CASA ELLUL, LUKE EVANS & LUXURIOUS FACE OF MALTA
I met brothers, Andrew and Mathew Ellul in Malta on 22th May 2015. I Arrived at Casa Ellul, their family house transformed into a luxurious VIP hotel. Situated at 81 Old Theatre Street at the center of Valletta, this Boutique Hotel is uniquely excellent due to its modern design combined with its original Maltese feel and I couldn’t believe my eyes for its stunning beauty. Just days before I visited Casa Ellul, an international Welsh actor, Luke Evans of “Dracula Untold”, “Clash of the titans” and “The Hobbit” – and Chris Hemsworth, another great movie hero, “Thor” – had been hosted there. Months before that, the place had been patronized by over a dozen international movie stars, artists and very important business people. Meghan Markle (Series “Suits”), Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love”), Dewi Driegen (“Victoria’s Secret Model”), Tenna Bergsdottir (“Premier Model”) have all been patrons at Casa Ellul. Jon Kortajarena once ranked 8th out of 10 most successful male models by Forbes Magazine in June 2009 has also been to this magnificent hideaway. Il Volo, a famous Italian band that represented Italy this year at the Eurovision Song contest, Maximilian Riedel (the 11th-generation CEO and President of Riedel) and many more can also attest to the magic of Casa Ellul. It’s incredible how this small hotel that consists of eight magical suites, and barely one year in activity, has gained international recognition from VIPs of international status and has featured in most international lifestyle and travel magazines such as British Airways High Life Magazine in UK, Ideat Contemporary (France), Insider Magazine (Malta), Trendy.Art of living (Poland), Condé Nast Traveller (USA) and so on.
An important thing to be told about this place is that each suite is unique and tells its own story. While some suites are split level and enjoy stylish outdoor terrace space complete with custom made hot tubs, garden furniture and stunning sea views, others have retained many of their original Maltese floor tiles. The Ellul brothers really cared for every detail from the finishing of the floors to the design of the sheets and excellent breakfast served by Chef Jan. I am sure it’s exactly for this reason that Luke Evans in “Condé Nast Traveller” January 2015 indicated Casa Ellul as one of his favorite hotels. “This place is run by two brothers who turned their family home into a boutique hotel. It has only eight suites, and mine had a hot tub on the terrace overlooking the dome of the church next door”, He said. “ I had never been to Malta before, and I thought it might be a bit colonial, but I fell in love with it. One evening I was walking to the restaurant for dinner with friends just before sunset and we decided to take a dip into the sea. We took off our clothes, dived into the water, then dried off on the rocks and headed to the restaurant”. After this confession, as I have been told by the hotel staff, Evans came back frequently to the hotel. Well – no doubt why! Malta and Casa Ellul are magical places. I am sure I too will be back soon.
The history of this building begins in 1837, with a man of Italian descent, purchasing one of the most beautiful Valletta town houses situated in 81, Old Theatre Street. After that the house was bought by textile merchant Vincenzo Formosa from Victoria, Gozo, in 1837 whose daughter was married to a merchant Fortunato Ellul (1878) and here the story of Ellul family began. @ With eight suites – two of which are interconnecting – the boutique hotel is able to comfortably accommodate 16 guests. The interconnecting suites are ideal for anyone who likes chic, comfort and good design.
@ PHOTOS BY ALAN CARVILLE.
How is the present economic situation on Malta? Is it difficult to run your business in this place?
At the moment the economy is getting better and better so in consequence the tourism industry is also getting better. Every year we see an increase and bigger percentage of tourists in the city. I also notice it on my own business. We have clients from all over the world, Hong Kong, Australia, New York, France, Italy or Japan.
Casa Ellul existed since 1837. How did it happened that you both decided to change it into a luxury hotel?
In this building, five generations of our family have lived in. It is a family home me and my brother inherited from our aunts, the last people who lived here. A few years later, we decided to renovate it and set up five star boutique hotel. This month we will have the first anniversary.
How long did it take you to realize this project?
