A quarterly review of the hospitality industry VOL 2 No 33 March 2011
A year in review
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2011 issue 33
Cover: Josef Formosa Gauci. See page 35 Cover Photography: Mario Galea Design: Defined Branding www.definedbranding.com Mhra is a quarterly publication issued by Crest Limited on behalf of the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association Nr. 2, Gallina Street, Kappara San Gwann, SGN 4111, Malta. Tel: (00356) 21318133/4 Fax: (00356) 21336477 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.mhra.org.mt
11 From the CEO
71 Delicata awarded ISO9001
13 From the president
73 Of history, nobility and exclusive dining
17 MHRA in the news
79 It’s all about attitude
29 News bulletin
87 A higher quality of living
35 A year in review
89 MBB news
43 A Chancellor’s visit
90 MHRA preferred suppliers
49 Restaurants’ corner
94 Entertainment and culture venues
53 Back to basics
102 Suppliers’ directory
59 A man with a vision
69 ADTS minibar software
104 Advertisers’ list
Editor: George Schembri Publisher: Victor Calleja
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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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Editorial from the
CEO Dear Members, Our sector is once again experiencing challenging times in the face of what is occurring in neighbour countries bordering the North African continent. The Libyan crisis is impacting our tourism potential and further making us realise how vulnerable this sector is to situations beyond our control. 2010 was a record year for our sector and at the beginning of this year we were all hopeful that 2011 will be another record year despite the concerns we have regarding the sustainability of Air Malta, which is a crucial component of our tourism product. In this scenario we must be better prepared than ever before to ensure that we meet our guests’ expectations and give them a perfect experience of hospitality. I am sure that the numbers will come as things settle down. We must continue to exploit our potential as a tourist destination to the full. We have to bring out the best in our people to rise to the occasion and this can only be achieved through proper preparation in the HR sector. Our staff are the most valuable asset we have in the industry and we need to ensure that they will be ready to meet the extraordinary demand successfully. All stakeholders need to come together to ensure that we are on the right path in achieving this. ITS, under the direction of a new young management is embracing change, and change which is pointing in the right direction. The invita-
tion from ITS to the industry for a closer partnership is an important step which I hope will be taken up by operators. Earlier this year MHRA brought together the major public institutions concerned with the development of our HR sector. They presented to an assembly of hoteliers and restaurateurs their respective plans to promote careers in the hospitality sector and create awareness regarding training options and schemes available to encourage operators to take on first-time job-seekers with little or no experience. The seminar held at the Intercontinental Malta in St George’s Bay was addressed first by the newly-appointed Director of the Institute of Tourism Studies, Mr Adrian Mamo, and his Deputy Ms Rosetta Thornhill. Mr Mamo outlined the Institute’s Career Awareness Initiatives which include the Food Service/Housekeeping Pre-Employment Schemes and Summer Placements as well as other initiatives that the Institute is actively pursuing. Mr Andre Acciola from the Malta Tourism Authority highlighted the work his unit is planning to create career awareness initiatives such as the Choice Programmes which are held in collaboration with ITS. They jointly are aiming to reach over 50 Schools with some 4000 students. Such visits and talks to the relevant students about the industry in general are important to create the necessary interest in the sector. MTA also intends to
George Schembri Chief Executive Officer MHRA participate in various job fairs in Malta and Gozo and organise other activities to bring the Education and Tourism sectors together. The Employment and Training Corporation was represented by Ms Nicola Cini and Mr James Abela who spoke about ETC Recruitment Services, EURES Malta and Employment and Exposure Schemes. ETC also promotes vacancies through its website, the EURES Portals, Job Centres, Job Banks and the Daily Auto Mailer. Ms Cini also introduced a ‘New” Personalised Recruitment Service which assists employers to find suitable candidates through a personalised service. Doctor Nadia Theuma. Director of the Institute of Tourism, Travel and Culture within the University of Malta, outlined the unit’s contribution, Continues on page 27
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From the President Dear Members, Thankfully, we signed off 2010 with some pretty impressive gains, certainly in terms of arrivals but also in expenditure. This was good news all round, particularly for the economy at large, especially after the devastating results achieved in 2009. The main performance indicators for the hotel industry, however – hotel rates, occupancy, per capita revenue and the very important gross operating profit, unfortunately all ended up below the levels registered in 2008. As MHRA has been stating all along, the drop in these main performance indicators was mainly a result of the significant rise in costs. Nevertheless, the industry acknowledges that achieving the results registered in 2010 was no mean feat, considering the very tough competition and the economic climate prevalent in most of our main source markets. The Malta Tourism Authority should be commended for its efforts, ably supported by the relevant authorities, Air Malta, MIA and all the other stakeholders. Undoubtedly, 2011 will be a challenging year for the industry. In the last MHRA magazine edition, I had underlined that our biggest preoccupation was Air Malta, and, until we know the outcome of the restructuring process, this will remain our biggest concern. We estimate that the seat capacity for summer 2011 will be down on 2010, whilst that for the following season is still unknown. In addition, at the time of writing this piece, the uncertainties brought about by the unrest taking place in the North African
region, particularly in Libya, are also of concern. However, I wish to dedicate this piece to the restaurant sector. The restaurant and catering sector is increasingly becoming an important tourism component as the independent traveller’s segment continues to grow steadily. This sector has evolved over the years in reaction to the market demands, particularly that of the tour operator segment, which up to a few years ago represented 75% of our tourist arrivals. The very strong influence and presence of the British market was a major factor in its development. The sector developed in the absence of a national policy and did not follow any set strategy, and consequently this sector may not be entirely in tune with the needs of the tourism industry at present. However, in recent years we have seen a huge improvement in the restaurant industry and an introduction of new product components. MHRA has proposed that an in-depth study is carried out by the Malta Tourism Authority in collaboration with MHRA, to serve as a basis for the drawing up of a development policy for the sector. The policy should address the key issues affecting the sector and help it realign itself with new trends and developments taking place in the tourism industry at present while supporting the sustainability of this sector in the long term. Certain sectors of the local community are of the opinion that restaurants are generally overpriced and do not offer value for money. Unfortunately, very little information exists, if any, to help establish the extent of this negative perception and the
George Micallef President MHRA damage this has on this sector. This perception contrasts with the relatively high satisfaction level registered by tourists visiting local restaurants as determined by surveys conducted by the MTA. Over recent years we have seen a huge shift in the mix and size of our source markets. For example, the Italian market is now almost at par in terms of numbers when compared to the UK, whilst we are seeing a number of visitors from ‘new’ countries. This influx of new customers and the different profile of visitors contrasts with those that we have been used to for a number of years and this brings about new needs and challenges to the sector. In order that the restaurant sector prospers further, we need to maximise the level of satisfaction, match supply with demand and ensure that we have a large enough customer base to support the number of restaurants available, apart from other issues. This study should help determine these needs for the sector.
Furthermore, the study should provide an in-depth analysis of the restaurant industry, highlighting the difficulties involved in maintaining a business of this nature and citing the problems faced by the industry at present. The industry is facing a number of challenges, including the level of custom, rising labour and food costs, energy and other operating costs. Meanwhile, the customerâ€™s disposable income is on the decline and so is the average spend, whilst margins which have traditionally been tight are becoming even tighter. On a more positive note, it is evident that tourists are opting for bed and breakfast or bed only options, as opposed to more traditional packages. Such trends
increase the potential for more dining out in restaurants. These trends however beg the question: is the restaurant sector sufficiently geared up to handle the demands and the expectations of this new breed of clients? Has it got what it takes to lure in more customers to restaurants, or is it losing out to fast food and similar take-away outlets? Change is constant and all of us must keep abreast of developments in the industry. In order to ensure the long-term success of the restaurant industry, the changes affecting our local community and the tourism industry at present, including the pressures brought about because of the economic conditions, have to be factored in any future forecasts. It is also important to stress that
the quality of the products and services on offer in the restaurant sector must be maintained and developed to ensure long-term sustainability and success. This process can be achieved if the sector follows a strategic plan of action drawn up for the restaurant industry, based on quality control of products and services, brand development, application of various marketing strategies, value for money and excellent customer care practices. The building of brand equity for the sector will guarantee a strong loyal customer base. MHRA feels that the restaurant industry deserves to form part of the policy development of the tourism industry as it is a key component of this industry.
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MHRA in the news October 2010 20th October, 2010
Mhra Launches Its Budget Proposals: Remaining Competitive, Retaining Accessibility! The MHRA’s budget proposals primarily aim at ensuring that Malta remains competitive, and that accessibility and airline seat capacity are maintained and further developed next year. These two factors are fundamental for the sustainability of the tourism industry, as the industry, and indeed the economy, cannot afford a drop in occupied bed nights or tourism expenditure. Rising costs and lower profitability have been a major concern for hoteliers and restaurateurs in recent years, and MHRA purposely conducted an economic impact report that clearly demonstrated this pattern. The report also showed that Malta has the lowest levels of profitability amongst competing destinations. MHRA proposed that no government-induced costs should be further introduced in the forthcoming budget, as the industry cannot continue to absorb further increases. Profitability is not only necessary for the very survival of the businesses but also for further investment in the tourism product, which is vital if the sector is to compete successfully. MHRA stressed the importance of Government extending support to airlines to maintain accessibility and possibly increase seat capacity as well as new routes. This is becoming increasingly critical, given that Airmalta may be constrained to scale down or cancel its operations from established routes next
year. One is not to underestimate the far-reaching implications of such decisions and the same applies for the funding and support given to MTA, as the need for increased presence in the market will continue to grow with the introduction of new routes and stiffer competition. MHRA recognises that the process of ongoing discussions with the EU affecting the future of Air Malta is a delicate one, however one has to emphasise the need that the main stakeholders are kept abreast of decisions taken, in order that measures to mitigate any adverse affects are put in place at the earliest stage. This may also require a contingency fund provision in next year’s budget. MHRA also made other proposals, amongst which it called upon government to tackle the problem of unlicensed operators, particularly in the accommodation sector, so as to bring to book all those getting away with not paying licences, permits, VAT, taxes, etc, whilst competing unfairly with the rest of the law-abiding operators in the industry. This will also help boost revenue for government. MHRA also urged government to find alternative ways to provide grants to finance green technology investment schemes for the hospitality industry, as per agreement reached last March, to mitigate the impact of the rise in the utility rates and to restore some of the lost cost-competitiveness. The most influential choice for tourists in choosing their destination was the environment. Although in recent years a number of initiatives were taken to improve the environment, MHRA proposed that the necessary funds are made available to step up basic matters,
such as general cleanliness, upkeep and aesthetic control, particularly in highly visited areas. MHRA also expects projects in the main tourism zones which have repeatedly been promised over the years, amongst other smaller but highly visible projects, to commence next year. MHRA reiterated its position regarding the proposed “bed” levy on which several meetings had been held with Government, highlighting the fact that such a levy should not be introduced in a manner which discriminates against the hotel sector or in a way that risks having such a levy be paid by the accommodation providers, as this will further erode Malta’s competitiveness. MHRA felt it was being realistic in its proposals and warned that if any of the budget measures undermine Malta’s competitiveness or accessibility to the islands, then the entire tourism industry will be put in jeopardy.
Minister Tonio Fenech Presents Government Budget for 2011 As has been the habit over the last years a few days before Budget day Minister Tonio Fenech calls an MCESD meeting during which he gives an insight into Government’s budget. This year’s presentation gave details of some of the measures that were being introduced and their effect on the balances of income and expenditure for Government for 2011. It was at the end of this presentation that Minister Fenech announced the increase in VAT from 5% to 7% for the accommodation sector applicable
from 1st of January 2011 onwards. The MHRA President, Mr George Micallef, had immediately stood up and objected to the application of this measure. He emphasised that Government was breaching a longstanding agreement: Government had to give accommodation operators 18 months advance notice for any introduction of such, or similar, measures. Mr Micallef further indicated that most of the increase would be borne by the hoteliers since Tour Operators would not accept any increases of whatever nature to what had already been contracted for 2011. Government’s initial proposal of introducing a bed-tax had been to collect around 4 million Euros from tourists. Government had departed completely from the original concept and was imposing another tax on accommodation operators.
MHRA Calls Press Conference MHRA President George Micallef addressed the conference and stated that MHRA first learnt of government’s intention to raise VAT on the accommodation sector on Friday 22nd October during the last MCESD meeting when Min Tonio Fenech gave a preview of government’s budget for 2011. He indicated that most of the increase was going to be borne by hoteliers rather than collected through visitors, as originally intended by government. Contracts with tour operators were signed in late 2009 and early 2010 for 2011 and since 60% of visitors come through tour operators, these would not be accepting the increase in VAT. Furthermore, in the face of the austerity measures being introduced in core countries such as UK, Italy and Germany as from 1st January 2011, hoteliers would have to retain their competitiveness which would
mean further drops in profit margins. Mr Micallef called on Government to re-think the introduction of the increase in VAT.
27th – 30th October
MHRA at HOTREC Conference in Budapest
Mr George Schembri represented MHRA at the 61st General Assembly of HOTREC in Budapest. Over 40 hotel associations from 24 European countries were represented at this General Assembly. Most representatives agreed that two years after the start of the worst economic crisis since World War II, the hospitality industry was witnessing a timid recovery, even though some European countries were still facing a very difficult national economic situation. During the assembly member associations expressed the fact that they were particularly pleased to hear the proposals from the European Commission on a new political framework for European Tourism. Mr. Mattia Pellegrini, member of the Cabinet of the Commission, and Vice-President Tajani addressed the assembly giving the latest details on the framework proposed. HOTREC members praised the Commission’s proposals to stimulate the competitiveness of the sector, to help the industry consolidate its worldleading position and to further integrate the impact of its policies on the tourism industry. They also renewed their call for concrete probusiness policies at EU level. The President of HOTREC, Mr.
Kent Nyström, stressed the need for a “sustainable framework for tourism businesses”, since the future of thousands of jobs and hospitality enterprises in Europe is at stake.
3rd November 2010
MHRA Meets Executives From the Better Efficiency Unit re Better Regulation Mr Ian Camilleri and Mr Robert Mifsud from the Malta Efficiency Unit met MHRA CEO Mr. George Schembri to report on progress on Government’s approach to ‘Better Regulations’ as proposed by the EU Commission. Mr Schembri highlighted areas where better implementation of practices could reduce the burden on the sector without diminishing the control aspect, to ensure a level playing field for business.
9th November 2010
MHRA Declares Tourists Selectively Targeted for Higher Bus Fares Another Blow for the Tourism Industry MHRA was surprised to learn from the media at the launch of the transport reform that Government wanted to charge higher bus fares for non-Malta ID holders – i.e. tourists. Such a decision was following hot on the heels of the Government’s announcement to increase the VAT rate on hotel accommodation from 5% to 7% . Through a press release MHRA strongly opposed the selective targeting of the tourist industry for increases in charges, whether it was coming from the Government or from a private company. MHRA said that if this measure was to be implemented in the manner it was announced it would cause tremen-
dous damage to the industry, as it sent a clear message that tourists were there to be fleeced. In addition MHRA reminded Government that, only last August, it had advised MHRA that, according to the Attorney General, the agreement Government had reached with MHRA for the introduction of an eco-contribution, which would have been solely paid by tourists, could not be implemented, citing discrimination under EU regulations if applied exclusively to tourists (non-Maltese ID holders) and not to Maltese ID holders. In fact that was why VAT was then raised, Government subsequently said. During the launch of the new public transport system, it was announced that tourists and anyone who fails to present a local ID to buy a bus ticket would have to pay higher fares. The parallels between this system and that of the proposed eco-contribution were obvious. MHRA could not help but question this inconsistency. MHRA reiterated that the authorities, and all those who have the tourism industry at heart, had always warned against the fleecing of bona fede tourists and the repercussions this could cause. Ironically, in some instances this malpractice involved bus drivers, amongst other service providers, and these were dealt with accordingly, and now Government appeared to be institutionalising this practice. MHRA found such a decision discriminating and offensive to visitors. MHRA was still struggling to come to terms with the unexpected announcement of the VAT increase, which would exacerbate the problems in the market. The structure of such fares could only further hurt the tourism industry, whilst sending the wrong message to prospective visitors. MHRA called upon Government to reconsider this decision before any more harm was done to the industry.
MHRA Restaurant Committee Meets Marsascala Mayor The MHRA Restaurant Committee led by Mr Noel Debono, Chairperson of the committee, and MHRA CEO Mr George Schembri met Marsascala Mayor Mr Mario Calleja to highlight issues of concern to the restaurateursâ€™ community in the area and discuss suggestions for improving the situation. Mr Matthew Pace, operator of a restaurant in Marsascala, indicated that since the closure of the Corinthia Jerma Palace Hotel the area was not attracting the desired number of foreign visitors to sustain the number of catering establishments in the area. Marsascala was not even on the route of the open-top buses and therefore the area was not on the tourist map. Most establishments along the Maghluq area had closed down because they had become unsustainable due to the drop in visitor numbers. Mr Pace suggested that private and public organisations need to get together and plan a series of activities spread over the year to attract both foreign and local visitors to the area more frequently. The dilapidated state of the Jerma Palace Hotel building needs to be addressed since it gives the area a shabby look whilst more lighting is needed in certain stretches of the promenade since these are in total darkness. Places of interest in the area also need more promotion so as to attract visitors to the area and also the open-top bus operator should be invited to include Marsascala on his route. Mr Calleja also expressed his concern since all businesses in the area were suffering and locals were having to look elsewhere for employment or to offer their services. He expressed his support in any initiatives put forward by the business community and proposed several activities that can generate interest in the area.
