Posts Tagged ‘hotels’

Travelodge announces national park expansion

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Travelodge has announced plans to tap into an increase in demand for hotels in the vicinity of Britain’s national parks with an investment of around £135 million. The hotel chain claims that it has seen a marked increase in the number of people wanting to stay in budget accommodation near the parks over the last year.

The property team at Travelodge are now looking for a total of 37 sites around Britain’s 15 national parks. Depending on the building requirements and the location of the hotels they will range from the Metrostyle brand, which provides around 30 rooms, to larger premises providing more than 100 rooms.

It is unlikely that Travelodge will be able to operate within the parks because of strict laws governing construction. Targeted locations are likely to include Minehead on Exmoor, Grasmere which is located in the Lake District, Snowdonia’s Betws-y-Coed and Aviemore in Scotland’s Cairngorms.

Travelodge’s chief executive, Guy Parsons, said there was a move away from holidaymakers in Britain opting for a traditional city break or for a location on the country’s coastline and towards looking into the possibility of exploring the countryside.

Spokeswoman for the Association of National Park Authorities, Clare O’Connor, said people were realising that moorlands, meadows and mountains were offering a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life. Travelodge recently acquired a former mill in Glossop, which is close to the Peak District, and has said it intends to create a hotel with 62 rooms which will also feature a pub.

Whitbread to open three Yorkshire Premier Inns

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Whitbread has confirmed that it will continue its Premier Inn expansion by opening three new hotels in Yorkshire. Earlier this year, Whitbread said it wanted to increase its rate of growth by as much as 50 per cent and aims to have 65,000 hotel rooms across Britain by 2016.

According to Kevin Murray, Whitbread’s restaurant and hotel senior acquisitions manager, the three new hotels are an example of the group putting its plans into action. He also hinted that there would be more announcements in the near future. The hotels will be located in Harrogate and Leeds.

The Harrogate hotel will be linked to the Harrogate International Centre. It will have 107 rooms and marks the first time that Premier Inn has ventured into the arena of conference centres. Work is slated to begin in September and it is due to open at some point in 2012.

The hotels in Leeds are to be located in Hepworth House and on Whitehall Road. Hepworth House was once offices and will be converted into 131 rooms. When complete it will be part of the Leeds Arena. The Whitehall road hotel is a new-build located close to the train station and the city’s business centre. It will have 130 rooms and is due to open at some point in 2014.

When complete, the new hotels will provide some 250 new jobs. Whitbread is also due to open new Premier Inns in Halifax and Bradford. Murray said Yorkshire was attractive because of a good visitor economy and strong business sector.

Thomas Cook loses chief executive

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Travel firm Thomas Cook has confirmed that Manny Fontenla-Novoa, its chief executive, will step down from the role immediately after a number of profit warnings. As the firm looks for a new boss, deputy CEO Sam Weihagen will take over.  Cautious consumer spending in the UK and a delicate economic situation has dented the tour firm’s profits severely.

Thomas Cook has been forced to heavily discount summer holidays this year to avoid having them remain on the shelves. In the three months to 30 June, the company confirmed that operating profits had dropped by 22 per cent to £20.1 million.

The group is presently reviewing its UK business and aims to raise around £200 million by selling off shops on the high street, hotels and may even dispose of its share in the air traffic control manager NATS.

Although performance in the UK has been dire for Thomas Cook the firm has fared better in northern Europe. It has been able to sell holidays at higher prices and has also benefited from its acquisition of the German tour operator Oger. According to industry experts, rival firm Tui has managed to do better because it has concentrated on selling higher end holidays.

The political and civil unrest in Tunisia and Egypt at the beginning of the year did nothing to help Thomas Cook’s operating profits. The firm estimates that lost bookings cost it around £20 million. In May, the travel firm announced that its losses had increased to £166 million, a jump of £36 million.

Holiday prices slashed by travel firms

Monday, July 4th, 2011

In an effort to get more Brits travelling abroad this year holiday companies are reducing the price of their packages. The high price of fuel surcharges and taxes at airports along with the current economic climate have forced many families to forgo booking their traditional summer holiday.

