St Julian’s has been a hub for construction and staggering development in recent years, with residential blocks, hotels, catering establishments and retail stores now dominating its landscape.
However, a deep dive into the seaside town’s past shows that away from recent developments, St Julian’s has a rich history, perfectly characterised by the iconic Balluta Buildings.
Located in the area overlooking Balluta Bay, Balluta Buildings is an apartment block that was built in 1928 in the Art Nouveau style for the Marquis John Scicluna. Constructed to the designs of Maltese Architect Giuseppe Psaila, it is one of the finest, and last remaining examples of the architectural style in the Maltese Islands.
While Mr Psaila had worked on various other buildings in the Art Nouveau style, including a townhouse on Dingli Street, Sliema, which now belongs to Lombard Bank, Balluta Buildings is considered by many to be his greatest, and one of Malta’s most iconic buildings.
The block used to house some of Europe’s most beautiful and captivating apartments at the time, with high ceilings, spacious living areas, Maltese tiles, and also stunning sea views.
Comprised of three vertical structures each containing arched openings at the centre, together with rows of double windows on either side, the block’s façade is truly indicative of the elegance that characterised the wealthier communities of the early 20th century.
When first built, most of the apartments were occupied by Marquis Scicluna’s associates, with some of the tenants’ heirs still occupying the apartments to this day. At the block’s street level, there are some cafés and restaurants, including recently-opened L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Malta.
Balluta Buildings has undergone renovation over recent years, with various sections of its façade and interior requiring restoration.
Classed as a Grade 1 monument, meaning it is of particular national, architectural and historical importance, and listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands, Balluta Buildings truly stands out as an architectural gem amongst St Julian’s mountains of concrete.
Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/balluta-buildings-one-of-malta-s-last-few-exhibits-of-art-nouveau-architectureNew Hyatt set to open in Swieqi
A new hotel within the Hyatt franchise is set to open in Swieqi in the final quarter of 2024, just across the road from the existing Hyatt Regency in St Julian’s.
The hotel will be operated under the Hyatt Centric brand. It is situated on Santu Wistin Street, Swieqi. It will feature 187 hotel rooms, spread over nine floors, of which 27 rooms are interconnected, a spa, indoor and outdoor pool facilities on the 10th floor, a restaurant and lounge.
The new hotel will take the place of two adjacent villas, Sans Souci and Rocheville, which the company bought for €9.25 million apiece in 2022, having a combined superficial area of 996 sqm.
The announcement was made by Juel Group, which is the parent company of Juel Hospitality, a company incorporated with the purpose of owning and managing the hotel.
In its prospectus for a €32 million bond issue, Juel Hospitality said it believes that the hotel, once constructed, “shall be a strong contender in the local hospitality market”, noting that “the location of the hotel is largely popular with tourists given the availability of restaurants, beaches, and nightlife in close proximity”.
By 2027, the hotel is expected to generate gross operating profit per available room (GOPAR) of €22,000, according to the company, which added that the core management team has yet to be employed given the time left until construction is completed.
Read the full article here: https://whoswho.mt/en/new-hyatt-set-to-open-in-swieqiCNN Travel – A world in three islands on the Mediterranean
In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea lies a small country made up of three inhabited islands and irresistible allure. A cookie-like tan is the dominant color here, thanks to its centuries-old buildings; the water is the bluest of blue, the cuisine is a feast, ancient traditions are still celebrated, and the people are proud but extremely friendly. Welcome to Malta.
Across its three inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – you’ll find every sun-soaked aspect of the perfect vacation. There’ll be marveling at prehistoric temples, strolling around spectacular old towns, cooling off in the clear waters of beautiful beaches, and partying the nights away at endless beach bars and clubs. From the capital Valletta to bucolic Gozo, here’s where to get your fill.
Malta itself is the biggest island in the Maltese archipelago, and many visitors see no need to leave it. No wonder – the 95-square-mile (246-square-kilometer) island ticks all the boxes for history, culture, beaches and even nightlife.
Start at Valletta, the Maltese capital since 1571. It’s a city intrinsically linked with the Knights of Malta – a powerful military Catholic order thought to date back to the 11th century (still in existence today, it’s currently headquartered in Rome). Founded upon the orders of Jean de Valette, a grand master who was the Knights’ leader during the victorious Great Siege of 1565 when the Ottoman Empire failed to capture the island after nearly four months of battle, Valletta is an epic-looking city fortress.
Baroque palaces swagger beside quaint restaurant terraces, and lively coffee shops with knockout views occupy the stairs leading from the port to the Old Town. Red telephone booths – a reminder of 150 years of British rule from 1814 to 1964 – stand under Valletta’s trademark carved wooden balconies, painted all colors of the rainbow.
