Just under 3 hours after taking off from Heathrow’s Terminal 4, we landed in Malta and were met by Steve from Alpine Sterling DMC. Within 25 minutes, we arrived at the Hilton Malta in St Julian’s and were greeted by the lovely Ingrid and an even lovelier cold glass of prosecco. Due to our flight delay, I had to refrain from enjoying the big bath, pool view balcony and delicious treats waiting for me in my room as it was a quick turn-around before dinner, but I did manage to find a moment to ‘flop and starfish’ on the huge bed – I think that’s the technical terminology?
Our transport for the evening was a traditional Maltese bus, which got our first evening off to a great start and got us to the venue in a quick 20 minutes. The Mediterranean Conference Centre, located in Malta’s capital city Valletta is an impressive historic building, formerly the hospital of the knights but now a modern venue boasting an enormous roof terrace which, as of next year can be used for a sit down dinner. In addition to the roof, the building also offers La Valette Hall and Sacra Infermia, both of which showcase the uniquely historic aesthetic that so much of Malta boasts and have capacity for sit down dinners for large groups.
After a quick show round of the luxury boutique hotel Rosselli (when I say luxury…I mean a spa and sauna IN a bedroom level of luxury), we sat down for dinner in their small but fabulously decorated restaurant Under Grain. Despite the entire meal being to die for, the general consensus around our table was that the starters were the show-stoppers. I opted for the seabass as I knew I would do my usual and fill up on the bread so wouldn’t have room for the risotto, but I did manage sneak a spoonful so I can confirm both dishes were amazing.
Saturday morning started with a speedboat to Gozo via the incredible Blue Lagoon at Comino (I have purposely skipped over the part where I ate 3 plates of breakfast at the hotel buffet...).
We started in Tuk-Tuks, zooming around the island in teams completing challenges which was a great way to incorporate seeing the island alongside teambuilding. I cannot lie and pretend I enjoyed the challenge which involved a goats cheese flavoured chocolate, but overall it was a lot of fun.
Lunch was at Ta’Frenc and certainly did not disappoint: Bread followed by pasta followed by cake…what a good job I had such a small breakfast! Our stunning private room was nestled in one side of the equally stunning old farmhouse and was the perfect place for an intimate dining experience.
After lunch and a ferry ride back to Malta, we visited my absolute favourite part of the Island: Mdina. Mdina is the old capital of Malta whose earliest inhabitants date back to 4000 BC. I could write pages on Mdina simply from a ‘Wow it is so pretty, everyone should visit here on a holiday’ perspective, but it also has so much to offer for the MICE industry, most notably dinner venues. As you wander the quiet, winding streets of Mdina, it is very easy to see why it was chosen as a film set for the likes of Game of Thrones, Troy and World War Z.
I was particularly impressed with 3 of the venues we visited on this trip: Bacchus (Mdina), Xara Lodge (country side just beneath Mdina) and Palazzo Parisio (Valletta). All completely unique and wonderful in their own ways and places that I would be extremely excited to hold a Gala Dinner for any client.
Now you may have noticed a full few hours have passed since I have mentioned any food or alcohol being consumed! Shocking! (Although there may have been 1 sneaky glass of prosecco at Palazzo Parisio) The Hilton soon saw this rectified at their in-house Thai restaurant, Blue Elephant. Once again, despite the whole meal being outstanding, it is the starters of Thai Fish Cakes and Chicken Satay that I am now sat at my desk thinking and drooling about. Before we sat down to dinner we built our appetites on a tour of the Hilton’s huge and impressive conference facilities. As well as tastefully decorated, these superb facilities are flexible in their use and tailor made for the efficient running of conferences and meetings. The rest of the evening (and the first 4 hours of the following day) were spent drinking, chatting and dancing at Hugo’s Terrace… luckily we were all too full from dinner to brave a kebab on the walk back to the hotel!
On Sunday morning we had the pleasure of a harbour cruise on a Gullet with unrivalled views of Valletta and the Three Cities followed by our final treat of a 3 course lunch at the Maritime Museum, housed within the Old Naval Bakery. On a private balcony with views of the harbour and the incredible yachts docked there, we enjoyed more excellent food, including the best tuna I have ever had in my life!
Somehow the weekend was over and we were heading for the airport. Other than the fact I was at least 3kg heavier than I was prior to the trip, I couldn’t have been happier or felt any luckier for the weekend we had had. For some reason, I feel Malta suffers from being underestimated as a MICE destination and clients feel it does not have the ‘wow factor’ that other European destinations do. While the value for money you’re able to get, especially for accommodation may reflect this, very little else supports this hugely unjust statement. Malta is home to great weather, fantastic venues and first-class DMCs. Whether your event is an incentive trip for a small group of couples or a conference for 500 international delegates, I am confident that Malta can accommodate your requirements and exceed yours and your guests expectations. I thoroughly look forward to re-visiting Malta with clients in the very near future.
Thank you to everyone who made this fam trip the success that it was: