t an easy thing to achieve. So Bravo Malta!” I ask him for some negatives. He thinks hard and contemplatively but still none are forthcoming. Mullan has mentioned numbers so I prod him about these golden numbers we have had these last five, going on six, years in tourism. Can we maintain them? Can we maintain our success? Can we extend the season so that the peak months are a bigger percentage of the year? Mullan has no doubt and is confident we will do so. Malta as a destination is now being discovered more and flight accessibility to the island has become a reality. According to Mullan, people are coming to Malta because they know they are going to find a good experience and they want to come here to share this experience. “We’re on the wanted list—in the right way of course. We are also learning how to offer a better experience and the
seasoned—and the new—traveller will find that enticing. And yes, moves to extend the season are in hand. Actually we are already seeing it, as more and more people are coming in months usually thought of as off-season.” Mullan feels the island is vibrant with new initiatives, new challenges being taken on both locally and abroad. Malta is a hot property not just as a Financial Services base but also in tourism and property. MTA and Government, MHRA and all the players are doing their bit and Malta is now on the radar of many holidayseekers. Is enough happening for the corporate segment, I ask. “It’s never enough but yes that aspect could be increased. MHRA have here taken the driving seat and have proposed to the authorities the setting-up of a truly professional Conference Bureau which will work on this and drive more business to the island. The results will take some years to come through but I’m confident it will happen. I look forward to its setting-up and feel proud that the private sector was proactive in its promulgation. It obviously makes me prouder to know that Julian Diacono, our Director of Business Development, pushed for it and is the prime instigator of this initiative.” “How do you, as a brand, and especially as the Malta operation, manage to employ people with such passion and loyalty?” I ask Mullan. “Hilton looks after all its people. This in turn makes them look after our guests graciously and effortlessly. Our people do not feign their hospitality— they live it, they breathe it, they share it. It’s all a chain really—and we are all part of it. The end result is that a satisfied client will not just return home happy but will speak about us and come back to us eagerly.”
I was expecting good things when I was heading here but once you experience Malta all the positives grow instead of diminish when they are lived through.
Talk of an actual cog in the great Hilton Malta wheel he was passed on makes me move on to a difficult issue. Is Mullan happy with the set-up he found and the components of that set-up? Again the fear that a new broom will clear all previous parts of the whole jigsaw comes to mind—but Mullan says that, not only is he happy with the team, he is honoured to be part of such a success-story. “After all,” he says, smiling at Sean Mallia, the young and talented photographer who was shooting away to get the Irishman’s best angle, “why change a winning team? Hilton Malta is successful not because of its great facilities and location and food. Those obviously help and make it great—but without the people, without their smile and assistance and friendliness, it will all mean a big zero and we would be a flop. I inherited a terrific team and I feel confident that together we can go even further.” As has already been seen in the first months Mullan has been in command at Hilton Malta. I come out of the interview with Matthew Mullan feeling breezy and good. This is what the man does to you and what he will surely do to Hilton Malta and Malta itself.
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Smart Technologies Limited, 1st Floor, ‘Navi Buildings’, Pantar Road, Lija. LJA 2021, Malta T: (+356) 21 443 327 | F: (+356) 21 443 328 E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.stl.com.mt
One of Life's
October is blooming. For us in Malta this is a second spring, when we start hoping for a little less heat and easy outings.
Garden-time now is a true joy with plenty to be done, from trimming overgrown shrubs to administering iron to our hardy plants that have survived the tough summer months. And in October it’s time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips and Hyacinths. Piscopo Gardens will now be gearing up for events at their Garden Centre—fresh and looking beautiful in all its colours and greenery. Now is the time to enjoy the centre and be inspired. Piscopo Gardens will also be getting
ready for the oncoming festive Christmas season. Besides the usual trees, shrubs and flowers, there is a whole array of live Christmas trees and a wide range of Father Christmas figures with all his joyous and joyful companions. We will ensure for you and all your loved ones and guests a truly memorable and colourful Christmas.
and established their very own Landscaping Department. This can provide clients with all gardening needs – be it construction of planters to trimming of overly grown plants. They can install irrigation systems and create little spaces of serenity at clients’ homes where one can relax and enjoy Mother Nature at her very best.
As a company Piscopo Gardens have grown and are living and reinforcing their motto – ‘Learn Something New Today’. Constantly trying to exceed their clients’ expectations, Piscopo Gardens lately launched
Piscopo Gardens in Burmarrad is open seven days a week between 9:00am and 6:00pm. Find them on Facebook to check on all their enticing offers. Or contact them on 2158 3755 or on email: email@example.com
GO delivers more innovation, Outperforms benchmarks during first half of 2014
GO plc, Malta’s first quadruple play operator offering fixed phone, mobile telephony, broadband internet services, and digital tv, delivered a set of strong results for the first six months of 2014. The Group increased its operating profits before non-recurring items by 13.3% to €11.8 million, outperforming international benchmarks for the telecommunications sector. This resilient performance is the result of a focused strategy and a number of initiatives to grow revenues and manage costs.