He also highlighted embellishment works being planned in the area to enhance and offer a better product for both the local community and visitors to the area. Mr Pace expressed his disappointment that following the earlier summer walk organised by MHRA with Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Environment and Culture Dr Mario de Marco, no action occurred in spite of the promises made by Dr de Marco on several issues on which he had promised his intervention. It was agreed to meet with the operator of the open-top buses to convince him to put Marsascala on the route map for next summer while other issues would once again be brought to the attention of Dr de Marco.
European Tourism Forum
The European Tourism Forum was hosted by Malta, in collaboration with the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency. It was held on November 18th - 19th in Mellieha, a European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) winning destination. The main theme was â€œStrengthening Europe`s Role as the Leading Tourism Destinationâ€?. On 18th November, two panels participated, Panel 1 dealt with actions to prioritise following the Commission Communication on Tourism while Panel 2 discussed ways and means to maximise visibility for Europe. A Plenary Session focusing on the new policy framework for tourism, on the other hand, took place on the 19th November, with the participation
of Vice-President Tajani. Following the Forum closure, a Ministerial Debate took place on the 19th November. This took the form of a restricted meeting for EU Ministers and State Secretaries, chaired by Vice-President Tajani, to exchange ideas and discuss the implementation of the Tourism Communication adopted in June 2010. MHRA was represented at the Forum by its President Mr George Micallef. HOTREC was also represented at the forum by the recently appointed CEO Anna Torres. In the picture the MHRA President is seen with HOTREC CEO Ms Anna Torres.
MHRA Annual General Meeting The 52nd MHRA annual general meeting was held at the Phoenicia Hotel with several guest speakers, including the Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi and the Leader of the Opposition Dr Joseph Muscat. The first part of the Annual General Meeting was reserved for MHRA members. During the AGM a new council was elected for the year 2011. The second part of the AGM kicked off with a presentation from Helen Egan, Director Sales and Marketing of TripAdvisor. Ms Egan highlighted the contribution and marketing opportunities TripAdvisor website offers to hoteliers. Jörn Gieschen was the next speaker. Mr Gieschen leads the Destination Strategy and Marketing division at THR International, one of the leading and established tourism consulting firms on branding destinations. In his presentation Mr Gieschen highlighted the tools that are used to brand a destination. The Opposition leader Dr. Joseph Muscat criticised the government “for having no quantifiable or long-term strategic plan
with regards to tourism”. He said that it was evident that tourism in Malta was being managed in a fragmented manner by the incumbent government. Dr Muscat added that the proposed increase in VAT as from January 2011 would be placing further burdens on such an important industry; and this was done without first informing the major stakeholders. He also questioned why two important entities such as Air Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) fell under the responsibility of two separate ministries, when these are complementary and should fall under one ministry. Dr Muscat also criticised the public statement by a senior minister who said in reply to criticism raised by MHRA that if tourists cannot afford to pay the bus fares being proposed when the transport reform is introduced next year they should not come to Malta at all. Such comments were unacceptable and deplorable. Dr Muscat touched upon the situation of Airmalta and said that he was surprised that Government had not been aware about the financial situation of the national airline which fell under the same senior minister who was ready to comment in public in the manner that he did on the transport reform. The next speaker was the Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi who said that it would be a big mistake to look at tourism as a separate sector within the economy; it should be looked upon more as a major link which contributes to the whole of the Maltese economy. Dr Gonzi highlighted the record year achieved in tourist arrivals during an economic recession, the changing trends in the travel sector and the various projects being carried out by government and others in the pipeline to improve the product offer in the interest of tourism. The MHRA President George Micallef, in conclusion of the Annual General Meeting said that the economic recession had showed
that people are not travelling less but “travelling differently”. He indicated that ICT will surely be playing a major role in tourism during the coming years, and one is to expect exponential growth of the social media and the convergence of offline and online marketing channels. Mr Micallef emphasised that the Maltese island could not survive without an efficient airline connection. Air Malta has been pivotal in the growth of tourism and the tourism industry has to be very thankful to it. The correlation between airlineseat capacity and arrivals was undisputed and this had to remain the government’s top priority, as it was the key to the long-term sustainability of the tourism industry. A reception was afterwards held on the hotel terrace.
MHRA Restaurant Conference at Corinthia Palace Hotel The MHRA Restaurants Sector Committee organised the second seminar in 2010. After a short introduction by the MHRA CEO, Mr. George Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Environment and Culture, Dr Mario de Marco addressed the audience present highlighting the importance restaurateurs play in the islands’ economy. He conceded that schemes were needed to encourage the sector to be innovative and develop traditional local cuisine. However there was the need to rise to the challenge and revolutionise the sector in this area. The trends in the travel industry have now moved on to the independent traveller who is looking for an exceptional experience in his travel itinerary and eating out is not a secondary experience any more. Authenticity and cultural influence are essential ingredients to a holiday experience. Dr de Marco expressed
his concern that not many realised that the market has changed and the visitors of three years ago are not similar to the ones who are coming to Malta today. It was important to adopt to the visitors’ needs if we are to be successful in our tourism overall product. Noel Debono, Chairperson of the Restaurant Committee, gave a synopsis of a survey conducted by the MHRA on the performance of the industry. Vincent Lungaro Mifsud gave an outline of a voluntary quality scheme which MHRA was about to launch in January to instill more professionalism in the sector. Mr Adrian Cummins CEO of the Irish restaurant Association was guest speaker at the conference. He highlighted the effect that the recent global economic crisis had on the sector in Ireland. In his presentation he showed the list of actions the Association came up to revive business in the restaurant sector. The MHRA President Mr George Micallef concluded the seminar expressing the Association’s concern about the negative public perception of value for money in restaurants saying that this needed to be addressed in the short term. Growing competition, decreasing profitability and the increase in operating costs were the challenges that the catering sector was facing and a strategy needs to be put in place to plan in which direction the sector needs to be going to make it more sustainable. It was important to take a proper snapshot of the situation today and then map an agenda to ensure that the sector develops in the best manner for it to become more viable and become a valued contributor towards the Maltese Islands’ economy.
Deloitte Presents Q3 BOV-MHRA Hotel Survey at Le Méridien St Julians
New Year’s Eve Visit to Catering and Hotel Establishments
The third quarter results were presented at a meeting held at Le Méridien St Julian’s Hotel. In his concluding speech MHRA President George Micallef remarked that the key performance indicators showed positive trends and this was commendable in consideration of the subdued international climate and the challenges being faced by Air Malta. He warned that notwithstanding the considerable volume gained to date and results being ahead of 2009 and on a par with 2008, profitability was still down by an average 15% when compared to 2007 and 2008. Energy costs continued to be a major issue for hoteliers. 24% of the hard-earned increases in accommodation income were eradicated by the increases in the utility costs. Mr Micallef indicated that while hoteliers were clearly satisfied with the tourist arrivals registered in 2010, one had to be sober about the realities of the substantial amount of additional effort required to secure a level of operational performance which was consistently exceeding the minimum thresholds required for a viable and sustainable industry. He called on the authorities to continue working on the strategy for increased seat capacity from under-served markets, while MHRA would remain committed to support decisions that would be taken to enable Air Malta to retain the pivotal role that the carrier had in the economic and tourism development of the Maltese islands.
MHRA President Mr George Micallef and CEO Mr George Schembri accompanied Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Environment and Culture Dr Mario de Marco, MTA Chairman Mr Louis Farrugia and MTA CEO Mr Josef Formosa Gauci on the traditional annual visit on the morning of New Year’s Eve, to several hotels and catering establishments and met staff of the respective establishments, preparing for the New Year’s Eve activity. Malata Restaurant on St George’s Square in Valletta was the first establishment visited, followed by the Osborne Hotel in Valletta and the Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana. At each establishment, Dr Mario de Marco thanked the staff for their work and contribution towards the success the tourism sector had achieved during the year. He also thanked the respective management team for their professionalism and urged them to build on the standards achieved for more success in the future. In the picture Dr Demarco is seen chatting with Housekeeping staff at the Osborne Hotel.
5th January 2011
MHRA Annual Drinks at ITS
MHRA annual drinks were held at lunchtime at the Institute of Tourism Studies in St Julian’s on Wednesday 5th January 2011. Members were initially welcomed by ITS Chairperson Ms Claire Zammit Xuereb, who gave an overview of her plans for the coming year to bridge the gap between ITS and the industry. She called for more support from the industry through more participation in ITS activities and support to students of ITS. Ms Zammit Xuereb then went on to introduce the newlyappointed Director of ITS Mr Adrian Mamo and Deputy Director Ms Rosetta Thornhill. The MHRA Council, members and guests were invited to a reception. In the photo Mr Micallef is seen with Ms Claire Zammit Xuereb, Chairman of ITS.
MHRA Media Drinks
Leading media personalities were invited to New Year drinks by MHRA at the Phoenicia Hotel. In a short address MHRA President Mr George Micallef thanked the
media for their support through their reporting on aspects of tourism and issues which surfaced from time to time. In this way, Maltese citizens were made aware of the progress and woes of a sector which is an important component of the Maltese economy. The effect of tourism is felt through every strata of the population and every Maltese is an ambassador of our islands. He thanked all those present for finding time to accept MHRA’s invitation and looked forward to renewed cooperation during the coming year. In the photo Mr Micallef is seen with Mr Noel Grima, editor in chief at The Malta Independent.
MHRA Seminar for Human Resources Directors and Managers in the Hospitality Industry
ME Presentation Regarding the Business Advisory Services A meeting was organised by MHRA CEO Mr George Schembri for members who showed interest in a service that Malta Enterprise was about to launch towards the end of January. Mr. Mario Zammit gave a presentation about the Business Advisory Services that are available also to operators in the hospitality sector. The areas in which operators would be able to obtain counseling on a one-to-one basis by an advisor include Startup Support, Business planning & modelling, International Competitiveness & export readiness, Market Development, Human Resources Management, Product and Service Development, Intellectual Property Protection & Management, Information Management and Business Process Reengineering.
Press Launch of Recommended Label MHRA organised a seminar at the Intercontinental Malta in St George’s Bay on the 7th January to create awareness about the events and activities being planned by institutions to promote careers in the hospitality sector and meet the demand for personnel during the peak summer months. The seminar was addressed by the newly-appointed Director of the Institute of Tourism Studies, Mr Adrian Mamo and his Deputy Ms Rosetta Thornhill, Mr Andre Arciola from the Malta Tourism Authority, Ms Nicola Cini and Mr James Abela from ETC and Doctor Nadia Theuma, Director of the Institute of Tourism, Travel and Culture within the University of Malta.
At a press launch held at the Excelsior Hotel, MHRA launched a quality scheme for restaurants entitled the MHRA Recommended scheme. MHRA CEO George Schembri explained that the new quality scheme was being launched at a time when restaurants are becoming an increasingly important component of the tourism product as tourists are booking more on bedonly or bed and breakfast basis and seeking to dine out more frequently. The scheme will offer local restaurants an incentive to adopt best practices throughout all levels of operation and provide a high level of service which will be officially acknowledged once they qualify. The MHRA has always been at the forefront of encouraging mem-
bers to raise standards and deliver the very best possible to customers. Restaurants are a vital component of Malta’s tourism product and their level of service can have either a positive or negative impact during a visitor’s stay on the island, stated Mr Schembri. He welcomed the MTA endorsement of the scheme and the promise of the Health Inspectorate support once the scheme is up and running. This support would ensure that the very highest of standards, in all areas of an establishment’s operation, were achieved and maintained. Mr Schembri highlighted the fact that restaurants participating in the scheme will be awarded the MHRA Recommended label only once they fulfill a set of stringent criteria. Establishments will be assessed by an independent board headed by retired Judge Dr Joe Galea Debono. Restaurants awarded the MHRA Recommended label will continue to be assessed at regular intervals by various means, including ‘mystery guests.’ Mr Noel Debono, Chairperson of the Restaurant Committee within MHRA, also addressed the audience and explained that participants will be allowed a six-month ‘adjustment period’ to implement the necessary standards, policies, procedures and training. Participating members will have to produce complete and convincing evidence of compliance in all areas of assessment through a mystery guest audit and a 75 per cent success rate is necessary for a restaurant to be considered for the label. The scheme encompasses a total of ten areas of assessment which include the identification and adoption of a mission statement; service standards; full compliance with MTA requirements; full compliance with Health and Safety regulations; full compliance with fire and safety requirements and an average of a Grade A or B during the last 3 inspections held by the Occupational Health and Food Division.
Furthermore, those participating in the scheme must comply with and include ongoing customer surveys, the registration of complaints, good staff management and practices and a website, indicated Mr Debono. Establishments will also be assessed on their food – both the quality of ingredients as well as presentation. The scheme will be managed and administered by the MHRA while the assessments and mystery guest audits will be conducted independently by third parties contracted by the MHRA. The Association has also appointed an adjudication panel which independently will decide on the final award of certification. On successful completion of the assessment, the establishment will be presented with the MHRA Recommended label for a period of two years, during which time the participant will undergo a mystery guest audit every 6 months and a review of the assessment after the first 12 months.
Saturday 12th February
MHRA President Replies to Member of Parliament Mr Robert Arrigo MHRA President Mr George Micallef replied to an article penned by Mr Robert Arrigo that had appeared on Friday 11th February in a local paper. Mr Arrigo made some sweeping statements regarding the performance of the hotel industry and MHRA felt that it was necessary to make some clarifications and corrections. Mr Arrigo had labelled the MHRA as a “bitter enemy” of Government and Mr Micallef felt that such words were offensive and extreme. Mr Micallef said that Mr. Arrigo, as an agent to a number of tour operators, was well aware that tour operators would resist any increases, let alone the unanticipated VAT increases introduced as from 1st January 2011. Mr Arrigo’s refer-
ence to “moans and groans” of the industry was nothing more than a genuine attempt on the part of the hoteliers and restaurateurs to create an awareness that the industry was indeed feeling the pinch of rising costs. Mr Micallef expressed his desire that Mr Arrigo, both as a politician but more so as an industry player, should appreciate the increase in operational costs and not attempt to dismiss such a situation as if it was some frivolous claim on the part of the Association. Mr. Arrigo also claimed that MHRA was aware of the increase in VAT as far as 22 months before. Mr Micallef said that this cannot be further from the truth. He pointed out that Mr Arrigo was never present or involved in any single meeting MHRA had with Government on the VAT or bed tax, or any other subject for that matter. MHRA reiterated that the first time it became aware of the increase was three days before the budget was announced in Parliament. In his article, Mr Arrigo stated that Malta can never successfully compete with destinations like Tunisia because hotels in Malta are too expensive. Mr Micallef pointed out that, in reality, Malta cannot compete with such destinations because of the significant cheaper labour and operating costs which prevail in places like Tunisia, Turkey and also Egypt. Malta’s high operating and labour costs inevitably make the prices of Maltese hotels and other services more expensive than in the countries mentioned. Furthermore, the destinations mentioned cater in a big way to a very particular market segment, all-inclusive holidays. In Malta there are very few hotels that can successfully cater for this segment and it would be counterproductive if Maltese hoteliers were to chase this segment of the market since they are not geared for such a market. Mr Arrigo claimed that there are hotels in Malta that had asked double their usual price for business
which was diverted from Egypt. Mr Micallef said that MHRA had been following the situation very closely and was in constant contact with MTA since the crisis in Tunisia and Egypt. The vast majority of requests received by hoteliers were for similar or lower hotel prices than those offered to tour operators. In such cases hoteliers did turn down business because the requested prices were far too low to be considered worth accepting in spite of the fact that availability was there. Mr Arrigo also alleged that a good number of hotels had already instituted stop sales and implied that hotels were constantly fully booked. Mr Micallef indicated that MHRA constantly monitored occupancy in hotels and they were far from being fully booked. Even the official statistics published monthly clearly did not show this claim. What normally happens is that tour operators traditionally request to be allocated rooms well in excess of what they can sell and, on the other hand, hoteliers have to similarly over-allocate with tour operators. Despite this, during most of the year, many hotels still do not secure an acceptable level of occupancy. There are other times when certain periods show heavy demand and hoteliers inevitably resort to ‘stop sales’ to avoid over-bookings for that particular period. This has always been the case and there is nothing unusual in such a practice.
