In this, the first edition of our new-look online journal, I would like to take the opportunity to look back at what we achieved last year, and looking forward, to note some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. In 2017 IHI once again achieved a record financial performance and saw growth on many fronts: in our operating profits across our hotels and our various business units, in our development of new hotels, and in our human resources. Our joint CEOs Joe Fenech and Simon Naudi explain the factors that led to our record-breaking results elsewhere in this edition, so I shall not duplicate their insightful report, other than to say I take great pride in our Company’s performance last year.
Growth comes in various forms, however there is nothing more comforting than the fact that each year we are constantly cementing the bond that exists between all members of the Corinthia family. What gives me even greater pride is the imagination and energy that has gone into making all this possible – an energy based on total commitment and perseverance. To all our people who have made this possible – from our newest recruits to our senior leaders – I thank you for your amazing efforts.
“For 2018 we have once again set budgets to outperform previous targets. Such is the Corinthia way – to have the confidence to break new ground, assured by the dexterity and commitment of our people.”
2017 saw some key additions to our senior leadership team, to help meet future challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that exist. We have added a new Chief Operating Officer, a Director of Learning and Well-Being, and in 2018 we will add further positions to spearhead our global development. The main task of our COO is to put in place systems to achieve consistency of standards across all our luxury hotels. Complementary to this mission is the work of our new Director of Learning & Well-Being, who will see to the training and development needs of our human resources at all levels across the Company.
Our investment in learning and training is key to our future – not only to assist in helping our existing personnel fulfil their utmost potential, but with our sight focused on the next generation, to help them develop the skills to drive our operations to higher standards. The third area we are investing in, is a team that will focus on identifying developments anywhere in the world where third party owners require our services. For this we are putting executives in place to cover the various locations that are of interest to us, and this includes the USA and China.
In 2017 as a company we celebrated our 55th anniversary, and whilst Corinthia continues its development as a global brand, it is important I make reference to Malta, where our story began, particularly since our plans for Malta have never been more ambitious. Last year we completed the integration and the merger of the Island Hotels Group into IHI, which saw 1000 new people become part of the Corinthia family. Following this merger, our catering operations are now consolidated under one operation, using the brand name Corinthia Caterers. Meanwhile our plans in St George’s Bay for Malta’s first six-star hotel, together with residential and commercial development are well-advanced. I believe passionately in Malta’s tourism potential beyond that which exists currently. The leadership we show in building Malta’s first six-star hotel is one example of moving forward into the age of quality tourism and I believe this is critical to Malta’s future prosperity and liveability; the higher net-worth traveler must be our target.
For 2018 we have once again set budgets to outperform previous targets. Such is the Corinthia way – to have the confidence to break new ground, assured by the dexterity and commitment of our people. Let me say to all the drivers of our success – our people – all the members of the Corinthia family – that you have my full confidence in meeting the challenges ahead. Corinthia is a company of visions realised. It always has been and it always will be.
“Last year we re-confirmed our intention to secure 50 international hotel management agreements over the next five years. We make this commitment to ensure that growth remains our focus, to seek new destinations to fly our flag.
In 2017 we re-confirmed our intention to secure more and more international hotel management agreements over the next five years. We make this commitment to ensure that growth remains our focus, to seek new destinations to fly our flag. Today we have reached a stage where third-party hotel owners are seeking our brand, who feel confident that Corinthia can satisfy their needs in operating their properties to the highest standards.To achieve this target of 50 hotels, we created Corinthia Developments International, where we relate and interpret with third party hotel owners their brief, and support them in raising funds and project manage their properties. Offering these services invariably leads us to be appointed as their hotel management company, as in fact is already happening. Encouraged by our success so far, we are now pursuing opportunities in China, Japan and the United States, as well as closer to home in Morocco, Romania, Germany and Italy.
Looking at our projects in development, these represent bold initiatives. In Belgium, the Corinthia Hotel Brussels is moving forward. With equity and bank loans secured, the designs for this extraordinary landmark property are complete, whilst the tendering process will be concluded by March to begin construction in April. This will not only be the finest hotel in Brussels, but one that will shine amongst the best in Europe. In Dubai, 2017 saw construction begin on the Corinthia Hotel and Residences at Meydan Beach. With development moving at a fast pace, the opening of this luxury resort in the heart of the Dubai Marina is set for April 2020. Furthermore, having entered into agreements last year to provide technical and management services for a new Corinthia Hotel in Doha, 2017 saw the start of detailed design development for this property – another iconic hotel. These landmark projects are an indication of where we are heading for we are deeply committed to spread our brand across the world. Where we stand today is only the beginning.
I conclude this message by reflecting on what we call the Spirit of Corinthia – that is our commitment to the welfare of all our people, for this is the barometer that measures the strength of our company, and our prospects for the future. Corinthia is a dynamic living force. Its roots are embedded in tiny Malta, where more than half a century ago I and my brothers founded the Company; its first incarnation – a fine-dining restaurant, which would later evolve into the Corinthia Palace Hotel.
Corinthia, since its earliest days, has always had the courage and determination to go for better standards, to strive for targets that sceptics would say were beyond reach, to punch above our weight. These characteristics, this Spirit, remains our driving force and gives us our competitive edge. Through our behaviour we define the Corinthia Spirit. We do this for our customers. We do this for our colleagues. The Spirit of this behaviour is the bond that unites us. It is the resolve we have to share our knowledge, to empower one another, to help each other become better people, and to aim for excellence in all we do. I know we can all look forward to 2018 with confidence in a united purpose, empowered by what we have achieved, and ready to write the next chapter in the Corinthia story.