Taking a leap of faith: The story of Grands' strategic progress

Architecture & Design sits down with Marvin Spiteri, Managing Director at Grands Group, to find out more about their latest project, The Grands Suites Hotel Residences & Spa, a 231-room hotel that offers alternative hospitality solutions, with each room fitted with fully-equipped kitchen facilities, as well as self-service laundry facilities present on each floor so that residents can live in a home away from home

How did you get involved in the business?

When my father George Spiteri first invested in rental properties, he chose to invest in Gzira. Consequently, Grands' main office is located in the same city. With a solid 36-year reputation of working in the area, we were approached with an opportunity to purchase a site. Since this aligned with our strategic progress, we decided to seize the moment.

The entire experience was like being on a plane, opening the door, and jumping out without a parachute. I had to improvise and create a parachute using only the clothes I had on while free-falling. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, as the constant pressure from start to finish was incredibly intense. The feeling of free-falling without a parachute can be overwhelming, but it's in these moments of pressure and uncertainty that we often surprise ourselves with our ability to improvise and adapt. It takes courage and determination to navigate unknown territories, but the reward can be great.

What was this place before?

The property is approximately 1430 square metres in size and may be divided into two sections: the corner section or the right wing and the adjacent section or the left wing. The right wing of the site was also a hotel in its heyday, The Adelphi Hotel, one of the very first hotels in Malta. The site's left wing was unoccupied and utilised for parking.

Tell us more about your past experience before jumping into Hotel hospitality, what did you do, and why did you decide to build a Hotel?

Since I was 10 years old, I knew I was destined to run my own hotel. To make this dream a reality, I put in the hard work as I navigated through my teenage years. I received formal training from ITS school and gained invaluable experience from practical roles at hotels, Emirates Airline and my family's business. All these experiences contributed to achieving my goal of owning a successful hospitality business. Grands Suites Hotel is the realisation of an ambition for me. It has been a great journey from vision to completion, and I'm extremely proud of what we have achieved through hard work, dedication and persistence. This experience has been immensely rewarding for me.

How long did it take to be built and what were the obstacles while building the hotel & how did you overcome it?

This project began in 2015 and was finally completed in 2022, a full seven years later. With a massive 1430 sqm space for its 14 floors, plus such spacious amenities as reception, restaurant, spa and wellness centre, car park and 231 suites, it was really something to behold, 7 years is a great achievement, not to brag about it but, it took extraordinary effort to overcome the significant delays caused by all the roadblocks we encountered during this project – but ultimately our hard work paid off. We are proud to present a remarkable modern architecture that continues to be lauded by guests. We take pride in offering a superior design that has garnered attention and admiration.

The challenge before us was a massive one, I believe that life takes its course. As Charles R. Swindoll said, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." During the project, I was fortunate to have had the backing of my brother and father. Their support was invaluable in helping me reach an optimal outcome. We were able to complete our projects quickly and efficiently by splitting up the workload between us. This allowed each of us to focus on specific tasks, which greatly made it much easier. Having the backing of a great team enabled me to complete this project in a more efficient and effective manner, without them such a project would have been even more challenging and difficult to finish.

As we began this project, we faced numerous challenges. However, the hurdles existed for a reason; putting something of this magnitude together from scratch is no easy feat. I am proud to say that our team

conquered those obstacles and truly created something extraordinary. Today, I feel rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and pride in what we've achieved. For me personally, this journey will always be an achievement I'll hold dear in my lifetime.

Style and Design:

This hotel is renowned for its contemporary and sophisticated design, making it a great option for guests looking for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. As we take a closer look at what makes this hotel so unique, let's explore the various design features that make it stand out from the rest.

The exterior façade of the hotel features a modern aesthetic, with raw concrete completing the robust look. The symmetrical balconies contribute to a neat, sleek appearance with clean lines. All in all, it's a stunning display of contemporary architecture, which blends traditional Maltese architecture with a modern twist. 

The hotel's lobby areas were designed to be inviting and welcoming with a bright, airy atmosphere. Double-height glass walls fill the space with natural light and modern lighting fixtures, a waffle-design ceiling, a terrazzo reception desk, and a wooden bookshelf provide an elegant touch. Our hope is that these features will delight our guests and make them feel right at home when they enter our hotel.

The hotel offers 231 suites, each designed with luxury and comfort in mind. All suites are spacious, with clean-lined furniture and a minimalist aesthetic to complement the industrial feel of the cement ceiling. The colour palette is mostly neutral, with pops of bold colours to add visual interest. Our goal is to provide an industrial-style atmosphere for our guests to enjoy, and we believe the furniture pieces we've chosen perfectly complement that vision. From terrazzo tables and leather sofas to bold light fixtures, everything here was carefully selected to create a distinct ambience and add to the industrial aesthetic of the hotel.

The Eleven Eleven rooftop needs no introduction, the stunning views speak for themselves, as per design a minimalist approach was taken not to superimpose the surrounding - Malta has to offer. It features an infinity rooftop pool, sun loungers, jacuzzis, lounge bar and restaurant. This floor is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible views of the Marsamxett harbour and part of Valletta, our capital city. The highlight is the see-through glass within the perimeter sides of the Infinity rooftop pool, which attracts several snapshots impersonating mermaids.

Several other features around the hotel create curiosity and eagerness to discover more, which we’ll leave for our guests to find out!

The hotel vision:

Our vision is to become Malta's leading serviced apartment hotel, a guest-centric, hotel for all kinds of travellers. Whether it's a long or short stay, business, or holiday trip, Grands Suites is the destination for all, and eventually to replicate our brand concept internationally.

Details about the design, and why you chose this particular design?

Although a combination of industrial, minimal and contemporary approach were the foundation, I believe that the design is a strong reflection of my personality and this project allowed me to express it. The fact that we had to cater for each item in quantities, this allowed us to custom make our own furniture designs.

Colour scheme

BLACK, YELLOW GREY are the basis of the colour palette mostly used around the hotel.

The concept derived from the psychology attributions these colours emit so that customers can convey a certain emotion to associate the brand.

The black colour is associated with normality and elegance, sophisticated and minimalism also authority and power.

The yellow colour is associated with attention grabbing, warming, cheerful, joy, happiness and excitement.

The grey colour is associated with neutrality and balance.

Who was the architect engaged during the project?

Architecture XV was the architectural firm engaged to manage the hotel building project. Hats off to their dedication and professionalism throughout the project. It was a great relationship that made such project a successful one. Hereby I would like to thank Perit Duncan Polidano, Perita Martina Azzopardi and Perita Glorianne Camenzuli.

Why the ceilings are the way they are?

It is not the first time that some customers think we are still ongoing with ceiling works, as to some it looks unfinished. The fact that the norm is always a clean white plaster finish, we opted for the raw finish which compliments the style of the hotel towards an industrial look. For those concerned, the concrete was treated so that no dust is emitted from the raw material.

What is different than other ‘urban’ places?

Itself the hotel incorporates elements of population density, social and economic organisation. Although in the heart of the city, the hotel sits in between urban and suburban, positioned in a location that is constantly developing making it easily accessible to all amenities. A city hotel with the concept of home away from home.

Any additional feedback you might want to add.

I’ll take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all those involved in making this project a magnum opus. To the Architects, designers, contractors, suppliers, government entities, private entities, authorities, Gzira local council, my family, project management team and the current operations and management team, I say a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart to stand by our side and believing in this successful outcome.