MHRA Holds a Meeting for Hotel Engineers and Maintenance Managers at the Radisson Blu Resort St. Julian’s A meeting was held for Hotel Engineers and Maintenance Managers at the Radisson Blu Resort to report on progress on some of the prevailing issues that fall
within their remit. MHRA CEO Mr George Schembri welcomed all those present for the first meeting for 2011 and invited Engineer Stephen Mifsud from the Malta Resources Authority to update those present regarding the progress on the registration of LPG installations in the hotels and restaurants sector. Engineer Mifsud indicated that there were still a large number of establishments who had not as yet registered. He indicated that the MRA had written to all those that had not registered as yet and gave them a final notice to register, extending the deadline till the 28th February 2011. He warned that those establishments which failed to submit at least an application form and pay the application fee, would have their gas supply cut off. Bulk LPG suppliers would be instructed not to supply and refill tanks to unregistered consumers due to breach of the law. Engineer Mifsud went on to explain that following MHRA’s request for the revision of conditions tied to the registration process, the MRA had talks with MEPA and conceded that existing bulk LPG storage tanks may not all require a MEPA permit. Existing above-ground tanks with capacity of less than 1250 litres and existing mounded/buried tanks with a capacity of less than 4050 litres do not require a MEPA land use permit. The issue regarding the conditions for registration of Fixed Pipe Networks was brought up by several members present, asking for the revision of such conditions. Others brought up the issue of having outlets on meter to assess the consumption in that particular area. Mr Mifsud indicated that a simple declaration would suffice, indicating the use and purpose of such meters. Engineer Mifsud also indicated that the application forms had been revised and these could be downloaded from the MRA’s website. Engineer Mifsud promised to have further talks with MRA CEO Eng
Anthony Rizzo to see about the possibility of reducing the details required for the application for a fixed pipe network.. During the meeting some members raised the issue of fluctuation in heating oil prices between suppliers and the tremendous cost this fuel was impinging on hotel operations. The possibilities available for the use of alternative fuel for heating was also discussed and whether figures exist as to whether, in spite of the increase in gas prices, it was still feasible to adopt gas instead of LHO. Some members stated that the present supply of oil is of a very high grade and this should require less maintenance intervention than the previous stocks. Eng Vassallo mooted that one should be looking more at renewable energy sources rather than going for existing ones. The cost being incurred due to waste separation was also discussed and it was questioned whether the end result was really effective regarding Malta’s targets. Members felt that unless there was a transparent collection system in place, there would always be doubts on the effectiveness of the waste separation. Collectors must be enforced to have weighing scales on their trucks and a well-monitored system which could easily trace the final deposit of separated waste. It was suggested that a meeting should be with the Perm Sec of MRRA to raise the sector’s concern in this regard. Mr Schembri expressed his concern regarding the issues being raised by members and felt that this sector needs to be well represented by a committee that could set out an action plan for the year with dates regarding progress meetings and meetings with authorities to address the many issues that fall under the responsibility of hotel engineers and maintenance mangers in the hospitality sector. He indicated that MHRA was there to facilitate meetings and put forward agendas but the experts in the field were the hotel representatives and
these should be on the front lobbying in the interest of the sector and their respective establishment. When studies were required on any particular issue to better understand the area, these could be outsourced and finance obtained through authorities or government if necessary. Mr Schembri also suggested tapping into the resources at the University of Malta and the Institute of Renewable Energy, set up recently. The maintenance department within hotels managed the second largest cost centre after the HR Department, and therefore issues which concerned their operations must be taken very seriously since these have a high impact on their bottom line. Eng Chris Tabone suggested that instead of having one com-
mittee, this could split into three groups addressing waste, water and energy which would set up their own working plans for the year. They would meet as necessary, individually or as a group but once every quarter they would all meet to report on progress. It was agreed that Eng Joe Restall would lead the ‘Energy’ Committee while Eng Chris Tabone and Eng Ray Vassallo would lead the ‘Water’ and ‘Waste’ respectively. Robert Brincau and Edward Seguna agreed to assist Chris Tabone; Charles Bonavia and Valerio Spiteri agreed to assist Ray Vassallo and Anthony Saliba and Raymond Sant agreed to assist Joe Restall. It was agreed to set meetings for each committee some time in March.
From the CEO Continues from page 11 which includes providing the highest possible state-of-theart training and degree courses which are useful for the Tourism Sector. The current Practicum – MA includes Hotels, Local Councils, Language Schools, Crafts, Environment/ Energy, Tourism Law and HM. The opportunities to develop our human resources are there. It is a matter of taking a step forward and going for the services that these institutions are offering in a planned manner to obtain the maximum benefit to drive your staff in the right direction for the best results in your establishment. The time is now.
Events & Catering Buffet Equipment
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Corinthia Hotel London Opens Reservations
London’s newest 5-star luxury hotel, Corinthia Hotel London, recently announced that reservations are now open to the public. The first guests will be part of historyin-the-making as this 21st century grand hotel opens its doors in April 2011. The property is ideally located in the heart of London on Whitehall Place, at the apex of arts, culture, business and politics. Corinthia Hotel London is the result of a meticulous reconstruction of what was originally an imposing Victorian-era Grand Hotel. Now reborn to a new standard of craftsmanship and service, Corinthia London features 294 intricately designed guest accommodations, including 43 luxurious suites. Opulently sized rooms and suites include the 470m2 Royal Suite, the largest in London, combining grandeur and innovation with residential comforts. There are seven signature suites, sumptuously appointed over two storeys, served by their own internal lifts, and located inside historic turrets featuring terraces with views across some of London’s most iconic landmarks. Each signature suite is inspired by a great figure in British history including a musician, inventor and writer. Corinthia Hotel London will be a world-class dining and leisure destination for Londoners, as well as visitors. A beautifully refurbished
grand ballroom takes centre stage and includes restored Victorian features. The hotel’s main restaurant, The Northall, celebrates the best of British artisanal produce. The menu offers the highest quality of raw, seasonal and sustainable ingredients from local sources and an organic focused wine list. The Northall’s beautiful interiors and flexible menus provide for every dining occasion, including the great British tradition of High Tea, perfect for early evening pre-theatre dining. “After years of meticulous creation and restoration, we are delighted that Corinthia Hotel London is now at its final stage of completion. The hotel will be a dynamic London landmark where the past meets the future,” says Corinthia Hotel London General Manager Matthew Dixon. “We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world, who will find the reassurance of true luxury, but also a 5-star experience with a contemporary edge. In April the eyes of the world will be on London in celebration of the royal wedding, and we look forward to being the newest addition to the city’s iconic landscape.”
Conference and Group Sales Team at InterContinental Recognising the importance of this very strategic market segment, InterContinental Malta has recently strengthened its conference and group sales team by employing key personnel to complement its existing department. InterContinental Malta is the largest 5-star hotel on the island with 451 bedrooms and extensive meeting facilities, offering state-of-the-art business services,
Bulletin facilities and total connectivity.
Jesmond Debono, recently promoted to International Sales Director, has been employed with InterContinental Hotels for the last 18 years, holding various positions within the Sales and Marketing Department whilst Andrew Strickland, who recently joined the team as International Sales Manager, also brings along a wealth of experience within the hospitality sales and marketing field, having worked in other 5-star hotels and destination management companies in Malta. Senior Sales Manager Stephanie Galea has been an important member of the group’s team since 2009, responsible for inhouse group sales. Ms Galea is ably aided by Caroline Gauci, who was recently promoted to Sales Executive, and Carolina Picone, who has spent the last 5 years working in InterContinental Hotels in Rome and Murcia. Christopher Gingell Littlejohn, Director of Sales and Marketing for InterContinental Malta, is “confident that with this strong team, InterContinental Malta will consolidate its position as one of Malta’s leading 5* meeting and conference hotels”. Photo shows from the back row: Andrew Strickland, Christopher Gingell Littlejohn, Jesmond Debono, Caroline Gauci, Stephanie Galea and Carolina Picone.
The Best Wine Producer for 2011
The President of the Zonin Winery has been awarded The Best Wine Producer for his lifelong commitment to producing high quality wines, following the recent tasting by the internationally renowned wine critic Luca Maroni, also known as “the Italian Robert Parker”, for 2011. This important recognition confirmed the GranVitaly award that placed Zonin Winery as Best Italian Producer of 2010. The award was presented at the Opening Galà at the Sensofwine 2011 event which was held on the 28th of January 2011 at the Palazzo dei Congressi - Eur in Rome. Zonin Winery is locally represented by Charles Grech & Co. Ltd., Valley Road, B’Kara.
Bersano Wines Lauded in Wine Publications
Bersano, the prestigious Italian wine label with vineyards and estates in the heart of the Barbera d’Asti district, has been lauded for its quality wines in a number of prominent wine publications
for 2011. Bersano, imported and distributed in Malta by P. Cutajar & Co Ltd of Notabile Road, Mriehel, has been given credit and mentions in several Italian wine guides and annuals. “Bersano boasts excellent quality and outstanding versatility. Congratulations, a glass that continues appreciably to grow,” said Luca Maroni in his Annuario 2011. The Annuario gave Bersano’s Generala Nizza Barbera D’Asti Doc Superiore 2007 a ‘Best Wine’ category. The same wine won a ‘Golden Star’ from the Guida Vini buoni d’Italia 2011.
“Bersano is a mark of assured quality and their wines are rich in aromas, distinctive, meaningful and reliable. This year Barolo got excellent scores and we have been particularly impressed by the Gavi,” said the Italian Sommelier Association in the publication Duemilavini. 2011 Vini D’Italia, part of a series of publications from Le Guide de L’Espresso, lauded Bersano’s Barolo Riserva 2004 – “an exceptional Barolo Riserva, one with the best characteristics from this winery,” were this guide’s comments. Other accolades for Bersano’s wide range of wines also came from I Vini di Veronelli 2011 and Gambero Rosso’s Vini D’Italia 2011 – “good confirmations for this great winery that has some of the most beautiful of all the vineyards of Barbera d’Asti,” they said.
Bulletin “It is always a great pleasure to see wines imported to Malta by P. Cutajar getting accolades and awards,” said Sarah Portelli, Retail Sales Director at P. Cutajar & Co. Ltd. “The Maltese consumer can pick any of these award-winning Bersano wines from supermarkets, or alternatively order them at leading restaurants as the perfect accompaniment to lunch or dinner. Alternatively they can pop by The Store – our flagship shop in Mriehel.”
The Grand Hotel Excelsior Receives HolidayCheck Award
The Grand Hotel Excelsior was recently presented with the HolidayCheck Award 2011. HolidayCheck is an internet site which provides hotel reviews, travel pictures and tips by travellers, as well as recommendations. Last year, a large number of satisfied guests evaluated and recommended the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta on HolidayCheck. The organisation honoured the 99 best hotels worldwide from over 400,000 hotel reviews.
Bulletin The Westin Dragonara Resort Registers More Than 22,500 Fans on Facebook The Westin Dragonara Resort recently announced that it has exceeded 22,500 fans on its Facebook fan page. The Westin Malta’s fan base is now the largest in Malta in the hotel industry as well as the largest fan base amongst other Starwood hotels in Europe, Africa and Middle East.
This page is continually being updated with the latest information about The Westin Malta as well as offering fans interesting tips and trivia on a daily basis. The Westin Malta’s facebook fans will also be benefitting from special offers issued every Friday. These offers range from discounts at Palio’s Restaurant, Quadro Restaurant, The Terrace Restaurant and ORVM Lounge and Piano Bar, as well as special
accommodation rates at this luxury five-star resort. Facebook fans are also invited to join the ongoing competitions on www.facebook.com/westinmalta. Further information about The Westin Dragonara Resort can be found on www.westindragonaramalta.com or www.facebook. com/westinmalta
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A Year in Review MHRA meets the MTA CEO, Josef Formosa Gauci. We discuss last yearâ€™s results and other topics connected to tourism. NB. This interview was conducted last January, prior to the events that erupted in North Africa. To this end we sent an â€˜updateâ€™ question in this regard to Mr. Formosa Gauci. The reply is at the end of this interview. Just before the new year, Parliamentary Secretary de Marco announced that 2010 was all set to be an all-time record year for tourism, in visitor numbers, surpassing the 1.3 million mark, bed nights and total expenditure. This contrasts quite starkly with most of the other competitor destinations in the Mediterranean and also in Europe, whose growth numbers were nothing compared to the 12%+ increase over 2009 registered by the Maltese islands. Why is Malta faring better than most in terms of tourism? Our strength, our Unique Selling Point is the diversity of our product. There is literally something of interest for everyone, and everything is within easy reach, 24/7. It is precisely this USP that we have been marketing overseas - The unique blend of heritage and culture, events and entertainment, relaxation, Sun & Sea, gastronomy and a varied nightlife amongst many, many others. The marketing of our very diverse tourism product offer is also helping to reduce the negative aspects of seasonality. A case in point is the tourism figures related to October 2010, which surpassed the numbers of July 2008, previously considered to be the best year ever for tourism in Malta & Gozo (prior to 2010). The various niche markets that we are promoting aggressively also performed very well in 2010 so this, together with our overall marketing efforts, the innovation we have
introduced wherein the promotion of the Maltese islands is concerned, as well as our efforts aimed at ensuring increased and sustainable air accessibility, have all contributed towards our out-performing many direct competitors in 2010. Over the last four years weâ€™ve had three record years for tourism in Malta and Gozo: 2007, 2008, and now 2010. What happened in 2006/2007 that brought about these record years for our industry? Around 2004/2005 the international travel scenario was changing rapidly as a result of internet marketing and a heavy increase in internet direct booking, with many more people than ever before choosing to book their holidays directly, via the internet, rather than through tour operators and travel agents. With the tour operator trade in decline and a substantial shift towards direct business, as well as the dramatic rise in Low Cost Carrier (LCC) usage, something definitely needed to be done to address the shifts in travel trends. To this end, the MTA refined its marketing strategies to better cater for direct business and increased its marketing spend across all core markets, as well as being instrumental in attracting LCCs to operate the Malta route from various underserved destinations across Europe. These moves appear to have had the desired effects. Air Malta, which still carries over 55% of all tourists travelling to Malta, is undergoing a radical restructuring and re-organisation. Are the low cost carriers responsible for the national airlineâ€™s current predicament? How do you feel that Air Malta will fare in 2011, and how do you think that this will influence our overall tourism performance?
Air Malta has been and continues to be a key strategic partner for our tourism industry, carrying between 55% - 60% of all tourists visiting the Maltese islands. Undoubtedly the airline plays a pivotal role in the development of the industry and needs to remain in that position for tourism in Malta to remain on a firm footing. Nevertheless the airline also needs to be sustainable in the long term. The advent of Low Cost Carriers operating the Malta routes brought about new challenges for the national airline, undoubtedly. However, these same challenges wrought by significant changes in international travel trends - would
have had to be faced by Air Malta irrespective of whether LCCs operated to Malta or not. Nowadays when people are deciding where to go for their holidays, price and convenience are the main factors that influence choice, at times even more of a determining factor than the choice of a destination per se. This is the scenario in which Air Malta must operate. I trust that the airline will be able to successfully overcome the many challenges it faces and retain its place as an essential mainstay of our tourism industry. Youâ€™ve been quoted on many occasions as saying that the
only way to ensure sustainability and growth in Malta’s tourism sector is to successfully address the three major issues of Accessibility, Marketing & Promotion, as well as Product. In what order of priority have these been addressed in 2010? And for 2011? Accessibility was a major focus for us in 2010. Today Malta and Gozo are connected to 76 airports, up from 54 just a short while ago. For this year and for the years ahead we need to ensure that air accessibility to the Maltese islands continues to be wide-ranging and sustainable. It is, after all, the lifeblood of our industry. Marketing too has been an important focus for us, there being a continuous need to fine-tune and update our marketing strategies and approaches in such a way as to effectively deal with shifting trends and preferences within this very volatile and competitive market. It is precisely for this reason that all our marketing efforts are nowadays more aggressive, targeted and include a deliberate shift towards e-Marketing. This too will remain
a priority for 2011. On the product side we’ve been busy with a number of projects, especially related to our beaches. Holistic beach management now includes St. George’s Bay, the Bugibba perched beach - both of which obtained Blue Flag status in 2010, Ghadira, Golden Bay, Qawra Point and Fond Ghadir in Sliema. The beaches managed by the MTA are set to increase in the future. Other projects that the MTA is working on include the St. Paul’s Bay promenade project, works on which have already started, as well as the Qawra Aquarium attraction project. The MTA is also finalising embellishment works at Wied iz-Zurrieq, whilst various other interventions are also being considered for 2011. Overall, and apart from these specific projects, the MTA’s role in this regard is to act as a motivator and/ or co-coordinator of initiatives in tourism areas rather than to carry out the actual works. From the figures gleaned so far in the official 2010 statistics there are a number of noticeable shifts in tourist demographics. The UK mar-
ket continues to decrease over past years, the German market remains stable but dramatic increases have been registered in numbers of visitors from Italy, Spain, France, Scandinavia and from other markets previously not considered ‘core’ territories. Has this been deliberate? What are these fluctuations attributable to? The MTA’s strategy in recent times has been to consolidate our core source markets, such as the UK, but to simultaneously bolster our performance in other countries. Had this not been done, the results obtained in 2010 would not have materialised. Increased accessibility as well as increased marketing & PR in these source markets were fundamental in ensuring that our goals were reached and, as was the case in 2010, surpassed. Further shifts have been noted in the tour operator/individual traveller numbers, with individual travellers now making up the lion’s share of our tourist base. Since tour operator numbers
have decreased so drastically over the past few years, what do you see the future of foreign tour operators as being with regards to our tourism sector? Over recent years tour operator traffic has decreased in terms of numbers but it still accounts for about 45% of all tourists visiting Malta & Gozo, which is most definitely a significant proportion of all incoming tourism. The MTA acknowledges this fact and that tour operators still have an important role to play in the further development of our tourism industry. We have worked and will continue to work closely with tour operators. Our long-term agreements with a number of the larger tour operators are testimony to this. We have also managed to attract new tour operators to our islands, both from the UK and from mainland Europe.
The demographics also show that our ‘average’ tourist or visitor is younger, with the bulk of tourists occupying the 25 - 45 age group. Has this too been a deliberate move, on the MTA’s part, to promote Malta & Gozo in such a way as to be more attractive to a younger, possibly more affluent, kind of visitor, or is it just coincidence? Till quite recently, Malta and Gozo had the reputation, especially in the UK, of being a destination where your grandparents went on holiday year after year. We have worked very hard to change that perception of the Maltese islands, and this comes through in the marketing, promotion and PR of the Maltese islands and the image we display of our islands. And here we go back to the ‘fine-tuning’ of all our marketing efforts I mentioned earlier. The image we promote of Malta
& Gozo is paramount in shaping people’s perceptions of our destination. We have also been involved in a number of international initiatives, widely publicised especially in Europe, which appeal mostly to younger generations. This is not to say that we are in any way ignoring senior citizens. Not by a long shot. This category of visitors has been and continues to be very loyal to Malta and Gozo, with plenty of repeat visits being de rigueur. However, as a destination, we need to ensure a healthy demographic mix of incoming tourists and must thus cater for all age groups. What is happening in the MICE sector? We’ve seen a number of large conferences being organised here in 2010, but is this sustainable in the current international economic climate? How do you think this sector will fare in 2011?
