The Xara Collection and Bajja Investments, owners of Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa, are delighted to announce an agreement between them which will see The Xara Collection operate and manage the iconic building, “The Villa”, St Julian’s.
The Villa is one of the oldest remaining structures within the area dating back to the 19th century offering unparalleled views of Balluta Bay and its historical surroundings, set alongside the seafront promenade.
The Xara Collection manages The Xara Palace – Relais & Chateaux, the One Michelin star restaurant de Mondion, the Trattoria AD1530, the Medina restaurant and The Xara Lodge, as well as being one of the exclusive caterers at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.
Justin Zammit Tabona, Managing Director of The Xara Collection said that “This agreement brings the Xara Collection to the heart of Malta’s prime location for local and international visitors within such a wonderful venue. After these two challenging years due to the pandemic, The Xara Collection looks ahead to the future with confidence. The strong family and team spirit that has characterized Xara’s growth over the last twenty years is the basis of our future.
Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa general manager Alex Incorvaja states “that following an extensive 15-month, €30M renovation program and repositioning the property as one of the leading 5 star hotels on the Islands, we are thrilled to be working with The Xara Collection, a name synonymous with excellence in quality and innovative gastronomy. This will take the well-established Villa to new heights, giving Malta Marriott guests an exceptional dining experience”.
Over the next few months The Xara Collection team will carry out an upgrade to The Villa’s internal and external decor and will open its doors to the public early next year with a new enticing concept.
Manchester United Legends in Malta
Manchester United Ambassadors Bryan Robson and Denis Irwin flew to Malta this Summer to see for themselves just what the Maltese Islands have to offer, and why there is always more to explore.
What started off as a normal trip turned into quite an adventure as the two legends were challenged to tasks set by Manchester United players: Paul Pogba, Brandon Williams and Lee Grant.
In the first episode, we see the legends try their luck at water sports in Comino, before further episodes in the four-part series sees them trying their hand at glass-blowing in Mdina, and cooking at the Maritime Museum, but not before checking out some sights in Valletta, stopping for a quick Maltese delicacy, and even exploring the Malta National Aquarium.
“I think Malta is great! Every time I come here, I am amazed by the hospitality of the people, the great sights and the good food,” Bryan Robson said, with Denis Irwin adding that “it feels so special to know that Malta and Manchester United have a history that goes back decades, which can only go from strength to strength, and which can only mean that we get to have the opportunity to always have a reason to be among our Maltese friends, who are practically our extended family.”
There can only be one winner in the end, and Gozo was the perfect backdrop for the announcement by Hon Clayton Bartolo, Minister for Tourism.
“Our official destination partnership between VisitMalta and worldwide football brand Manchester United enables us to expose Malta’s long successful story in hospitality. The arrival of two club legends like Denis Irwin and Bryan Robson is another step forward to showcase the Maltese Islands around the globe,” remarked Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo.
“It was a pleasure for VisitMalta to host Bryan and Denis during their stay in Malta, as part of the official destination partnership which we have with Manchester United. This partnership is of high importance to the Malta Tourism Authority, and to the VisitMalta Brand, which has the United Kingdom as one of its strongest markets, and which, is being seen across the worldwide fanbase of Manchester United, beyond European borders, as far as Asia,” Dr Gavin Gulia, Chairman of the MTA said.
Article credits: https://www.mta.com.mt/en/news-details/323MTA Wins Big In London’s Travel Industry Awards
The Malta Tourism Authority has once again been awarded the ‘Tourist Board of the Year’ Award at the prestigious Travel Industry Awards 2021 by TTG held in London. This is the fourth time that this prestigious award was won by the MTA after successfully clinching the trophy in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021.
The Travel Industry Awards by TTG, in association with Virgin Atlantic, brought the travel community together to celebrate the businesses that have grown stronger through the Covid-19 crisis, and helped to highlight the most trusted travel brands for consumers.
In a year of setbacks and challenges for travel, companies and individuals have been tested to their limits. Yet rather than lose heart, they have faced the pandemic and fought back, supporting their customers, and proving their steadfastness, adaptability and innovative thinking.