Four years counting from the first idea that came in our mind to the opening of the hotel. First we’ve met our lawyer. He asked us if we wanted do this property as commercial, if yes, the only way forward will be a boutique hotel and after it we start to regenerate an idea of the luxury tourism business. That was the idea. Then from the idea we passed to architects, designers, permits and then we started the reconstruction. This last took one year and a half and we needed one year for design work and permits.
Who of you followed mostly works on this project?
We were both in the same way involved in every aspect of this project, from the idea to designs, everything, choosing the materials, interiors. We went to Paris to buy antique furniture, we were choosing the right artists for us hotel and fabrics, in everything that regards hotel we were both involved.
Your hotel is amazing, it has a really refined style. Who is the architect?
Our architect is the best architect on Malta and he took a very prestigious prize as one of Top 40 architects in Europe. He is Maltese and he’s done a very good project here. He’s one of the leading architect here at the moment and also abroad.
Casa Ellul is not only a hotel. What else are you offering to your clients?
We offer the modern commodities and a very intimate like home feel. You are not just a number in a big hotel but you are a VIP for us and we treat all guests as such. If you need anything, there will be always a manager who will help you out, will coordinate your tours, excursions, any booking in a specific restaurants for the evening, whatever you need, you will be served in this way.
You are in a luxury world. What is a luxury signed by Ellul?
Luxury is the standard of the fabrics, materials, the service, standards in general. We have eight suites and we do have staff for eight suites. Imagine the service we can give. It is a 100% service all the time. You have more then one person for one suite.
Lots of famous people are visiting Casa Ellul. Who are they, if I can ask?
Well, Luke Evans, he is very famous. He stayed for five days here for relax, he had suite number seven, one of the top with a view of Marsamxetto harbour and with Jacuzzi. Was here also Joseph Fiennes, he came to relax here with his fiancée. We had also some top models of Victoria’s secret, they were shooting here for some publications. We had also John Contalareda, one of the main top world models from Spain but he lives in London, very famous. It was here also Joseph Caleia, one of the best world tenors, he’s Maltese, he came doing a interview here. We had Meghan Margle as well for three nights.
Last year you were also hosting Malta Fashion Week, will Your adventure in fashion will repeat this year?
Last year we had people designers and architects from Malta Fashion Week and yes, they stayed all in our hotel. We had also here many photo shoots. This year no but in the future who knows.
You also inherited from your ancestors “Ellul Wines & Spirits” shops. What products do you sell?
We have one shop and sell mostly wines. We have around 600 types of wines from all over the world, one of it is Petrus, a basic wine (300 euro for bottle) and you can find here all the champagnes, high-end whiskies, liquors. We specialize in Maltese delicacies and local products like cheese, honey, olives, cappers and Maltese liquors on the base of figs. We have also a special selection of fine chocolates, tobacco and pipes, a variety of cigars from Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Dominican Republic. We also serve Italian coffee. Prosecco and aperitifs are also served during the day with fresh snacks. You can sit outside and enjoy the street view of Valletta enjoying a nice coffee or aromatic fresh wine by glass.
For the end some personal question: what is your success philosophy?
A success receipt in life consists of having a vision and knowing what you want in life, the direction you want to take and also courage, because you have to invest all the time and take risks. Otherwise, the success consists in long hours of work and sleepless nights. This is our mixture for the success.
Wasn’t this success easier to reach for you because you were together?
Yes, it is very good to have support, to share, help each other, discuss new ideas. Yes, it is much better if you have a partner, especially brother. We are a very good team. Our success is not only because of us but also because of our hard working staff. We have 20 employees (10 in the hotel and 10 in the shop) who work very hard with us and without them we wouldn’t be what we are today.
NOTA BENE PHOTO GALLERY:
The hotel organizes operas of various international artists and fashion events. On the pictures above you can see Ellul brothers with me, Joanna Longawa and their painters Alexia Coppini and Rune Bo Jacobsen. Presently the hotel presents operas of a famous Italian artist Maurizio Russo.
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