The MICE sector was very badly affected by the bleak international financial situation, especially in 2009. To this end a Government/MTA initiative was launched to assist ministries, government departments and governmental agencies, amongst others, in attracting international conferences to Malta, which would be scheduled to be organised anyhow, without a fixed location in mind. This initiative was successful in that with an extra ‘push’, as provided by the fund, a good number of conferences, seminars and other similar initiatives were brought to the Maltese islands. An example of this was the high-level EU Tourism Forum held last November. In 2010 the MICE sector continued to pick up, as evidenced by the significant number of conferences held here. One cannot omit, for example, the 5,000 people attending the Oriflame conference held in the peak month of August. With more and more international conference buyers becoming aware of the facilities available in the Maltese islands as well as the high level of professionalism displayed by all involved in this sector, we are cautiously optimistic that 2011 will continue to see improvements in this sector. How is Gozo faring as a ‘destination within a destination’? Are there any plans to increase promotion for the sister island this year? We are definitely aware of the fact that Gozo has its own idiosyncracies, from a tourism perspective, which require particular attention. To this end we shall continue with our drive to attract new niche operators specialising in Gozo holidays. In this regard we have already achieved a discreet amount of success. We shall also persist with targeted marketing that focuses on Gozo-based holidays, as well as inviting a significant number of journalists down for Gozo-specific
familiarisation visits. Most journalists brought down to cover various aspects of the Maltese islands also have visits to Gozo included in their programme. Our marketing efforts in this respect focus primarily on those characteristics particular to Gozo - and which so many visitors find fascinating and appealing - including the promotion of the many diving sites in and around Gozo & Comino. Within a few weeks the MTA will be opening its new centre in Victoria, within it-Tokk, probably the most central location in all of Gozo. The new centre will also include a tourist information office with a significant number of Gozo-related materials being made available to tourists and visitors. Efforts to promote Gozo will now also be augmented by the €500,000 allocated to the Gozo Ministry specifically for the promotion of the island. Various hoteliers and restaurateurs have commented on the fact that although numbers have increased all round, including room rates, profitability has not increased due to significantly higher cost bases, not least being the utilities bills, the increase of VAT from 5% to 7% and various other factors. Do you agree with this position? What is the MTA’s take on this? We need to start off from the premise that 2010 was a good year for tourism in Malta & Gozo. We’ve managed to attain an all-time record number of tourists visiting the islands surpassing the 1.3 million mark - complemented by a record number of guest nights as well as an all-time record as far as tourist expenditure goes. We do, however, acknowledge that any increase in costs is never welcome and has a direct bearing on profits. This said, one should also acknowledge the fact that, year
on year, the funds allocated to the MTA for promoting tourism to Malta have been increasing. The funds do not come out of thin air but must be partially financed by direct and indirect contributions from the industry to ‘keep the wheel turning’, as it were, with all those operating within the industry being end beneficiaries of the success generated by the investment in tourism. A number of initiatives have been formulated to assist hoteliers, for example, such as the joint-funding of new advertising as well as the interest-subsidy initiatives for the refurbishment and embellishment of hotels. A good number of people, especially those who regularly comment on news items online, are wont to say that the increases registered in tourism last year were due to an ‘explosion’ in student numbers - Also implying that foreign EFL students contribute close to nothing to the economy but, rather, create havoc for all and sundry in the summer months. Is this really the case? No. There have been no dramatic increases in student numbers recorded in 2010. There have been significant increases though in the number of younger tourists visiting the islands, probably as a result of the multidemographic marketing that we have been doing in all our core markets. This having been said, however, the MTA certainly acknowledges the importance of the EFL sector, but also realises that certain behavioural issues cannot be tolerated. To this end the Authority is in constant consultation with various stakeholders to address these issues and to eventually take any and all appropriate action to minimise the problem.
In the light of all that has been happening in North Africa these past weeks and months, how is Malta’s tourism industry being affected? How will this influence figures for 2011? Although it has become the norm today, especially in the international tourism industry, to ‘expect the unexpected’, various events occurring around the world not only corroborate this adage, but take the concept of the unforeseen to completely new levels. These unpredictable events or occurrences, no matter how near or far, can all have a direct impact upon a destination’s tourism offer. Who would ever have anticipated that a volcanic explosion in Iceland, last year, could have wreaked such havoc upon most of Northern Europe’s airspace? The resulting ash cloud disrupted hundreds, if not thousands, of flights across the globe and directly affected tourist arrivals to Malta. The situation that has emerged in North Africa has had an effect on our tourism industry too. However, it is still too early to say to what extent this unfolding situation will impact upon our industry. It is a fact, though, that Malta’s perception overseas has been wrongly altered in recent weeks. Some people have been led to believe, by certain sections of the international media, that due to
our geographical position, which in some cases has been dramatically over-emphasised, Malta and Gozo might somehow be in a precarious position. All of us who live here, as well as the thousands of tourists who have visited our islands in the past weeks, know that this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Life here, at every level of our society, was and is ‘Business As Usual’. The MTA’s task at the moment, together with all tourism stakeholders, is to set the record straight. The humanitarian assistance afforded by the Maltese government and other entities to the thousands of foreign workers evacuating Libya, earned us a reputation as a ‘Safe Haven’. And this is something that we need to constantly repeat and emphasise.
The Authority has pulled out all the stops in tackling all these perception issues in our core source markets. This is being done not through additional advertising, which could be counter-productive at this stage, but through a clear and aggressive PR strategy on the ground. The MTA is actively taking measures to reassure all and sundry that nothing has changed at all in Malta, with operators, journalists, agencies and planners being invited over to see for themselves. It is not an easy task. Far from it. But I am confident that with the complete co-operation between all tourism stakeholders that has characterised all our efforts in this industry for the past few years, we will be able to overcome this challenge too.
The Federal Chancellor of Germany, Dr A Merkel with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr L Gonzi and the Grand Hotel Excelsior staff
Angela Merkelâ€™s Visit to Malta A Pictorial Record at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta, which has been renowned for its hospitality since time immemorial,, recently played host to Dr Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, and Malta once more lived up to its reputation for hospitality.
Dr Merkel was in Malta to discuss European and bilateral issues with the Maltese authorities. During her meetings with the Maltese President, Dr George Abela, and with the Prime Minister, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, Dr Merkel discussed stability and growth, immigration and cooperation on environmental matters. During her discussions Dr Merkel highlighted that both countries, although so different in size and character, were moving in the same direction on a number of core issues of European policy. While in Malta Dr Merkel also met the leader of the opposition, Dr Joseph Muscat.
Mr Grixti, GM at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, welcoming Dr Merkel
Mr John Messina, Sales and Marketing manager, with Chancellor Merkel
A key player in the level of hospitality and security during the Chancellor’s visit was the Grand Hotel Excelsior, which hosted Dr Merkel during her stay here. During Dr Merkel’s visit the Excelsior team had to ensure that while the Chancellor was at the hotel all possible security around her was in place and functioning at its optimum. The hotel management and staff had to ensure ongoing coordination with the armed forces of Malta and all the security forces involved. However, at the same time, the Excelsior team had to make sure that the comfort and hospitality afforded to Dr Merkel and her team was constantly of the highest level. To this end, the Grand Hotel Excelsior team, headed by the GM, Mr Norbert Grixti, made sure no stone was left unturned during this visit, which naturally attracted plenty of attention worldwide and was a great feather in Malta’s and the Excelsior’s cap. During her stay at the Excelsior, it was obvious that Dr Merkel was very relaxed. In fact, even if she was on a very tight schedule, Dr Merkel found the time to join
Mr Firas Aboulezz, Corporate Sales Executive, is seen greeting the Chancellor
Mr Neal Debono, Events Executive, greets the Chancellor
The Chancellor with Mr Grixti
The hotel owner’s representative, Mr Mario Attard with the Chancellor. Ms Carmen Camoin, Housekeeper, and Ms Josette Bartolo, Retail Manager, are also seen in the photo
all the management and staff for a commemorative and truly historic photo in the lobby. Asked to comment on this visit, Mr Grixti, the Grand Hotel Excelsior GM, said that “it was indeed a privilege to be able to host such a distinguished guest as Dr Merkel, at our hotel. The level of security was tremendous and we were under incredible pressure but ultimately everything went smoothly and I feel we have made not only our hotel but Malta proud.”
Dr Gonzi (centre) prior to the Chancellor’s arrival at the Grand Hotel Excelsior
Dr Merkel on her way to one of her engagements
Security had to be of the highest calibre during the visit
Sniffer dogs to help make sure nothing was left to chance
Chancellor Merkel with Mr Sam Attard, Security Manager
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Restaurantsâ€™ Corner Noel Debono Chairman Restaurant Sector
In 2010 the MHRA Restaurant Committee managed to raise the image of the restaurant sector through the various activities held during the year. We managed to achieve all our objectives set out at the beginning of the year and credit goes to my committee. I also wish to thank the staff of the Association, George Schembri, CEO, and Vincent Lungaro Mifsud, Membership Officer, for their support and, last but not least, MHRA President George Micallef for putting our sector at the top of his agenda when he was elected President in 2009. My term in office for another year was confirmed during the MHRA Annual General meeting held in November 2010. For the first time three restaurateurs got elected, thus strengthening the representation of the restaurant sector on Council. I am pleased to welcome Isabelle Debattista and congratulate Matthew Pace for being nominated once again. . During our first committee meeting soon after the AGM, I shared out responsibilities so that we can be more effective, and also set ourselves some new objectives for 2011. I assigned Isabelle to look after memberships and collection of data and statistics, whilst Matthew took on the task of public relations. The consolidation of our membership base will always be one of our top priorities. Furthermore, in order to reach our members more effectively, this year we intend to grow our regional sub-committee right across the island and Gozo. Our first activity this term was the conference held in December at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in
Attard. This conference served to inform operators of issues that must be addressed in the coming year to help us achieve better results. As guest speaker we invited the CEO Of the Irish Restaurant Association, Mr. Adrian Cummins, who made a presentation regarding the effects of the crisis on the Irish restaurateurs and how these reacted to the economic turmoil that they had been facing over the past two years. We felt the need to know how similar sectors in other countries have been coping in times of crisis as our sector in Malta is suffering high operational costs and a drop in local custom due to less spending power. Dr. Mario Demarco, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and Culture, also addressed the conference. Another issue which we felt needs addressing was the lack of participation by restaurateurs regarding the various aid schemes issued from time to time by MTA
and Malta Enterprise. Restaurant operators do not apply for these schemes because of the mistaken perception that it is a complicated process and practically impossible to obtain funds since the PPCD opts for higher value projects. When MTA issued its last call for EU funding in November 2010, the committee approached MBB to assist in holding a one-to-one meeting with those operators who asked for information about the scheme so that if necessary we could assist them in the application process. I am happy to say that, following this meeting, we managed to attract a number of restaurant members who eventually put in their projects for consideration for EU funding. Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit was roped in to help with the development of our applications. In the new year we launched the MHRA Recommended Label, a new â€˜qualityâ€™ scheme for restaurants.
MHRA has always been at the forefront of encouraging members to raise standards and deliver the very best possible service to customers. This is also a vital component of Malta’s tourism product. Following various meetings, the Malta Tourism Authority agreed to endorse the scheme and the Health Inspectorate also expressed their support of the scheme. This initiative should ensure that the very highest standards in all areas of an establishment’s operation are achieved and maintained. The scheme will be managed and administered by MHRA while the assessment and mystery guest audits will be conducted independently by third parties contracted by the MHRA. The Association has also appointed an adjudication panel which independently will decide on the final award of certification. On successful completion of the assessment, the establishment will be presented with the MHRA
Recommended label for a period of two years. During the two-year period the participant will undergo a mystery guest audit every 6 months and an assessment review after the first 12 months to ensure that standards are maintained. During the second meeting held by the restaurant committee, ITS Chairperson Ms. Claire Zammit Xuereb, Mr. Adrian Mamo, Executive Director of ITS and Ms. Rosetta Thornhill, Deputy Director of ITS, were invited to address issues related to the sector. It was agreed that MHRA will be supporting and facilitating the student summer placements. Students are mostly attracted to the ‘glamour’ of 5-star and 4-star hotels, while requests for catering establishments are very poor. One of the reasons for this situation may be the lack of contact in the past by restaurateurs with ITS and viceversa with the restaurateurs. However now that the MHRA restau-
rant committee is working closer with ITS on students’ placement, we hope that the situation will improve and that restaurants will take up students placements.The time has come to ensure that anyone engaged in the catering sector has the basic knowledge and skills to work in the sector. A certificate scheme similar to the one applicable to the Hygiene A & B licence for food handlers is being proposed by MHRA to the Employment & Training Corporation (ETC), the Malta Tourism Authority and the Institute of Tourism studies for their support. Initially the scheme will undergo a pilot phase for a period of twelve months, after which MHRA will recommend that it be made mandatory for new entrants in food service. Finally I would like to appeal to our members to come forward and take a place on the committee so that our industry can flourish and keep up with the times.
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Back to Basics with a Golden Flourish
I walk into a cosy restaurant and am greeted by a gracious, welcoming smile. The Fiorino Dâ€™Oro experience starts on a good note. Itâ€™s awful to enter a new place and not even get a hello, which makes you eerily wonder if you have been, at long last, granted that childhood dream of turning invisible. The Fiorino is an Italian-style trattoria tucked away a few metres from the Salina coast road. When in Italy the best bet for the best food in town is to look for an unpretentious place with clientele which looks as local as possible. The Fiorino answers the bill and delivers on its food just as la mamma wished it and our experience was as golden as its name indicates. Before being led to our table, we chat at the bar to the man whose smiling bulk greeted us on entering and who turns out to be the owner and soul behind the Fiorino, Sandro Bianchi. Sandroâ€™s
mother is Italian and obviously loves her food. She imbued this love, not just of eating but also the preparation, in her son. Sandro was trained and lived a life in hotel management. He comes up with the menu, discusses it with his family who are all involved in the running of the restaurant and also does all the purchasing and runs the place. When the going gets really tough he even gets cracking in the kitchen and cooks. Quite a glutton for work but the most important trait in him is the passion he has for the place, for the food, for all the people involved
Trattoria Fiorino d' ro in the running of the place and for his clients. The man is also a living miracle; twice diagnosed with cancer he has, as he says, with the help of God, Our Lady and the physicians come out of both bouts with reinforced vigour. And there I go feeling sorry for myself because last week I had the sniffles!
Hard Rocks Industrial Park, Burmarrad Road, Naxxar NXR6345 t: 21 431309 f: 21 421873, e: email@example.com www.goodearth.com.mt
Sandro’s family all seem to lend a helping hand at the restaurant. His son Matteo is one of the chefs and was the one who prepared most of our food when I was there; Mikela, his daughter, works as a part-time chef or waitress; Simone, his wife, helps out on the floor at weekends; David, his father, also helps out at weekends; Andrea, another son, helps out on Sundays. Then there is Daniela, Andrea’s fiancée, who also helps out on Sundays and Carmelo, his daughter’s fiancé, who is also one of the chefs. A real case of the family that cooks together stays together. I mentioned my invisibility at restaurants and cafés. Sometimes I yearn to be the invisible man to be able to take a proper peek at what goes on in the kitchens; just to see what happens, what is said and how clean they are. A sure sign of proper kitchen practice is when the kitchen itself is open or you can see most of it, instilling a feeling of confidence in your food and its preparation. And at the Fiorino that’s how it is. You hardly need to be the invisible man to inspect it. Most of the kitchen shows through an open doorway and it’s so spanking clean in there you could easily think you are in the kitchen at the home of a fastidious couple. Still I want to examine closer so I inch my way to see what goes on behind the trenches – no, trenches they surely are not: no hint of the disorganisation or mayhem you are sometimes greeted with in some restaurant kitchens. But what about the food? Oh yes, that is why I am here and all the other attributes are essential but the food is the final crowning cherry to make the cake not just that bit more attractive but also appetising. I hear all the gluttons out there waiting for more solid talk about the food. So let’s get down to it and go through the food that we sample. First we are regaled with an
array of pasta assaggi in some appetising sauces. The fiocchi formaggio e pera con crema di gorgonzola e peperoncino (Pasta parcels filled with Taleggio cheese and pears in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce with a pinch of fresh chilli) are a mouthwatering wonder. The tortelloni giganti di ricotta e panna con crema e carciofi make me wish I could do an Oliver and ask for more. (These are giant tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and panna served with a cream of artichokes). Finally the Tortelloni ai crostacei con salsa di aragosta are my least favourite but only because the others are so exquisite. These tortelloni are stuffed with crab and lobster and served with a lobster sauce. They would win several accolades if they were
presented to me on their own with no other competing dishes. My wife is vegetarian so the last dish is out for her but she loves the others and is about to demand that her share should be bigger since she has one variety less. But I insist on having my full share even though, in true Italian trattoria fashion, the idea of nouvelle cuisine, of two solitary minuscule ravioli languishing in some beautifully arrayed slivers of sauce, is hardly the
order of the day at the Fiorino. To drown all this and add to the appreciation of it all we choose a mellow, flavoursome Donna Fugata Sherazade. It not only blends well but, with its marvellous bouquet, each sip actually accentuates the taste of the pasta. After our opening assaggi I order a Gurbell (Meagre fish) al sale. Now here is another chance to nip into the kitchen and maybe ask a few questions behind San-
dro’s back. The chef is Sandro’s son Matteo. Being in there while he is preparing my fish al sale is pure delight. He sculpts the encasing salt and then, when ready, he chisels his way to remove the encrusted salt and find the appetising fish inside. He cleans my fish to perfection. Having graduated from a spoilt little brat to a spoilt bigger brat I still prefer my fish off the bone and to hell with purists. These usually look askance at me for asking for the deboning and for not doing it myself like a true professional but I’d rather remain an amateur and enjoy my meal more. And when it’s off the bone it has to be just that; not done by some quick magician of a maître d’ who flings his hair aside, flicks the fish open and voilà you have the fish nicely deboned. Or not. The amount of times I have nearly choked on a “deboned” fish can fill a few volumes. Matteo does it with tender loving care and to perfection
just as my papa used to do. So Sandro’s son works on the food with an obviously innate passion that is exactly like his father’s. The fish is pure heaven. My father used to describe good fish as a pure taste of the Mediterranean sea, just lightly seasoned, because when fish is fresh, the chef needs only do the minimum to it and you have a dish to write home about. A few side dishes of vegetables and potatoes complement it to perfection. They are not overcooked – I love vegetables with a bite – and not so strongly flavoured that they drown out the taste of the fish. In true Italian style vegetarian dishes do not feature strongly on the menu but Sandro assures my wife that they will prepare anything for her. She leaves it in their capable hands and has no regrets. A steaming dish of Parmigiana with lovely aubergine slices also with a bite (my wife and I do see eye to eye on some things, even 30 odd years later) smothered in cheese and tomatoes is quickly devoured, though my wife had been declaring that after the generous pasta assaggi she would be unable to face food again for a few days. She hesitantly offers me a bite which I quickly accept before she changes her mind. The vegetarian dish is divine, but vegetarian life is hardly for me as I love my meat and my fish too much. With my main course, I opt for another Donna Fugata, a Polena, light on the palate but fruity enough to give the fish that added tang and flavour. The wines at the Fiorino d’Oro are moder-
ately priced and, while there is ample choice, you don’t have to go through volumes to choose the bottle to accompany your dishes. Sandro is also quite a connoisseur of wines so if you are stuck he is there to recommend the one which will best complement your food. I finish off the meal with a slice of trifle; I’m all alone, as my wife has well and truly had it now and can only squeeze in a coffee. Sadly, the day we had our meal there, this is the only sweet on offer but although I can’t say I’m the biggest trifle fan, it is very good. The trifle, Bishop is a Caruana light sponge ‘CharGrace’ Street, Zebbug, 1900 soaked in spirit andZBGdrizzled with Tel: 2146 7116 Fax: 2144 6701 layers ofEmail: ricotta, all combining to firstname.lastname@example.org produce a tasty bite.