What to see? There are fantastic views of the Grand Harbour and its forts from Upper Barrakka Gardens. St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a mesmerizing monument to the wealth of Knights of Malta with two works by Caravaggio inside: a pensive “St. Jerome” and the “Beheading of St. John the Baptist,” his largest work of art. The National War Museum in Fort St. Elmo recounts Malta’s military history.
Culture here isn’t just ancient, though. The Floriana Granaries – once a storage space for grain, and now Malta’s largest public square – makes for a magical outdoor venue that regularly hosts festivals and concerts of world-famous artists.
To try some local specialties, head to the cozy Cafe Jubilee, which serves mouthwatering stuffat tal-fenek (slow-cooked rabbit, a Maltese favorite), superb ravioli with traditional Gozo cheese, and imqaret: date-filled pastry, often served with ice cream.
Squaring off against Valletta on two peninsulas straddling the Grand Harbour are the so-called Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, neighboring fortified towns. It was here that, in 1565, the Great Siege of Malta was won, leading to the founding of Valletta – and in fact all three have two names, both pre- and post-siege.
Start with Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu, its pre-siege name), a small fortified town with some of the prettiest streets and churches on the island. Get lost among the winding pathways of the historic core with its colored doors and balconies, and statuettes of the Virgin Mary gracing the facades, windows, and street corners.
Proceed to equally gorgeous Cospicua (AKA Bormia) to admire the docks – overhauled by the Brits in the 19th century – and city gates. Finally, cross the harbor to Senglea (l’Isla) for a coffee overlooking the water and Valletta on the other side. DATE Art Café is an ideal choice.
When you leave Senglea, take the traditional dgħajsa boat – a shared wooden water taxi – back to Valletta.
The colorful boats are swaying lazily on gentle waves but the main street is far from calm. It’s Sunday and Marsaxlokk’s fish market is in full swing, gathering the restaurateurs, locals, and tourists from all over the island to buy the fresh catch brought by the local fishermen. This has always been a quiet fishing village on Malta’s southern coast.
Come here for its pretty waterfront (perfect for sunset walks), and a wide array of seafood restaurants whose terraces perch beside the water. As well as Sunday’s fish market, there’s an all-week market for souvenirs and local produce.
You’re here to eat seafood, of course. Choose between klamari mimlija (stuffed squid), grilled lampuki (mahi-mahi), and stuffat tal-qarnit, a delicious octopus stew. Afterwards, have a rest on the rocks – flat and made for sunbathing – at nearby St. Peter’s Pool, a cove with crystal-clear waters.
As you’d expect, Malta has natural sights aplenty. Perhaps the most famous is the Blue Grotto, on the island’s southern coast. From a viewpoint above you’ll get panoramic views of this spectacular system of sea caverns with their almost unreal blue waters. Boat trips – leaving from a nearby pier – take you inside.
While the grotto is one of the most popular (and touristy) spots on Malta, the translucent waters – allowing views of up to 16 feet down – make up for the crowds. The boat is also the best way to admire the majestic white cliffs of the surrounding coastline.
If you’re interested in archaeology and ancient history, you need to make a beeline for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ħaġar Qim, a megalithic temple complex with sweeping views over the sea – just a few minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto. Dating back as far as 3,600 BCE, it’s several thousand years older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge, and one of the oldest religious buildings on the planet. The main temple – which you can walk through, as they did all those years ago – is surrounded by three other megalithic structures. A five minute walk away is another temple, that of Mnajdra – another of the seven temples protected under that UNESCO listing.
So you want to see the real Malta, but you’re also partial to resort towns. The solution: Marsaskala, towards the southeastern tip of Malta island. Its harbor is among the most scenic on the island, the seafront promenade is ideal for contemplative walks or scenic runs, and the center is dotted with pubs, bars, restaurants and takeaways.
The real beauty of Marsaskala, however, is that it’s more affordable and less glamorous than the better known resort towns of St. Julian’s or Sliema. Just south of the town is the beautiful St. Thomas Bay, where you can have a swim. It’s extremely family-friendly, with a children’s playground, picnic tables and shower. It even caters for both sand and rocky beach lovers, with limestone rocks on one part, and a sandy beach the other.
Time stands still in Mdina. The medieval capital of Malta, it wears its former status with grace, mesmerizing with a kaleidoscope of palazzos, shaded little squares, elegant fortifications and bougainvillea-covered facades. Today, its strategic position in the center of the island is less crucial for defense possibilities – it’s more about those photogenic 360-degree views.
Today Mdina resembles an open-air museum rather than a full city – only 300 people live inside the ancient walls. But it’s one of Malta’s most evocative places, and an essential stop to get a history fix.
