From individual design touches to genuine attention to detail, Jo Caruana learns how two boutique hotels are helping to regenerate Paceville, while bringing a sense of je ne sais quoi to the area.
The popularity of boutique hotels continues to go through the roof. Around the world, travellers are drawn to accommodation options that have that extra something special to offer – whether it’s services that promise total attention to detail, or rooms decorated with distinct touches and antique furniture.
Here in Malta, that trend is no different, and several boutique hotels have already opened their doors, while others are currently in the pipeline.
But while most people would imagine Valletta, Mdina and the Three Cities to be the ideal venues for this sort of venture, Paceville has actually proven to be a popular location for a few boutique hotels, too. So where’s the allure?
The teams behind two Paceville boutique hotels share their experiences.
The George Urban Boutique Hotel
“Tourist arrivals have increased year on year of late and, apart from the actual numbers needing more beds, the customer profile of these travellers has also evolved,” explains Malcolm Azzopardi, The George’s general manager.
“A few years back, a typical customer would arrive for a minimum seven-night stay with a resort holiday in mind. Today, we all know this is different. After all, flight accessibility has opened up a world of options for travellers wanting to visit the island on a quick break. This type of traveller fits the ‘boutique’ bill perfectly. We find that they look for individual attention and we are in a great position to give it to them.”
The idea for The George was to create somewhere beautiful and inspirational for the guests, as well as somewhere that would actually make them return home with the desire to recreate something similar in their own living room or bedroom.
“I believe that this is part of what makes the hotel stand out,” Azzopardi says.
Meanwhile, as he explains, boutique hotels also appeal to other market segments, such as the corporate and MICE sectors, which have also been increasing in number year on year.
“Additionally, from an ownership point of view, the return on capital investment for a boutique hotel may prove more interesting than the traditional resort or chain type of hotel,” he maintains.
With this in mind, the hotelier explains that, yes, Paceville does have a lot to offer the boutique market – and it’s mostly down to location. “Although there may be some downsides to Paceville – namely the noise pollution and cleanliness – it is still a highly sought-after area. After all, we are less than 200 metres away from two of the other five-star resorts on the island, which must give some clue as to what is on offer here.”
And while Paceville clearly has something to offer guests and hoteliers, Azzopardi also believes boutique hotels bring plenty to the area in return.
“The results are plain to see,” he says. “One investment encourages another and I am a firm believer that we will see more developments of this sort in the future.”
“I believe boutique hotels continue to increase in popularity because they meet a need,” says Valentina sales and marketing director Jeffrey Cutajar. “They offer that touch of class with individual flair, something that is difficult to achieve in a larger 300- or 400-bed hotel.”
Aside from their individuality, Cutajar also believes that guests are drawn to the fact that, at a boutique hotel, they are a name not a number. There is also the knowledge that they will usually get more for their money.
He explains that a hotel of this sort is usually defined as ‘small’ – with around 50 rooms and an accent on personalised services. The design flair usually associated with boutique accommodation also sets them apart.
“Our design team was very focused on maximising space without sacrificing practicality,” he says. “The results utilise lights, mirrors and straight lines to create a very chic and spacious atmosphere.
“We’re also proud of our attention to detail, which is second to none. From the design of the bathrooms to the individual touches in each room, there’s lots to excite and surprise our guests, including large-format flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations and an individual, large-format print that is specific to each room.”
These touches are echoed in the reception and bar area, with plenty of little details to catch your eye.
“We’ll be opening a new stylish bar shortly, which we hope will continue to enhance the image of the hotel and place us firmly among the top bars in the Mediterranean.”
Finally, Cutajar admits that having a boutique hotel in Paceville isn’t easy.
“The lack of cohesive planning in the area has meant some things have been impossible – the loud music from neighbouring bars can impact our guests. On the flip side, some people do enjoy being in the middle of an entertainment mecca, with something to do almost 24 hours a day.
“I believe that hotels like Valentina are also helping the area in general. As local spatial restrictions are so tight, new developments usually replace old and dilapidated buildings, which in turn, immediately improve the surroundings. The ripple effects of this are quite tangible, and will hopefully have positive repercussions for years to come.”