Fiorino d’Oro is open Monday to Sunday for lunch and Monday to Saturday for dinner. It-Telgha ta’ Alla u Ommu (road from Naxxar to Salina) Salina. Tel: 79477537, 79406653 Email: email@example.com
Need we say more? Imported by Double R Meats Co Ltd
This place is a definite cherry. The food is simply delicious and makes you gush over each morsel saying “we have to come back”, thinking of whom to get with you. It’s a place that is homely and comfortable. The glitz goes into what counts most: the food. While we are going out Sandro is the congenial host he has been throughout - there to checking and make sure you are greeted and well looked after but not at all overpowering, letting you enjoy your food and all the fare at the Fiorino d’Oro. He also tells me that now they have a delivery service for offices, which includes a variety of foods, snacks and main dishes. So get on to your phone and book a table now at the Fiorino d’Oro. It’s your golden chance to taste a piece of heaven. Or get that piece of heaven personally delivered to your workplace.
Tel: 21 499 941 / 21 498 413 March 2011
MHRA meets Norman Aquilina, quite recently appointed CEO of the Farsons Group, one of the main players in the beverage sector in Malta. Here he gives us a comprehensive overview of his vision and what he envisages will be the next steps of the Farsons Group in Malta and overseas.
NB. This interview was conducted last January, prior to the events that erupted in North Africa.
A Man with a Vision MHRA: You are the first nonfamily member to be heading Farsons, one of the most reputable firms in Malta. How does it feel and where do you want to take the group? Norman Aquilina: I would start by saying that this gives me a lot of personal satisfaction, as it reflects confidence in my abilities to continue to take this Group forward. I consider this a challenging opportunity for me to continue to steer this Group ahead within a somewhat economically turbulent period. These are demanding times, more so when you consider that we have only recently started operating in a fully liberalised market. As I have always contended, I have a very hard act to follow, given the exceptional leadership qualities and visionary guidance
that my predecessor, Louis A Farrugia, now chairman of our Group Executive Board, has always given the Group. Nonetheless, I am determined to take our Group to higher heights, pushing forward with a business model which will be able to deliver even better results. We will be pushing on with our strategy of improving productivity and performance across the Group, whilst divesting any non-profitable operations which we believe cannot turn around. Though we are operating in a highly competitive environment, it is clear that, whatever we do, we must do better than our competitors. We need to continue to focus and build on those areas of growth, whilst addressing areas of weakness, and be quick to identify any arising opportunities. We need to
better exploit the strategic fit and synergies of our Group and make every effort to strengthen our competitive edge in all that we do. Our Group has already achieved a lot, but, in my view, the potential is much greater. In fact, the successful attainment of positioning our Group at the top required a more aggressive objectives-based and results-driven management team. This also needed to be coupled by a stronger entrepreneurial mindset at all levels of management. All this has brought about some changes in our management complement, together with the related alignment and set-up, which was one of the first things I did following my appointment. I am a firm believer that oneâ€™s management team must become an extension of your personal leadership, a force that projects your
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vision, objectives and requirements, out into the organisation and beyond. An effective management team is potentially your greatest source of leverage for implementing your agenda, and my agenda is that of bringing forward an even stronger, more competitive, more dynamic, and, of course, more profitable Group. Farsons is a huge name in Malta, a part of the establishment. Do you feel you are inheriting too many obligations? Rather than talking about inherit-
ing obligations, I would say Iâ€™m inheriting an undoubtedly successful business with many challenges but likewise opportunities. Do you feel that the company employs too many people? In some areas, yes, even though we have already taken a number of measures and brought down our headcount over these last few years. We are now also complementing this by ensuring improved job flexibility, giving the necessary training for more multi-skilling. When operating in a highly
competitive environment like ours, revisiting and right-sizing our cost structures, headcount and ways of working on one end, and pushing forward together whilst simultaneously measuring our productivity levels and value-added on the other, must be seen as an ongoing process and certainly not a one-off initiative. It has to become part of our DNA. We must persist until all this becomes an instinctive cultural habit across all management In the past Farsons was innovative in marketing and product development. Lately you
have not been seen to be so innovative. For example nothing like the Beer Festival has been launched these past few years. Also, no new product has been launched recently. Is this because you wanted to consolidate in times of recession and at a time when you had to change your philosophy to survive the new market demands and conditions? I do not agree with this – even though I would acknowledge that there is certainly always room for further innovation. I would start by qualifying your reference to the Beer Festival in that it has continued to grow in popularity year after year not simply by coincidence but as a result of efforts to make this much-sought-after event more appealing and a must for many Maltese families and even tourists. It is pertinent to mention that during 2010 we launched a new common Group corporate identity. Apart from the Group corporate structures, this now also incorporates Farsonsdirect, our retail outlet located in our Mriehel site. This outlet has been steadily growing in popularity and today, the name Farsonsdirect has developed and is recognised as a brand in its own right, having its own identity. Also, Farsons has, more than ever before, been particularly active in developing innovative ways of packaging and offering on-pack promotional opportunities for consumers – as evidenced in almost all retail outlets. Marketing has now also taken an added twist as social networking takes on a growing importance in our marketing strategy. Regarding product development, we have continued to extend the range of our flagship brand names, with three of our latest additions being the low-carb beer Cisk Excel, the extra-strong lager Cisk XS and the Kinnie variant under the brand Kinnie Zest. That said, I have to recognise
that there has been a particular effort and necessity to innovate and re-dimension our business model within today’s fully liberalised market by repositioning ourselves and securing our competitive edge as best as we can. While the general economic climate has been somewhat turbulent, we have nonetheless pursued a sizeable investment drive to the tune of €40 million. In 2008 we inaugurated a new PET bottling packaging plant along with a new Logistics Centre. We now even have a newly acquired Euro-IV standard distribution fleet. Currently, we are also well underway with the construction of a new brewhouse, which is set for completion by May 2012. Irrespective of any apparent economically challenging moments, our philosophy is certainly not based on survival, but based on a longer term vision of prosperity, ensuring we operate with a competitive, robust and resilient business model. As you can see we are making sure that we continue to invest and develop a business that offers innovative and continued prospects for growth, along with a profitable return.
found in mainland Europe, with Italy still remaining our largest export market, but also in distant markets such as China. One can also find an alcohol-free Cisk variant in markets like Libya. Even Kinnie is steadily growing in popularity following a recent soft launch in London. Today, we
“We continue to invest and develop a business that offers innovative and continued prospects for growth”
Expansion abroad: we have heard of it being successful quite a few times. Beer in Italy and Kinnie in Australia spring to mind: how successful has it been in actual terms and do you see yourself in international markets? Most foreigners love Cisk so you’d imagine it would not be too difficult to penetrate foreign markets. Or is success beyond taste?
export around six percent of our Farsons turnover, and though this may seem modest, it is very rapidly growing. Though we take much pride in the quality of our Cisk, success in foreign markets is not just about the product but it’s also about competing against big multinationals which have very hefty marketing budgets, which also benefit from enormous economies of scale. Hence our approach to export is per force targeted and somewhat selective. It is a gradual approach which requires time and effort but we are certainly encouraged by the results attained so far.
With our ambitions for growth, and the limitations of the local market, exporting is an obvious, indeed critically essential, growth driver. We today export our products to a number of markets and we are pleased to see that this is growing steadily. Today, Cisk is not only
Let’s talk a bit more about Kinnie. When it was launched the idea behind it was that it would be an ideal non-alcoholic drink which would appeal to females. At the time females were perceived as not ordering alcoholic drinks very often. Is
this still valid? Don’t you think a new name could give it more penetration, especially in foreign markets? Consumption patterns have changed and today Kinnie is a drink which appeals equally to males and females. With all the heritage and brand equity that Kinnie today so strongly commands, it would be a mistake to give the product a new name. That said, we are currently finalising a major rebranding exercise for Kinnie which we are confident will give a fresher and more appealing look to the brand. This, we hope to roll out into the market very shortly. As one of our main flagship brands, Kinnie continues to serve us well, and in spite of the wide array of imported drinks, Kinnie remains a firm favourite for many Maltese.
Let’s now turn to the hospitality field. What is the Group’s relationship with the hotel and restaurant/bar industry? What are the problems associated with that sector and what can be done to make the relationship better? We obviously have strong ties with the hospitality industry which we very much value. Apart from the must-have Maltese Cisk and Kinnie which, apart from the locals, many tourists want to experience, Farsons is seen as a comprehensive beverage supplier and this renders the demands and expectations from our hospitality clients higher. Considering our leading position, this is understandable. I would certainly not generalise when it comes to singling out any problems, particularly given that there are a good number of exem-
plary operators, and would rather refer to what I would term as challenging situations in our relationship with selective segments within the hospitality industry. The reliance on overly extended credit terms for the payment of supplies / services rendered is probably one of the first that comes to mind when dealing with certain
“We obviously have strong ties with the hospitality industry which we very much value”
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sectors within the hospitality field. This can be, and is being, addressed through better planning and more appropriate working arrangements between the two sides of any business transaction, but it still remains a challenge in some areas. Also, with increasingly pricesensitive customers, we still occasionally encounter some who are driven by quality-compromising measures. Of course, when the competitive pressures really take their toll, it can understandably be a shaded fine line to distinguish the need to operate within oneâ€™s budgetary limitations and at the same time secure a positive experience by oneâ€™s custom. Here, it is also pertinent to mention the pressing environmental and legal obligations on the need
to separate, recover and recycle packaging waste. This is a challenge which both producers and suppliers, just as much as hoteliers, restaurants and bars will growingly face. There is room for some coordination here and we all need to be more proactive and collective in approach. One other challenge worth highlighting, though some may ironically even see this as an opportunity, relates to the presence of rogue suppliers to the hospitality sector who operate off the regulatory and fiscal radars. This is generally encountered within the bar and restaurant sector. It obviously gives rise to an unfair situation versus other legitimate producers/suppliers on one end and restaurateurs/bar operators on the other.
Do you think restaurants and hotels do enough to market local products? Do the employees in the various outlets know enough about your locally produced items? I think the level of collaboration with restaurants and hotels in general is very good with many wanting to offer the local products. Even tourists like to experience the local cuisine, whether this is a local beer, wine, beverage or food assortment. Tourists, after all, need to, and generally want to, get a taste of the Maltese flavour. There is certainly scope for taking on more initiatives to promote Maltese products, with us also needing to do our part. This could also be done in conjunction with
organisations such as the MTA, ITS or even the MHRA. Do you as a group or as an industry organise tours or courses for hotel and restaurant staff to learn more say about beer and how to serve it, preserve it and enjoy it more? As long-established brewers in Malta, we firmly recognise the importance of ensuring that our consumers experience our beers in optimal condition. One of our strengths in being based locally is that we can deliver a freshly brewed beer as opposed to imported beers. The message of freshness closer to home is something we give great importance to but maybe we need to harp on this more often. Of course, staff in hotels and restaurants have an important part to play to ensure that the product is also served in optimal condition. We therefore have a common interest to ensure a satisfied consumer. That said, we do offer some initiatives with a view to improving knowledge and awareness on how to preserve, serve and enjoy our beer, but there is always room for more improvement... let’s say, no matter how much one has done, it must always be seen as work in progress. The Group is also in fast-food restaurants. My impression is that it has never been as successful as it wished to be and has only made slight profits over the years. Do you see your group expanding into other areas of more sophisticated dining? Or hotels, as was done back in the seventies with the Verdala? Or would you consider other areas which are not the traditional core business of the Group. First of all, one must understand that the Farsons Group now has an extended business profile. Today,
it encompasses a broad range of fast-moving consumer businesses within the beverage and food sectors – with a Group turnover which is rapidly approaching the €70 million mark. Our Group is essentially split into three business components, though the core business firmly remains the beverage sector. Yes, apart from the beverage category, we are also involved in fast-food franchising and food importation. The fast-food business is managed by the company Food Chain. While it has had its fair share of challenges, I believe it has nonetheless made some notable progress, today running thirteen restaurants across Malta. Our expectations from this business are certainly there and we have only very recently recruited a new General Manager, strengthened our management complement and revisited the relevant structures to ensure that we are better positioned to improve and continue to grow this business. We still see material opportunities for growth in the core areas of business we operate in today, and, therefore, for the time being we should focus on developing our core businesses. Nonetheless, we should always keep an eye open for any newly arising opportunities that may come about. You came from the food importation part of Farsons. When you headed the food division it was the most successful and profitable. Surely it has become in time a vital component of the whole Group strategy? How important is it in the overall results and do you see it expanding further? Will this mean you will not remain as dependent on the beverage side? In today’s highly competitive environment we cannot have any components of our business not delivering the necessary results.
While the food importation is certainly an important contributor within our Group profitability, I think the importance here is that we recognise that our market share in terms of food importation is still modest and there definitely is scope for much more growth. That said, the growing intensity of competition will not render the necessary profitable growth an easily attainable objective, but it is within our reach and we will certainly be making the efforts to exploit any arising opportunities that I believe will, at some stage, come about as the retailing landscape continues to change and subsequently deliver the need for more market consolidation amongst certain businesses. Farsons needs to continue projecting itself – filling in some of the remaining voids within our beverage portfolio as we progress – to firmly establish ourselves as a total beverage company. But our extended interests have now also positioned our Group within the broader fast-moving consumer goods sector and we will remain vigilant to ensure that we continue to strengthen our presence in this sector – whether through organic growth, acquisition or extension of brand representation, irrespective of whether they come from the beverage or food sector. Cisk used to be synonymous with lager in Malta. “Tini lager” meant “give me a Cisk”. How has the new generation of drinkers, with a whole array of beers available, maintained this traditional connection with your products? Cisk has maintained its strong connection with beer drinkers. Of course, the influx of imported beers is not something to be underestimated but we are pleased to see that consumers still respond very strongly to Cisk. Just as we have maintained our traditional roots, we have likewise managed to
to sign up to a packaging waste recovery scheme, is still sizeable. And as the authorities continue moving towards increasing indirect forms of taxation, as we have seen in the latest budget, along with the need for added legal/regulatory adherence without the necessary enforcement, the more businesses like ours get penalised. This brings about an unfair level of competition between those companies that comply versus those that evade. This is a long-drawn-out battle which unfortunately is still ongoing. We are, or so it seems, slowly creeping out of the crisis. How has the group performed and have you reached expected or predicted results and growth?
“Cisk has maintained its strong connection with beer drinkers. Of course, the influx of imported beers is not something to be underestimated but we are pleased to see that consumers still respond very strongly to Cisk”
extend our reach for Cisk with many of today’s upcoming and more affluent consumers who have responded so positively to our lowcarb version of Cisk Excel. One should also not forget our Cisk Export, which is popularly tagged by many as the party beer and found in many events, particularly those of a musical nature.
