Valletta Waterfront

The Valletta Waterfront, operated by Viset, does not have any fixed residential blocks. It has huge floating ones instead since cruise and ferry operations form the core business of the project. There was a time when sight- ing a cruise liner was as rare as an August raindrop, but since this project got going there has been a monsoon. Last year there was an increase of26 per cent over the previ- ous year and by the end of 2007 there will be a~ further ten per cent rise. The only down- side is the small number of cruise liner pas- sengers who get ripped off by horse-drawn cab drivers and unscrupulous taxi drivers.

There is no doubt, however, that this cruise liner traffic has been great news for Malta. But it's not the only positive aspect to come out of this project. The 250-year-old stores built by Grand Master Pinto, which were literally falling to bits, have not just been beautifully restored but have been given a contemporary touch.

It wasn't easy, Viset General Manager Chris Paris told Time Out: '(It was) very complicated because one will only under- stand what intervention is required after studying the state of the buildings. This, of course, was not known at the start of the development programme and therefore it was quite a risk to take at the time. Luckily, we had a very good team of professionals who had previous experience in restoration work... and we have been able to deliver the project on time, to the desired quality and within budget.'

What resulted was one of the most beautiful projects Maltahas ever seen. Restaurants and bars have flocked to the new promenade -which faces the Three Cities -to meet the huge demand from locals and visitors. There have been some complaints that the quality of food and service on offer has not matched the stunning surrounds. Although Mr Paris says that the sheer numbers that visit speak for themselves. There is lots of activity going on at the Valletta Waterfront besides the wining and dining. The retail outlets cater mainly for cruise passengers and are in fact largely tourist-oriented, whereas on select evenings the Waterfront hosts cultural events such as sacred music recitals and art exhibitions. A top-notch show which provides some insight into the country's history during the time of the Knights, particularly during the Great Siege is an innovative form of theatre entertainment, a very well produced 1565 Great Siege play, which could serve as a great introduction to a visit to Valletta.

The Valletta Waterfront project is still a living one as more bars and restaurants are expected to open in the near future.

Source Timeout 07