Supply Growth in Top 25 U.S. Markets to Accelerate

February 12, 2019 – PORTSMOUTH, NH – Analysts at Lodging Econometrics (LE) report that in 2018, new supply growth was 2.0%, the first time it has reached 2.0% in eight years. The top 25 markets had new supply growth of 2.7% while the remainder of the country showed growth at 1.7%.

Demand growth was 2.5% for both the top 25 markets and for the remainder of the country as well.

Last year, 12 of the top 25 markets had supply growth in excess of demand growth. With the exception of Houston, Seattle, and Orlando the variances were modest. As the economy settles into the “new normal” of slower growth and low inflation, LE expects the number of markets with supply growth exceeding demand growth to increase and the variances to widen. 

In the fourth quarter of 2018, the top five markets with the largest hotel construction pipelines are: New York City with 171 projects/29,457 rooms, followed by Dallas and Los Angeles, both hitting construction pipeline all-time highs with 163 projects/19,476 rooms and 147 projects/23,404 rooms respectively. Next is Houston with 141 projects/15,499 rooms, Atlanta with 115 projects/15,522 rooms, and Nashville with 114 projects/15,510 rooms.

The important metric to monitor is markets with large current pipelines compared to their existing census. At the end of 2018, there were 10 markets with total pipelines in excess of 15% of their current census. Nashville tops this list of markets at 34.4%, followed by New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, Seattle, Denver, Boston, and then Houston at 17.9%. These are the markets likely to see the fastest supply growth and the largest supply-demand variances over the next few years.

The markets topping the forecast for new hotel openings in 2019 will be New York City with 65 new hotels/9,396 rooms, Dallas with 31 projects/3,673 rooms, Houston with 30 projects/3,478 rooms, Nashville with 22 projects/2,785 rooms, and Los Angeles with 14 projects/2,124 rooms.

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Tourism Tidbits: Working With Meeting & Convention Planners

By Dr. Peter Tarlow

Meeting & Convention Planners (MCPs) play a vital part of the tourism industry.   Not only do they often decide what community will receive a lucrative convention but their opinions also matter in the way a community is perceived and as such they act as part of a community’s unofficial marketing team. Not only do their opinions matter, but tourism convention and meeting cities would be wise to remember that perceptions are often more powerful than facts and style all too often takes precedence over substance.

Additionally there is a growing trend of conventioneers using the pre or post-convention period as a way to combine business with pleasure.  The meeting or convention is not only a way to increase business but also provides additional vacation opportunities for the visitor and additional revenue for the host community.

That merging of business and pleasure can also mean that those attending a successful conference, meeting or convention are likely transfer their positive business experience to the hotel, resort, and community in which the event took place.

On the opposite side of the coin, snafus do occur and when these errors happen, often the host community or its reputation is the first to suffer.  Never forget that tourism is the selling of dreams, and the meeting planner can go a long way to ensuring that the visit to your community, hotel, or attraction is one to remember rather than a nightmare that a visitor might want to forget.

Convention and meeting planners then are an integral part of any locale’s marketing efforts. National tourism offices, tourism professionals or convention and visitor bureaus need to find ways to integrate the CMP into the locale’s marketing efforts.  Unfortunately, there are times when one side or the other fails recognize this needed interaction.  When meeting planners see their job as nothing more than organizing and facilitating a meeting or convention, then the entire community loses.

To help everyone in tourism better to communicate with meeting planners, "Tourism Tidbits" offers the following for your consideration.

• Good business is when everyone wins.  That means that everyone needs to understand the other person’s needs.  CMP are looking to satisfy their clients and seek to get the best deal for the least cost. Tourism officials seek to put “heads in beds”, fill hotels and create the most income for their constituency. For both sides to win they need to understand the negotiation from each other’s perspective.

• Offer a course about the tourism of your community to local tourism providers.  Often each tourism industry component forgets that it is part of a total experience.  Visitors and CMPs do not judge a community by one single criterion but rather look at the total package.  Ask local hoteliers and attraction representatives to help co-teach the course, allowing all parts of the industry to understand each other’s needs and requirements.