Has the eco-contribution problem been solved or are you still battling? How and why has it affected your performance? The problem goes well beyond the eco-contribution. The problem we have here is that fiscal evasion and the non-adherence to regulatory obligations, such as the obligation
Though the general economic climate has taken us all through some rough rides, I would still not say all is now well, with 2011 still likely to be another challenging year as Government continues to push for fiscal consolidation, whilst the general inflationary pressures continue to pursue, with the utility costs being one of the main contributors. In spite of all this, we feel reasonably satisfied with our results to date. Our six-month results as at 31st July 2010 showed an increase in Group profit after tax for the period from €1.8 million to €2.2 million, representing a significant increase of 19%. Group turnover increased by 5% to reach €35 million compared to €33 million for the same six-month period last year. We are now almost at the end of our financial year – ending 31st January 2011 – and hope to be able to announce our full year results shortly. In spite of the progress, there are still many more hurdles to overcome within this growingly competitive environment. Nonetheless, I am reasonably confident that our Group is on the right track, and will continue to make steady progress.
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quality service. The information received by the server is managed and reports are generated. The energy-efficient Mini Bar has been specially designed to provide high thermal insulation and an optimum product selection, storing up to 30 products, so it can fit into most botel cabinets. In the European Union the difference in electricity consumption cost per year of using the energy efficient (EE) iHOST MB, and another MB in a 400-room hotel could be the difference between €6,700 and €38,000, a saving of €31,300! Depending on the estimated sales per Mini Bar per occupied room and the occupation rate of the Hotel, iHOST can offer a total outsourcing service or a rental and supply service for its products. Falcom Ltd. has been es-
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ISO 9001 CERTIFICATION Delicata has become the first wine producer in Malta to be certified with the very latest ISO 9001 (International Organisation for Standardisation) accreditation, awarded for the quality of its winemaking and the customer service it provides.
Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker, a producer of internationally recognised award-winning wines, announced at a press conference recently that its accreditation with ISO 9001:2008 was awarded because of the company’s proficiency in its vineyard management, winemaking procedures, bottling and packaging, marketing, sales, distribution and customer service. At the press conference, The Hon Chris Said presented the company’s Managing Director V. George Delicata with the Malta Standards Authority ISO certificates. A spokesperson at the winery said “Our involvement with ISO, which advocates the implementation of the most up-to-date business processes and procedures available worldwide, will help assure all our trade partners and Delicata wine consumers that the wines they purchase from us are consistently good,
not just because of our passion, but because of our now independently accredited winemaking skills, stateof-the-art equipment, advanced technology and our overriding focus on quality”. “Delicata’s commitment to innovation, excellence and continuous improvement provided the framework for reaching this new level of ISO 9001: 2008 certification. By embracing the measurements set forth by ISO, Delicata’s business performance and productivity levels are now better aligned. We are especially proud to be the first winery in Malta to achieve this level of quality assurance, which will hopefully give wine consumers more and more confidence in, and appreciation of, the lengths we go to to ensure that each and every bottle of wine we produce is a quality one”. ISO 9001 certification is a global standard for quality manage-
ment practices. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes for 161 countries and is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO 9001:2008 is the newest and most demanding version of the standard certification. It is earned by organisations possessing a consistent ability to provide products that meet applicable, regulatory and customer requirements. Each participating organisation must constantly strive to improve customer satisfaction through the successful implementation, and continual improvement, of the system. At the end of the press conference, dignitaries, together with members of the press, were given the opportunity to taste the latest 2010 vintage D.O.K certified wines directly from Delicata’s temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks.
Enlighten your Senses a: Triq il-Qaliet, Marsaskala MSK 3313, Malta t: (+356) 2163 2652 m: (+356) 9930 0030 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Of History, Nobility and Exclusive Dining… It is one of 500 Relais & Chateaux properties around the world. Unique, individual and claiming to provide are known as the 5 Cs – Courtesy, Charm, Cuisine, Character, Calm. The Xara Palace in Mdina is a jewel of a palazzo, enrapturing its owners, appreciated by its guests. In addition to all its merits, The Xara Palace also includes one of the finest dining spots on the Island – the de Mondion Restaurant.
This is an award-winning restaurant run by award-winning chefs and named after a prominent French architect who was instrumental in revamping the face of Mdina during the days of the Knights of St John’s in Malta. That much is enough to distinguish it from the rest. But the uniqueness of this restaurant is tangible on varied fronts, not least being its idyllic location. The first, most amazing impact which this restaurant guarantees is the view which can be had from its vantage point, perched on the 17th Century palazzo and embraced in a segment of Mdina’s bastions walls. The distant sea encircling a huge
expanse of the coast of Malta is the ideal background against which restaurant patrons can recognise a volley of most impressive landmarks. But even before reaching the restaurant itself, it is imperative to pass through the characteristic inner courtyard which provides a first flavour of things to come. It is within this ensconced space that I meet Director Nicola Paris together with Chef de Cuisine Kevin Bonello to get first-hand information about what the de Mondion stands for. “When my family bought this palazzo in 1995, we were taking it over after decades during which it
had lost its original scope – that of being a comfortable home fit for nobility. The history of this place is pretty colourful – amongst others, it served as an officers’ mess during WWII and was transformed into a B&B by Mabel Strickland. We wanted to restore it to its former glory and my parents strove on various fronts in this regard. For instance, the rooms were restored to their original size. As is typical of such a period palazzo, the rooms have mostly very high ceilings, so we created mezzanines to make the best use of this space. My parents’ vision has been that of creating an exclusive boutique hotel with fine
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dining incorporated. Undoubtedly they have succeeded - in less than a year from its opening, The Xara Palace was recognised as a Relais & Chateaux property.” Today the hotel is one of 500 unique properties around the world, all individually owned and all rigidly inspected by R&C in order to ascertain continued quality. The distinguished category must be guarded with continued attention and this signifies that owners and employees are kept constantly abreast of the latest trends in refined hospitality, even through focused R&C training abroad. The de Mondion Restaurant is one place in which attention is not missing. It has only recently been awarded a Definitively Good Guide award for 2010, while its Chef de Cuisine walked away with the Chef of the Year Award 2011. Kevin Bonello says, “I have been working here for the past 11 years and during this time the restaurant has kept to its character – it is exclusive with a continuously evolving menu.” Mr Bonello admits that his team of seven chefs is always working around new and fresh ideas to titillate the patrons’ taste buds, and, even as we speak, the new spring menu is being sampled. The restaurant’s dishes emerge from modern French and Mediterranean influences, whilst presenting traditional Maltese recipes in
novel ways. Imagine snails cooked in sparkling water with vanilla thrown in, rabbits and quails, but also fresh black truffles imported weekly from Italy. Every day this inventive chef will bring freshly cut herbs and flowers from his personal garden to the de Mondion kitchen to incorporate into his latest inventions. “I work to very strict personal levels of performance – because apart from wanting to continuously provide quality dishes, I must also be sure that the ingredients we use are of supreme quality. Our guests are not simply told they are eating beef.... they are told where it comes from. We source from the best suppliers, the best farmers, the best fishermen. On principle we do not cook farmed fish. We are also conscious of fish on the endangered list – so yellowfin tuna for one is certainly not on our books.” In the collective perception of dining, the de Mondion has become synonymous with special events and celebrations – marriage proposals, anniversaries, important business meetings. Nicola Paris says, “People bring other people to dine here when they want to celebrate and want to be sure to make a good impression. The de Mondion is like our baby and we invest a lot of effort to make sure that the quality is optimum, whether it is about the service itself, a dish or the wine.” Speaking of wine,
Executive Chef – Kevin Bonello
the restaurant boasts a very wellstocked wine cellar with a sommelier who is present to help match wines and dishes. Yes indeed, while this restaurant is situated in quite a secluded part of Mdina although just a stone’s throw away from the main gate, it has seen its fair share of high-brow visitors from all over the world. Surely if Monsieur de Mondion could see the palazzo today, I’m sure he’d opt to dine up at the de Mondion restaurant too. The de Mondion Restaurant is open Monday to Saturday from 19.30 hrs onwards. Last order is taken at 22.30hrs. www.xarapalace.com.mt
De Mondion’s Recipes
Linguine with Rizzi & Scallop Roe (Serves 6, starter) Ingredients: 480g Fresh linguine 50g Virgin olive oil 1tsp Finely chopped chives, tarragon & parsley 1tbsp Fresh rizzi 200g Fresh scallops with red roe 100g Sparkling water 1tsp Tomato paste 20g Sugar 2tbsp Chopped shallots and garlic Salt & fresh pepper
Method: 1. Separate the red roe from the white scallop meat then put the red roe in a liquidiser with the sparkling water, tomato paste, sugar, salt and fresh pepper and blend for 1 minute. 2. Store in refrigerator. 3. Cut the white scallop meat in 3mm cubes. 4. In a sauté pan sweat the chopped shallots and garlic till soft.
5. A dd the diced white scallop meat and sweat for another 2 minutes. 6. Add the scallop roe sauce, the rizzi and the fresh herbs, heat but do not allow to boil. 7. Season with salt & fresh pepper. 8. Cook the fresh linguine in boiling salted water for 1 minute, drain then toss well into the sauce. 9. Serve straight away.
Roasted Lamb Cutlets with Truffle Mash (Serves 6, main course) Ingredients: 6 French racks, trimmed & cleaned of excess bones 300g Peeled and cubed potatoes 2tbsp Truffle oil 2tbsp Fresh cream 1 bunch Trimmed spinach leaves 18 Peeled baby carrots 18 Trimmed mangetout 6 Peeled salsify root 100g Lamb jus 50g Olive oil Salt & fresh pepper
Method: 1. Boil potatoes till tender then drain and pat dry. 2. Mash, adding the cream and the truffle oil, season with salt and pepper and keep warm. 3. In a thick bottomed pan heat the oil, season the lamb with salt and fresh pepper and fry the lamb racks on all sides till golden brown. 4. Then place in 175ºC oven and cook till pink (6-8 min). 5. Allow to rest. 6. Cut the salsify into a neat shape and cook in a bit of butter and
oil till tender. 7. C ook the baby carrots and mangetout in boiling salted water till tender, drain then season with salt and pepper. 8. Cook the trimmed spinach in a bit of buuter and drain. 9. Pipe the mashed potatoes on a heated plate, carve the rested lamb nicely and lay around the truffle mash. 10. Scatter around the baby carrots, mangetout, spinach and salsify. 11. Finish the plate with the lamb jus around the meat. 12. Serve immediately.
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It’s All About Attitude Victor Calleja meets two ITS graduates who climbed to the top of the Institute and now have to steer it into the future with vision and passion.
Mr Adrian Mamo
New brooms, they say, sweep clean. I’m not sure if Claire Xuereb, who was appointed Chairman of ITS a few months ago, relishes the idea of actually sweeping but her immediate effect on ITS has been very impressive . The appointments of Adrian Mamo and Rosetta Thornhill as head and deputy of ITS have been very good moves. They were ITS insiders with a plethora of lectureships so their appointments are definitely good signs that the Board of Governors, in conjunction with government, seems intent on improving an already good product. I recently met Adrian and Rosetta, a few weeks after they took over at the ITS helm, and just as
Disney’s broom worked wonders with the cascading waters in Fantasia so these two appointees seem to have taken their task of instilling new energy into ITS very seriously. With confidence in their vision but with their feet firmly on the ground they responded very energetically to all my probing questions. The fear was that because they are so new in their positions they would not want to answer hot or troubling questions but the duo planned out an even more successful future for ITS. As Adrian pointed out right at the start of our meeting: “I have only been here a few weeks, so my input cannot be gauged yet. We will have to wait and see what our results and our contribution
will be but for now what I am sure of is that Rosetta and I together with our team will be following to the letter the mission statement of ITS. We will be doing our utmost to stick to the plan of action as mapped out by the chairman and the Board of Governors.” “ITS is, first and foremost, an institute” interjected quite strongly Rosetta, “ and so we have to emphasise the educational aspect. And by educational we obviously mean keeping alive our strengths of giving all students a very good background in practical education coupled with a sound pedagogical basis.” Here the two had a similar glint in their eyes when they emphasised the utter importance of attitude. “The hospitality trade is all about humans and human interaction so no amount of knowledge and experience and academia will substitute the need for the right attitude. If a student is entering the hospitality trade and has the wrong attitude no amount of practice will change that. Learning, practical experience and training are fundamental but all will be useless unless gelled by the right attitude,” commented Adrian. Adrian and Rosetta have confidence in their beliefs and back it up with a strategy and ideas that will surely make their vision work and, being reflected in the continuing success of the ITS story, will benefit the tourism industry and Malta. The hospitality trade has had a very good relationship with ITS since its inception even if, as with every
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relationship, it has had its ups and its downs and its vociferous quarrels. ITS has always produced a number of students who have made it and made it big in hotels and restaurants and other allied trades. So the basis for further success is already there but, as Rosetta commented, “we have to take the position of ITS a step further. We are reviewing our curriculum to make it more attuned to the everchanging trends in tourism. We have to reinvent ourselves as we go along because the tourism world has become unbelievably dynamic and changes are so rapid you can be caught unawares from a learning or practical point of view and cause more harm than good. We have to build on our strength and evolve and adapt accordingly.” Adrian concurs and stated that “ITS needs to develop further in order to initially survive and compete in this ever-changing globalised era. As a team we would like to develop and implement processes which are in line with tomorrow’s industry requirements. This can only be achieved through continuous planning and evaluation, and also through creativity and innovation.” ITS, in conjunction with some schools and ETC, has initiated schemes to attract school
Ms Rosetta Thornhill
leavers to go into hospitality. The pre-employment scheme and the school-incorporated scheme had already been suggested by the previous management members and have been pilot schemes which gave a good success level. In fact both Adrian and Rosetta, who were already involved with ITS as lecturers before their appointments, were the people directly responsible for the design, monitoring and coordination of these initiatives. Then there is the Choice Programme, which is run in collaboration with MTA and the ITS alumni. This basically consists of visits in schools
and the hosting of school visits within ITS. “In addition”, Adrian points out “ITS alumni, who are today working in the tourism industry and have become parents, are the perfect testimonials to promote this dynamic and rewarding industry with their children and young relatives who are still undecided about their career path”. We asked the ITS supremos what can be done to make the hospitality field more attractive. Their response was characteristically blunt. Adrian said, “ITS cannot do this alone. We can work at ensuring that our product and services are more student-focused and attractive but we cannot directly influence the packages/conditions offered. This is something which needs to be addressed by industry at national level.” Adrian added that “from our end, we are trying to consolidate on existing contacts with industry and we are also reaching out to new ones. We are also working with MTA to see how we can tap more effectively into secondary school students. We are also holding discussions with regards to career days in Malta and Gozo and guidance teacher staff development programmes in relation to what ITS has to offer to potential students.”
Adrian’s view was that “We can help by making our curriculum more attractive and appealing. We believe that we need to target the specialisation element to show that there are various career paths within the hospitality field. This will obviously be done with the collaboration of our academics and industry stakeholders.” Both Adrian and Rosetta agree that ITS has to extend the channels of communication and ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the revised product/service on offer. Furthermore, ITS has to create systems to ensure that this communication is retained so that it is continuously aware of the changing needs of the industry which will obviously be translated into possible revision in curriculum. However, one important factor is to remember that ITS needs to provide also the pedagogical aspect as ITS, is and will always remain, primarily an educational institution. Both Adrian and Rosetta agree that, if one looks at the product holistically, it is a matter of determining what is needed with what they are offering and the and needs to be constantly evaluated. Adrian points out that one of the strong points of ITS is that it has academic staff who are both industryexperienced as well as academically trained. Therefore any additional content which may be required
may easily be included as part of an academic staff-development programme. These programmes have already been initiated. “We also intend”, Adrian went on, to re-enforce the guest lecturer system within ITS. We are positive that there are people in industry who, with the right training in pedagogy and delivery, can serve as excellent guest speakers within our curriculum”. The foreign placement given to all students was, and remains, a very important part of the ITS experience. I ask Rosetta what is the situation at the moment and what is envisaged for the near ,and distant future. She explains that ITS has “an internship unit which aims
at ensuring that this experience for the student is processed successfully and in fact in many cases students return to Malta with added value. However, we would like to look into the process in order to improve the academic and social elements in order to ensure that we optimise this part of our curriculum for the benefit of our students and institute alike. We are in the process of exploring possibilities to open up the opportunities for our students to work in other countries outside the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man”. From foreign placements of students we move on to discuss food and its preparation. I quiz Adrian and Rosetta about the state of affairs in Malta and ask whether they agree that the study of food and drink as a science and as an art has not been taken seriously or imaginatively enough in Malta. While all other Mediterranean countries use and market their diet as a healthy one and flog their own products unashamedly, we still seem to worry that our home produce is not good enough. What do ITS and its leaders think and what can be done to rectify this? Adrian beams a near-beatific smile and says that ITS is preparing something which will be launched soon and is con-
nected to my probing questions and to the lack of proper food initiatives. Unfortunately this cannot be divulged yet but it will take the trade by surprise and hopefully will have very positive results. However both Adrian and Rosetta point out that ITS does its bit to involve and push Maltese produce. In fact when I was interviewing them they had just concluded a field study day at one of Gozo’s local conglomerations of food and drink industries for all the staff and part of the student complement. To my questioning about their wine courses which feature foreign wines, Adrian rebuts any special positioning of the foreign wines as opposed to the locally produced ones. Adrian explains: “we can hardly give a course in wine appreciation without mentioning and going into detail about the foreign wines. We do put Malta wines in the proper perspective and we do highly recommend that the local wines are appreciated and marketed strongly at restaurants and hotels. But we have to put Maltese wines in context when we are teaching about the wines of the world.” Aptly said and explained. The ITS already has a food science laboratory and also runs specialised intensive courses in chocolate preparation and other specialisation aspects of food. The lab helps target food preparation and production from a different angle to the traditionally accepted and expected. In collaboration with the lecturers, ITS intends to further expand this field. Adrian adds that “Creativity is injected within our current curriculum and will be injected even more into the new one. It is fascinating to see how creative students can be in their themed dinner projects as well as in the art of plating. It is our intention to re-enforce this learning curve amongst our students”. I ask Adrian and Rosetta whether they feel the students’ dress code is as stringent as it used to be a
few years ago when all ITS students used to go around the island proudly displaying their blazers with their ITS logo. Rosetta agrees that a lot has to be done and tells me the process has already started. “We are aware that some of our students do not wear their uniform appropriately” she agrees rather sadly. The new management team has started an education campaign with a roster of lecturers and management members stationed by the main door in order to enforce this requirement. In semester two this will be readdressed and all units need to be supportive. Within the
industry, members of staff need to wear full uniform so from our end we should support this requirement through the monitoring of our uniform. We also need the support of secondary schools as our students come from there and not enough is being done to instil proper dress code in schools. More importantly we need parents’ support to make sure students arrive dressed smartly in clean clothes.” Finally I ask what Adrian and Rosetta think of the state of service in Malta and whether the ideal of always having service with a smile is possible and what can be done to
revive it especially in the students of ITS who will be the hospitality ambassadors of tomorrow. Ironically both my interviewees lose a bit of their smile, not because they are annoyed or fed up of my quizzing but because they believe that this mantra should be available across all sectors of our economy, not only in the tourism sector. And unfortunately they feel that as a nation we are losing a bit of our attitude to render a service graciously and with a supporting smile. Therefore the national primary and secondary education system plays a very important role in the development of this concept. “At ITS we need to ensure that this quality is transmitted through different elements, including the same service we offer within our campus and with each other. Obviously the changes in our curriculum will incorporate the development of soft skills”, Adrian says smiling again. ITS is an important pillar of our society and especially of our hotel and restaurant trades. From the enthusiasm I saw in the two heads I feel very confident that their plan and their vision is hard and tough but also very possible because they have such a positive attitude. The final words of wisdom which reflect this enthusiasm perfectly come from Rosetta who tells me just before I leave that “we as lecturers
and management have to believe in motivating the students. We must be industry-driven but our main interest and concern has to remain the student. We have to practise the hospitality element with our students and they have to feel they
are treated well so that they will then appreciate what it takes to work in the industry of being hospitable and accommodating.” ITS has great roots and it has found a good team to carry it forward to further success.
