The hotel industry is a prominent aspect in Malta’s
appeal and interest in the tourism sector. Booking a
hotel stay for your travels is always a luxury, but when
that extra element of comfort is added to your hotel
experience by the hoteliers themselves - you know
you’re in for a relaxing and pampered stay.
is all about that top-tier treatment experience, Claire
Zammit Xuereb, Director for Hospitality and Care at AX
Group shares her family’s success story.
AX Hotels is one of Malta’s largest
chain of hotels, priding itself on
offering world-class hospitality
with heart. With hotels dating
back to the 80s to new projects
currently taking shape, AX Hotels is always seeking to tap
into new markets to improve Malta’s hospitality offerings.
Founded in 1975 by Angelo Xuereb, AX Group has left an
impact in various sectors such as construction, hospitality,
development and healthcare, all to great success. Perhaps
due to their innate entrepreneurial spirit and focus on
innovation and creativity, AX Hotels has developed into a
household name synonymous with luxury and comfort in
the hotel industry.
The second generation of AX Group is spearheaded
by founder Angelo Xuereb’s daughters, Claire Zammit
Xuereb, who is currently the Director for Hospitality and
Care and Denise Micallef Xuereb, who is the Director for
Construction and Development. Speaking to Claire about
the history of the company as well as the future plans for
the hotel industry is as inspiring as it is enticing.
“My official journey in the hospitality industry began in
2001. Although I was always interested in the industry and
fell in love with it from a very young age, it was the BSc in
International Hospitality Management from the University
of Wales that sealed my career in the sector. I pursued
further studies in Hospitality and Tourism Management
from the Centre International de Glion, taking on AX The
Victoria Hotel as my first business venture.
Once The Victoria saw success, becoming a hotel of choice
among many holidaymakers, AX The Palace Hotel was
conceived - and this was where I started to experiment with
the norms of the market and push the boundaries of Malta’s
hotel traditions. It is also when I consolidated the two hotels
under AX Hotels, uniting them under one brand mission.”
During this time in Malta, the concept of tourism was
based on views, seascapes, beaches and leisurely activities,
revolving solely around the sunny climate, but Claire saw
an opportunity that Malta had not yet tapped into to any
degree - urban cultural experiences. Travel during the
summer season was a given in Malta - that was why people
travelled here. However, there was a whole other sector
that was not being explored; primarily the country’s history
and culture - two facets that could expand Malta’s travel
period to the shoulder months.
Despite a bold and ambitious feat, Claire took on the
challenge headfirst and marketed The Palace as an urban
city hotel in the heart of the island’s most prominent
shopping district, transforming hotel categorisation as the
island knew it: urban tourism was finally available in Malta.
“European cities were booming with tourism opportunities due to the influx of travellers within the city centres, where
hotels, museums, restaurants, theatres and other cultural
options were readily available - I wanted that for Malta.”
Packaged tourism was slowly dying out, and individualised
trips (focused on an immersive cultural experience),
was and still is, the way people discover a country.
company, my father first left an impact on the hotel industry
in 1982 with Sunny Coast, mostly offering accommodation
on a time-share basis, but in 1987, Suncrest changed
the market’s dynamics with mass tourism becoming a
norm for the island.
This pioneering mentality influenced
trends and transformed the tourism product Malta could
offer, and through my goals and actions I hope to make
the same impression on the island’s hotel expectations
and needs today.” Claire shared that the scope behind
her development in the hotel and hospitality sectors is
to provide quality concepts that not only allow for the brand to be a leader in the market, but also to provide
the country with options that satisfy every genre of travel;
whether niche or mass market.
“My role in the company is
to strategize operations to ensure that the 7 hotels and 13
restaurants currently under my directorship, are all offering
something we, as a Group, can be proud of. Two of the
most important factors that fuel my creativity and drive in
the job are versatility and innovation. Offering a unique or
niche experience through our hotel collection positions the
brands strategically in the market.”
Currently our operating hotels all offer a competitive edge
providing options to opposite ends of the spectrum.
The 4-star Victoria offers an experience where urban
life, entertainment and culture are the focus of the staysimilar
to The Palace’s 5-star experience a stone’s throw
away. Both located in the heart of the island’s prominent
shopping district of Sliema and within walking distance of
the sea, urban city life blooms, peppered with chic cafés
and stunning views to enhance the experience.
level of hospitality and professionalism is met across every
hotel part of AX Hotels, for a more tailored and personal
experience, Rosselli AX Privilege and AX The Saint John
are focused on that boutique experience, targeting two
different audiences while located in the same street.
Rosselli focusing on the up-market human element for the
sophisticated traveller and The Saint John targeting the
Further up north in the coastal town
of Qawra is Sunny Coast, a family-friendly aparthotel with
leisure facilities and award-winning dining options, all under
the AX Hotels brand, located in the vicinity.
My principles in directing AX Hotels are firmly set on
adjusting the product to suit the demands of the market,
updating older business models and even providing new products and services to the industry.” It is widely known
that 1 of the current 7 hotels under Claire’s directorship,
Seashells Resort at Suncrest, is undergoing a massive
rebranding and redevelopment which is set to transform
and regenerate the seafront promenade of Qawra.
in the redevelopment is the introduction of 8 newly
developed, chic and innovative food and beverage brands
offering a multitude of cuisines and dining styles targeting
various guests. Through this venture, AX Hotels is able to
offer added value for every traveller yet keeps the focus on
quality at the core of the 4-star destination.
“With the new
projects on plan today, we’re hoping to provide Malta with
the exciting Qawra destination set to open in 2023 and
Verdala in Rabat, planned to open in 2024 with a whole
new concept, not only in Malta but also in Europe, that will
be entirely focused on wellness.”
Claire’s motto is that pushing boundaries will take you far.
Her aspiration to always place quality in the human aspect
above anything else and her strive to learn, motivate and
adjust to market trends, needs and expectations is how she
manages to achieve great feats in the industry. “Originality is
also such an important factor, being new or different adds
value to Malta’s tourism offerings and with the influence
of social media conditioning a brand’s success, offering
quality and accessibility is a must.
Gaps in the market are
meant to be filled, on the island and internationally.” With
the company’s firm pillars of creativity, determination and
integrity, as seen through Claire Zammit Xuereb’s vision,
an optimistic future will surely be cemented in Malta’s hotel
and F&B industry.