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Alex Incorvaja: This is more than a new hotel. It's an approach to travel

Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa – opening the door to a new world in Malta. A TEMPLE exclusive, published on TEMPLE Magazine issue 6.

Leading hotel brand Marriott is breathing new life into Balluta Bay, St Julian’s after a €30M refurbishment providing the Maltese Islands a new five star hotel.

Offering luxurious charm and premium category rooms overlooking the picturesque bay, TEMPLE were given a privileged preview and met General Manager ALEX INCORVAJA to discover more.

Marriott International is set to become the world’s favourite travel company following the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016. Today it boasts over 7,000 properties and 30 brands, including Marriott, in 131 countries. As the General Manager of Malta Marriott, can you talk us through your role in delivering this vision in Malta?

The arrival of Marriott brings numerous advantages to the hotel and to the destination itself. Marriott’s core values include putting people first by advancing associates’ (Marriott’s definition for its employees) well-being and development to ensure exceptional service to our guests and communities. We are in pursuit of excellence, to enrich the guests’ experience, focusing on loyalty, while acting with integrity and serving our world. My role is to deliver this mission and be the flag bearer of its standards, ethos and philosophy, which are what the brand is renowned for. We are only as good as every individual in the team and we are communicating this vision to our 200+ associates.’

Why the Marriott brand for Malta?

The brand Marriott is possibly in the top three most recognisable hospitality brands in the world and our hotel owners wanted to invest in a brand that worked for Malta; a brand that attracts both corporate travellers and leisure visitors alike who think, relax and work best in well-designed environments. Thus, Marriott is taking a new approach to travel, transforming the guest room, reinventing fitness on the road and creating public spaces designed for relaxing, connecting and recharging.

This is the reason why our owners invested €30M and, in so doing, transformed this property into one of the leading five-star hotels on the Islands.

What does Malta offer Marriott as a destination and what are the synergies with the brand and the country? Tourism in Malta has been going from strength to strength and, while visitor numbers have doubled over the past 15 years, travelling trends have changed. This means we need to adapt to ensure that growth in arrivals, coupled with the increase in bed stock, remains sustainable. Having Marriott in Malta is a huge plus for the destination, but our hotel also offers the company a unique and authentic setting here in Balluta - the tranquil surroundings of a sandy beach and treelined square, located just a stroll away from the entertainment hotspot of St Julian’s on one side, and the mecca of cafes, restaurants and Valletta, a European Capital of Culture, on the other.

Who is your target market? Our market is a diverse one, catering for business, leisure and family travellers, with the core of our guests originating from Europe. However, by becoming a Marriott hotel, with its roots and original first hotel opening in the US (in 1927), we envisage increased demand from this market. Furthermore, Marriott’s new Bonvoy loyalty travel programme - arguably the largest for a single hotel company - will create a whole new platform for Malta to its 130 million members across the world.’

The new hotel is clearly offering a luxury experience: can you tell us what are the standout features of the refurbishment? aLeX - ‘The investment has been considerable: in essence a new, contemporary-design hotel has been born providing new club rooms and suites, as well as a 150-square-metre presidential suite with views of the iconic Balluta Bay. Furthermore, substantial renovation has taken place in all other areas such as our five, differently-themed restaurants, our fully equipped Spa & fitness centre, state-of-the-art meeting facilities and the indoor & outdoor pools.

We have entrusted RPW Design, a leading international interior design agency, with this project. They have worked on several Marriott flagship properties in recent years. Their designs with this project acknowledge elements of traditional Maltese craft in a modern way, combining beautiful interiors with functionality, such as the traditional glasswork feature lights in all rooms with their bright colours and the warm timber finish that is reminiscent of wood exposed to sun, sea and wind. We also worked with local architectural practice Blueprint Periti.’

What are you personally most impressed with / excited about in the new hotel?

My excitement stems from how this project, which was supposed to be merely an upgrade of our facilities was transformed into a fully renovated, redesigned, brand new property. This promises to be a place about fully experiencing the moment and not just passing time. I’m impressed by the way Marriott International supported us to bring the brand to life. More so that we are one of the first new-generation Marriott hotels. With the introduction of the Great Room concept (this is found at Atrio, our lobby level, all- day dining and bar venue), this multi-functional environment creates the opportunity for dynamic experiences. Each space is inspired by enriching guests’ stay with us, having interesting touches and encouraging them to think, meet or just sit back and relax with a drink prepared by one of our expert mixologists. And then there is the M Club Lounge, a private and exclusive space offering the best views in town, where guests can work, enjoy a bite, recharge and connect, having 24 / 7 access to premium benefits in a sophisticated setting. Malta Marriott will also have best-in-class digital innovations for those who wish to remain connected. And how can I not get excited about our food and beverage offering? We have five restaurants and three bars, including our iconic 19th century The Villa, overlooking Balluta Bay, which offers two distinct dining concepts; Atrio having an expansive menu for the more casual diner; and the Market Place, embracing today’s culinary trends.’

You are also branded as a Spa hotel. What does Malta Marriott offer to the Wellness visitor? What are your services and products?

The Balinese-inspired setting of our Spa immediately immerses our guests into a total state of relaxation. With our partners Myoka, the newly renovated facility has spared no luxury when it comes to establishing a soothing home-from-home experience for Body, Mind and Soul. The tranquil surrounding includes a mature relaxation garden and a heated pool among other facilities: it certainly sets the standard for spa vacations.

For further information or to make a booking Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa 39 main Street, Balluta Bay STJ 1017 St. Julian’s Malta +356 2311 0000

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