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Malta Business Bureau Celebrates 15th Anniversary with New Brand Identity “In recent years, the MBB has stepped up its services and it is entirely fitting that the organisation takes on future tasks with a rejuvenated brand that befits its dynamic and efficient approach to its duties.” – MBB President John A. Huber
The Malta Business Bureau has unveiled its new brand identity with an event to mark the 15th Anniversary since the launch of the Bureau. The 2010 Annual Report, detailing the MBB’s work throughout the previous year, was also presented to Finance Minister Hon. Tonio Fenech. Speaking during the 15th anniversary event, MBB President Mr. John A. Huber explained that the MBB board had decided to mark this milestone with an extensive rebranding exercise that captures the core characteristics and mission statement of the organisation. “The MBB has been keeping the local business community upto-date with developments taking place in the European institutions
for 15 years and the organisation has worked hard to ensure that the local business community is given ample opportunities to express their views on given issues,” he stated. “In recent years, the MBB has stepped up its services and it is entirely fitting that the organisation
Minister Tonio Fenech and MBB President John A. Huber unveiling the new MBB brand
takes on future tasks with a rejuvenated brand that befits its dynamic and efficient approach to its duties.” The Minister of Finance, the Economy and Investment, the Hon. Tonio Fenech, also addressed the audience and congratulated the MBB for its work in recent years, stating that the organisation has helped to ensure that the local business community was well informed on EU developments and decisions. “I can say that there is a high level of awareness on EU affairs amongst local businesses, and the level of understanding about how the EU can translate into tangible benefits for business is also increasing,” he stated. While he expressed satisfaction about the level of understanding and awareness of EU affairs, he also called on the business community to continue to seek further information and to make good use of
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John A. Huber presents a memento to Minister Tonio Fenech
organisations, like the MBB, which were specifically set up to assist businesses in voicing their views at EU level and accessing assistance and funding that is available to them. “All stakeholders must work together in this respect, especially if we are to ensure that the local business community continues to strengthen its competitiveness. In this regard, increased innovation investing in R&D is essential and entities such as the MBB are equipped to provide assistance and guidance when it comes to accessing finance that can be channelled towards these aims,” he stated.
The MBB new brand identity was revealed during the event. It aims to capture the MBB’s dynamic approach to its service provision to the local business community and retains a corporate look, yet simultaneously embraces change and development. “The brand was developed bearing in mind that it is the spirit of enterprise that drives Maltese business and as such, the MBB decided to adopt a corporate concept whereby the new logo embodies a sense of motion, of progressive advancement towards one´s goals – to obtain the best possible out of EU membership,” explained MBB CEO Mr. Joe Tanti.
He went on to explain that the new identity is the graphical representation of the underlying values and the vision steering the way forward for the organisation, a fact that is reflected in the stars’ forward movement. The stars and colours chosen reflect the MBB’s identity and purpose. “The stars evidence Malta’s and the MBB’s close relation to EU affairs, with the logo’s colours being made up of hues of red, gold and blue - the red emphasises our Maltese identity while the gold and blue reflect the European element,” he continued. The Malta Business Bureau was founded in 1996 and is the voice of Maltese businesses within EU level institutions. The MBB works to ensure that the voice of Maltese businesses is heard in European fora, and it also ensures that it updates and informs the Maltese business community of the developments unfolding in the EU that can be of direct interest to them. The MBB represents the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association in Brussels and Malta, by liaising directly with European and local counterparts. For more information contact the MBB on email@example.com or visit the business portal www.mbb.org.mt.
Members of Parliament, Malta Chamber and MHRA Council Members present for the new MBB brand launch
MBB Deepens the Discussion on the Relaunch of the European Single Market with the Hon. Jason Azzopardi MBB sends a strong message to Government against any proposal that undermines Malta’s competitiveness. Following the conclusions of an Extraordinary Board Meeting held between the Malta Business Bureau and Parliamentary Secretary Hon. Jason Azzopardi in December last year, the MBB has now published a position paper in response to the public consultation by the European Commission on the 50 proposals for the relaunch of the Single Market. MBB President John A. Huber, together with Chief Executive Joe Tanti and Permanent Delegate in Brussels Omar Cutajar, officially presented the document to the Hon. Dr. Jason Azzopardi, who accepted it on behalf the Maltese Government. The MBB is also presenting this document to the Internal Market and Services Directorate General on behalf of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Mr. Huber explained that “the Malta Business Bureau welcomes the publication of the Communication on a Single Market Act. This is a much-needed development and indeed a timely initiative to reinvigorate cross-border business activity across the EU-27 member-states.” However he urged the Government to “send a strong message against any proposal that undermines Malta’s competitiveness.” Furthermore, Mr. Huber cautioned against “the adoption of EU proposals that have a direct bearing on business before it can be
MBB President John A. Huber presents Parliament Secretary The Hon. Jason Azzopardi the MBB Position Paper on the Single Market Act
ensured that the proposal and related regulations can be effectively implemented and enforced.” The Hon Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Land Jason Azzopardi thanked the Malta Business Bureau for presenting him with its position paper following the European Commission’s public consultation on the 50 proposals relaunching the Single Market Act. Jason Azzopardi said that Government welcomes a healthy exchange of ideas, with the various sectors of the economy. It is this close contact with the key representatives of the sector that allows Government to better legislate, and design the ideal climate for our SMEs. The Parliamentary Secretary
said officials from his secretariat would be analysing the position paper in the coming days. The Parliamentary Secretary augured that this document will strengthen the timely communication between Government and stakeholders. The full MBB report on the Relaunch of the Single Market can be viewed from the business portal www.mbb.org.mt
in GUARDIA The IN GUARDIA PARADE is a historical re-enactment that portrays an authentic historical event that took place regularly inside Fort St. Elmo. This re-enactment portrays the inspection of the fort and its garrison by the Grand Bailiff of the Order of the Knights of St. John in charge of military affairs. During the re-enactment the fort’s garrison - some 70 re-enactors strong - is dressed in its best uniforms and demonstrates to the Grand Bailiff its military prowess.
Shows Start at 1 1.00am Duration time: 40mins For Further Details Visit
or call tel: 2291 5440/1
DATES FOR 2011 JANUARY 2
FEBRUARY 6, 13, 27 MARCH 6, 13, 27 APRIL 3, 10 MAY 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 JUNE 5, 12, 19, 26 JULY 3, 10 SEPTEMBER 18, 25 OCTOBER 2, 9, 23, 30 NOVEMBER 6, 13
TICKETS AT THE GATE ADULTS : €7 CHILDREN (6 – 12 YEARS) & STUDENTS : €3
Also... ALARME is a military re-enactment that portrays the historic and turbulent tenure of Malta by the French troops, following Napoleon’s landing and conquest of Malta (1798 – 1800). The story recounts the landing of the French troops - the subsequent administration of the Maltese Islands by the new Republican government - the rebellion of the Maltese that led to the blockade of the French troops inside the harbour towns.-the surrender of the French troops at the hands of the British. The re-enactment lasts 50 minutes.
DATES FOR 2011 FEBRUARY 20 MARCH 20 APRIL 17 OCTOBER 16 NOVEMBER 20
The re-enactments are held according to schedule as above. However, in case of inclement weather or else due to some unforeseen circumstance the event may be cancelled without undue notice. When in doubt it is best to contact the Tourist Information Office at City Gate Valletta on
tel: 2291 5440/ 1
Entertainment & Culture
Venues Blue Creek
The Restaurant on the Water’s Edge
The family-run Blue Creek Restaurant, overlooking Ghar Lapsi bay, opened its doors and began offering culinary delights eight years ago. The restaurant boasts unique breathtaking views of the islet of Filfla and the cliffs stretching to Wied iż-Żurrieq. Whilst admiring the breathtaking views from the restaurant terrace remember to order the signature dish - a thick fish soup. Fans of this scenic and elegant restaurant refer to the speciality as the essence of the Mediterranean Sea on a plate. The fish display reflects the daily catch, Maltese delicacies are all sourced from artisanal producers and the vast majority of the vegetables used by Blue Creek are grown organically. The menu ranges from fresh salads to mouthwatering pasta, and from meat to vegetarian specialties. The Blue Creek restaurant also stocks a vast selection of international wines to accompany the fantastic food. The philosophy of Blue Creek is the belief that service is of paramount importance. Thus, your dining experience will be enhanced by the unobtrusive but exceptionally friendly staff. Business lunches are ideal at Blue Creek if you
want to impress a client and close that deal. On a weekday the atmosphere is more relaxed, with the added bonus of enjoying the awesome views from the terrace. Blue Creek is open every day except Tuesday all day and Thursday evenings. Lunch is served from 12.00 until 15.00 (last order). Dinner Friday and Saturday from 19.00 until 23.00 (last order)
Blue Creek Bar & Restaurant, Ghar Lapsi, lo Siggiewi. Tel: 2146 2800, 2146 2786 Fax: 2168 2366 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mdina Dungeons Malta’s only Dark Walk Crime and Punishment Museum attraction is located beneath the Magisterial Vilhena Palace just inside the main entrance gate to Mdina. Here, in a series of secret underground passageways, chambers and cells, a number of events and the often mysterious circumstances surrounding them, have been recreated to portray historic events from the dark and turbulent side of Maltese history. From Roman times to the Arabs, the Knights and even Napoleon, one will find
episodes and characters from the ancient past portrayed in startling realism, revealing stories sometimes too dramatic to be believed. The attraction contains full-size figures in period costume supported by display text panels in various languages. Whilst you wander at your own pace, you will discover at every turn, Drama, Mystery and even Horror from dark forgotten days, in an atmosphere of authentic Medieval Dungeons.
Location: St. Publius Square, Mdina Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 9:30am to 4:00pm. Last Admission 3:45pm Tel: 2145 0267; Fax: 2132 2931; E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.dungeonsmalta. com - Languages English, French, German, Italian and Maltese Stopping Time: Average stopping time 15 minutes to 20 minutes Groups, Conference and Incentives: There are special rates and benefits for groups of all kinds. By special arrangements, the premises can be opened during evenings subject to a minimum pre-determined number.
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
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
Enter the Blue Elephant Restaurant and experience Thailand! The Blue Elephant is
themed on the setting of a traditional Thai village, lush greenery complete with a fast flowing stream. Add to this the renowned hospitality of our Thai staff and the famously fresh, healthy and finely spiced flavours created by our master Thai chef, and without doubt you will be transported to the Orient. Open for dinner all week. The Blue Elephant – A whole new authentic dining experience.
Location: Hilton Malta, Portomaso, St Julian’s; Tel: 2138 3383
The British Hotel Restaurant
The British is the longestestablished hotel in Valletta, located in one of the city’s quaint terraced streets. This affordable two-star, familyowned and -run hotel overlooks the magnificent Grand Harbour. The restaurant, lounge bar and most of the guest bedrooms offer panoramic views of this historic and picturesque harbour. Situated two minutes from Valletta’s prime shopping area and no more than five from the island’s administrative and financial centres, the British Hotel is the ideal base for the holidaymaker and business person alike. The British boasts 44 comfortably furnished guest bedrooms on six storeys most accessible by lift. Each room has an en suite
bathroom or shower, a writing desk cum dressing table and a telephone for both international and local calls plus, of course, room service. Some rooms have air-conditioning at an extra charge. Also available is a laundry and dry cleaning service; and for the business person, a fax machine is available. Most guest bedrooms also have a balcony overlooking Grand Harbour. In summer and winter guests can bask in quiet comfort on a roof-top sundeck, enjoying a snack or a tall, cool drink. In the evening one can relax in the lounge bar or catch up on world news in the television lounge. Connoisseurs of fine living can expect exquisite cuisine and flawless presentation in the hotel restaurant, which offers a delightful choice of Maltese food accompanied by the finest wines. Friendliness and good service are always appreciated when you check into a hotel. At the British this not only happens at the reception desk, but guests are treated with friendliness wherever they go in the hotel, making them feel like one of the family. Enjoy the difference at the British Hotel.
40, Battery Street, Valletta, Tel: 2122 4730/2123 9022 Fax 2123 9711 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.britishhotel.com
Embark on a new adventure, boosted by innovation, brimming with bagloads of ideas and bolstered by one of the coolest venues on the rock. Mink is staring you in eye – and expects a friendly wink back. Dress to kill, let dust settle on your desk, dust off your dance moves and create new curves, booty shakin’ to the best of what our resident DJs have to offer. Décor, style, fabulous drinks offers – they’re all there for the taking. Now all that’s needed is you to add a bit more glimmer to this diamond.
Opening Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11pm till very late Level 2, Baystreet Complex, St Julian’s Tel: 23722055
Right in the heart of Paceville is one of the busiest and bestknown restaurants in the area, The Avenue. The menu is varied and offers Pasta, Pizza, Burgers, Salads, Fish and Meat dishes. There is a choice of Grills and Chicken dishes as well as a good selection of large,
genuine, mouth-watering Pizzas. The Avenue also offers vegetarian Pasta and Pizza. A choice of Italian Desserts is the perfect way to finish off your meal. A must-visit restaurant where you will certainly not be disappointed. Ideal for parties. Mostly popular with locals.
Open daily from noon to 2:30pm and 6:00pm to 11:30pm. (Closed for Sunday lunch). Gort Street, Paceville. Phone: (+356) 2135 1753, (+356) 2137 8731 Fax: (+356) 2138 2407 E-mail: email@example.com
and Mediterranean, with an occasional Oriental twist, and can be sampled in the form of freshest fish recipes and a variety of meat dishes. Finally, end your meal with one of the Carriage’s impossible-toresist desserts. The Carriage is a suitable venue for any dining occasion - perfect for a discreet business lunch and a wonderful ambience for a romantic dinner.
Valletta Buildings/5, South Street, Valletta VLT 1103 Opening times: Mon – Fri 12.00 – 14.30 Fri – Sat 19.00 – 23.00 Tel No: 2124 7828 Fax No: 2122 3048 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
dishes of roast potatoes, grilled fresh vegetables and freshlymade 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 Website: www.talfamiljarestaurant.com
KuDéTa Lounge Bar The Carriage is not a new name to the discerning diner. Situated on the fifth floor of a typical Valletta apartment building and overlooking spectacular views of the city, Manoel Island and Sliema, you will be welcomed by the interior’s comfortable and stylish décor and the romantic atmosphere of the outdoor terrace. At The Carriage, new dishes are introduced regularly and the menu is innovated twice a year. Your taste buds will be tantalised immediately with starters such as different types of homemade ravioli, fresh seafood salad or a heart-warming soup of the day. The main courses are predominantly French
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
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 mouthwatering prime cut Irish beef steak accompanied with side
KuDéTa Lounge, at Le Méridien, offers a chic venue to meet up with friends. The pleasant smoking area is an asset for all, as it is also perfectly separated from the nonsmoking main bar. KuDéTa terrace offers stunning views over Balluta Bay. The Lounge, sprinkled with contemporary art, provides a fashionably fun atmosphere for all. Browse through a healthy menu of salads, sandwiches and wholesome snacks; or indulge in a comforting moment with a sumptuous selection of wraps
and cakes. Happy hours and other treats are available.
