Exclusive Interview: Alfred Pisani (TEMPLE Magazine 2017)
Having launched the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa in the 1960s in Malta, Alfred Pisani has guided the group for five decades by constantly striving for self-improvement and that of the company. Today the Group owns 10 international properties and operates a further 11 – from Malta to St Petersberg, and from Prague to its flagship five-star hotel near London’s Trafalgar Square.
“Our ethos has always been to build a true sense of belonging and pride in every individual within our team, which we believe in turn translates into a positive energy that will be felt by our customers at all of our properties,” says Alfred, who is Chairman of the Group. “This is a company built on respect and focused on the people who have crafted it into the global entity it is today. We strive for exemplary standards in everything we do.”
What do you think brings people to Malta?
I think there are two key elements – business and tourism. From a business perspective, we have a modern, solid on-shore structure that is key to success. From a touristic perspective, we also have so much to offer – from the concentration of history and the beautiful blue sea and skies, to the security of the region. At this stage we must continue to upgrade the quality of our infrastructure, which will pave the way for us to become a destination that many will envy and that high-calibre visitors will enjoy.
Which are your favourite parts of Malta?
The historic, walled city of Mdina immediately springs to mind – I think it’s fantastic. Similarly I really like the atmosphere of the Three Cities and the historic gems to be enjoyed there. Valletta, of course, deserves a mention too because it is truly unique. To this day it is a historic feat of architecture, having originally been designed in the 16th century; there’s so much to still appreciate about it all these centuries later. I also enjoy Gozo, and am especially fond of the Citadel, which is a beautiful piece of architecture. It has recently been restored to its former glory, and I think they have done a wonderful job.
How would you spend a perfect day on the island?
Mentally I am very taken up by work, so a quiet day at home is always welcome. I enjoy my garden and being with nature – it’s a reminder of all the beauty that surrounds us, from sunrise to sunset. With time, my maturity has made me aware of how important it is to appreciate everything around us. Upon reflection, while it’s also vital to better yourself, it’s also important never to hurt anyone or step on other people’s toes. At the end of your journey you want to be able to stand tall and know you have been correct.
What has been the most important landmark milestone in your life thus far?
You know, I think that most of us forget to give importance to the most momentous day in our lives – our birth. We have no say in it or its design, but it is the day that sets you on the path for the rest of your life, just like millions before us and, doubtlessly, millions after.
In terms of my conscious time on earth, I look back on an event that wasn’t very significant at the time. I started working with my dad when I was 16 and, together, we would leave the comfort of our home by car at 7.40am and head to the flourmill where he was a partner to open the office at 8am. Everyday we would find queues and queues of drivers waiting to buy their share of flour and offers – they would wait for hours, some from as early as midnight. Upon seeing this I decided that I wanted to open the mill earlier for them as I felt so concerned that I was comfortably at home while they were waiting in their trucks, so I opted to get up two hours earlier to take the bus in instead of waiting for my dad. Looking back I think my father admired that commitment and he never tried to persuade me otherwise. That memory has stuck in my mind to this day.
Which is your favourite travel destination?
Once again, it’s simplicity that I relish most today. Malta suffers from one limitation – it’s a small island, which limits the possibility of a weekend outing overland. Sicily, however, can be reached by a very convenient ferry service, that gets you into Pozallo within an hour-and-a-half of leaving Malta – with your car in tow! Sicily is a beautiful place to explore – from the food and history, to the countryside. If you’re there, I recommend stopping in a city café for a typical pasta di mandorla (almond biscuit), enjoyed with a strong espresso.
What’s the key piece of business advice that you live by?
First and foremost – go with your gut. If possible, also try to go against the grain and do something different, or in a different way. Finally, don’t make money your sole focus as this will lead to short cuts which will, in turn, have a negative effect on the final result. Think with your social conscious and be correct in everything you do.
Published TEMPLE Magazine 2017
Copyright: Temple Concierge Ltd