Boutique hotel owners ‘exhausted’ by prolonged road works saga devastating their business

‘No one really cares’

 

Traditional Maltese balconies grace the facade of a beautiful boutique hotel in Mosta, but their rectangular windows are kept tightly shut from early morning until 4pm.

The overpowering noise of a mechanical digger a stone’s throw away is so loud that, according to hotel owners Chris and Carmen, guests at their establishment on Mosta’s Triq il-Kbira can’t have phone conversations with their relatives abroad.

Week after week, this “temporary” digging makes its way down the normally traffic-clogged street, which has been under repair for over a year. But noise is just one of a series of disruptions that this family business has faced due to ongoing roadworks.

View from the window of a guest room in the hotel.

Disruptions from the beginning

The boutique hotel was a project Chris and his wife Carmen dreamed up as they planned a more grounded life after careers involving constant travel, but they’d hardly opened the doors before the COVID19 pandemic forced them to close again six months later. That was March 2020.

Road works came next. Repairs to the street and drainage system began in March 2021, and the road was officially closed, to the dismay of drivers trying to access Mosta through this very busy street.

By September, massive inconvenience had turned into a nightmare. The open sewage system in the street attracted rats, cockroaches and other pests that no hotel guest or resident wanted to encounter.

“Everything that everyone flushed would turn up in the trenches and come this way,” Carmen said. “The smell of sewage on summer evenings was unbearable.”

And then the winter rains came, filling a 2.5m deep trench that stood close to the hotel’s front door with a noxious mix of water and sewage that soon overflowed onto the street, flooding it ankle-deep.

“They had placed barriers [around the trench],” Carmen said, “and it ended up like a dam, with a massive pool… it was scary, the water had nowhere to go.”

The couple sent complaints to the authorities, including ministries and the Malta Tourism Authority, but no one replied.

“No one really cares,” Carmen said. “And then they had the nerve to come and knock on our door for votes during the election. I am a very patient person, but I can’t take it anymore.”

A photo of the trench filled with rain water outside the boutique hotel.

No end in sight

The plumbing work finally reached the end of the street earlier this month, but “unexpected” new works started all over again at the beginning, this time to move electricity wires from above to underground, a government initiative in village cores.

“I had suggested doing both types of work at the same time before the first road works had kicked off, but I was laughed at,” Chris told The Shift.

The works coincided with the appointment of new Mosta mayor and architect Chris Grech. The chaos is expected to continue until August, right through the summer tourist season, but the hotel owners have little hope that the contractors will stick to the deadline.

Emotional exhaustion

In the meantime, the two are doing what they can to keep their guests happy in a situation that is completely out of their control.

“It’s costing a fortune to compensate our guests, who have so far been very empathetic,” said Carmen, “but it’s emotionally exhausting for me. I’m always going out of my way… it’s traumatic. I love keeping my guests happy, but not when it’s to this extent”.

The couple has closed off rooms where the digging noise is completely unbearable and has lost revenue in trying to compensate unhappy guests for the issue. Constant roadworks disrupted a vast web of the island’s streets under the tenure of former Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg — according to a report by the Times of Malta, 121 road projects were hammering away in June 2021 alone.

The burden of closures and construction noise has had to be carried by businesses located on those streets, and the boutique hotel in Mosta’s village core is just one of them.

The Shift has sent questions to Mosta Mayor Chris Grech.

                           
                               
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makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

Have they been asked to sell?
Think and think again.

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

And we want to upgrade our tourism!! Hahaha.

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