Gozo from Calypso Caves 2

Evolution Explores Malta

Continuing to explore undiscovered event and incentive travel destinations, a recent trip took us to Malta.

Located between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta is a nation known for historic sites related to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, the French and the British.  Best known in Britain as a sun and sea destination, Malta gets more than 300 sunny days a year and is surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Expertly hosted by Pearl Representation, Conventions Malta, Intercontinental Malta and CIT Malta, Evolution CEO, Andi Swain jetted off for a four day trip to explore the island and its event and incentive travel opportunities.

“Following a short three hour flight, we arrived to be welcomed on to a vintage classic bus, which was a really cool way to start our time on the island. The bus chugged us merrily down to dinner!

Greeted by CIT Malta, we were wined and dined in one of Malta’s leading restaurants, The Chophouse. The restaurant is located in a beautiful building overlooking the city, with panoramic views and a suitably vibrant atmosphere. Boasting the island’s largest charcoal grill, each dish (and there were many) was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. I tried a few things I’d not had before, all delightful, but I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what I had! To let you in on a personal secret, I’m a bit of an aficionado of Whiskey – and the restaurant has a large glass fronted ‘cave’ stocking over 200 fine wines and whiskeys, so I was bound to be a fan! This is a great place for groups with a total capacity of around 200 (sitting inside & out), with the opportunity for us to organise exclusive hire for you.

Following dinner, we headed to our base hotel, the Intercontinental located in the beachside resort of St Julian’s bay. This five-star hotel is near to Valletta too, and within walking distance to St Julian’s lively entertainment locations – bars, restaurants and night clubs. The hotel is very stylish and modern, and I was treated to a spectacular suite with terrific views. The hotel boasts a lagoon styled pool, has its own private sandy beach, six restaurants and six bars. There’s plenty of excellent conference and meeting space, with room for 1,000 plus delegates in the largest room, and lots of space for smaller groups. The hotel and location are perfect for a good sized conference group.

The next morning we set off to tour the nearby islands of Comino and Gozo for an action packed sightseeing day. Our guide, Dorianne from CIT Malta certainly kept us on our toes! She was very bubbly and had excellent knowledge of Malta, Comino and Gozo, from the amazing history of the islands to the current must-see sights. We visited Tal-Massar Vineyard and enjoyed a personalised wine tasting experience, visited Ramla Bay, a contemporary, upscale beachfront hotel offering some great meeting and events facilities, and also explored Gozo Cathedral, Inland Sea and Salt Pans. To finish off the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch in Ta’Frenc, an award winning fine dining restaurant, which is also offered as an events venue, with space for a small intimate party or special event.

Leaving the sights behind us for the day, we were thrown into adventure with a high-speed jet boat ride back to Malta, an exciting experience. The Intercontinental provided us with a tour of the extensive meeting and leisure facilities at the hotel, followed a wonderful dinner in a private room – the food on Malta really is to die for! Suitably refreshed, watered and fed, we headed down beachside for the opening of Hugo’s latest venture – his Infinity pool deck and champagne bar; the pool and bar can be privately hired for functions and would make a terrific location for a drinks reception or party.

After a good night’s sleep in my wonderful suite and a very good breakfast, we set off on a somewhat more sedate boat ride around the coast to Valetta. Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a most unexpected surprise for the first-time visitor, the beautiful stone walled buildings, the architecture, the scenery – all transport you back to the times of the Knights of St John. A guided walking tour (or in our case by horse drawn carriage) is a must do on an incentive travel trip or during conference “free time”. Incorporating some team activities into our visit, we were tasked with creating a TV travel show; armed with a video camera and provided with outline details of the sights to look out for, this was a fun team challenge that ensured we saw all the best bits of the amazingly historic and beautiful centre of Valletta.

Travel show safely “in the can”, we visited the spectacular Phoenician Hotel which offers everything you need for an overseas event for up to 300, with stunning function rooms including The Grand Ballroom and The Knights Room. Set in 7 or so acres of gardens, the atmosphere is relaxed and the décor refined. And then the (possibly!) even more fabulous Palazzo Parisio, a stunning 18th Century Palace which must star as one of the most opulent venues available for an event. Teeming with artefacts, paintings, and ornate ceilinged spaces, my highlights were the Grand Ballroom, Family Chapel and the fabulous walled Gardens and Orangery.

In Valetta, you really are spoilt for choice for stunning event venues, whether for a product launch, incentive get together or conference.

Leaving the centre of Valetta behind, I was thrilled to be able to “chalk off” another Café del Mar venue. Café del Mar Valetta sits on a low cliff directly on the Mediterranean and boasts an infinity pool looking out across to St Paul’s Island. In classic Café del Mar style, the sun sets beyond the infinity pool as the music plays and the cocktails flow. This really is a spectacular setting for any celebration or product launch!

And after a quick dash back to the Intercontinental (about 20 minutes’ drive) and refresh, it was time to head out for yet another amazing dinner on Malta. Rated one of Malta’s best restaurants, De Mondion sits on the bastions of the Xara Palace in Mdina. Bathed in history, soaked in atmosphere and blessed with beautiful scenery and views across Malta, the cuisine at De Mondion absolutely lives up to the setting. Delicious, sublime, exquisite, all adjectives repeated by my friends in our group.

This trip revealed to me the delights of a beautiful island that I really wasn’t expecting and this could very much be the same for your guests. With such a short flight, and so much to see, and such history and elegance, and of course amazing food, Malta is a destination you should consider for client and team incentives, product launches, small to medium conferences and meetings, and other special occasions. Get in touch with me and I’ll be delighted to share some thoughts on how!”

Evolution is constantly seeking out amazing new destinations, venues and experiences for our customers. Drop an email to Andi at andi.swain@evolution.international to pick his brains! There’s no charge for our ideas and suggestions, we’d love to tempt you for your next overseas event or incentive destinations, or show you why you should consider taking your event and incentive travel trips out of the UK – and show how competitively priced that could be.

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