Corinthia Bab Africa redefines luxury
Soaring 28 storeys high above Tripoli’s waterfront skyline, the fabulous Corinthia Bab Africa takes pride of place as Libya’s first and only five-star hotel.
The stunning twin-tower property is also testament to the rapid growth of the Corinthia Group as an international brand, and is helping drive the Group’s growth in the country, says Corinthia Hotels International’s director Joseph Pisani.
Located in the heart of Tripoli’s central business district adjacent to the old fortifications of the city, the hotel has a total of 300 five-star rooms and suites, overlooking the Mediterranean.
And like its sister property – the world famous Corinthia Palace in Malta – it has become another jewel in the crown of this dynamic hospitality group.
The Maltese-headquartered Corinthia is rightly proud of its Mediterranean traditions and now has 20 four- and five-star city and resort hotels in key locations across Europe and Africa.
The Corinthia Bab Africa is a masterpiece that sets new standards of excellence on the African Continent by way of its spectacular architecture, luxurious interior design, and superior services.
It boasts a separate commercial centre, spa and extensive banqueting and conference facilities and since its launch in 2003, has quickly become the preferred venue for international and Libyan visitors, says Pisani.
“We have established a reputation in Tripoli and overseas as the property of choice for our dynamic and welcoming approach to business,” Pisani comments. “In our palatial lobby one can meet holidaymakers ready to take excursions to the stunning Roman ruins of Lepcis Magna as well as the international business traveller, who is increasingly present in Libya by the day.”
Corinthia first started its Libyan operations in 1977 with a catering contract and over the last decade has accelerated its spectacular growth that culminated in the opening of the Corinthia Bab Africa.
A common denominator for many of the key individuals involved in the Corinthia Group is financial acumen and Maltese-born Pisani is no exception.
Fluent in Maltese, Arabic and Italian, Pisani studied at the London School of Economics, then becoming a chartered accountant to begin his career in the hospitality industry at the Forte Group in the UK.
Pisani moved to the headquarters of the Corinthia Group in 1999 and the following year was managing the Corinthia Mistra Village resort.
Prior to his Libyan posting, Pisani was based
in St Petersburg, managing the Corinthia Nevskij Palace and well remembers arriving in Tripoli to the pre-opening office during the hotel’s hectic construction phase.
“During this period, we were establishing the highest levels of luxury and quality for this market reflected not only in the quality of the building but the hospitality approach,” he recalls. “Hotels are all about people and staff must be highly motivated, respectful and also enjoy what they do. Ultimately, the guest must be comfortable and personal service is what differentiates a hotel in a fast moving world.”
He continues: “I am hugely impressed by the quality of our staff: we have about 70 per cent Libyan nationals, and their vital contribution to the hospitality services we provide.
“Also, attention to detail is everything and the quality of the finished products and services are essential, and the development of new property in Libya was no exception. Our chairman and chief executive, Alfred Pisani, has been strengthening Corinthia’s business interests for many years and I recall that he did not like the first mock-ups, sample rooms and the décor for the Bab Africa. We went through a period of critical evaluation and painstaking research that eventually led to the final selection of fabrics and soft furnishings.
“Warmth, comfort, vitality and excitement come to mind in creating a hotel – from the food and beverage outlets throughout all the facilities – always ensuring that the guest feels special. Thus, a typical Corinthia response is ‘can we do anything for you?’ and with lots of repeat clients we have to find the right balance between intimacy and business needs whilst constantly refining and raising our standards.”
Since its launch the hotel has welcomed several dignitaries, including the Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany and President Hosni Mubarrak of Egypt.
Pisani is now gearing to develop the Libyan market further: “In terms of new initiatives, land has been acquired for our new village project west of Tripoli. This will comprise long-lease five-star accommodation in a multi-use complex known as Palm City. We are considering about 360 houses, villas and apartments to be completed by late 2006.”
Pisani is extremely knowledgeable about Libya, loves the warmth and hospitality of the people and is an expert on ancient sites and antiquities such as Lepcis Magna.
“The Sabratha mosaics never cease to amaze me and there is an air of great serenity and peace and a deep sense of history,” he says. “Naturally, theses antiquities, the climate of Libya and proximity to Europe provide immense potential for the development of leisure and tourism.”
He continues: “Leisure will grow and high-end tourists are looking for adventure and intellectual stimulation, and we have world heritage sites in Libya. More international carriers are coming here and the October to May season provides perfect weather for international tourists. We are anticipating a strong tourist season for 2005 and our symposium and conference business is increasing too.
“Libya is developing and lots of companies are coming to look at the potential to grow. Also, as the concession areas open up to the oil companies, we are also looking at further strategic developments and may go to Benghazi. For Libya, there are many emerging opportunities and this will involve more hotels, residential complexes, commercial centres and our Group will be a part in these strategic investments.”