When I arrived at the Radisson Blu Resort, St George’s Bay in St Julians, Carl Galea, the amiable General Manager, greeted me. He is a delightful 38-year-old gentleman, full of enthusiasm for his job.
‘Life is catching up fast after the harsh COVID days,’ he said. ‘This makes me so excited, and my adrenaline is pumping fast. I love watching guests coming in, walking around and enjoying themselves. We are alive again.‘
We sat for a while, sipping some herbal tea in the Bridge Bar. Carl introduced me to the barman, Alex, a smart gentleman with a welcoming face. I was told that Alex had left Corinthia after 20 years but returned six years later. Alex heard this and added, pointing to Carl, ‘And he was the main reason for my coming back.’
Barely a minute passed when a young lady colleague named Tanya walked by us and bade us good morning. She, too, had left Corinthia but returned to the fold.
‘That is an excellent sign,‘ I commented to Carl, who added that he had others who had done the same.
Carl looked around. ‘This is a beautiful piece of property in an excellent location. But if you ask me what the main attraction in this place is, my answer is the staff, my colleagues.‘ This reminded me of one of the statements by Corinthia’s Chairman, Alfred Pisani, who has always emphasised that the staff, the Corinthians, are those who give life to the Hotel.
Quickly, Carl opened his mobile and showed me the article on the Spirit of Corinthia that had just been published on Insider Plus. “This article is always close at hand. I have read it many times and find the Chairman’s quotes so simply profound, true, and inspiring. He is perfectly right; the staff fulfil and form the real purpose of this place and our hospitality. After the Hotel’s re-opening following Covid, this reality has taken a new dimension. When we were closed, we were all upset. We had lost our bearing and purpose. But, the second we opened, all the staff at all levels gave their utmost to revive this place into a welcoming haven. The first guests who trickled in were our heroes. And our hearts started to tick again.‘
I asked how he would explain the constant mission of caring for guests in simple words. “Simple! I insist that everyone from top to bottom, from left to right, has to see and view things with the eyes and minds of our guests. Wear our guests’ shoes every day, all the time.’
He referred me to the beaming Doorman, Ronald, who had greeted me at the door. ‘He was promoted to that post only two days ago. He was a Public Area Attendant in the Hotel; I noticed his warmth in service, and when I offered him the job, he felt like a king.’
He was right. I had noticed Ronald’s warmth immediately, and I had complimented him. An elderly guest sitting close by overheard me, and I was pleased when she openly commented: “He’s a fine man.” Naturally, that was the best certificate.
Carl emphasised that ‘the sentiment of empathy makes us all one team, with one mission and one determination to make our place of work the best attraction for our guests. Our colleagues must be aware that what they do is being appreciated. So, we organise certain incentives for those who excel in their work or attract the most praise‘
Summer must be the favourite season for this Hotel. Carl nodded vigorously. ‘Now that summer has arrived, this place becomes a heavenly haven. The Mediterranean Sea touches our shores and provides a most beautiful backdrop. Our Lido operations, coupled with good quality food, form an irresistible attraction. Our Sunday lunches are fully-booked from October to June,’
Dining at Le Bistro is an experience to savour. With a mouth-watering a la carte menu that is both typical and seasonal, Le Bistro moves outdoors during Summer. The Kon Tiki restaurant is a casual family restaurant renowned for its buffet breakfast, abundant Sunday lunches and dinners throughout the year. Our Edge Restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy great food and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. ‘We keep our menu seasonal, featuring an array of grill favourites and fresh salads and exquisite starters and desserts. It’s the ideal place to relax with friends and loved ones against the backdrop of yachts and the twinkling lights of the Dragonara Casino across the bay.’
Naturally, on the hot summer Maltese days, the refreshing swimming pools offer an idyllic setting where guests relax and compete for a good tan. An indoor pool with a spa, the main pool with a backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, and another two pools at the Edge for all ages, guarantee a place for everyone.
Carl and I then walked to the elegant parquet-floored ballroom, surrounded by large windows that generate a sensation and impression of an open-air venue. Ideal for weddings, conferences and large meetings, guests never feel confined but partake of the blissful surrounding scene.
This is indeed a sprawling property with many amenities, ground and 252 bedrooms and an impressive lobby.
I asked Carl what he considered one of his most important tasks. “Knowing what is going on! And you can only do so by walking through, listening, seeing, touching.’ He confessed he often visits the restaurants at breakfast and moves around the guests who would not be aware he was the GM. He would ask if they slept well and enjoyed the breakfast, the swimming area and the rest. ‘You would be surprised how valid some of the answers are. They are effective guides.’
I could notice Carl’s eyes were always on the move whilst we walked the grounds. He stopped abruptly, photographed a chipped step in the garden and messaged the photo with a note to a colleague to see to the matter. ‘Nothing beats moving around,‘ he murmured to himself.
I asked about repeat guests. Were they common? ‘We have a number of them who actually return every year for the past 15 to 20 years. They have become part of the family. I would know their quirks, what bothers them etc. So I inform my colleagues accordingly to see that our guests’ wishes and customs are met. They could be small matters, such as insisting on a warm plate or a blood orange drink. Even small things gain importance when you get them correct from the start. Guests feel so gratified that you have not forgotten them.’
‘Good behaviour breeds even better behaviour.’ Carl emphasised this. ‘Training is essential, but the best example is the one we give and live. This is a crucial message for all the staff. I am always aware that I am being watched by guests and staff alike, so I make it a point to send the right messages and good vibes. I try to instil this in the minds of all my managerial colleagues.’
That was certainly a fitting conclusion for our meeting, which I must confess, I enjoyed to the hilt.