Eden Leisure and Mark Weingard partner up to bring Anantara to Malta

Hospitality, entertainment and lifestyle group Eden Leisure has teamed up with hospitality entrepreneur Mark Weingard to bring Anantara, a luxury hotel brand, to Malta, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Eden Leisure Group is owned by the De Cesare family, who have, together with Mr Weingard, submitted the highest bid to take over the Evans Building in Valletta. The concession is meant to see the renovation of the building into a top hospitality establishment, with the aim of attracting more tourism activity to the lower end of capital.

The parties involved have yet to confirm any details about the deal.

Eden Leisure is behind a number of brands like Eden Cinemas, Eden SuperBowl, Cynergi Gym, Eden Esports, a radio station (89.7 Bay), a casino (Casino Malta) and two hotels – the InterContinental Malta and the Holiday Inn Express.

Mr Weingard is the founder of Iniala Group, a group of hospitality companies with luxury offerings in Thailand and Malta.

The Thai connection might have been crucial to this deal – Anantara is a high-end hotel brand finding its beginnings in Thailand. It forms part of Minor Hotels, a company based in Thailand operating over 500 hotels around the world.

The joint venture, named Valletta Luxury Properties, put in a bid worth €78 million – far higher than the second-highest bid by Katari Hospitality Joint Venture, which came in at €41 million.

Last week, it was the Katari bid that was reported to be the highest.

However, it has since been reported that Valletta Luxury Properties’ bid was for the amount to be paid annually (€1.2 million). When calculated over the full term of the concession period (65 years), the total comes to €78 million.

Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/eden-leisure-and-mark-weingard-partner-up-to-bring-luxury-hotel-brand-anantara-to-malta


What’s on in Malta and Gozo this week: May 15 to 21

Check out the highlights of events taking place on the Maltese islands in the coming days, in the Music, Film, Visual Art and Miscellaneous categories, by The Times of Malta:


The Xara Palace nominated for the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2023

The Xara Palace Relais & Châteaux are thrilled and honoured to be nominated for the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2023 – a testament to their commitment to providing exceptional travel experiences and creating memories that last a lifetime.

Visit the CN Traveller website to find out more: https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/best-hotels-resorts-europe

Festival of Lights – Cittadella

Experience the enchanting beauty of Gozo like never before at Lejl Imkebbes, the annual festival of lights in the historic city of Cittadella. Hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Gozo and Cultural Heritage Directorate, this event promises an unforgettable evening for all visitors.

As you stroll through the narrow streets of Cittadella, you’ll be surrounded by the soft glow of over 30,000 candles in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, carefully decorated artefacts will be set around the fortified city. The magical atmosphere created by the flickering lights offers a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of Gozo’s hills, valleys, villages, and churches, as well as a stunning view across the sea to Malta.

The festival offers a range of activities for everyone to enjoy, including historic re-enactments, extended and discounted museum entrances, opening of other public venues of interest, live entertainment on stage and around the city, together with children’s activities.

So mark your calendars for Saturday, 20th May, from 6 pm onwards and join us for this captivating event. Admission is free, so bring your friends and family for a night to remember.

Visit the event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1343890462847399
Valletta Green Festival turns St George’s Square into a garden trail

One of the capital’s largest open spaces has been adorned with colourful flowers and evergreen trees as the Valletta Green Festival begins. The popular festival at St George’s Square will continue until Sunday.

In previous years, the large open space in front of the President’s Palace would showcase a large flower display, usually depicting an animal, but this year trees and plants create a trail, for people to walk around and enjoy.

The temporary garden showcases over 18,000 trees and flowers, including pink, red and yellow Hydrangea flowers and large white Viburnum plants.

This will be the 10th edition of the Valletta Green Festival, which Valletta Cultural Agency chair Jason Micallef said is the largest so far.

“We are aware that Valletta lacks green lungs, so we transformed this large open space into a garden of dreams,” Micallef said.

He said while the garden can not become permanent due to the number of national activities that take place in the square, he said that the benefits of such an open green space can already be seen.

People were seen walking around the garden, taking pictures and sitting on the benches enjoying the greenery.

A drum band entertained people of all ages at the opening ceremony.

Micallef said the Agency makes an effort to be environmentally conscious in its activities.

“My word of advice to authorities, especially local councils, is that we can do so much more to make our open spaces, no matter the size, more green,” he said.

On Wednesday, the festival will host several stands for environmental entities such as Ambjent Malta, ERA, Project Green and others.

There will also be an eco-market along Old Theatre Street selling Maltese organic produce over the weekend.

The plants were provided by Derek Garden Centre, and at the end, leftover flowers will be distributed to the general public and local councils.

Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/valletta-green-festival-turns-st-georges-square-garden-trail.1028786
IMEX Frankfurt 2023

Exciting news! The team at Colours of Malta will be attending IMEX Frankfurt 2023 between 23rd and 25th May at stand number D120. If you’re interested in learning more about our creative approach to event planning and our commitment to delivering unforgettable experiences for our clients, we’d love to meet you!

Our team of experienced professionals will be available to answer any questions you may have and discuss how we can partner with you to create unique and authentic MICE experiences for your clients.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the Colours of Malta staff at IMEX Frankfurt 2023. Come and visit us at stand number D120. We can’t wait to see you there!

Contact us via email at Steve@com.com.mt or directly on Imex portal on https://imex-frankfurt.com/newfront/exhibitor/colours-of-malta

The Phoenicia Malta Joins Prestigious Virtuoso Network

The Phoenicia Malta is thrilled to announce that is has been selected to become a member of Virtuoso, one of the most prestigious luxury travel networks in the world.

The Phoenicia Malta has long been recognized as one of the island’s finest hotels. From the day it started welcoming guests in 1947, the hotel has presented refined and luxurious experiences. Over recent years the owner has invested considerably despite the quiet Covid years, resulting in new or improved amenities such as the beautiful Deep Nature Spa, rejuvenated gardens, the new look of the much-loved Club Bar, as well as the newly created Pegasus Junior Suites. All this, combined with the world-class service offered by The Phoenicia Malta team ensures that guests leave the hotel with beautiful memories and a desire to return.

Virtuoso is the leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors and partnering with the world’s best hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more.

Robyn Pratt, General Manager, says ‘We are proud to have been accepted by Virtuoso to join their network of luxury properties worldwide. Together with our owner we are constantly improving on both the product as well as guest experiences. It is therefore gratifying to be recognized officially by such a prestigious organization, and we look forward to being represented by exceptional travel consultants working to deliver memorable experiences to the world’s most discerning travellers.’

Air Malta to be replaced by a new national airline

Malta’s national airline, Air Malta will officially be replaced by a new flag-carrier and is expected to continue operating right until the new one takes over by the end of the year.

The fact that the country’s national airline was expected to wind down operations had become an open secret in recent months, especially following reports made that the airline was to undergo dissolution by the end of the year.

It is likely that the new airline will take on the Alitalia – ITA solution, which saw a new, debt-free Italian national airline acquire half of the original airline’s aircraft and a quarter of its staff and had an investment plan approved by the EU Commission.

The airline’s Executive Chairman, Mr David Curmi. explained that the new airline will have its own booking platform, and that the old company will operate right until the new one takes over, allowing a seamless transition. This is unlike what happened with Alitalia – ITA, which refunded flights booked for customers past the date of dissolution.

However, it is not yet clear how many of the routes the new airline will inherit from the original one.

The decision to start a new debt-free airline to replace Air Malta comes after Malta failed to receive permission from the EU Commission to give the ailing airline a capital injection of 290 million. Despite slashing headcount by 50 per cent and removing unprofitable routes, it was unable to convince the EU Commission.

Read the full article: https://whoswho.mt/en/air-malta-to-be-replaced-by-a-new-national-airline-by-the-end-of-the-year-exec-chairman-confirms
Mosta Oratory Being Restored From WW2 Damage

Restoration work on the façade of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mosta began in August 2022, and are expected to be completed by the end of May 2023. The Restoration Directorate were responsible for this project, from the documentation to the work on the Oratory itself.

The Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was completed in 1935 and inaugurated in 1940, based on the design of architect Nettu Mifsud Ellul. During World War II, a bomb fell in the square in front of the chapel, causing some damage to its façade, which can still be seen today.

Mosta mayor Chris Grech noted how Mosta has changed over the years from an agricultural village to a large residential city and an important commercial centre.

“We cannot make the advances we have achieved without appreciating the legacy left to us by our predecessors, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mosta is a cradle of civic, religious, dramatic and sporting culture for the whole generations of ‘young people and adolescents. For them the Oratory was their second home”.  Concluded the Mayor.

Read the full article here: https://lovinmalta.com/culture/mosta-oratory-being-restored-from-ww2-damage/


Underground Malta as it’s never been seen before

Photographer Daniel Cilia explores Malta’s water reservoirs for new book. Daniel Cilia waded through toxic sewers and scuba-dived into water reservoirs for a new book, 8000 Years of Water. He tells Daniel Tihn the stories behind six photographs that show a side of Malta never seen before.