GO’s recently revamped product portfolio, including the Limitless Mobile and Homepack propositions, continues to perform well, while the Group has also continued to grow its client base to over 500,000 customer connections. Growth has been broad-based and covers a number of sectors, including broadband, TV and mobile. Yiannos Michaelides, GO’s Chief Executive Officer, highlighted that these strong interim results validated the Group’s clear and focused approach. “Four key thrusts underpin GO’s strategy; defending our position using our multi-play advantage, growing by focusing on new areas, enhancing operational efficiency and exploring new opportunities that go beyond the traditional core. It is clear that the Group’s strategy is effective and we shall continue to pursue it vigorously.’’ Such a strategy entails a major investment programme, the benefits of which are evident in the area of mobile internet through which GO customers can reach speeds of up to 42 Mbps, whilst in the fixed line network customers can reach speeds of 70 Mbps. Ongoing investments in GO’s fibre to the home (F TTH) network will also enable customers to experience speeds and quality of service no other technology can make available. The strength of GO’s mobile internet network has also enabled the recent launch of TV Anywhere. This service lets customers watch live TV on their smartphones and tablets, allowing the whole family to enjoy their favourite TV programmes at the same time. GO’s TV Anywhere service, is free for all GO Interactive TV customers and is available wherever they are throughout Malta and Gozo.
Users can watch any TV Anywhere channel in line with their Gold or Silver subscription. GO Sports Interactive customers can also watch GO Sports 1 and GO Sports 2 from their smartphone and tablet. In the Business segment, GO remains the undisputed leader in providing total communications solutions which are unmatched in terms of the capabilities, resiliency and redundancy provided. These solutions also make GO a leading provider of services to the hotels and restaurants industry in Malta. GO and MHRA, in fact, signed a partnership agreement at the end of 2013. Speaking about the agreement, MHRA President Matthew Pace said: “GO is the leading communications operator with a reputation for efficiency, reliability and for providing top-notch quad-play services in the local market. MHRA’s partnership with GO is strongly in line with our drive towards the ongoing upgrade of our product and our service. GO’s role in this respect is twofold: to provide visitors with topclass communications services and to help the industry maximise on the huge benefits and opportunities that the tourism industry has to offer.” Most recently, GO has also finalised its acquisition of 25 per cent of the shareholding in Cablenet Communications Systems Limited, a Cypriot operator, to offer a tripleplay package covering TV, fixed telephony and highspeed internet access. Commenting on the acquisition, Michaelides, said: “We see synergies between GO and Cablenet and between Malta and Cyprus and believe that, by pursuing this growth opportunity, we will be able to generate further value for all our respective shareholders.”
a Family Affair
The Delicata winemaking family from left to right â€“ Michael Delicata, V.George Delicata, Mario Delicata and Matthew Delicata
Delicata is still an independent family-run company now solidly in the fourth generation of Delicatas. Today the company is run by Mario, Michael and Matthew who have all inherited the love and the passion not just for the business but also for the wine itself, from their father George, who is still actively involved in the company. They also inherited this love from their grandfather Emmanuel who is now 97 but retired. Wine has always been a big talking point in Malta, as it is all over the world, a product that helps us appreciate life and enhances discussion. But one thing is certain -â€” Maltese wine is now more than just another wine, it is a part of our culture and heritage. Visitors to our shores love exploring all that is ours, everything indigenous. It is a great feat that our local vintners produce wine which is not just first class but has earned internationally acclaimed recognition.
Locals and visitors have become more discerning and expect hot climate Maltese wines to be good quality, food-friendly, fresh, fruit-driven and have bags of ripe Mediterranean flavours. Savvy wine drinkers know that it is fairly common knowledge throughout the world of wine that family-run winemakers have an unrivalled passion about the wines they create. They then proudly exhibit their family name on the wines from the family winery.
To many a discerning wine drinker their creations are recognised as being so much more than just a wine, they are an actual representation of not only the family members who make them, but of their history and traditions, their intimacy with the land, and more often than not, their very long, very warm, very human story. Established in 1907 Delicata is no different. It is also the oldest winemaking company on the island.
Delicata’s 350 year old vaulted wine cellars
Back then wine worldwide was hardly the sophisticated drink we know today. But progress not only hit foreign shores, but ours as well, and Delicata moved with the times and now offers a vast range of top-quality, award-winning, brands. In 2014 the company won ten prestigious international wine medals including two golds, taking their full tally of awards to an impressive 94.
A few more to go and the company will reach a ton of medals. Quite a feat in this most difficult of markets where the competition is rife, fighting it out with the big, international boys. This year’s awards were even more appreciated internally. It was the first time that the winery’s wine-maker, Matthew Delicata, had a solo vintage since taking over that role.
Throughout these years, especially since Malta’s accession to the EU, Delicata has invested heavily in equipment, technology and education, complementing the constant investment made in the vineyards themselves. All this will ensure that Delicata, as leaders in their field, will keep the taste of Malta truly alive and in demand.
THIS YEAR’S AWARD WINNING DELICATA WINES
’A family winemaker with over 90 international wine awards’
Corporate Websites: far from just an Online Business Card
In an environment where the dynamic and eventful world of social media has become an intrinsic part of any businessâ€™s marketing and client-base development platform, companies often find themselves questioning the viability and the value of their static and one-way communicative website which, more often than not, stares at clients in the face and hardly elicits any active response.
