I just got back from a week´s holiday in Malta in the Mediterranean. The people were friendly, and although it´s a small island there is plenty to do given that the place has so much history.
Anyway, I digress. I was staying at the Westin Resort in Paceville near St Juian´s Bay, which is your standard hotel resort type place, but not a bad option to base yourself and to head out on car trips throughout the islands. I wasn´t planning to be anywhere near a casino (quite the opposite in fact), so imagine my suprise when I looked out of the window on the first morning and saw an old fort sitting on the headland not 100 metres away with a big flashing sign saying “DRAGONARA CASINO”.
So I thought I may as well review it for the blog….! It´s quite an impressive setting.
The Dragonara Palace which holds the casino was built in 1870 as a summer house for Emanuele Scicluna, a banker who was made a marquis in 1875 on the back of a loan he extended to Pope Pius IX.
There´s a central courtyard, which has been covered to contain the main gaming hall and a semi-circular staircase heads up to the main entrance, which is guarded by two pharaonic statues.
There´s an island legend that a dragon lived in the cave on the headland before the palace was built- and that is how it got its name. In the First World War, the Dragonara was used as an CO´s hospital for injured servicemen arriving from Gallipoli. And in the 2nd World War it was a home for war refugees. As always in Malta, there´s a mass of histrory attached to the palace.
Its been a casino since the early 60s and in 1999 was completely renovated and is now owned by Accor Casinos: the largest casino company in Europe with 38 casinos and 11 luxury hotel resorts.
Overall, the casino is good fun. It´s nothing on scale of a Las Vegas or Macau casino, but that´s part of its charm and the views out over the Med are stunning.
There are around 200 slots (from 1 cent to 25 euro cents machines). And you´ll find Electronic Roulette that sits a dozen players, as well as a Horse Racing Machine and a good choice of progressive slots (one with 15 machines networked and the other with 5 machines networked)
There are around twenty tables:- (Roulette, Black Jack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Super Texas Poker, Punto Banco and Open Poker).
Within the casino there is a Bar with live entertainment and a large Plasma screen, just in case any big sport is on (lucky for me as the Lions were touring South Africa at the time).
And the last lucky break I had? Well, I had a few playing roulette, but it was also hosting the Miss World Bikini Model International 2009 competition while I was there.