Although the Tourism Minister said in Parliament the Corinthia Group would have a six-star property at St George’s Bay, the law did not allow a hotel to have more than five stars, Times of Malta was told.
Across Europe, hotels were classified up to five stars and there was no such thing as a six-star property, “irrespective of what the government and Corinthia have been harping on in a bid to market and justify their project on public land”, a seasoned hotelier told Times of Malta.
Another noted that the only hotels marketed as being six- or seven-star were those in the Gulf, mainly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, though they were not recognised internationally as such. “It’s just a marketing ploy to justify higher room rates,” the hotelier said.
A spokesman for Hotrec, the EU’s umbrella organisation for hotels and restaurants, confirmed that six-star hotels “do not exist”.
“There are no six-star hotels in Europe and, across the continent, hotel classification is from one- to five-star,” he said, adding that even the common European hotel classification of the Hotelstars Union ranged from one to five stars.
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association is affiliated to Hotrec.
The Tourism Ministry was asked whether, in view of the minister’s declarations in Parliament, the Tourism Ministry was considering changing the law on hotel classification to accommodate Corinthia’s new project but no replies were forthcoming.
A spokesman for Corinthia agreed there was no six-star hotel classification in Malta. However, he quickly added that it did not mean such hotels did not exist, referring to the French Palace Hotels, which, he said, “are a class above five-star hotels”.
“Ultimately, however, there is the true test of room rates. The aim, indeed the justification for the investment being proposed, is for Corinthia to charge room rates that are far superior to those being achieved in Malta’s market today,” the Corinthia spokesman said.
As part of its upgrading project for its three existing hotels on the St George’s Bay peninsula, Corinthia is proposing that the government authorises it to build 100,000 square metres of apartments and offices for sale on public land.
According to a draft deed presented to Parliament, the government is asking for a premium payment of €17 million from Corinthia although estate agents estimate the land in question could fetch over €700 million at current market prices.
In view of harsh criticism, the government and the Corinthia Group are renegotiating the terms of the proposed deal.