The Queen began her official visit to Malta before she opened the meeting, and was warmly greeted by friendly islanders.
Malta was governed by the British for a hundred and fifty years, and became independent in 1964. But the island has retained many British characteristics, including driving on the left, and British visitors account for nearly half of the island’s tourists.
The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as Britain’s highest award for bravery – and Malta was awarded the Cross in 1942 by King George VI for the island’s resistance to German attempts to occupy the island, with Malta being under almost constant attack from June 1940.
As well as the challenge of drawing tourists away from other Mediterranean islands like Mallorca and Menorca, Malta has had to face the additional challenge of new holiday destinations in the former Eastern Bloc opening up, such as Bulgaria and Croatia, which tend to be cheaper.
But where the Maltese tourist board has singularly failed to market the island’s appeal to the mass holiday market with any degree of success in recent years, the Queen’s visit has come at the right time for hotels and holiday companies hoping for a good 2006.
Tribune Properties, a British based company specialising in overseas properties including Malta comment:
‘Malta is not a high priority on the list of holiday destinations for many British people compared to the Spanish Costas, Canary and Balearic Islands. The visit of the Queen showed Malta in a very positive light, and hopefully the island’s tourist officials will be able to capitalise on the trip and increase hotel and holiday bookings in the months ahead. Given Malta’s past record of promotion though if 2006 sees an increase in visitors it will be despite of the official promotions, and not because of it.’.
More good news for the Malta holiday industry came in October with the announcement that low cost airlines had been been given the right to fly to the island.
Hotel Chains and Facilities
Are they part of an international hotel chain? Most international chains have stringent standards that are adhered to as well as a standard theme across all chains. They may have similar facilities (health clubs, spas, business centers, etc) which are important to maintain the hotel’s high standards. Other things you can look out for include concierge, shuttle services to the city, airport transfers as well as good laundry services.
Perhaps one of the most critical things when selecting a hotel is its location. Hotels that are near to shopping areas, train stations or the city center charge higher rates as compared to those located elsewhere. Analyze a map of the area before you book to determine the nearest shopping areas or access to trains which will give you much convenience in moving around. Also, check with the hotel if they have any large tour groups coming in at the same time. Hotels charge higher rates during high occupancy periods and do not have the flexibility of late check-outs. These are important aspects which, if overlooked, may affect your tour schedule as well as your impression of the hotel’s level of hospitality.
Rates and Discounts
Hotel rates are a huge factor when it comes to choosing a hotel. However, paying more does not necessarily mean that you will receive an equivalent level of service and standards. One of the ways to maximize on prices would be check if they are part of an alliance with flights or car rental companies, which offer discounts to customers of their allies. Sometimes, credit card companies offer their cardholders exclusive rates to special hotels which can be pretty attractive. Additionally, if it’s possible to use your frequent flyer points to redeem hotel discounts, this could help reduce hotel costs as well.
This city in northern Thailand is the second largest in the country after Bangkok. Don’t let this fool you though. Not only is it cooler and much less crowded than it’s big brother to the south, but it is also within spitting distance of some of Thailand’s most beautiful forests and mountains which are home to many of the country’s famed hill tribes.
Furthermore, Chiang Mai is a safe and convenient city with many excellent hotels. Too many in fact. The current glut of extra hotel rooms during all but the busiest holidays combined with the current favorable US dollar to Thai baht exchange rate has created an excellent opportunity for budget travellers.
In fact, a recent check of hotel prices there turned up many rooms with plenty of space, comfortable beds, air-conditioning, satellite tv, fridge and shower for less than $25.00 per night. Furthermore, hotel room prices in Chiang Mai are listed per room, not per person. This means an even better bargain if you are travelling with someone. Keep in mind, most hotels offer an extra discount for booking online, but it never hurts to call the desk and check too.
The next time you find yourself getting weary of sleeping in dorm style rooms and sharing toilets, consider enjoying a few nights of comfort at a Chiang Mai hotel.
Most discount hotels are discounted through a particular club or organization, and are discounted primarily for its members. If you are a part of any types of groups or organizations check with them to see if they have any deals set up with hotels, and if so what types of discounts those particular arrangements will supply you with. In many cases you can get a discount if you stay a certain number of nights in the hotel, or if you stay in a particular type of room. If you choose the wrong combination of those things however, you can often be denied the right to the discount.
Make sure you fully understand what is required for you to get the discount before you make your reservation. Often times if you do one thing incorrectly, such as book the wrong type of room, or stay one day less or more than is required you can forfeit your right to the discount. Pay careful attention to the rules, and make sure to tell the hotel that you plan on using the discount when you make your reservation. That way, if you are doing something incorrectly the hotel can possibly catch it before it’s too late, and the hotel clerk can make a note that you are getting the room reservations for a reduced rate.
Another type of discount hotel, will offer discounts through coupons or just in general to all of their guests should they choose to come visit the hotel during certain times, or stay in certain rooms. In some cases a discount hotel will always be discounted, but it will also lack some of the things that you might have become accustomed to in their hotels. By discounting the price of a nights stay, they also take away some of the perks of staying in a hotel. What you don’t gain in amenities however, you will gain in discounts.
Just like any other hotel stay you will want to make your reservation at a discount hotel as early as possible. Discount hotels have superior rates to other hotels, so in many cases they will book up more quickly than other similar hotels in the area. As soon as you know that you are going to take a trip to a particular area and would like to stay in a discount hotel, go ahead and give the hotel a call and try to make a reservation. In some cases you may be able to get a much better rate for booking your reservation early rather than later, and you will also be able to finalize your plans knowing that you have a place to stay.