Up-sell a stay to make it extra-special, suggests Katie McGonagle

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It’s the little things in life that brighten up the day – finding a seat on the train, nabbing the last chocolate bourbon on a tea break, or getting home to find dinner ready and waiting.

The same is true on holiday: while flights, accommodation and transfers are the basic ingredients, it’s the icing on the cake that will make clients smile – and earn you a bigger slice of commission.

Whether they’re celebrating a birthday, an anniversary or just fancy spoiling themselves, here are a few ways to make Malta special.

Join the jetset

Get a special-occasion break off to a good start by easing the journey. British Airways’ Club Europe includes airport lounge access, dedicated check-in desks and priority boarding, two pieces of baggage, plus greater legroom and food and drink on board.

Likewise, Air Malta’s business class provides fast-track check-in at Malta airport, access to La Valette Club lounge, extra space on-board and open-bar service including champagne.

Even if clients are flying with a low-cost airline, a lounge pass can start a holiday in style: Holiday Extras offers passes at 26 UK airports from £16 at Gatwick.

Stay in style

With Malta’s budget-friendly accommodation, splashing out might be more affordable than clients imagine. Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “Malta has a strong repeat clientele who know what to expect from the island, but may never have considered upgrading and giving themselves a treat.

“For a small island, Malta has a good number of five-star hotels with executive rooms and suites that make a stay truly memorable – and to which clients can upgrade at no huge additional cost. They can also upgrade from room-only to full-board or all-inclusive without paying a lot more.”

One of the most popular options is the five-star Westin Dragonara in St Julian’s, recommended by Prestige Holidays, Classic Collection and Thomas Cook. Upgrade to a junior suite for a spacious 60sq m to spread out (from £1,136 in October for bed-and-breakfast, flights and private transfers from Classic Collection). Or for water babies, offer a luxury bay suite: set in a private wing right by the sea, these rooms have separate sleeping and living areas, two private terraces and Jacuzzi bath (from £1,399 with Prestige Holidays for B&B accommodation, BA Club Europe flights and private transfers departing November 13, if booked by September 30).

Over in the next bay, guests looking for activity and luxury in one will like the five-star Hilton Malta: not only does it boast four swimming pools, squash and tennis courts, a spa, casino, and summer beach club, but upgrading to its executive sea-view room includes access to the executive lounge for private check-in and check-out, private breakfast and afternoon tea. A week with flights from Glasgow, private transfers and attraction entrance starts at £1,423 with Belleair Holidays.

Quiet time

Those keen to splash out on a spa hotel have plenty of options, but Olympic Holidays highlights the Fortina Spa Hotel in Sliema and five-star Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz in Gozo. The former has spa rooms with a private pool, which include a choice of therapeutic baths, steam showers and in-room spa for the ultimate pampering break. The latter, meanwhile, offers all the peace and quiet clients could want from the relaxed pace of Malta’s smaller sister isle, plus a spacious spa offering an oriental hammam and ayurveda treatments (from £978 for a junior suite with flights, transfers and B&B accommodation).

If clients fancy soaking in a steamy Jacuzzi while taking in incredible views, Relais & Chateaux hotel The Xara Palace can oblige. Its deluxe suites boast a Jacuzzi and private terrace on the walls of the silent city of Mdina, with panoramic views across the island. Kirker Holidays offers a three-night stay starting at £899 with flights and private transfers, and suggests guests also sample the sumptuous cuisine at the hotel’s acclaimed de Mondion restaurant.

The views are just as good from historic property Ta’ Cenc on Gozo: this five-star boutique is on one of Gozo’s highest points, combining uninterrupted vistas with quaint character in its trullo-style rooms (three nights from £597 with Kirker Holidays).


Out and about

As an island nation, there’s no shortage of cruises to inject a little glamour, but Thomson Excursions’ aptly-named Sunday Special goes even further. This full-day excursion visits Valletta Market before embarking on a cruise around the capital’s famous harbour, followed by an afternoon at the races in Marsa (£33.50 adults/£20.99 children).

Likewise, Attraction World adds special touches to some of its tours: daytime trips to Gozo might give guests longer to explore, but evening excursion Gozo by Night includes a chance to watch the sunset through the beautiful Azure Window (£59 adults/£29 children, including dinner).

It’s well worth tapping into tour operators’ local knowledge too: Classic Collection’s complimentary concierge service can arrange everything from dinner at renowned restaurant Barracuda in St Julian’s (the seafood platter is as impressive as the sea views) to a private wine-tasting of Malta’s local vintages at Meridiana Wine Estates in Ta’ Qali.

Kirker Holidays’ concierge can recommend dinner reservations and entertainment and can also book one of 60 tickets allocated each day to the only known prehistoric underground temple, the hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni (pictured above). Visitor numbers are limited to avoid damaging this 5,000-year-old temple complex (from £160 including tickets and guide).