Travel diversification means having a points balance in a few hotel, credit card and airline programs can allow you to be spontaneous in your travels. That’s what happened when my Starwood account drew me to Malta (a country my family had to Google to figure out where I was). When I was at the Westin Milan enjoying the spa and deciding where to go next, I saw a fantastic points deal (3,500 points a night!!!) at the Westin Malta (also known as the Westin Dragonara Resort in St. Julian’s. I asked my friend if I should go to Malta solo to explore the history, the food and see some Game of Thrones sights and he suggested we meet in Gozo instead (that was a surprise) and that definitely changed my trip. I would extend my Milan stay moving with points to the Sheraton Diana before arriving in Malta. With the Westin Malta Dragonara still on my mind, we decided to stay at the hotel at the end of our Gozo adventure. I needed a bit of travel luxury & normalcy which in my world is a Westin hotel. I was able to redeem points (10,000 for Category 5) for a King Room in June (rates vary) but at the time of my stay rooms were starting at €250.
Westin Malta Location
St. Julian’s Bay is on the corner of the island of Malta (both an island and a country) and close to many shops and restaurants. It’s only seven miles from the airport. There isn’t a sand beach (there are a few on the island) but both a pool and lido beach deck to enjoy. You can easily swim in the sea if you want (I really wanted to do this). We were arriving from the Gozo ferry so I had arranged a car pickup through the hotel concierge. The driver wasn’t that friendly until my companion mentioned his youth spent in Malta and they started talking about the changes over the years. As we drove from the ferry area around the curves of the island (funny how six/seven miles feels so much longer on windy roads), I could see the variations of villages. When we started passing more tourist shops, a Hard Rock Café and I could see the Casino in teh distance, I knew we were in the tourist zone. When we turned into the hotel driveway, I felt like a real person again on vacation at a luxury resort.
It was a lovely, albeit busy, lobby area as folks were busy checking out on Sunday morning after what appeared to be a fun Saturday night. The high ceilings, contemporary furnishings and gold touches with a view of the water in the background were just what I needed to end my Malta vacation.
As a Gold Member, I had requested early check-in in the reservation and also called the hotel the morning of check in prior to going to the Gozo ferry (we would have stayed longer on Gozo if needed). I was disappointed to arrive at 1 p.m. to be told that my room wasn’t ready and that they would call me when it was. “How long will that be?” I asked and the gold member desk girl said “I don’t know but normal check-in is at 3 p.m.”. The hotel was full the night before with multiple events taking up the 340 rooms and 56 suites. She wasn’t very nice nor welcoming but fortunately would be the only negative during our stay.
We gave our bags to the bellman to store and carried out laptop bags with us to the café by the pool for a drink. It seemed like too much work to change in the lobby bathroom to use the pool – we had hope that our room would be ready after lunch. Walking down the sweeping staircase, we passed security to the outdoor pool area for guests.
Poolside at the Bayview Bar
It was a gorgeous day and we had hoped for a short wait choosing to stay on property for lunch at the pool side café. The server was good, the food was the standard hotel pool food fare of sandwiches, burgers, salads. As this is a Westin, they also have their Superfoods Menu and Juice options available for healthy fare. Instead of being healthy, I opted for burger and fries (they always taste better at hotels don’t they?). The prices were surprisingly reasonable for a resort property. The pool was busy with families but there were free lounge chairs available and empty Jacuzzis. A bonus of a busy check out day.
Your Room Is Ready
I was back at the front desk and told “still not ready” so we moved to the outdoor balcony off of the lobby bar and waited along with many others killing time looking at the pretty pool and ocean views. We were all anxious to run to our rooms, unpack and get out to the pool and beach lido but were in a holding pattern. Finally phones started ringing around us, including mine, indicating that our rooms were ready early – it was 2:50 p.m.! So excuse me if I wasn’t excited that the room was ready 10 minutes earlier than normal check in and my gold status wasn’t recognized.
Westin Malta – The King Room
Making our way to the room was easy and as I entered I was in familiar territory – a Westin. I do love the heavenly beds, shower and overall wellness of the brand. As I entered there is a wet bar with coffee maker on the right as well as a closet with iron, safe and fluffy Westin slippers.
Past the King Heavenly Bed, we had a loveseat and table as well as a desk. A special treat was the balcony with water view. The colors were muted and I felt the walls a bit bare – they could have done with a splash of color or local artistry. The Heavenly Bed was, as always, inviting in its comfort (someday I will buy one for my house but am afraid I won’t want to leave home anymore).
Too exhausted from the ferry, taxi and unexpected wait for the room, we decided to decamp on the lovely balcony with a bottle of sparkling wine and food we had brought with us to toast the end of our holiday. The hotel is a U shape with pink and cream colors and the views from the balcony were all stunning.
Westin Malta – Heavenly Bathroom
The Westin bathroom was pretty standard – I could have been anywhere in the world. It was a relaxing space with the familiar green leaf soap and toiletries with the heavenly shower.
The concierge was wonderful help before and during our visit. We had chatted on the phone prior to my visit and he was attentive when I was there. His suggestions were personal and not “here’s a list of restaurants” he explained each suggestion before booking our reservation.
Breakfast at the Terrace Restaurant
The hotel breakfast buffet is one level below the lobby and you can take the stairs if you want. The offerings were quite impressive with a variety of food stations that formed a U shape with a few separate areas in between. You can sit inside or outside on the patio. I mentioned to the host that they needed to change out the pineapples on the bar (yes, I used to work in restaurants for many years). Breakfast was very good.
As I was leaving I mentioned the pineapples again to the host and he said “we did change the pineapple juice”. When he realized I wanted pineapples for breakfast and they didn’t replace them he sent a waiter to the kitchen to get me fresh pineapple. He asked what else I needed and I said “I’m good, I just need to find cappuccino for my friend – is there a coffee bar?” Like that, a takeaway box of pineapple and a cappuccino appeared. I was really impressed by the service. As a solo diner that morning, the staff were very attentive which is always welcome.
Drinks & Dessert in the ORVM Lounge
We chose to dine off property with a ten minute walk on the road outside of the hotel to the area of town with a plethora of dining, bars and tourist shopping. The casino is a quick walk from the hotel but we chose to return to the hotel. We went to the lobby ORVM Lounge and Piano Bar for dessert and after dinner drinks. The staff were so friendly and accommodating. After bringing our food & drinks we asked if it was ok to go out on the balcony and two waiters appeared to move us outside. The chocolate dessert was fantastic!
Since my foot was still injured and I was flying next to Paris, I decided to lighten my suitcase by shipping clothes, shoes and stuff we bought in Malta back to London where my friend lives and my last stop before flying home. I had to trust that he wouldn’t hold my shoes hostage. The woman at the business center was amazing to sort out the box for mailing back to the UK via the Malta postal service. She said “leave it to me and it will be fine” and it was as the box would arrive a few days later in London.
Westin Malta – Final Thoughts
While the check-in experience wasn’t great, every other touch point of our stay was really good. The Westin is always my comfortable happy place with wellness features at the gym and on the menus. My friend joked that he could get used to 5 star hotels and this type of service and I laughed and said “that’s what my points and loyalty are all about – fantastic hotels, wonderful service and relaxation in picturesque destinations”. We both want to go back to the Westin Malta Dragonara Resort and spend more time there to enjoy all that the hotel resort has to offer – especially the pools!