Letter: Why French hotels have the advantage

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The Independent Online
Sir: With regard to Mr J. A. Nicholls' letter about the difference between French and British hotels (7 September), having just returned from France and being one of the patronnes of a small family- run hotel in England I feel that I must comment.

I would agree that a few English hoteliers are precisely as he describes, but the majority of us are not; we cannot afford to be. The fundamental difference between the two countries' hotel industry is civil servants. While the UK and France are both members of the EC, the UK insists on employing civil servants to enforce the EC regulations whether they are appropriate or not, thus costing all of us vast sums of money and time to conform.

In France, common sense still prevails and, as a result, overheads are kept to a minimum, which in turn keeps costs down. Also in France the emphasis is always on good food and hospitality and not on room facilities like tea and coffee, hair-dryers and all the other things our marketing organisations and official bodies in the UK insist upon.

The guest tax in France is a flat rate per night, irrespective of the amount spent - not like our VAT. Property prices are far lower, business and domestic rates do not exist alongside a lot of other individual taxes.

These facts, coupled with the fact that Touche Ross are the de facto biggest hoteliers in the UK at the moment, will hopefully provide a clearer view of the problems we face.

Yours faithfully,

ANGIE PETKOVIC

Hallery House Hotel

Cheltenham

Gloucestershire

8 September

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