See the fantastic baroque interior of St Paul’s Cathedral, get to Bastion Square for the observation tower on top of a bastion on the city walls – it offers fantastic views of the island. Don’t miss the 18th-century Palazzo Vilhena, home to Malta’s National Museum of Natural History.
Just outside the city walls is a small bar named Crystal Palace serving pastizz, a classic Maltese street snack in the shape of savory pastry with various fillings. Try the ones with ricotta cheese or mushy peas. Or, better, try both.
The Romans also left their mark in Malta and Mdina bears signs of their presence. St. Paul’s and St. Agata’s catacombs give Rome’s catacombs a run for their money. Meanwhile, Domvs Romana is a museum on the site of an ancient villa, displaying items from the home, including mosaics.
Once a popular residence for wealthy Maltese and the British, who built many Victorian and Art Nouveau villas here, today Sliema – just north of Valletta – is the commercial heart of Malta with international offices, shopping malls, never-ending restaurants and bars, and high residential complexes. For the Maltese, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of place with controversy surrounding its rapid development. For tourists, it’s a good place to base yourselves if you want to be close to everything but hyper-connected.
The promenade is home to beach bars, plenty of spots to take a dip, and knockout views of Valletta, while “party boats” leave nightly from the harbor.
You may have heard about Malta as an island of wild nightlife. Well, that’s Paceville, located in St Julian’s, the next harbor town after Sliema, heading north from Valletta. Less glamorous than Ibiza or Mykonos, it’s a loud and rowdy party area, reaching its bombastic crescendo in the triangle formed by Paceville Piazza, Santa Rita, and St. George’s Road. There’s lots of booze, screaming crowds, noisy pumping music, and late-night snacks and hookah bars. Be prepared to stand in long lines at nightclub entrances – and be prepared to find not much space inside.
Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay
If exploring from the comfort of a resort is something you’re looking forward to, then Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay fit the bill. At the northern tip of Malta, closer to Comino than to Valletta, they both have a wide selection of hotels big and small, affordable and upscale, with swimming pools and without.
Għadira Bay in Mellieħa is a long and shallow sandy beach that’s perfect for families. Mellieħa village, located above the bay, has a more remote, more local feel to it thanks to its hilltop location.
Over in St. Paul’s Bay, Bugibba is a classic seaside resort town with fast food chains, a kaleidoscope of bars and restaurants, a promenade and even an aquarium. Qawra Point Beach on the northeastern tip of Bugibba, allows you to take a plunge with views of Malta’s rocky northern coast.
Before being a filming location for “Game of Thrones,” “Troy,” “Assassin’s Creed” and the most recent “Jurassic World Dominion,” Malta stood as a background to the 1980 Robin Williams-led musical “Popeye.” While the movie itself didn’t fare that well, either at the box office or with critics, its set remained near Mellieħa and was turned into an entertaining family theme park.
Gozo and Victoria
The second-biggest island of the Maltese archipelago, laidback Gozo fills in the blanks that Malta left. Getting there is straightforward – regular ferries go from Ċirkewwa on Malta’s northern tip to Gozo where life is slower, nature is wilder, and the atmosphere is more relaxing.
Victoria, the capital, gives Mdina and the Three Cities a run for their money. Start your visit with the magnificent, high-up Cittadella – an ancient walled city with a well-preserved historic core and mindblowing views of the island. Descend to charming Victoria – it’s buzzing with life, with restaurant terraces spilling out onto shaded piazzas and traditional Maltese buff-colored streets. Choose a cafe, order gelato, and forget about the hassle of city life. Gozo is great for that.
It’s even better for going diving, with several world-class locations around the island. The Blue Hole, on the west coast, is a 50-foot deep tube-like rock formation filled by the sea, with an archway and cave at its bottom – pass under the arch and you’ll be in the open sea. It’s a truly mesmerizing dive.
Dwejra Bay, where it’s located, is part of an epic coastline dominated by high cliffs, with the stunning Fungus Rock rising up from the sea. The scenery may ring a bell for “Game of Thrones” fans. Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s Dothraki wedding was filmed here, in front of the Azure Window – a fragile limestone arch straddling the sea. Sadly, the arch collapsed in 2017. Now, you can only see the remains of it by diving.
Imagine a building that is 5,500 years old. In the quiet Ix-Xagħra village in the heart of Gozo you’ll find Ġgantija, a spellbinding complex of two prehistoric megalithic temples, and another site given World Heritage Status by UNESCO. Believed to be important ceremonial sites for Neolithic people, they sprawl over a whopping 77,000 square feet. There’s also an interactive museum to give you more information about their usage and ancient appearance.
