Millennium countdown: Desperate price cuts to lure reluctant partygoers

WITH ONE day to go to the big millennium night, the entertainment and hotel industry is desperately cutting prices in the hope of encouraging revellers to venture out.

Fears of the millennium computer bug, inflated prices and traffic jams have prompted many Britons to celebrate at home. Hotels, restaurants, travel agents and party organisers are fighting to beat the backlash by reducing the cost of their New Year's Eve packages right up to the 11th hour.

Tickets for a champagne bash on board HMS Belfast on the river Thames, which offers the perfect vantage point for viewing London's firework display, have dropped from pounds 500 to pounds 295 after only 20 of the 250 places were taken up.

The Balmoral Hotel, in Edinburgh, is offering an overnight package including a millennium gala for pounds 750 per person. Originally it was insisting anyone wanting to come for New Year's Eve had to spend pounds 7,000 each on a three- night stay. "We have introduced lots of different packages. Like everyone in Edinburgh, we were slightly over-zealous initially," a spokeswoman said.

The Grosvenor Hotel, in London, also had the idea of hooking people in for three days, to discover that no couple wanted to pay pounds 2,000. It has slashed pounds 750 off the price and said people need only stay one night. It is not too late to book at the Dorchester, which is charging pounds 5,000 for a two-night stay plus two tickets to the "Global Circus" evening on New Year's Eve and a "recovery brunch". And the Savoy, which is charging pounds 3,000 a head for a seven-course dinner, has only sold 150 of its 200 places. But neither hotel is dropping its prices. Even the Oxo Tower, on the Thames, still has a table for six available.

The planners of London's Big Time Millennium Eve Thames spectacular tried to quell fears about crowded public transport and disrupted travel. Partygoers should have faith and join the street party, a spokeswoman urged. "This is going to be London's greatest-ever party and, after months of precision planning with all the organisations involved, we are confident that the capital will deliver the ultimate millennium event."

Jonathan Seaward has soldiered on, selling tickets for his New Millennium Ball at the Cafe Royal in London, despite a disappointing response. He has kept his nerve with the ticket prices - pounds 250 for premier and pounds 400 for VIP - feeling that it would be unfair on foreigners who bought tickets months ago if he reduced them now.

"The millennium has failed to take off in the way we thought it would," Mr Seaward said. "Practically every event has been cancelled but we decided to press ahead. I felt it was a bad show to pull the plug just because it's not as profitable as I thought it would be. Hopefully, we will have between 500 and 600 people if tickets continue to sell at the rate they are now."

British hotels will not be enjoying the bonanza they had expected. Unlike foreign destinations, which have experienced a sudden surge in bookings at the last minute, destinations around Britain have not been so lucky. Mark Harris, group marketing manager of First Option Hotel Reservations, reckons that between 10 and 15 per cent of hotels in this country will be shut at the weekend, and another 15 per cent will stay open but not host any special celebrations.

"The... millennium is a major disappointment for the British hotel industry," said Mr Harris. "There are a lot of very unhappy hoteliers, because this should have been a great opportunity. The great British public is incredibly mistrustful of hype and the hotel industry has fallen victim to the millennium backlash."

The Balmoral, Edinburgh: Was pounds 7,000 a head for three-day package.Now pounds 750 per person for one night. plus gala.

HMS `Belfast', on Thames, London: pounds 500 ticket for champagne, dinner, plus view of fireworks now cut to pounds 295.

The Grosvenor, London: Was pounds 2,000 a couple for three nights; now pounds 1,250 per couple for one night and dinner.

New Millennium Ball at Cafe Royal, London: pounds 250 for premier, pounds 400 for VIP.Tickets still available; no reduction.

The Dorchester, London: pounds 5,000 a couple for two nights with entertainment. Tickets available; no reduction.

The Savoy, London: Dinner with views of the Thames for pounds 3,000 a head. 50 seats still available; no reduction.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album