“I am so pleased that MTA UK & Ireland were named Tourist Board of the Year 2021 at the TTG Travel Industry Awards this week. The team have worked hard with our trade partners and travel agents throughout the past 18 months to train them up on Malta, Gozo and Comino and what we have to offer their clients. Our work with our trade partners despite the difficult situation was ongoing, robust and agile and the team have overcome many hurdles to ensure our relationships stay strong and have endured the hard times. I could not be prouder that their hard work has been recognised and want to thank them for their ongoing dedication to promoting our beautiful islands,” Tolene Van Der Merwe, Director of the MTA UK Office stated.
“Having the Malta Tourism Authority receiving such an important award is of sterling news for the hospitality industry. Considering the challenges of kickstarting a tourism industry that was hit by the worst crisis in history, it can be said that tourism traffic to the Maltese Islands progressively improved week after week and numbers are growing still even though the traditional peak of summer has now passed. In the light of this encouraging results, I would like to congratulate MTA’s Director in the UK and her hardworking team for doing their part in strengthening Malta’s touristic prospects in the UK market. The perseverance and commitment displayed in the past months is a pure showcase of how the Malta Tourism Authority is turning challenges into new opportunities for the years to come,” remarked Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo.
“We are extremely proud of the UK market team in London and in Malta who have once again proven to share the same resilience, determination and work ethic which has become somewhat synonymous with the Maltese people, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two teams have worked hard to keep Malta and Gozo on top of mind with the UK trade and public throughout the pandemic to make the recovery phase as fast as possible. It is these qualities that have made our UK office shine through once again during this year’s Travel Industry Awards. We look forward to continuing our work in the United Kingdom, which is Malta’s biggest market after the positive start that we have had, despite all the challenges,” Carlo Micallef, Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of the MTA stated.
Article credits: https://www.mta.com.mt/en/news-details/325Tips on touring the Blue Grotto
Over 100,000 people flock to The Blue Grotto on Malta’s south westerly point each year, mainly by boat, exploring the caves and arches beneath – and as soon as you clap eyes on it, you can see why.
Both the Wied iz-Zurrieq harbour and Blue Grotto sea caves are located on the coastline opposite to the small uninhabited islet of Filfla which is a bird sanctuary.
The location of the caves lead to the seawater reflecting shades of blue on the cave walls and ceilings. Several caverns also mirror the brilliant phosphorescent colours of the underwater flora, whilst other caverns show a deep dark shade of blue. Underwater, different colors of red, mauve, green, orange and yellow give an impressive picture to visitors.
Make your way down to the tiny harbour village of Wied Iż-Żurrieq, where tours to the Blue Grotto depart. Be sure to pull over at the parking lot and take it all in.
Boat tours of the Blue Grotto in Malta run frequently from Wied Iż-Żurrieq – depending on the weather of course. Head down the boat ramp and over to the kiosk to buy a ticket. From there you’re taken on a tour of the coast including the Blue Grotto. Tours last about 20 minutes and cost roughly €8.
Scuba diving on the nearby scuttled wreck Um El Faroud, and snorkeling along the coastline, together with rock climbing, are the most popular activities practiced here. No need for a boat, you can just jump directly into the water from there.Is Malta worth visiting?
Dylan Efron, who also happens to be the Hollywood actor, Zak Efron’s, younger brother, was one of 10 digital creators chosen to visit Malta for Vlogfest and to create a video to showcase what Malta is all about. After two weeks of running around and getting a brutally honest perspective from the locals, this is what he found.Outdoor Living – Trekking
This week we met Josanne and joined her for a trek in the beautiful Maltese countryside. Josanne is one of the key event planners with Outdoor Living and has joined us on hundreds of activities throughout the years!
Away from the resorts and urban areas of central Malta, there is a surprising amount of countryside, some left almost untouched by modernity. You may be surprised to learn that only around one-fifth of the Maltese Islands is urbanised.
The Islands offer some of the most stunning views anywhere in the Mediterranean. The first thing to do is to decide what sort of view you prefer – dramatic cliffs plunging into waves, the rocky, scrubland of the garrigue or hidden, lush valleys. En route, you’ll come across mysterious, prehistoric sites, cave chapels and secluded palaces of the Knights.