A snippet from the Smart Technologies Website According to figures from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report quoted in Forbes, marketing through social media is far from just a trend. 94% of all businesses with a marketing department have used social media as part of their marketing platform and over 60% of marketers are devoting the equivalent of a full work day to social media marketing development and maintenance. In addition, 43% of people aged 20-29 spend more than 10 hours a week on social media sites. Of course this generates results, with 85% of businesses with a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reporting an increase in their market exposure. 58% of businesses that have used social media marketing for over 3 years reported an increase in sales over that period. Where does this leave corporate websites? Many companies have started dedicating plenty of time and resources to their social media marketing, to the extent that they now view their website as merely a corporate online business-card. A number of companies are therefore missing out on the opportunities that company websites offer, especially when one takes into consideration search engine
optimisation and the exposure that the right language can bring to one’s website. “Although we have witnessed the rise of social media and we are constantly leveraging the opportunities and the potential that these platforms can bring to our business, we still believe in the value of our corporate website and we have recently invested a lot of time and resources to update our site with new content, new imagery and a fresher and more approachable look,” states Joe Aquilina, CEO of Smart Technologies Ltd. “We feel that websites still remain very viable and worth investing in, especially from a search engine optimisation point of view. This is why the past months have been dedicated to a complete overhaul of our website www. stl.com.mt not only aesthetically but mostly from a product point of view. The content and the information now show how the company has evolved over the past years, the development that has taken place in operations and our extensive portfolio of services that now include IT renting, leasing, procurement, outsourcing and a growing array of solutions in the hospitality, education and digital signage sectors,” added Joe Aquilina.
According to the latest research released a few weeks ago by BusinessWire, 93% of reporters visit company websites to do research, while 77% use online newsrooms as a research tool. Those two choices were well above social media (42%), trade publications (41%), blogs (34%) or Wikipedia (32%). Websites and newsrooms are even more reliable than company spokespeople, with whom only 42% of reporters communicate according to the research. Lack of regular updates to your organisation’s website and online newsroom could make you miss you out on substantial coverage. BusinessWire’s report in fact added that most journalists (88%) seek out press releases in online newsrooms. About 70% want supporting facts, while 66% said they are also looking for story angles. Half of them said they want quotable sources, company background, and trending topics. “If anyone, be they media or potential local or international customers, is seeking the latest information about our operations and the sector in which we operate, they can safely find this information on our corporate website,” concluded Joe Aquilina.
Sustainability: a Key Driver for Hospitality in 2015 For those in the hotel and hospitality business who thought that the “green” wave and concerns about sustainability would disappear quietly, the Hospitality 2015 report by Deloitte will be an eye opener. The report identifies the sustainability agenda among the key trends that will define success in the market place in 2015. “Sustainability will become a defining issue for the industry in 2015 and beyond. Rising populations and increasingly scarce resources will provide a challenging business environment in which sustainability will need to be embedded within all facets of the industry, rather than regarded as a standalone issue.”
According to the report, “The key challenge faced by the industry in 2015 will be the adaptation of the existing asset base, which will be expensive and disruptive. “Regulatory, economic and stakeholder pressure will drive sustainability in the industry, creating a virtuous circle that will see social and business norms change with surprising speed.
“95 per cent of business travellers surveyed believe the hotel industry should be undertaking ‘green’ initiatives. “By 2015, the consumption of goods and services seen as environmentally irresponsible is likely to be challenged by new social norms. Luxury items that fall into this category risk being seen as increasingly unacceptable.”
The new situation faced by hotel owners and managers, according to the report, is that “sustainability has risen up political, consumer and business agendas faster than any other issue.” Sustainability, the consulting firm believes, “is now an accepted dynamic in the socioeconomic and political environment of the 21st century.”
The report predicts that: “By 2015, shifting consumer and voter attitudes will have continued their current trajectory, forcing governments and political parties to address the socio-economic landscape and ‘real’ market in which businesses operate. We believe that the convergence of political, consumer and business agendas around sustainability will be a major historical landmark in the development of our society.”
Growing importance of
sustainability in hospitality
“Hospitality is vulnerable to water shortages, relies heavily on built assets, consumes significant amounts of electricity and, generally speaking, is an item on which spending is discretionary. These factors ensure that hospitality will be significantly impacted by sustainability issues in the future.” “Sustainability initiatives currently range from operational changes such as linen and towel re-use programmes, energy management projects or using green cleaners to development initiatives such as pursuing green building certifications like LEED.” “Our interviews with hospitality executives confirm that sustainability is no longer considered primarily as a marketing issue and is now increasingly seen as a prominent factor in decision making, although it is yet to be fully embedded into business thinking.” By 2015 we expect sustainability to become a business imperative, requiring companies to educate their organisation on the changing consumer and regulatory environment and to derive strategies to maximise their market position.
"hospitality will be significantly impacted by sustainability issues in the future"
Read the Deloitte Hospitality 2015 report through the following link: http://www.deloitte.com/mt/ hospitality2015
About Deloitte Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/mt/about for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms. Deloitte Malta refers to a civil partnership, constituted between limited liability companies, and its affiliated operating entities; Deloitte Services Limited, Deloitte Legal, Deloitte Technology Solutions Limited and Deloitte Audit Limited. The latter is authorised to provide audit services in Malta in terms of the Accountancy Profession Act. A list of the corporate partners, as well as the principals authorised to sign reports on behalf of the firm, is available at www.deloitte.com/mt/about. Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 200,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.
