Hotels braced for new year blues

THE WINDFALL that Britain's hoteliers were expecting from the millennium is looking increasingly like fool's gold.

A survey has shown that only 60 per cent of hotel rooms have been booked for the year-end celebrations. This represents a huge anti-climax for the many hotels that jacked up their prices in the expectation of a flood of reservations. Restaurateurs are faring little better.

Industry experts believe that this millennium aversion has arisen in part from the perception that hoteliers are profiteering. Fraser Ramzan, leisure analyst at Lehman Brothers, said: "Those hotels which have increased charges are only about half or quarter full. In fact, many will be closed."

The Martlet Inn in Langford Budville, Somerset, is among those venues likely to be seeing in the new millennium quietly.

"We put the posters up at the beginning of November and there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest," a spokesman said. "People have been a bit flat about what they are doing. But we are selling more now."

Meanwhile, Scott's, a restaurant in London's Mayfair, has yet to decide whether to open after managing to sell only three tables for its pounds 250, three-course millennium supper. Many of the Whitbread-owned Marriott hotels will be closed, and Bass will be keeping the shutters down at most of its restaurants.

Bernard Lambert, managing director of Meridian Hotels and Restaurants, a subsidiary of Granada, believes the key to success has been to resist the temptation to inflate prices. "We had a policy of not putting up rates to levels with no justification. In London, we have only raised prices according to de-mand. Doubling or even trebling prices has scared people off."

Even so, Meridian's hotels were only about 70 per cent booked around the turn of the year, although he expected the vacant rooms to fill up in the next three weeks.

The survey, by Caterer magazine, also blames babysitting costs for the national apathy. Transport is also a concern. The centre of London, for example, will be closed to traffic.

A disappointing New Year's Eve will come as another blow to the quoted hotel companies, whose shares have fallen dramatically this year. Investors have been turned off the sector by the impact of sterling's strength on tourism and fears of over-supply, prompted by a surge in new hotel openings.

This malaise has spread to travel agents, who have found that the anticipated rush for millennial breaks has failed to get off the ground. Only 10 days ago, Thomson Travel blamed its third recent profits warning on the lack of year-end bookings, a problem also encountered by its main rival Airtours.

Of course, there are destinations that have been able to sit back for years and wait for the guests to come flooding in. The five-night package offered by the 221-room Crieff Hydro in Perthshire, for instance, has been sold out since 1995.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor