The great Gozitan ‘staycation’ really is hard to beat – and it’s continuing to gain popularity.
After all, while the cost of living may be on the rise, most people still want a weekend getaway to look forward to every couple of months, and Gozo provides the ideal destination – a home away from home with just the right balance of culture, relaxation and fantastic food.
Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon. The Maltese have been making the trek over to Gozo for weekend breaks for decades, and they have always loved it. The difference is that now, more than ever, foreigners are following suit, and that the options for accommodation are also blossoming.
One example is the newly-launched Quaint boutique hotel in Nadur, which opened its doors for the first time a few weeks ago. With a clear remit, Quaint is already attracting a mix of Maltese and international visitors, who are eager to sample the pleasant mix of Gozitan traditions and alluring hotel luxury.
“A boutique hotel doesn’t actually have a specific definition, but it boils down to its style and size,” says Jankarl Farrugia, who co-owns Hotelogique, the operating company for Quaint Boutique Hotels.
“It all revolves around personalised service and a sense of history. This property was a hotel, but it closed its doors in 1901. It’s wonderful to have restored it to its former glory.”
Quaint have created a new brand of hotels that will offer no more than 15 rooms in any one place, and which will present unique, hip and modern accommodation in individually-designed suites.
“We believe Gozo offers the perfect setting for such a hotel style – it blends well-loved island charm with a more contemporary and luxurious accommodation choice,” continues Farrugia.
And the hotel really reflects that. Its design has been very respectful of the surroundings yet luxury abounds, and the 24-hour concierge service ensures their guests have everything they need at all times.
The rooms themselves are all unique. Depending on your budget you could pick a comfort room, with street views and colourful touches, or the deluxe duplex suites, which have special features such as a private staircase and distinct artwork.
This is a boutique break in all its glory, away from the hustle and bustle
There’s also the gorgeous deluxe suites, one of which has a fabulous standalone bathtub in the bedroom itself, as well as the superior penthouse with its large terrace and – my favourite feature of all – a Jacuzzi bath with views of the parish church.
“Travellers have become very design-focused these days and we really took that into consideration,” continues Farrugia. “While there’s a simplicity to the design here, there are also plenty of charming nooks and crannies to be discovered. People like to be surprised.”
The Nadur property is actually the first Quaint hotel to open on Gozo but there are already more in the pipeline. In fact, works are already underway on buildings in Xewkija, Sannat and Għajnsielem, and there are talks on-going about other properties in Gozo, as well as in Malta and, possibly, overseas.
“The most important factor for us to consider is that the property matches the philosophy of the brand, as we take that very seriously,” continues Farrugia, who, along with his partner Frankie Spiteri, developed Quaint from scratch.
“The properties earmarked are all strategically identified and must, first and foremost, be in the core of the village square. This gives our guests a true taste of what life is like on Gozo. There aren’t many hotels in these parts of the island, but we think that it helps Quaint to stand out. From a space perspective, all the rooms must be large, while the façades must have potential for being beautifully-restored too.”
Aside from accommodation, the hotels also offers breakfast, as well as an option for dinner. This complements the developing trend of travelling to Gozo for a ‘foodie’ break, as many of the Maltese Islands’ best-regarded restaurants are now located here.
“Moving forward, we’re looking at Quaint as a way of life, just like Gozo itself is a way of life,” says Farrugia.
“This is a boutique break in all its glory – away from the hustle and bustle, and far from the hectic pace of a city break. When you walk out of Quaint, it’s the simpler things that will charm you – the pretty village square, the band club, the bakery and the boċċi club. It’s these elements that we believe make Gozo so special, and we now look forward to sharing them with our guests, both local and foreign.”