(Call 2311 2254 for more info). Open daily from 9am till 1am. 39, Main Street, Balluta Bay, St Julian’s STJ1017 Tel: 2311 0000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
there is always ample parking nearby and no children under seven are allowed, the Grill3301 has all the perfect ingredients to make a perfect restaurant.
Grill 3301, St. George’s Bay St. Julian’s. STJ 3301. Phone: 2370 2537 or 9999 3232 Email: grill3301@cbr. corinthia.com Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 7:30 till late.
‘The Sun in Splendour Pub with The Beer Garden’
Ross Street, St Julian’s. Tel: 2138 1959 / 2137 3387 Email: email@example.com Open every day from 11.00am till late
The Sun in Splendour
The newest eatery, Grill 3301 at the Corinthia Beach Resort, St. George’s Bay, has a charming, warm ambiance and stunning views of the bay. It’s a good place to relax and enjoy beautiful seafood and steak with a bottle of wine. The menu includes plenty of fresh seafood dishes, a fine selection of meats, including Aberdeen Angus, Wagyu style and Charolais and the menu also offers something for people of all budgets, including imaginative pasta dishes, from Atlantic lobster tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes to spaghetti bottarga with Sardinian grey mullet and Tuscan olive oil. The wine list covers the regions of Chile, Argentina, Australia, Lebanon, Spain, France, Germany and Italy. Divine desserts, including a refreshing sorbet medley with honey, orange and thyme, and the to-die-for Valrona chocolate tart with ice cream, won’t disappoint. Along with the fact that
The Sun in Splendour Pub is well known with the British, especially with the long-stays or ‘the golden oldies’ and the expatriates who served in Malta during the war. With the young generation of students (Maltese and foreigners) it is widely known as ‘The Beer Garden’. We offer reasonable prices on all drinks as well as happy hours on beer and spirits, nearly all day. The Pub is open from 11:00am till late evening, with live entertainment every Monday, Thursday and Friday – offering good music from the 60’s and 70’s and today’s music in a friendly atmosphere. Meet our local and foreign regulars who are part of the furniture like Mr. Magoo, Lilly (can’t cook won’t cook), Betty with two t’s, Peggy, taxi for Angie and Alice…
Bottega del Vino
A newly opened family restaurant in Qui-si-sana, Sliema, serving Pasta, Pizza, Salads and Grills accompanied by local and foreign wines. La Pappa is situated just off the Sliema front, overlooking the sea and offering a friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is split on 2 levels and can cater for 120 diners. It is open 7 days a week for Dinner from 17.00-23.30 and also for Lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon till late. For bookings please contact Desmond on:
Qui-si-Sana, Sliema SLM 3110 Tel: 2722 1122 Mob: 9983 1607 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Situated within the Oceana Restaurant at the Hilton Malta, the Bottega del Vino offers a rustic and informal ambience where tasty Mediterranean meals complement the extensive selection of wines, specialising (as the name suggests), in a variety of labels from the finest vineyards worldwide. When it comes to choosing a wining and dining venue, the Bottega del Vino makes for a great choice, given its extensive world wines, tempting food menu and the décor, which is reminiscent of all one can desire from a five-star hotel wine bar.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 12:30 till 23:00 Hilton Malta Portomaso, St. Julians Tel: 2138 3383
Du Port Restaurant
Situated opposite St. Paul’s Island by the quay, the Du Port Restaurant caters for 120 covers on the ground and first floor plus 40 more outside. On offer is an assortment of
fresh fish and pasta as well as grills. Besides an extensive list of foreign and local wines to complement the excellent food, there is also a bar with a wide range of spirits and beers.
Opening Times: Every day from 9:30 till late except Tuesdays 17:30 till 23:00 Address: 49, Bognor Beach, St. Pauls Bay Tel: 2157 3191 Mob: 9944 6323 Email: email@example.com
Friendly service with a smile :-)
Da Nicole Restaurant
Da Nicole Restaurant is situated in Bugibba Main Square. You can dine al fresco with a nice sea view or in the restaurant which is fully air-conditioned. Da Nicole caters to all tastes - you can have breakfast, lunch or full dinner. We pecialise in fresh fish and Maltese dishes, prices are reasonable and you can be served any time from 9am till late at night 7 days a week.
Da Nicole Restaurant Bugibba Square, Bugibba Tel: 2720 7005 The menu offers a variety of favourites like the famous traditional Crispy Pizza, great Pasta and BBQ’ed succulent Grills and choices further extend to fantastic dishes like Honey Glazed Spare Ribs, Chicken Wings and great salads like Chicken Caesar’s and the Toro Salad made from Chargrilled prime beef. This restaurant hits all targets, young and young at heart, whether you’re a pizza lover, a meat lover or you simply love all sorts of home-made goodness. Mozzarella’s can be booked for just about any gettogether; it’s particularly popular for Birthdays, Reunions, Hen and Stag parties and more.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday all day till late Level 2, Baystreet Complex, St Julians Tel: 23722055
Pavilion & Pavillon Palace
A great discovery for anyone who loves Oriental food – The Pavilion in Ta’ Xbiex and The Pavillon Palace in St. Andrews are two fantastic restaurants with a super reputation for Chinese cuisine. The menus in both eateries are extensive, in typical Chinese fashion. An à la carte menu and a variety of set menus are also available for you to mix and match, ideal if you are dining with a big group
of friends. For the really big eaters there is also the grand buffet every Saturday evening and Sunday lunch at The Pavillon Palace in St Andrews, and every Friday evening and Sunday lunchtime at the Pavilion in Ta’ Xbiex. The buffet offers a choice of soup, starters and a quarter duck for every 2 people, several main courses (including rice and noodles) and dessert. Priced at €17.70 per person (children between 6 and 10 pay half price), this is definitely a good deal. Booking is recommended. If you are in the mood for dining from the comfort of your couch, both restaurants offer FREE home delivery at a 10% discount and a FREE bottle of wine with every €70 spent on take-away. Business lunches are available at €5.12 per person and also include free delivery.
Pavillon Palace St. Andrews Road St. Andrews Tel: 2137 0403 Mob: 9949 3580 Opening hours: Monday – Saturday Dinner 18:30 – 23:30 (Except Tuesdays) Sunday Lunch 11:30 – 14:30 (Winter only) Pavilion Abate Rigord Street Ta’ Xbiex Tel: 2131 7342 Mob: 7930 9880 Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday Dinner 18:30 – 23:30 Sunday Lunch 11:30 – 14:30 (Winter only)
Fontanella Tea Gardens
Fontanella Tea Gardens has been famous for the last 30 years for delicious teas and coffees, together with mouthwatering delights and delectable home made cakes. One can sit back and enjoy scrumptious treats while enjoying spectacular, panoramic views. Cosy indoor seating is also available for colder weather. Come and pay us a visit, we are open all day including Sundays. Also open in the evenings is our new wine bar which is open everyday from 8pm except Sundays.
Opening Hours : Summer: Mon to Sun 10.00-23.00 Winter: Mon to Sat 10.00-18.30 Sun 10.00-20.00 Tel: 2145 4264 Fax: 2145 0208
With its unbeatable location in Malta’s capital city, on the Valletta Waterfront, Browns Malta boasts stunning views of the Grand Harbour. On offer is a variety of tantalising dishes, and
every Monday, Tuesday and Sunday evenings you pay only 50% of your total food bill. Browns also caters for all types of activities at very reasonable prices. The right venue for an unforgettable wedding, with the sun setting over the stunning Mediterranean Sea.
Open: 7 days a week 9.00 till late (kitchen open all day) After midnight Browns turns into the hottest club on the island. Bookings recommended.
Opening Hours: Monday 5pm till 1am Tuesday 4pm till 1am Wednesday – Sunday 12noon till 1am. 52, Salini Street M’Scala Tel: 2763 6301 Mob: 9952 0844
Tel: 2122 7410 Mob: 9949 2510 Web: www.browns.com.mt
The Tudor Inn Bar and Restaurant, Marsascala
The Tudor Inn is a seafront bar overlooking Marsascala Bay. It is a friendly Englishstyle bar serving wines, spirits & cocktails. A selection of home-made food is also served from 12 till 6pm Wednesday to Sunday. A traditional Sunday Roast with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and fresh vegetables @ 7.95 is served from 12 till 4pm. Booking is advisable on tel 27636301. Parties of up to 24 are catered for and Thursday is Quiz Night at 8.30pm. Live football matches are also screened.
Pepe Nero Restaurant
When one mentions the Valletta Waterfront the first name that comes to mind is HEAT as it was the first restaurant/bar that opened in this picturesque location in the Grand Harbour. HEAT bar & diner since the beginning of its operation has offered tasty food in casual surroundings at a price to suit all pockets. The selection on offer ranges from pasta to salads, grills etc. After midnight HEAT changes into a bar/club where one can dance all night long with resident DJs and amazing light effects.
Heat bar/diner Vault 16 Valletta Waterfront Open from 09:30am till 04:00am Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Tel: 2124 2400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,mt Web: www.heat.com.mt
Pepe Nero is not one but two restaurant concepts, closely knit yet distinctly different. A Pizza-Pasta place flanks an à la carte restaurant yet restaurant manager Ottavio Suda quickly underlines that this is no ordinary pizza place, or restaurant for that matter. The pizzeria aims at providing fun to its patrons thanks to a selection of truly mouthwatering pizzas that are flared by Luciano, a top pizzaiolo trained in Italy. His tricks lie in the dough he kneads, which is made of five types of flour including soya, as well as his eye-catching rotating log and gas oven, the only one of its kind in Malta, especially shipped from Verona. San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte and bufala mozzarella also form part of Luciano’s ingredients. His oven bakes no less than 15 pizzas in two and a half minutes and as I browse down the pizza menu I also notice a small selection of gluten-free pizzas as well as white pizzas which, as their name implies, make no use of any red tomatoes. In steps chef Mark Curmi who stresses that no item on his à la carte menu is preprepared. All his dishes are freshly made, including the bread, with different types being baked every day, as well as the desserts. Cooked in real time, and served in the al fresco section or in the striking ambience of the dining hall, the main focus of
the cuisine is meat and fish of fine Mediterranean quality. The Pepe Nero signature dish would undoubtedly be the Tegamino which takes its name from the earthenware pan that slowly cooks a selection of Scottish shellfish which is then covered with a soft, nicely baked pizza base that one may dip bit by bit inyo the tasty juices of this very attractive fish. Pepe Nero promises and delivers a culinary experience together with the promise of a forthcoming Champagne and Oyster bar.
Open hours: 11:00 to 16:00 - Lunch 19:00 to 00:00 - Dinner 7 Days a Week Valletta Waterfront Valletta Tel: 2122 2220 Email: email@example.com Web: www.pepenero.com.mt
The mind awakens with innovative flavours at Le Méridien. Scirocco Restaurant reflects a warm Mediterranean scheme and a subtle contemporary touch. This 5-star restaurant presents an astonishing buffet, orchestrated by Executive Head Chef Ruben Grixti, with a focus on healthy living. Themed evenings include a Maltese Night on Wednesdays, live cooking on Thursdays and an amazing plated Fish Night on Saturday. Sunday lunch remains a classic, revisited with
style by Le Méridien culinary team. Bookings are recommended for week-end nights and can be made by calling 2311 0000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Indulge in the Le Méridien dining experience.
Tel 79477537, 79406653. email: email@example.com
difference between a good and an excellent final product.”
Pizza, Amore & Fantasia
206, The Strand Sliema (Opposite Manoel Island Bridge) Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10.00 till 20.00 Tel: 2132 4544
Open daily from 6.30pm till 10.30pm. 39, Main Street, Balluta Bay, St Julian’s STJ1017 Tel: 2311 0000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trattoria Fiorino D’Oro
Trattoria Fiorino D’Oro is a family-run restaurant and we pride ourselves on serving a number of typical homemade dishes. We are also very careful with the selection of fresh products which we use daily, especially the fish which is brought in daily by a couple of local fishermen. Our menu features homemade fresh pasta which is unique on the island as well as a selection of freshlybaked desserts made on site as well as by relatives.
Fiorino d’Oro is open Monday to Sunday for lunch and Monday to Saturday for dinner. It-Telgha ta’Alla u Ommu (road from Naxxar to Salina) Salina.
The Black Pearl Having opened its doors to the public on the 4th December 2010, the quaintly named Pizza, Amore e Fantasia has already garnered a reputation for serving one of the very best pizzas in town. Located on the bustling Gzira Strand, just opposite Manoel Island, Pizza, Amore & Fantasia has launched an entirely different concept of what pizza is all about. We speak to the ‘Consulente Tecnico’, Gennaro, whose passion as a pizzaiolo is evident in his description of the work involved. Gennaro, hailing from Abruzzo in Italy (where else?) is himself a World Champion Pizzaiolo, a Championship held annually at the SalsoMaggior Terme, where pizzaioli from all over the globe are judged on a strict number of criteria ranging from technique to presentation. We ask Gennaro what makes his pizza so special. “Our pizza is made entirely of natural, fresh ingredients. In fact, that is the first thing our customers, which are increasing by the day, comment on. It is unlike any other pizza that is available locally. We work only with the finest raw ingredients and our dough, which we make inhouse, is leavened naturally in the traditional waY. The quality of the dough marks the
One of Malta’s most loved venues, The Black Pearl welcomes you on board. Join us for lunch or an intimate dinner on our Upper Deck and enjoy our kitchen team’s specially designed menu complemented by international wines from our extensive wine list. Tourists visiting the Maltese Islands now have the opportunity to book a Maltese Culinary Experience before their lunch or dinner on our terrace, enjoying spectacular views of The Grand Harbour and the beautiful sea breeze. Our team will share the intriguing history of Maltese wines along with a tutored tasting of some wines we are most proud of. We also offer our specially prepared Maltese platter which includes homemade bread, local olive oil, honey, bigilla, sundried tomatoes, galletti, Gozitan cheese, Maltese sausage and other Maltese classics. A trip to Malta is not complete without a Black Pearl Experience.
The Black Pearl, Ta’ Xbiex Marina, Ta’ Xbiex. Reservations: 21316000
The Pearl Lounge
Situated in the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay, Pearl Lounge is the ideal place to start your evening in style with an exciting menu of champagne cocktails, Bellinis and fine imported and Maltese wines. The Pearl Lounge signature cocktail is called Perlaverda. It is a unique blend of Grey Goose vodka, Midori, Blue Curacao and coconut and lime juice served in a special take-home hand-made Mdina Glass flute. Sophisticated and unabashedly chic, the Pearl Lounge offers discerning guests a unique five-star atmosphere and service.
Pearl Lounge Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay St Julians STJ 3301 Phone: 2370 2684 Open daily from 6pm-1am
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For further information contact:
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Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
Golden Harvest Mfg Co Ltd
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Vira Buildings, N/S off Notabile Road, Mriehel BKR 3000 Tel: 21 472 552 Fax: 21 472 553 Email: email@example.com Website: www.ozosystem-malta.com
Breakfast Coffee Café Bar (Malta) Ltd B8A, Industrial Estate, Bulebel, Zejtun ZTN 3000 Tel: 21 692 576/7 Fax: 21 695 936 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Breakfast Juices Café Bar (Malta) Ltd B8A, Industrial Estate, Bulebel, Zejtun ZTN 3000 Tel: 21692576/7 Fax: 21695936 Email: email@example.com
S Sadson Co Ltd
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Gino (Ta’ Hal-Qormi)
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Caffe Molinari Café Bar (Malta) Ltd B8A, Industrial Estate, Bulebel, Zejtun ZTN 3000 Tel: 21692576/7 Fax: 21695936 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lavazza P. Cutajar & Co Ltd
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The Cleaning Centre 27, Garden Street, Gzira GZR 1411 Tel: 21 322 153, 27 005 678 Mob: 99 430 944 Fax: 21 332 938 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.thecleaningcentre.net
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Di Rocco Ltd
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Calamatta Landscapes Ltd GlobeTech International
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PJ Sutters (Marketing) Ltd.
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Ozosystem GasanMamo Insurance Ltd
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BLB017, Bulebel Ind. Est., Zejtun ZTN 3000 Tel: 21 483 673 Fax: 21 449 170 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oriental Sauces Solar Water Heaters J & E Griscti Ltd
Importers, General Merchants & Commercial Agents. “Minerva”, Quarries Street, Msida MSD 1103 Tel: +356 21 233 375,
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M. Demajo (Wines & Spirits) Ltd
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MHRA preferred suppliers 90 MIK 86 MTA 30, 70, 93 Multitrade 68 Ozosystems Ltd 88 P Cutajar & Co Ltd 77 PJ Sutters 33, 85 S Rausi Trading Ltd 56 Servgroup 51 Simonds Farsons Cisk 38 Skyline 88 Smartmove 52 Snowhite Laundry 1 Spencemed 48 Studio 7 Co Ltd 27 Target Safety Solutions 14 Trattoria Fiorino D’Oro 68 Windsor Co Ltd 16 WJ Parnis England 86
Pjazza life just got better
Pjazzas have an irresistible charm. They are meeting places, bringing people together; from all walks of life. They’re stuff of memories - whether it was that long talk after everyone’s gone, or the setting of that perfect photograph now sitting in your home. Pjazza Regina in Valletta is such a place and has been for generations. Delicata’s new refreshing, fruity wines Pjazza Regina, much like the place they are named after, are guaranteed to make those treasured moments even more memorable.
red white rosé 3 sensaTional i.G.T. QualiTy wines
19638-Delicata Pjazza Regina MHRA Ad FINAL.indd 1