The chairman of VisitBritain, the UK’s tourist authority, has said grumpy staff and poor value for money at hotels are in danger of deterring overseas visitors when the economy needs them most.
Christopher Rodrigues said that at some hotels, tourists had to put up with a failure to provide basics, while others were blighted by Basil Fawlty-type characters who were bad-tempered and rude.
“We’re now in an environment where you have to do quality. Poor value for money and poor service cost jobs and will cost more jobs in a recession,” said Rodrigues.
The decline in the value of the British pound against the Euro and the US dollar should make holidays in the UK attractive to tourists and VisitBritain is launching a ‘value campaign’ that aims to change Britain’s reputation abroad for being expensive.
Rodrigues reckons earnings could fall by up to £4 billion ($6 billion) leading to the loss of up to 50,000 jobs this year unless standards are raised.
“We need to improve service levels and attention,” said Rodrigues. “When you ask people what’s memorable it doesn’t have to be five-star. A really nice English breakfast served with a smile and a comfortable bed, where there’s a clean bar of soap and the towels are fluffy – that can be all it takes.”
Just as a footnote, I heard this the other day: “The recession’s got so bad, hotels have started stealing the guests’ towels.”
by Andy Moreton
Take advantage of the weak pound with a trip to the UK. We can promise (fingers crossed here) service with a smile at any number of luxury and boutique UK hotels.
Who’d be a billionaire?
While he tries to overcome reported funding obstacles to building America’s second tallest tower in Chicago, Donald Trump also has a small bugbear in the ‘golfopolis’ he’s planning on the Aberdeenshire coast in Scotland.
As I wrote three weeks ago, Trump has now secured permission for the huge project that includes two golf courses, a luxury hotel and exclusive apartments.
But slap bang in the middle of the development sits the 23 acres of Michael Forbes, whose family have run a farm there for generations. Forbes, 55, says he’s staying where he is and has rejected all overtures from the billionaire property developer to give up his land. Those overtures, by the way, came with a latest reported offer of £375,000 ($560,000).
Mr Forbes has already gained something of a reputation in the US, being variously described as ‘some old farmer in a kilt’ and ‘a force of nature.’
The tale has distinct echoes of the award-winning 1983 film Local Hero in which an oil company executive tries to buy up an entire Scottish village for a refinery and finds the way blocked by Ben Knox, an old beachcomber with property rights to part of the coast.
Somehow I think Mr Forbes might end up being Trumped, but watch this space …
by Andy Moreton
Our friends at the excellent Conde Nast Traveller magazine have just announced the results of their readers’ survey on the world’s best holidays and hotels.
Voted the most popular leisure hotel in Europe was La Residencia in Majorca, which was lovingly and luxuriously fashioned from two 17th Century farmhouses. It was where Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber put up the guests for his glittering 60th birthday party earlier this year.
For the Middle East and Africa, the Chedi Muscat in Oman came out on top. Clearly its guests share the hotel’s claim that it’s ‘an oasis of mysticism and luxury.’
In the UK, The Grove in Hertfordshire on the outskirts of London was the most popular choice. It scored highly not only for its leisure facilities (it boasts one of the finest new golf courses in Europe) but also for its value for money.
In the Overseas Business Hotel category, five of the top 20 were in Dubai. But out in front was the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai, described in Luxique’s guide as simply ‘The Grand Dame of India.’
And the island that consistently tops luxury holiday polls for its beaches and facilities is the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Luxique offers a choice of ten fabulous luxury hotels in Maldives.
by Andy Moreton