Bank of Valletta: Best Practices and Business Opportunities
E-Commerce for Hotels Simone Xuereb
Locally, the number of hotels having their own web portal is still on the low side and they are generally present on the web via the plethora of booking engines available. Whilst this is very useful and of utmost importance, it is definitely not an adequate substitute to having your own website.
Having your own platform definitely provides your business with more added value. Through an internet portal, your business can engage regularly with customers, increase your visibility, feature more prominently in search results and, even more importantly, enable your business to engage with your market. Competition in the industry is fierce and margins are constantly getting tighter.
Having your own website can definitely be the solution to maximise exposure for your business, whilst concurrently increasing your revenue.
such as Search Engine Optimisation or user interviews. Customers will ask about your business and give their feedback whether your business is online or not.
Having your own web presence puts your company in the driver seat of your online business, as opposed to being at the mercy of third-party strategies
By having a presence, you have a channel to which people may refer, and, more importantly, via which you can receive feedback and respond.
One significant benefit of having a direct online booking system is the possibility of having a merchant account with Bank of Valletta which guarantees a better cash flow due to settlements in the account within 24 hours. Your business saves on commissions to third parties, including booking engines, thereby leaving a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. The digital world and related technology has ushered in a whole new world in terms of convenience. Anyone can book online from the comfort of his home, office, or even while he is travelling. Through these channels your business can offer potential customers that convenience without losing out on the personal customer service. Your business will be augmenting its customer service offering, whilst making itself more accessible. The end result will be reflected in more delighted customers and possibly increased business turnover.
At Bank of Valletta, we offer a number of different solutions which can be tailored to suit your needs and help you achieve your online goals. Our aim is to help you grow your online business in a sustainable way. Over and above the various solutions we offer, BOV guarantees a highly efficient service, personalised to the individual client’s requirements, on a 24x7 basis. The Bank provides all the necessary support, from both a technical and administrative perspective, to help you set up the necessary infrastructure in this respect. Should you be interested in exploiting the possibility that the digital world has to offer, we will assist you from the initial stage of setting up the website, and beyond. We’ll tap into our experience to guide you about the pitfalls you need to look out for, as well as provide you with advice on how to make the most of developments in the market, both locally and abroad.
The virtual marketplace still generates questions and an element of fear amongst operators and customers alike. Our staff within the Bank’s E-commerce section can provide you with advice and peace of mind. Moreover, the Bank seeks to keep itself updated with all the developments in the market in order to ensure that its channels remain well-secured at all times. In fact, over time, the Bank has introduced a number of measures intended to detect and minimise fraud, such as 3D Secure which provides an added level of protection whereby you, as a merchant, will be protected against fraudulent transactions. Should you wish to discuss further, please feel free to contact our staff at the BOV Ecommerce section on 2275 7564 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Simone Xuereb is Manager E-commerce at Bank of Valletta.
EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP in Hospitality
David J. Dingli
Over recent years, several large companies have recruited non-hospitality professionals into senior positions. There are mixed opinions on whether this represents a detrimental trend. One perspective advocates that hospitality companies could be effectively led by those from outside the industry as these people bring additional strengths and experiences.The other school of thought says that a thorough understanding of the industry is a necessity. Probably there is no conclusive answer as a lot depends on the individual’s leadership characteristics. What is sure is that, considering the challenges presented above, the key to producing good results stems from having trustworthy leadership. This is a continuation of the article “Leadership Challenges for Hospitality Managers” which appeared in Insider issue 8 page 51.
Strong leaders in all industries share many qualities such as patience, empathy and courage – Having a vision is often seen as being the most important leadership quality, but for those who work in hospitality, possessing excellent communication skill including the ability to listen could be the most relevant. Staff know that an active listener cares about them and their message. Communication includes being open, sharing new ideas, getting
staff more involved in the organisation and creating excitement and enthusiasm about work. Effective leaders are good communicators who are able to receive information and ideas from others then convey them effectively to others. At the core, exceptional customer service consists of “listening” to or studying the target market, identifying its needs and anticipating the fulfillment of those needs, sometimes
before the customers themselves. Hospitality leaders must exercise the same ability with their staff, meeting their expectations regularly and listening carefully to their ideas, questions and concerns as the heart of any hospitality business is its people. If one only displays managerial skills then we will observe a person focusing on the systems that must be in place in order for a hotel, restaurant, or casino to run smoothly.
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we are experiencing cramming, and a unique presentation is key to the customer ‘wow’ factor.
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to “an individual’s capability to function effectively across cultures and as a leader of a diverse workforce which has become an essential skill as it goes beyond just having knowledge of different cultures. It examines the motivation and skills as well as behaviours and strategies of dealing with people from different cultures. Being culturally intelligent means identifying behaviours that are universal, behaviours that are cultural and also being capable to distinguish behaviours that are particular to an individual in a specific situation. When leadership qualities are in place we will observe a person capable of looking beyond these processes. Leaders observe their people. They look for strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to utilise employee skills to the ultimate benefit of the company and the individual concerned. The hospitality business is about building relationships with guests and staff, so building trust, consistency and transparency are also crucial attributes. Furthermore, leadership qualities of managers in the hospitality industry bring about mutual respect in the work environment. The employee challenge Economic recovery has a downside for many industries: the emergence of high turnover rates. Hospitality managers must therefore be able to motivate and engage employees who may be just “passing through” on their way to other careers. Furthermore, as rates of turnover increase, so does the incidence of younger, less experienced workers, who often require more training and oversight than experienced ones. Hospitality and tourism are service industries, so attracting people who are passionate about customer service is imperative. One must attract the “right people” and be able to provide
them with clearer career paths. The success of recruiting staff who thrive on providing excellent service has helped to project a more positive and professional image and promote career opportunities available for hardworking and talented people. Starwood Central London Hotels is an excellent example of a company that has managed to enjoy well below industry average (approx. 30%) staff turnover figures of just 16% through its excellent leadership style. The industry, and this applies to Malta too, is also witnessing a changing profile of its employees. Over recent years there has been a significant increase in employment of staff from the former Eastern Bloc countries – many of whom could be betterqualified and have a different work ethic than their Maltese colleagues.
What are the implications for hospitality leaders? The issues that this raises for leaders who have to manage a multi-cultural workforce include giving appropriate training; encouraging language training; treating people as equals; and having cultural sensitivity. Leaders need to acquire a skill called Cultural Intelligence (CI). CI refers
Transformational Leadership in the Hospitality Industry. Business sense is the ability to understand the business end of the hospitality industry. There is an element of the mysterious involved, with inclinations and feelings seemingly coming out of nowhere that at times save the day, so the art of management and leadership is a very noticeable feature.
Furthermore, as rates of turnover increase, so does the incidence of younger, less experienced workers, who often require more training and oversight than experienced ones.
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ipad # ipad or laptop or laptop # ipad or laptop loyalty # loyalty program program # loyalty program no #upfront no upfront costscosts # no upfront costs multiple # multiple locations locations # multiple locations unlimited # unlimited support support # unlimited support inventory # inventory management management # inventory management monitor # monitor business business remotely remotely # monitor business remotely no #servers no servers or special or special equipment equipment # no servers or special equipment
790 55555 t 790 55555 t 790 55555 email@example.com e firstname.lastname@example.org e email@example.com w www.scope.com.mt w www.scope.com.mt w www.scope.com.mt
On the other end of the spectrum are the written policies, procedures and systems that must be followed. The scientific side of management takes priority in their development. Good leaders combine the voice of experience with sound business practices to move ahead when an opportunity presents itself, to tackle challenges as they arise, and set the stage for corporate growth. The hospitality industry is characterised by intensive use of labour and high customer interaction. Hospitality managers must demonstrate transformational leadership characteristics by developing a strong sense of vision to clarify and communicate organisational objectives and to be able to create a working environment that encourages motivation, commitment, teamwork and continuous improvement. In order to provide the highest quality of service tourists require and to reach maximum efficiency, the industry demands a committed workforce. Leaders must not only surround themselves with the best people but also emphasise their team's importance in achieving strategic goals and in some ways downplay their own individual accomplishments in order to promote the sense of teamwork. As it is known that job satisfaction positively affects employees' organisational commitment, the hospitality industry in Malta should seek those who practice transformational leadership, characterised by having leaders capable of inspiring employees to perform over and beyond the job requirements, with the direct effect of increasing the organisation's efficiency. Leaders must encourage their subordinates to participate in the decision-making process and involve them in setting goals that affect their performance.
Leaders who are capable of clarifying the organisation's mission, vision, and priorities inspire trust, confidence and admiration. The emotional commitment that employees will demonstrate when exposed to this kind of trusting working environment ensures that guests will be experiencing the best possible service. In this way, hospitality managers can go beyond ordinary expectations by inspiring new ways of thinking, providing a stimulating learning experience for their staff and enabling a strong sense of organisational commitment. Doing so creates a greater sense of commitment to the organisation's goals and mission. Good leaders also provide clear constructive and comprehensive feedback regarding employees' performance and career development. Transformational leaders must also provide genuine individualised consideration. Such a leader is able to recognise variations in subordinates' skills, abilities, and ambitions., then create opportunities to enable subordinates to develop their skills and capabilities and in this way clearly demonstrate to employees a strong belief in their personal growth and the fulfilment of their own career ambitions.
References (abridged) Cutler A.; Growing Hospitality Leaders; http://www. hospitalityleadership.com/Growing_ Hospitality_Leaders.html Davies, J.; Upgrade your operation through honesty and leadership; Training Trends, H&MM, November 9, 2009, p 22, hotelworldnetwork.com Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu; Deloitte Hospitality 2015: Seven Key Trends to Shape Future Success http://www. deloitte.com/view/en_MT/mt/ Fakhreidin H.; The effect of cultural intelligence on employee performance in international hospitality industries: A case from the hotel sector in Egypt; International Journal of Business and Public Administration, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 2011 National Statistics Office (Malta) News Release (044/2104) 6th March 2014 Tracey J.B.; Hinkin T.; Transformational Leaders in the Hospitality Industry, The Cornell H.R.A. Quarterly, April 1994, pg 18-24
David J. Dingli M.Phil(Maastricht);MBA(Brunel);B.Elec. Eng.(Hons.). is the managing consultant of Resource Productivity Consulting Services, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, operational efficiency improvements and management development & training. (www. rpcsmalta.com). He is also an Assistant Professor with Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands and has lectured at MBA level in 27 countries throughout Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.
A member of the VJ Salomone Group of Companies
25 years providing systems to the top restaurants in Malta Point of Sale Systems • Complete solution with handheld terminals • • Huge clients' database ideal for delivery service
Tel: 21442123 Fax: 21442128 Joe Gasan Street, Pieta PTA1410
32 sites to visit
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Visiting Ask at receptionValletta for more details made virtually better City Explorer now offering Valletta GPS tour After three years of research, City Explorer has launched Malta’s first personal and audiovisual GPS guide, allowing visitors the freedom to experience Valletta at their leisure while simultaneously educating and informing them about the sites. Tourists visiting Malta always wonder where they can go, who will take them there and how to find what they’re looking for. With the help of the City Explorer Valletta GPS tour – which is easy to use, effective and informative – they can do just that. To add to
the experience, the tour has been translated into various languages and voiceover talents have holistically complemented it with a selection of languages available at the touch of a button. “While our main objective was to
have a well-informed customer, we wanted this experience to be done at one’s own pace,” said City Explorer operations manager Chris Micallef. Due to the flexibility of City Explorer, one can experience the tour in as little as three hours or as much
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as a full day. Tourists take photos of monuments in Valletta, the Grand Harbour, City Gate or the Opera House, frequently wondering what historical events must have taken place years ago at these Valletta landmarks. City Explorer puts an end to these questions as it delves into the history of each landmark, leaving the tourist well-informed. Since Valletta is a busy capital city, one can easily miss out on major historical sites, especially when one visits alone or without an expert guide. The GPS will not only take visitors from one place to another but will also trigger the points of interest once they are in close proximity. City Explorer will shortly be covering other important tourist areas, such as Mdina and Rabat. “In order to be at the forefront of the market, we made it our mission to provide the most sophisticated system, making it as simple as possible to use. These two elements produce a trustworthy service, with customers always having the information at hand,” said Mr Micallef. The personal guide can be paused at any time, allowing tourists the freedom to roam and set their own pace. It offers audio commentary as well as visual maps and photos of important locations. Points of interest are explained in detail by historians through video footage of places with accompanying pictures. Tour operators and agents can also try out this revolutionary device first hand by visiting the City Explorer offices in Valletta. Visit www.cityexplorertours.com for more visual information.
Useful information How do I book the tour? Upon arrival at the hotel, you can ask for a City Explorer booking. Can I book direct? You can also register your e-mail address with City Explorer. Be sure to print the booking form, as you will need to present it to one of our authorised dealers, based in Valletta. Direct booking can be made via the Book Now option on the site www.cityexplorertours.com. Can I share the tour with my partner? Yes. The system is equipped with two earphone sockets that will be available to you with the device. Is it possible to book more than one system for a larger group? Yes. We encourage group booking because you can share your findings or discuss further while having a break or during a group lunch. Group bookings attract discounts, so ask your agent to check for you once you are at the hotel. Where do I collect the gadget from? You can collect it from any authorised dealer. The dealer’s details will be printed on the same booking form. Will I have a tour guide? The device is your tour guide, designed and connected to GPS, allowing you freedom to roam around at your leisure. Can I stop for coffee or shop during the tour? Yes, once your location is locked, the system can recognise your position, so you can stop as often as you want. How long is the tour without stops? We recommend that you start the tour in the morning as it is around three hours long (with no stops). However, a full day will take you all around Valletta. Can I visit one or more of the attractions listed in the tour? Yes you can and should. Allow at least three hours of the day to visit some of the attractions in Valletta. How do I return the gadget and at what time? You will return this at the pick-up point/authorised dealer. Closing times vary, so confirm return time when you pick up.
The World of Payments
Insider meets Jon Bayliss, Director, Global Payments Malta and Head of Direct merchant Acquiring Global Payments Europe.
Insider: Global Payments Limited, Malta offers card processing solutions. What, in a nutshell, is the full range of services you offer? Jon Bayliss: Primarily in Malta we offer a service that accepts card payments in a face to face environment through point of sale card payment terminals (POS). About 85% of our business in Malta is connected to hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and other similar clients in various vertical segments. The remaining business comes from our ecommerce clients which include many official organisations and departments which actively promote payment for services via their websites such as licences and permits etc. We also have developed a very specialised unattended POS product service for a food-ordering outlet at the Sliema Ferries.
I: And for the hospitality sector in particular? JB: For the hospitality business our dynamic currency conversion capability is a value-added offering and benefits not just the consumer but also the merchant as the foreign exchange commissions are then shared between us and the merchants. It’s now been taken up by over 600 outlets and has proved not just innovative but also commercially attractive. Consumers get to pay in their own currency knowing there will be no surprises in conversion once they get back home. Visitors who opt to pay in their own currency benefit from an up-to-date rate and not an approximate one. So this also takes away the headache of converting the amounts into their own currency when shopping, dining or paying their hotel bills.
I: You are HSBC’s preferred supplier for card processing. A mega bank like that choosing you must give you confidence in what you do and offer.
JB: The story of HSBC and Global Payments goes back a long way and the relationship has always been very good. Global Payments is the preferred supplier of HSBC but we are a totally separate company. We work in total synergy—they know what we offer, how we operate and what we can deliver. In Malta we were able to use the HSBC name and brand for a while but from June 2014 we rebranded to Global Payments Malta.
I: You offer added security and more assistance to outlets in the hospitality business. How is that? JB: All merchants have to be on their guard when transacting anything electronically. It is the merchant’s responsibility to ensure compliance to card brand and security requirements. All major credit card operators are very vigilant and we do our best to inform our merchants about security. What we did was promote a campaign to make merchants aware of the dangers and pitfalls and the steps that should be taken. Merchants responded very well to our campaigns and many did review and amend their procedures. We also issue a regular newsletter which explains our products as well as highlighting security issues. Global Payments takes security very seriously and although in Malta fraud is not as big an issue as in some other countries, we, the merchants and the consumers should be ever vigilant. Merchants should always ensure that consumers never lose sight of their cards and the consumers in turn should do the same. Today coverage is good and merchants should make sure to use mobile POS in restaurants so that cards need never be taken away from clients.
I: What is happening on the innovative side? What can we expect in the future?
JB: The future is always interesting in this line. New ideas are being followed and developed. And the new way of thinking is that product development is a means to add value to the client. The new wave hitting the markets right now is contactless cards, tap and go. Customers will just have to tap their wallet or phone to purchase anything, even bus tickets when the systems for payment are in place. Another innovation is in the hospitality area where in some markets we can facilitate splitting bills of customers from the same table. Most restaurants now accept cards so why carry cash when a card is so much safer—and you can also keep tab of your purchases in your own currency if you live outside the Eurozone.
I: What is the biggest competitor to card usage? JB: Cash remains the biggest competitor of course. It is still used extensively.
I: Is Global Payments too big for some small clients? JB: Not at all. We service all sorts of clients. If it is expected to be sufficient card turnover for a merchant to have a POS machine installed we install it free of charge. We then offer a personalised service which I believe is really difficult to beat. We have a 24/7 call centre and also offer a range of interfaces. We have Relationship Managers who have a set number of businesses to oversee and make sure they are given the right service. We believe in face-to-face solutions and have a policy that clearly states that no one size fits all. This could be a cliché but it’s definitely one that has worked and will continue working, certainly in the world of Global Payments.
Catering Supplies (Equipment)
Golden Harvest Mfg Co Ltd UB21, Industrial Estate, San Gwann SGN 3000
T: 21 332 391 F: 21 310 044 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
(dealers in pre-owned and refurbished imported catering equipment) Mario Said Mob: 99 49 2630 mscateringequipment@ gmail.com
Disposables & Food Storage
General Cleaning/ Professional Window Cleaning
Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi
T: 21 472 552 E:Isabelle.farrugia@ozosystem -malta.com
Di Rocco Trading Ltd
Di Rocco Business Complex, Prince Albert Street Albert Town, Marsa MRS 1045
Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi
T: 21 472 552 E: email@example.com W: www.ozosystem-malta.com
T: 2122 7342 / 4 F: 2122 7345 M: 79478222 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.diroccotrading.com
Flags & Banners Catering Supplies
Kitchen Hygiene and Housekeeping products
G1 Triq Tal Handaq Tal Handaq Qormi QRM 4000 T: 2141 3154 F: 2131 3183 E: email@example.com W: www.jmpmalta.com
Gauci Borda & Co. Ltd
53/54, Msida Road, Gzira GZR 1400 T: 2133 4255, 21 313 748 F: 2134 3604 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.gauciborda.com
Hotel Chambermaid Service/Personal Maid Service
Kitchen Exhaust/ HVAC Systems Cleaning
TCR Services Ltd 15 Triq Iz-Znuber Mosta MST 4000
T: 2143 3200 M: 9945 5152 F: 2142 2020 E: email@example.com W: www.tcrcleaningmalta.com www.cleaningservicesmalta.com
J & E Griscti Ltd Ozosystem
Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi
Importers, General Merchants & Commercial Agents. â€œMinervaâ€?, Quarries Street, Msida MSD 1103
Tel: 21 472 552 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ozosystem-malta.com
T: 2123 3375, 21 230 071 F: 2123 6904 M: 9947 6732, 9949 9219 E:email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Middlesea Ins. p.l.c
Dedicated Micros (Malta) Limited
Middle Sea House, Floriana FRN 1442
T: Tel: 21 246 262 F: Fax: 21 248 195 E: email@example.com W: www.middlesea.com
BLB017, Bulebel Ind. Est., Zejtun ZTN 3000
T: 2148 3673 F: 2144 9170 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scope Software Solutions
14 Gio Batta Saydon Street, Zurrieq ZRQ 3560 M: 7979 6629 E: email@example.com W : www.scope.com.mt
In Design (Malta) Ltd. Zebbug Road, Attard ATD 9027
T: 2700 8080 / 2149 8860 F: 2149 4698 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.idmalta.com
our interior design studio create stunning interiors for domestic and commercial properties. our vast selection of products & our made-to-measure philosophy guarantee a result that is striking & original.
rabat / sliema / valletta
t: 20 10 20 30
Entertainment & Culture
Fat Harry’s Pub
Fat Harry’s pub has a unique British pub theme décor walls cluttered with pictures of bygone days, wooden beams, old plank flooring and shelves full of memorabilia for a walk through time. A relaxed atmosphere is always in the air at Fat Harry’s, which also has outdoor seating for summer or for the lovely Maltese winter days. Every night Fat Harry’s boasts some of Malta’s top entertainers besides a Big Screen showing various sports. One can also enjoy a game of darts, dominoes or cards. The Pub always has a fully stocked bar of local and world renowned beers on draught, wines, cocktails and shooters besides a very good selection of imported spirits competitively priced as house specials. Food prepared in house by our team of chefs using fine local produce and ingredients, is served all day. Fat Harry’s favourite is the Traditional Fish n’ Chips and Mushy Peas followed closely by the famous 200g Harry burger and some very tasty rice dishes.
Open every day from 12:00 - 02:00 at Bay Square, Bugibba. Tel: 2157 2163, 2158 1298 Open weekdays from 11.00 - 23.00 and weekends from 11.00 - 23.30 at Level -1, Malta International Airport. Tel: 2757 2163
If you are looking for the freshest seafood, fresh fish and tasty Irish beef steak and you want to spoil yourself, Tal-Familja Restaurant is the place to dine. We serve a variety of seafood and shellfish that is brought in daily from local seafood markets. The restaurant’s most
popular starter is the antipasti of shellfish and this is usually followed up with a grilled or poached fresh fish or a mouth-watering prime cut Irish beef steak accompanied with side dishes of roast potatoes, grilled fresh vegetables and freshly- made salad. Our home made desserts include panna cotta, crème brulée and hot chocolate pudding served with a scoop of ice-cream. Guests can choose to sit outside on the terrace enjoying country views or inside in cool air-conditioned comfort. Early bookings are recommended!! We are now accepting reservations for staff parties... have a look at our staff parties set menus on our website. You can also join us on Facebook. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11.00 - 23.30 Mondays closed all day Triq il-Gardiel, Marsascala Tel: 2163 2161 - 9947 3081 www.talfamiljarestaurant.com Now also open Palazzo Preca in Strait Street, Valletta
The Mirabelle restaurant has been operated by the Debattista family since 1980. In 1999 the restaurant was completely renovated and themed with a cottage style interior, giving you a warm and relaxed feeling the minute you walk in. It is perfect for lunch with friends, a special celebration, or a romantic dinner for two. One can also dine alfresco, with St. Paul’s Islands just across the bay. One of the family, Godwin, is the head chef and he always uses fresh ingredients for the good selection of pizza, pasta, salads and succulent steaks. His Specials of the Day have become very popular with our guests. Quality of service is very important at the Mirabelle, and another member of the family is always around, helping out and making sure that all are enjoying their food.
Open every day from 9:30 - 23:30 at Bay Square, Bugibba. Tel: 2157 2163, 2158 1298
The Villa Situated in the heart of St. Julian’s, the Villa is a 19th century property with fantastic sea views and fully converted to offer you the best facilities to suit any occasion.
Just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of the Sliema shops, La Rive offers its clientele a chillout lounge serving exquisite food and wine. Its chic ambience presents a clean design with beautiful views of the high, well-lit bastions of Valletta and Manoel Island. This tranquil wine bar is wonderfully lit up by candles at night, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and nibbles, and suitable for a quick getaway for a bite at lunch. An appetising selection of dishes varies from Ravioli Asparagi to crispy beef salad or Chicken Caesar to a delicious ciabatta. One may also choose from the extensive daily specials and vegetarian alternatives are available. La Rive offers an extensive wine list of 100 local and foreign wines as well a fully equipped bar and comfy seating, either on the melt-into leather sofas or the bucket chairs. La Rive also caters for private functions. Opening hours: Monday to Sunday From 10.00 a.m. to 01.00 a.m La Rive 33-34, Tigné Seafront, Sliema Tel: 2131 8323, 9944 5102 email: email@example.com www.larivecafe.com
In this sense, The Villa is unique as it is a truly multifunctional venue in the heart of Malta’s tourist and business center with added facilities to complement its ideal seaside location. The Villa is the perfect venue for a conference banquet or corporate event. With a total of 5 different areas to choose from, both indoors and out, there is a room to suit any occasion. Over the years we have established a reputation for delivering beyond expectation the Villa will make it happen every time Enjoying both indoors and out, The Villa can guarantee that your plans will be executed irrespective of the weather conditions. Whatever your choice the Villa is yours to enjoy!! The Villa, Main Street, Balluta Bay, St.Julian's STJ 1017 Malta Tel: 2311 2273, 7945 1513 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism? We have a clear picture. At Deloitte, we know you need more than a functional solution to your business problems, you need real industry insight - a clear picture. Making informed decisions is key to the effective management of all business organisations. With close to 20 years of experience in analysing performance, costs, trends, and general market information of the tourism industry, the Deloitte Malta firm is well established to provide advisory services and business solutions to operators in this sector. To learn more please contact Raphael Aloisio at email@example.com or David Bonett at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms. Deloitte Malta refers to a civil partnership, constituted between limited liability companies, and its affiliated operating entities; Deloitte Services Limited, Deloitte Legal, Deloitte Technology Solutions Limited and Deloitte Audit Limited. The latter is authorised to provide audit services in Malta in terms of the Accountancy Profession Act. A list of the corporate partners, as well as the principals authorised to sign reports on behalf of the firm, is available at www.deloitte.com/mt/about. © 2014. For information, contact Deloitte Malta.
Insider Malta Issue 10