Earlier this month, local media reported The Palace boutique hotel in Sliema as the winner of the prestigious award for Best Design for five star hotels with 50-200 rooms at the International Hotel and Property Awards 2011. The award is organised annually by Design Et Al magazine. It enables up-and-coming entrepreneurs and interior designers to compete and stand out against those who are already established within the industry.
Even though REDWHITEmt does not provide coverage on interior design we felt such a recognition should be given a mention. Getting in touch with Ms Claire Zammit Xuereb, Hospitality Director at AX Holdings and Ms Hannah Barron, Design Awards Coordinator from Design Et Al was indeed an experience worth writing about.
Ms Zammit Xuereb tells REDWHITEmt more about this new experience and her own perspective about the importance of design for such large projects. She explains how glad she is that industry professionals as well as Design Et Al connoisseurs picked The Palace for such an award, especially since the original purpose of the project has actually been that of excelling in design and maximizing the full functional potential of space, especially in the public areas.
“Being a relatively small hotel, it was imperative that all areas connect well, leaving a flexible and positive impact on the operation, for ease of use and for reaching the full potential of all spaces to maximise return.
Indeed such concept hotels are nowadays attracting new markets to Malta thus generating interest in the wider potential of the Islands. Fetching such an award was very gratifying for Ms Zammit Xuereb. She explained how she felt totally swept off her feet when she got the news.
“The Palace in particular stands out as it is very unique to Malta, especially with its Designer Suites and TemptAsian, being the landmarks of the hotel. Being recognised abroad is definitely a brilliant feat.
I would have never imagined to receive such an award. The Palace is my ‘baby’ project triggered by the success of The Victoria Hotel, right next door. The idea was to create another hotel with its own unique style but this time tap into a different market – the 5 star one. This award and the loyalty shown by our clients are enough proof that the formula worked.
Being a great supporter of local talent and local products ourselves, we worked with a local designer to grow a unique brand and avoid being part of the standardization within hotel design concepts. This, we believe will, in the long run, reap greater results.
Martin Xuereb of Martin Xuereb and Associates, was the mastermind behind the interior design of this City hotel. The basic concept was to project an urban lifestyle, accompanied with some hip/retro hints to attract the fashion conscious and the interior design lovers.
The furnishings within the property are classical whilst complementing fabrics are very trendy and avant garde. Such a combination will take much longer to age.
“Martin, my father and myself made a very good team. Luckily, Martin and his team loved our styling suggestions so it all flowed naturally from beginning to end. Whilst emphasising design issues, we always made sure that design improves on the practicality of operations – a most important aspect in the planning and construction phase! Trusting professionals, turns such processes into a learning experience.”
REDWHITEmt also spoke to Ms Hannah Barron, Design Awards Coordinator from Design Et Al. She explained how the International Hotel & Property Awards reward the best in commercial interior design, architecture and innovation.
“Our aim is to celebrate design, recognize talent, create opportunities and quite simply to offer inspiration. We receive entries from across the globe and it was great to see The Palace Hotel from Malta win the public vote and receive the award for Best Hotel (50 – 200 rooms).”
The target audience for The Palace is the relatively independent traveler looking for culture and traditions. The more adventurous and experimental type, usually Northern Europeans.
Ms Zammit Xuereb feels a growing design consciousness in the local market. She believes entrepreneurs should be passionate and leave no stones unturned but at the same time avoid falling into the ‘copy/paste’ trap.
“It is indeed true that one must not ignore certain norms brought on by the small nation mentality. Ignoring that would run you out of business. Still, one must find the perfect balance between innovative concepts and trends.
I am very happy to see new concepts emerge in a few food and beverage outlets. This is a healthy sign. When it comes to larger investments, one needs to really stick to his/her guns, to win all odds, launch the original concept and be faithful to it without turning it into the run of the mill business. Unfortunately i’ve seen many business fall for such a disguising trap.
As a successful entrapreneur, Ms Zammit Xuereb tries to turn every sale into a profit so this is not just about talking passionate.
“The clue is believing more in our resources and capabilities as Maltese. We need to be consistent to pursue what we long for, against all odds. Originality always wins. It’s a matter of having the right energy and passion to keep up with it.”
Click here to see the official entry by The Palace.