A sequence of numbers which symbolize courage, ambition, intuition. Moreover, honesty, integrity and the ability to cultivate relationships. All attributes that can be ascribed to Sunny Borg. Born to humble beginnings (of which he was very proud) in 1926 in the town of Hamrun, Malta, Salvatore Borg was fondly known by many as “Is Sur Sunny”.
“People like Sunny Borg do not grow on trees “ “He was a self- made entrepreneurial giant” (Times of Malta January 2nd 2016)
After the war, when peace reigned once again, Sunny left the shores of his beloved Malta to join the merchant navy where he travelled the world to seek his fortune. Indeed it was hard to find a place on the globe he had not visited.
When he returned to Malta in the early sixties Sunny decided to go into business setting up his own tailoring workshop in a small garage close to his home town. Initially he sold his products locally but before long he began exporting too. in 1964 Sunny established a manufacturing company ‘Bortex’ as a joint venture with the Dutch Van Gils Group, the name being an anagram of the words Borg and textile. This venture went from strength to strength as a high quality manufacturer of men’s suits, jackets, trousers, supplying the finest retail brands on the European market place. The Borg family also started the brand Gagliardi based on Sunny’s nickname and story.
In 1975 a colleague of Sunny’s in the manufacturing industry introduced him to a relative who was managing a hotel that was up for lease. A close friend remarks that the first time he was asked to contemplate a possible investment in tourism, “he became almost visibly irritated” and he wasn’t easily convinced. However before long Sunny was interested and, he not only took over the lease of this Sliema Hotel but set up a hotel company with the aim of forming a chain of hotels. From then on “enthusiasm replaced indifference” and this combined with his love of traveling, good food and beautiful hotels was the start of a new adventure in the tourism industry. He visited many hotels, his favorites being in Paris, Monaco, Lake Como and various parts of Switzerland. Indeed the logo for his new company was a five petaled rose which for Sunny represented two things; the “Rose of Venus”, a symbol of the Goddess of love (Sunny read extensively and was well versed in Greek and Roman mythology) as well as the ambitious objective of creating a chain of 5 hotels, petal by petal. Shortly after, Sunny took on the lease of a new hotel this time on the Sliema seafront. This was followed by another two hotels in north of the island of which he also took on the lease. One of these he named Liliana in homage to the love of his life. Some years later Sunny became convinced that it made more sense to own rather than lease the hotels and set upon himself to source the funding to buy out his properties.
Sunny’s love of the Cote D’Azur and particularly Monaco, which he visited often on behalf of the Insurance Company he chaired, led to a chance encounter with the Chairman of a building firm about to launch a beautiful project on the hills overlooking Montecarlo. Sunny was rapidly enticed and this was the first venture into a tourism project overseas.
Sunny’s final tourism experience was in the Swiss Alps in the beautiful village of Saas Fee. It took only one minute of convincing (in a favourite London restaurant) for Sunny to invest in luxury 5 star chalets in the “Pearl of the alps” where his good natured temperament, humility and sharp wit won him the admiration and respect of the town’s mayor who nearly talked him into buying a hotel.
Throughout his career he held a number of chairmanships including those of Middle Sea insurance , the Malta development Corporation and the National Tourism Organisation of Malta and often gave various prime ministers advice where he was renowned for speaking his mind. Sunny wanted no remuneration for any of these posts. A close friend recalls “The then prime minster
Dom Mintoff (ever so ungrateful to everyone ), on one occasion was sarcastic about this matter with Sunny. Sunny became furious ; as he was leaving the large room at Castille (office of the Prime Minsiter) in a huff, however, Dom shouted back ’can’t you take a joke ?’ It was enough for Sunny to resume where had left off. I had never before witnessed Dom apologizing to anyone ! “
He was made a member of the National Order of merit in 1996 (Times of Malta)
Today, Sunny is still involved in this Hotel which we hope is a fitting tribute to his life, not only spiritually but in a more enigmatic way through the interior and eclectic décor, which captures Sunny’s personality and individual character in a very subtle way.
His contribution to Maltese society will live on and will not be easily forgotten (Times of Malta 2 January 2016)