This has meant that travel firms have been saddled with unsold holidays which they are now trying to get rid of. Bob Atkinson of travelsupermarket.com said the news was good for those who might have resigned themselves to staying at home. He explained that there are some deals on three-star hotels in Europe where a week’s stay costs as little as £300 all inclusive. Those who are prepared to go self-catering and be flexible with their travel dates will find even cheaper bargains, he added.

According to Ian Ailles, from travel firm Thomas Cook, there will be a daily review of the prices of holidays which means even more deals on holidays are likely to appear. Thomson is also slashing its prices. A week in Tunisia’s Port El Kantaoui which was £1,092 is now just £732 for two people.

Virgin Holidays is also cutting prices. A holiday to Barbados which was £1,960 has been reduced by 44 per cent to £1,059 for two people.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents explained that business travel and high-end holidays seemed to be recovering where the cheaper package deals were not doing so well. This is partly down to a lack of consumer confidence in lower income households.

Kelkoo expands travel brand

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Customers using Kelkoo to find the best shopping deals will now find there is a wider range of travel options available. The shopping service has signed deals with Airflights.co.uk to give consumers a larger choice of airlines and destinations; with Alpharooms.com to increase the number of hotels on offer and with Lastminute.com to boost the number of holiday deals available through the site.

Kelkoo’s travel MD, Chris Nixon, said of the new affiliations: “The new partnerships with Airflights.co.uk, Alpharooms.com and Lastminute.com are extremely exciting and a real testament to the work being done to regenerate the Kelkoo Travel proposition. Offering customers access to greater choice from these three leading travel brands underlines our continued commitment to re-building our travel proposition across Europe, which has been my main focus since joining the team last year.

He added: This is the latest of many new and exciting developments we are looking to make at Kelkoo Travel over the coming year.”

The deal with Airflights.co.uk is signed until August 2011 when a review of customer reaction will take place and an extension to the service may be added. Lastminute.com has signed up until April 2012 and the deal with Alpharooms.com will be in place until at least July 2012.

Airflights.co.uk manager of sales, Colin Gill, said: “As one of the UK’s busiest travel websites Airflights.co.uk is pleased to enter into this partnership with Kelkoo. Airflights  bring a real choice of airlines, small niche tour operators and travel related products to the Kelkoo audience, whilst simultaneously increasing the Airflights brand awareness amongst the increasingly discerning UK traveller.”

HotelClub announces competition winners

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

HotelClub has announced the winners of its latest competition to find the most outstanding hotels in the world based on a variety of categories which are intended to reflect unique local experiences. These categories include: best hotel for a rendezvous, best for spotting celebrities and best for a London dry gin.

There were 20 winners from the UK and Ireland and five for Scottish hotels including best for a haggis breakfast and best hotel for a tee off. The three wins for Ireland included best place for a pint of Guinness and best place to stay if you enjoy Gaelic games.

Vice president of hotel services at HotelClub, John Ryan, said the awards are based on unbiased reviews submitted by members along with the opinions of a team of experts at HotelClub. He added that he was looking forward to working closely with the winners over the next year.

Each winner will receive a certificate and will be awarded a mention on HotelClub’s website. The hotels will also be promoted by the club across social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The aim of the promotion is to give customers more information so that they can make better informed choices when booking a place to stay.

Some of the winners include the Landmark in London, which is the best place in which to enjoy afternoon tea; the Scotsman in Edinburgh, which is the best place to get a haggis breakfast and the Arlington Hotel in Dublin which serves the best Guinness.

Travelodge to expand near pubs

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Travelodge will be teaming up with a number of pub companies including Marston’s, Greene King, JD Wetherspoon and Mitchells & Butlers as part of its intended £100 million expansion plan. The idea is to open new hotels next to existing pubs, or to build hotels and pubs together at brand new sites.

The joint-venture will be mutually beneficial, as guests are expected to gravitate towards hotels which have a pub offering food and drink, and the pubs will benefit from guests choosing to visit them for a meal. The intention is to open 36 new sites and it is estimated that by 2015, some 550 new jobs will have been created by the scheme.

