24 30 January 2001
(From L to R) Ambassador of France to Malta, Didier Destremau, Relais and Chateux President, Regis Bulot, and Xara Palace chairman Susan Zammit Tabona
Prestigious membership follows diplomatic recommendation
By Miriam Dunn
Two years ago, the Ambassador of France to Malta wrote a letter praising the beautifully renovated historic Xara Palace and on Friday the luxurious five-star hotel reaped the rewards of that communication when it became a member of the prestigious group, Relais and Chateaux.
Relais and Chateaux is renowned for having under its wing of some of the world's most luxurious hotels, as the group's international president, Regis Bulot, explained.
Mr Bulot, who was in Malta to award the Xara Palace its membership, recalled how Ambassador Didier Destremau had written to him two years ago to bring the beautiful 17th century palace in Mdina to his attention as a potential candidate for Relais and Chateaux.
"In fact, it was the second occasion on which I had received recommendations from the diplomatic world, since Mr Chirac himself wrote to tell me about a potential candidate hotel in Uruguay," he said with a smile.
Mr Bulot explained that when Relais and Chateau are notified of the possibility of a new candidate for membership, its officials pay strictly anonymous visits to the location before taking a decision.
He said that while membership was undoubtedly a prestigious step for the Xara Palace, there was no doubt that the hotel was a highly suitable choice, with its rich cultural and historical background, regarded as an important aspect for the hotel group.
Relais and Chateaux, together with the Leading Hotels in the World, forms part of the Luxury Alliance which groups together 427 hotels and luxury restaurants in 43 countries.
Its members include some of the world's best-known, such as the Ritz in Paris, Claridge's in London and the Principe di Savoia in Milan. The hotels are described as "small and exquisite", with a room average of 30 and the alliance bases its selection of members on what it terms "the five Cs": courtesy, charm, character, calm and cuisine.
Chairman of the Xara Palace, Susan Zammit Tabona said the Xara had already received its fair share of interesting guests, including Roger Moore and the King and Queen of Belgium.
The Xara Palace re-opened in 1999 after a three-year restoration process and occupancy doubled in the first year.
The Xara Palace was built late in the 17th century and served as a residence for the noble family of Moscati Parisio. It was first used as a hotel in 1949, until it fell into decline and disuse, before being bought by the present owners in 1996. It now offers 17 individually-designed suites, combining five-star luxury with a historic ambience.