Josanne showed us a trekking route along the cliff edge of the Rabat region, here she explained how ODL can also offer abseiling, climbing, zip lining and more for those that wish for an adrenaline rush!
Together we experienced a myriad of colours and breath taking views that we are sure our guests would love to experience as the ultimate time out from busy lifestyles!
At ODL the main mission is to Develop Winning Teams through Innovative Fun Team Challenges.
Using fun and innovative team events, at Outdoor Living the aim is to connect, engage and invigorate teams.
Be it a nature trail, a high adrenaline activity, a technological team building or a hybrid event ODL have what to offer and can we can vouch for an unforgettable experience.
We invite you to join us to explore the other side of our islands on your next trip!
*Drone footage courtesy of Antoine Azzopardi
A weekend on the island of Gozo
Gozo, known locally as Għawdex is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago. The island is rural in character and less developed than Malta. It is known for its historic locations such as the Ġgantija temples which are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures, its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms and The Azure Window, a natural limestone arch, which was a remarkable geological feature until its collapse on March 8, 2017. The island has other notable natural features, including Dwejra’s Inland Sea and Wied il-Mielaħ Window. There are many beaches on the island, as well as seaside resorts that are popular with both locals and tourists, the most popular being Marsalforn and Xlendi. Gozo is considered one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean and a centre for water sports. Here are the top sites to visit on a weekend trip to Malta’s sister island, Gozo.
Wied il-Mielaħ & Wied il-Għasri
Two of the most beautiful Gozitan sites are Wied il-Mielaħ and Wied il-Għasri. The former is an incredible natural rock formation that arches out over the sea – it’s possible to cycle and walk over it, and there are bolts in place for rock climbing on its near-vertical face. Further east, the narrow inlet of Wied il-Għasri is a great place to swim or snorkel, and you can lounge on its pebble beach when the sea is calm. Hiking between the gorges is also a great option.
The Citadel, known locally as Ċittadella is the oldest fortified site in Gozo. It is an ancient fortress situated on a hill in the centre of the island and stands tall over the island’s capital Victoria (known locally as Rabat). The fortress we see today was mostly built by the Knights in the beginning of the 18th century and it took the place of a small castle dating back from medieval times. Incredibly, it was still normal practice for all the islanders to take nightly refuge in the fortress until well into the 17th century.
Officially recognised by UNESCO as the oldest freestanding buildings in the world, the imposing Ġgantija Neolithic temples, just outside Xagħra in Gozo, are over 5,500 years old–that’s 1,000 years older than Stonehenge or the pyramids in Egypt. Thanks to an extensive preservation effort, the temples are among the best preserved historical sites in the Maltese Islands.
Excavated in 1826, archaeologists believe that like other Neolithic sites on the islands, Ġgantija was a temple complex dedicated to a fertility deity, a theory supported both by the layout of the temple (which resembles the shape of a fat woman) and also by artefacts found on site such as numerous female figurines and statues.
The real technique used to erect these magnificent structures remains unknown. Studies have unearthed a number of spherical stones which led to the supposition that the temple builders rolled the impressive blocks of stone on these spheres to get them into place. However, it is uncertain how they managed to place them together.
Dwejra, with its dramatic coastal formations and sea spilling over the rocks, is a magical attraction. Here you can swim in the spectacular deep sea of the bay, in the calm shallows of the inland sea or in the foamy waters around the Blue Hole – one of Gozo’s top dive-sites.
Dwejra is also home of the Fungus Rock or, as it is locally known, “Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral”, General’s Rock. It is so called in remembrance of the Italian General who centuries ago fell to his death while supervising quarrying in the area. History tells us that a special plant believed to have medicinal and healing properties used to grow on Fungus Rock and because of this the Rock used to be heavily guarded during the era of the Knights of Malta. Anyone caught stealing the crop was sentenced to death or to a life rowing the Knights’ galleys. The crop was picked and brought to the mainland using a primitive system of baskets and pulleys.