Despite the passing of all the centuries, it’s still a calm, meditative place. Archaeologists have spent decades researching them, and have yet to discover exactly how they were used. Animal remains found on site point towards sacrifices, while the abundance of exaggeratedly voluptuous feminine figurines suggests a fertility cult.
If Malta is the urban island and Gozo its lowkey sibling, Comino is the wild cousin. The population is a modest two people, there are no cars, and no signs of globalization – just the untouched Mediterranean. Most visitors come for the Blue Lagoon – a shimmering, shallow bay whose water is an almost unreal azure color.
But while other visitors go straight back to the main islands, you should stay on Comino. Just a mile away is the 17th-century St. Mary’s Tower, one of the defensive structures erected by the Knights of Malta to signal the enemy’s approach with cannon fire – the Comino Channel was a strategic waterway between Malta and Gozo.
For beaches, you need Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay, both within a mile of both Blue Lagoon and St. Mary’s Tower. Thoroughly rested, hike up Ġebel Comino, the highest point on the island – although at around 275 feet, it’s not exactly high, it has beautiful views of all the islands. For snorkeling, try Cominotto, a tiny island right next to Comino.
Article credits: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/malta-gozo-comino-sights/index.htmlAC Hotels by Marriott announces the opening of its first hotel in Malta
International hospitality brand AC Hotels by Marriott has announced the opening of its first hotel in Malta, AC Hotel by Marriott St Julian’s. The hotel is located close to St George’s Bay, Bay Street shopping complex and other entertainment hubs that populate that area.
The new “lifestyle hotel”, designed by Italian-based architecture and design association Fabris & Partners, was described as retaining a Maltese colour scheme throughout the public spaces and guestrooms, a palette that “took inspiration from the natural and urban environment around the hotel.” The hotel offers 106 contemporary guestrooms and suites.
Matthew Boettcher, Vice President and Global Brand Leader said that the company is “delighted to be bringing AC Hotels’ design-driven guest experience to Malta. The hotel marks Marriott Bonvoy’s third property in this vibrant Mediterranean island destination.”
AC Lounge, located on the rooftop terrace overlooking the St Julian’s skyline, will feature a menu with “cocktail and European tapas.” Other facilities include a heated outdoor rooftop pool, an indoor pool, a meeting space with seating for up to 40 people, and a gym.
Read full article: https://whoswho.mt/en/ac-hotels-by-marriott-announces-the-opening-of-its-first-hotel-in-malta
The Westin Dragonara Resort Malta Announces Its New Heated Open-Air Pool
The gateway to luxury in Malta, is thrilled to announce the completion of a sustainable friendly project whereby the hotel’s main outdoor swimming pool now features year-round heated fresh water.
With its state-of-the-art water heating system, the Dragonara’s open-air pool can maintain a comfortable temperature no matter the weather outside!
This means that guests can enjoy an invigorating swim or a relaxing soak in the water, even on the coldest of days.
It also offers a generous swimming area that can accommodate both proficient swimmers and families looking to have fun. A spacious deck area for sunbathing and relaxation and kid-friendly features, including a shallow area and accessible design. Also includes access for wheelchair users.
“We are excited to be able to offer this new heated outdoor swimming pool to our guests. Whether our guests are after a pool to exercise in, have fun with family, or simply bask under the sun, our Bay View pool has something for everyone,” said Michael Camilleri Kamsky, General Manager of The Westin Dragonara.
“We are consistently investing in upgrading our offerings thereby delivering elevated experiences. This new development, which is unique in the five star offering in Malta, will allow our guests to enjoy year-round outdoor swimming,” he said.
Standing apart on a natural peninsula fringed by the sea, The Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta brings warm-hearted, luxurious Mediterranean living to a vibrant, historic island. A jewel of the Mediterranean, it is where fabled dragons roar, giving the peninsula and property their distinctive name.
Maximising on its exclusive and enduring appeal, the property has an enviable beachside position and is accessed via private gateway, inscribed with Virgil’s thoughtful proverb, “God made this gem for us”.
Article credits: https://lovinmalta.com/sponsored/the-westin-dragonara-resort-malta-announces-its-new-heated-open-air-pool/
The Westin Dragonara Resort wins prestigious award
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.
Actress Tori Spelling Spotted In Malta
Malta has welcomed yet another star, as actress Tori Spelling landed on the island yesterday. Having starred as Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210, which started in 1990, Spelling has become a household name for many.
She is now staying in a St. Julian’s hotel in Malta for the rest of the month, appearing happy to have arrived to her welcome treat and warm evenings. And Spelling seems to have fallen in love with the island at first sight: “It’s already a love story”, she wrote on her Instagram story.
She is the latest celebrity spotted on the island, just a week after the Mediterranean Below Deck crew was seen filming on a superyacht.