Tas-Silġ reservoir, Marsaxlokk
“This had never been photographed before,” Daniel Cilia said about his venture into the Tas-Silġ reservoir. Although the site had been scanned by a floating drone while the reservoir was full of water, “nobody had actually gone down there”.
Cilia and his partner Louise Calleja – who helped with many of the book’s photographs – had to be lowered by crane into the dry reservoir along with all the heavy and expensive equipment. “That gives you that kind of excitement. You say, ‘Oh my God, I’m somewhere where nobody’s been for a lot of years.” The photo had to be taken during the summer months as the hot period left the reservoir dry and, therefore, explorable. “Some places you would like to have some water, but in some others, like this, it’s not safe to go down there with water because there could be holes. In fact, in many places we used walking sticks so, if there’s a hole, you can feel it before you put your foot.”

Għar Ħarq Ħammiem, St Julian’s
“The challenge in Għar Ħarq Ħammiem was to light up the whole cave, which is above water, but also light up underwater in one photograph,” Cilia said. In Għar Ħarq Ħammiem, this meant first finding a vantage point on rocks that fell “thousands of years ago, if not millions.” With the tripod set up, Cilia set about lighting the cave, a problem with two solutions. He could either take a series of photos, lighting each one accordingly and then stitch them together into a 180° panorama, or he could take a single shot with a long exposure time and go around the cave with a torch to light everything.
Cilia went for the first option, taking a panorama made up of eight photographs, which meant that the photo could be captured without using a fisheye lens, a lens “I personally hate,” he said. This lens distorts light to capture a wider image at the price of an alien look, bending the edges to create a rounded aesthetic. “The result is very unnatural, it’s something we never get to see with our own eyes. I like doing photography which is like if you are standing in the place where I am so people see the same thing that I’m seeing”. To show the scale of the cave, he placed people in the image so that viewers could “realise immediately the size of the place.”

Fort St Elmo, Valletta
One of “the most amazing experiences” the photography couple had was when they were taken down into an extremely large reservoir under Fort St Elmo in Valletta, lit only by tiny holes in the roof. “When I saw it for the first time, I was like: ‘How am I going to light this?’” The answer: an inflatable kayak. Cilia, like in a few other photos in the book, took the kayak into the reservoir for a “reconnaissance” to figure out how to light the photo and check if there are any issues such as oxygen levels.
In the book, however, the photos look extremely well-lit which does not convey the reality of how dark the capital’s cavern was. “To go with a kayak and you hear the echo of the water, you have a depth of about five metres under you, you look up and see these wonderful, vaulted roofs that the knights built… it’s an experience in itself.” One of the many hidden and unexplored gems in the book, few know of the historical structure’s existence. “I had photographed Fort St Elmo many times, but I had never seen this place before.”

Fort Madliena, Swieqi
Now a headquarters for the St John Rescue Corps, the newly-restored Fort Madliena was a unique experience for Cilia. He had wanted to photograph the reservoir for months but was denied access due to silt leading to possible injuries. The opportunity arose, but with terrible timing. His partner was in hospital undergoing surgery when Cilia received a call from the Rescue Corps telling him that rain had shifted some silt to allow for a quick photograph. As the book was days away from being printed, Cilia decided to grasp the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “At the end of the day, Louise is in the operating theatre, she’s not going to know whether I’m out here or not so I ran home, got the equipment […] and went there, did the photograph, got it into the book, went back to the hospital in time, and by the time Louise came up I said: ‘I wasn’t here all the time!’ “It’s one of those stories that I’ll remember for all my life.”

Drainage tunnel, Fgura
Photographing drainage tunnels introduced more problems to the ever-growing list, Cilia said as he and Calleja had to wear goggles, oxygen canisters and special suits to avoid toxic gasses. “There is, obviously, the smell which is connected to any kind of drainage, but because of that smell you end up not smelling the gas that is very dangerous. “It knocks you out and you are dead within minutes” – a scenario that sadly played out some 22 years ago when three public works department employees succumbed to the poisonous gas.
An experienced scuba diver, Cilia knew how to use the oxygen tanks as the couple explored the waste-filled catacombs with closed masks. “You are actually walking in sh**, but you don’t smell anything because you are taking oxygen,” he said.

Nigret, Żurrieq
One of the stunning photographs in the book was taken with a smartphone, chosen because it is waterproof and easily portable while diving. The shot shows the Nigret drinking water reservoir which is near a playing field so wind tends to carry a lot of rubbish into it. When this happens, a scuba diver is asked to plunge into the fresh pool to clean it up and on one occasion, Cilia joined to observe from behind the lens. Before going in, Cilia had to clean himself thoroughly as the water is drinkable.
Also a panoramic, five photos were stitched together vertically to include the diver deep in the reservoir’s water while simultaneously showing off the ceiling’s architecture. “It was quite an experience.”

Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/underground-malta-never-seen.1006057
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