The joint development will help reduce costs and mean that both establishments have access to shared facilities, such as car parking spaces. According to managing director for development at Travelodge, Paul Harvey, many pub companies are now focusing on development and, in most cases, they are concentrating on locations which correspond with the hotel chain.

Pubs have been struggling in recent years as customers are lured by supermarket offers on alcohol and choose to spend more time at home. Many have decided to concentrate on offering meals as a way of tempting people through the door. The British Beer and Pub Association estimates that around one billion meals a year are now being sold in the country’s establishments.

A number of companies have recently announced plans to open in leisure and retail parks where customers are more likely to want to sit down and enjoy a meal.

Thomas Cook blames UK economy for holiday slowdown

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Thomas Cook is blaming a lack of economic confidence in the UK for a slow down in the number of summer holidays being booked this year. In February, the operator said there was a six per cent rise, but this has dropped back to just one per cent on a year earlier. The fall in business has caused the firm to announce that it will be slimming the number of package deals on offer by one per cent.

According to estimates, the recent political and social turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia will cost Thomas Cook around £20 million. The operator was forced to cancel 150,000 holidays which resulted in lost margins of £15 million and repatriation costs of £5 million. Although the situation has stabilised since the uprisings, the travel firm is only running 70 per cent of its original programme in the region.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, the group’s chief executive, said most European markets continued to perform well, especially Germany. However, the UK was weaker because of a lack of consumer confidence. He added that some of the capacity reductions could be blamed on regulatory bodies holding back a proposed merger with the Co-operative Group. The deal is currently being scrutinised by the Competition Commission.

The travel firm is unlikely to be hit as hard as some of its major competitors by a slow down in business from the UK as it does not own a significant amount of hotels or aircraft.

Shares in the company dropped slightly to 165.1 pence.

Hilton to concentrate on expansion

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Hilton Worldwide said recently that it is does not intend to go public at the moment but that an initial public offering would be something that the company would be looking at in the future. According to Hilton’s chief executive officer, Chris Nassetta, the hotel group wants to concentrate its energy on developing projects in expanding markets such as Asia, Latin America and Europe.

When Hilton was acquired by Blackstone in 2007 for $26 billion, just 15 per cent of the firm’s planned projects lay outside the borders of the US. Today, around half of all new hotels will be built on the international stage. Nassetta said that Hilton was also extremely interested in expanding its presence in the rapidly growing markets of China and India.

A great deal of energy is currently being concentrated in Europe where Hilton is planning to build 90 hotels which will bring some 17,000 rooms onto the market. At the moment there are three hotels due to be opened in Germany. The first will be a Waldorf Astoria in Berlin later in 2011.

Speaking in an interview at Frankfurt Airport – where Hilton is constructing another hotel due to open this year – Nassetta said the hotel operator was planning a number of other German projects, but remained tight lipped about the details.

Established in 1919 by Conrad Hilton, the hotel group has grown to include brands such as Hampton Inn & Suites, Embassy Suites and the famous Waldorf Astoria. The firm operates 3,600 hotels around the world.

Avis continues to open offices across the UK

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Car rental giant Avis has announced that it intends to open more than 100 new branches across the UK by the end of 2011. The car hire firm also said that it had increased the number of locations supplying vehicles to leisure customers by 50 per cent. In the last two months the company has opened 37 new branches.

Customers now have access to Avis vehicles through business solutions provider Regus. The companies have entered into a partnership at 21 new locations and car hire can be booked at a Regus office.

Further partnership deals have been struck with hotels so that guests will have no difficulty in obtaining a quality vehicle with which to explore the local area.

Avis branches can now be found in cities and towns like Windsor, Huddersfield and Cheltenham. Vehicles can also be picked up from Avis rental outlets at 38 airports. Currently the company has 170 offices throughout the UK and Avis car hire is available on four continents.

Commercial boss at Avis UK, Anthony Ainsworth, said: “50% growth of Avis’ town and city branches in just two months is a significant achievement for us and puts us another step closer to reaching our ultimate goal of having an Avis branch within a few miles of every household in the UK. Next year will see the number of Avis branches increase with a further 100+ locations, demonstrating our commitment to giving customers the choice to find a car hire solution that best suits their needs.”