MALTA DIARY: From a small family restaurant into a €1.5 billion enterprise – Malta’s Corinthia Group of Companies
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The western world stupidity of humanity has rendered current living into a noisome, annoying, wailing dirge of boredom subject to the deranged whims of people who have nothing better to do than be noisome, annoying and wail all the time.
Today, if you as much as erect a flagpole on your roof you will be inundated with a battery of complaints, objections and accusations.
The Bird Welfare Society will claim you have obstructed the flight of storks on their migration route to Africa, or back; neighbours will claim financial compensation because you have obstructed their viewing of sunrise and sunset and consequently have devalued their property; feminists will say this is a phallic symbol and an insult to all women and so on, and on, and on …
Malta’s gigantic Corinthia Group of Hotels has recently plunged into these crazy derangements by proposing two Six Star hotels and a residential and commercial complex on the small St George’s Bay Peninsula – on which they already have three high class hotels.
Six Star – this is the ultimate in hotel luxury, a hotel that only people like Donald Trump and Simon Cowell can afford to Bed ‘n Breakfast in and not bother about the small change.
Their multi-multi-million euro development proposal has raised the hackles of their competitors, lobby groups who have nothing better to do than be jealous and therefore cause obstruction and – unbelievably – a political lobby!
However, first let me explain about the Corinthia Group of Companies. Back in 1962 the Pisani family decided to upgrade a small restaurant they owned on the then sleepy borderline of the two villages of Attard and Balzan in central Malta. By 1968 this had been converted into the Corinthia Palace Hotel and was inaugurated by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The wisdom of this was highly questioned within Malta’s touristic development. Previous hotel development always ensured shoreline hotels with a view of the blue Mediterranean Sea. A hotel centrally inland seemed dubious.
However, the excellent de luxe standard maintained and the sedate quiet of its sleepy environment proved to be highly popular with the more discerning, particularly as in Malta you are never further than a stone’s throw away from the sea. The hotel also proved popular as a conference centre and included a number of varied restaurants.
This was the take-off point and there was no looking back. Today, the Corinthia Group of Companies has become one of the more substantial hotel groups in the world and at the latest financial count is estimated to be worth €1.5 billion in total assets. Control has been retained by the Pisani family.
The mainspring was Alfred Pisani, now nearing his 80th year. The company was actually established in 1966 and he has been the Chairman and Chief Executive since then. From a one-hotel company in 1968, under Pisani’s guidance, the Group has diversified into equity participation, management, development and ownership of property and industrial catering – and all mainly on an international scale.
Today, the Group has high quality star hotels in London, Budapest, St Petersburg, Lisbon, Prague, Tripoli, Khartoum, Dubai and of course Malta and another on the way in Brussels.
Back to the St George’s Bay Peninsula and the current controversy. This is Government-owned public land for which the Group obtained a 99-year lease in 1988 at a price which today is a snip. Thirty years of the lease have expired with just under a further 70 years to go. The conditions of the lease are that the area is to be used solely for touristic development.
Now, Corinthia are proposing an amendment to the lease to include residential and commercial development for which amendment they have agreed to pay €17 million and if this is accepted they will convert the three hotels already there into two high class luxury Six Star hotels bridged by a residential and commercial centre.
If this goes ahead it will be a tremendous boost to the country’s economy with a wealth of construction opportunities, creating hundreds of jobs including the services and catering categories as well as construction, together with the two de luxe hotels and residential centre, naturally attracting the millionaire class of people.
The economic boost would be phenomenal. However, environmental and citizen groups are objecting because this is public land and amazingly Opposition parties are claiming that Corinthia is “stealing” public land at a ludicrous price.
The alternative is that everything stays put for the next 70 years because the Group can sit on the lease for the next 70 years and do absolutely nothing.
How more trite can opposition be for the mere sake of opposing?
“He cannot see further than his nose”.
Describing the short-sighted imagination vision of a person with no perception and no foresight.