• Attracting the Right Meeting for Your Community.  Not every community is the right location for every meeting or convention When trying to attract a convention or meeting to your community consider the following even before you send out that promotional literature along with your bid:

1. Create a complete inventory of what your city can offer a company for a successful meeting:
List those items that a meeting would need, prioritize these items, and see what your community has and lacks.

2. Know what your city/site has to offer:
Grade your city according to such categories as: travel time, transportation arteries, facilities available, and types of attractions.

3. Know what your city/site does not offer:
Analyze the reasons you would not want to meet in your locale.  What drawbacks do you need to overcome?

4. Know that not all meetings are the same:
Different types of conventions require different facilities.  Remember not every city is right for every type of meeting.  Go after the meeting whose needs are satisfied by your city's facilities.

5. Make sure that city agencies work with together.
The CVB professional needs to spend almost as much time with the heads of other city agencies as with his own staff. Visitors view an entire city, and when agencies work together you are building a basis for return business.

6 Contact organizations that have held meetings at convention sites in places similar to yours.
People like variety, but often look for locations similar to places where they have held successful meetings in the past.  Trade organization names with other cities that are similar to yours.

• Advise perspective convention organizers to work with local meeting planner who know the community well.  These local planners want the out-of-town convention planner to be successful, and they have the first hand knowledge as to what to do and what to do.  Having the help of locals also increases the community’s credibility.

• Discuss with the out 0of-town meeting planner his/her concepts of customer service. How do they want your community to handle an issue of bad service?  Do they have specific requirements regarding security and safety? What liability issues need to be discussed before signing any contract?  Should a mishap or negative situation occur how can damage control be accomplished?

• What are some of the special needs that the meeting has and can your community meet these needs?  The United States (and the world) are very diverse places with special needs ranging from the physical to the philosophical.  Before bidding on a convention or meeting know if you can provide such items as:

√ sensitivity to dietary laws and restrictions,
√ sensitivity to medical needs of those attending the meeting,
√ sensitivity to issues of crime and security,
√ sensitivity to local customs and habits,
√ sensitivity to the religious and cultural needs of attendees,
√  the ability to provide bi-lingual or multi lingual services.

• Has your community and the proposed venue received tourism security certification?  A tourism certified community can tell potential MCPs that s/he has chosen a locale that offers a well-run meeting, good service, and a special tourism experience in a safe and secure environment.

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Travelodge opens at Ashford International railway station

Budget hotel chain Travelodge has opened its 574th hotel close to Ashford International railway station.

The group said with the opening of Ashford Town Centre Travelodge, the company now operates hotels close to 200 of the UK’s busiest railway stations. The new 58-room hotel represents an investment of £5m for the landlord, Ashford Borough Council.

Travelodge has also identified 10 “key commuter towns” where it would like to open a hotel close to the railway station which offers a fast service into London. Locations include: Broxbourne, Gillingham (Kent), Haywards Heath, Maidstone, Reading, Shoreham, Stevenage, Tonbridge, Ware and Watford.

Collectively this proposed railway expansion plan would represent an investment of £60m for third party investors and create approximately 300 new jobs.

Tony O’Brien, Travelodge UK property director, said: “We are delighted to open our 574th hotel by Ashford International railway station and cement our presence close to key railway stations that will connect the south and north of Britain via HS1 and HS2 routes. This hotel opening also means we now operate hotels close to the UK’s busiest 200 railway stations.

“Our next stop is to open hotels by railway stations in key commuter towns across the south east that have a fast service into London. These towns are important business locations in their own right and are growing at pace and attracting businesses of all sizes.”

Wendy Spinks, commercial director at HS1 Ltd, added: “HS1 is continuing to drive regeneration throughout Kent by attracting new investment to local areas. The opening of Ashford Town Centre Travelodge will help serve the increase in leisure tourists and business commuters using the high speed services. ”

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PolyU Study Advises Hotels to Look Ahead Accurately Basing on Publicly Available Data

Given that tourism is a global industry consuming a diversity of goods and services, the prediction of future trends needs to take account of the wider economic context, according to Professor Brian King and Dr Stephen Pratt of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a co-author. In a recently published study, the researchers use publicly available data to improve predictions about hotel occupancy rates in different classes of Hong Kong hotels. Their method can be adopted by individual hotels that have insufficient resources to collect expensive data, or for employing consultants, to predict demand. The researchers maintain that this has important implications for the hotel sector, both in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Occupancy forecasting is more than just a way of predicting demand – it can also determine profitability. Indeed, the researchers warn that inaccurate forecasting of hotel occupancy rates can lead to costly decisions. If a hotel is predicted to have strong bookings three months ahead, the “relevant departments may start to deploy additional resources accordingly. For instance, the bookings department may stop taking lower-yield reservations and additional staff may be employed to cope with the extra demand. Yet if the prediction turns out to be over-optimistic, “a wastage of resources is likely to ensue, leading to loss of revenue”. In the opposite case, a shortage of resources and staff may occur when demand exceeds what has been predicted.

Both scenarios can be damaging for a hotel’s reputation. Even a hotel that is “internally proficient and offers friendly effective staff and efficient systems and procedures” will suffer a drop in occupancy rates if the external economic environment is “soft”, argue the researchers.

Nevertheless, while it is agreed that hotels should base their budgets on forward-looking occupancy rates, this is in practice challenging, according to the researchers, because the industry is “highly competitive and vulnerable to volatile political and economic conditions, locally and internationally”. Other factors, such as the development of online technologies and the growth of Internet travel agencies, have also changed the way hospitality organisations “distribute and price their products” and made it more difficult to predict demand.

Yet tourism operators can benefit from “informative longer and shorter term economic insights” when predicting future trends, the researchers argue. Many international hotel chains have the comfort of sufficient resources for the deployment of “intelligent systems” and for investments in “the development of accurate forecasts to address the volatile and difficult prediction of hotel occupancies”. Other well-resourced hotels recruit “in-market expertise” to improve their predictions of demand. Nevertheless, smaller and independent hotels can rarely afford to invest in such resources, although their need for accurate predictions is just as great.

The Internet, however, offers access to potentially useful information that could be used to improve the accuracy of forecasting for even the most resource constrained of hotels. The researchers looked at easily accessible online data that is available from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD, established in 1957, comprises 34 member states and a further 25 non-member states, including China, that participate as committee observers. Its purpose, the researchers note, is to “gather economic statistics from members” that are used to provide comprehensive information about the global economy.

The OECD produces various quantitative indicators of specific aspects of the global economy, three of which were used by the researchers. First, the composite leading indicator (CLI) combines various economic variables, such as GDP, that indicate a country’s economic situation and provide “early signals of turning points in economic activity”. The researchers predicted that the CLI for tourist origin countries would predict hotel occupancy rates in the destination country.

The business survey index (BSI) collects qualitative information from business executives and managers that is reflective of “confidence within the business community about prevailing economic conditions”. The researchers argue that the BSI reflects the “motives of business travellers and conference delegates”, which affect the volume of business in the accommodation sector.

The consumer confidence index (CCI), in contrast, reflects consumer sentiment based on the economic climate and household finances. The information is collected through a monthly survey of 19 member and non-member countries. The researchers predicted that more positive feelings towards the local economy expressed through the CCI would be associated with increased hotel occupancies in the destination.

To test their predictions, the researchers used quarterly data on hotel occupancy rates in Hong Kong from the first quarter of 1972 up to the final quarter of 2010. They initially applied a method of “smoothing” the data to reduce the effects of seasonal fluctuations, so that they could identify the real peaks and troughs that reflected upturns and downturns in demand.

In the next step, they assessed the abilities of the three OECD indicators to predict peaks and troughs in the Hong Kong hotel occupancy data, categorised according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s classification of hotels as “high tariff A, high tariff B and medium tariff hotels”.

First, they demonstrated that the three OECD indices are leading indicators of hotel occupancy rates by showing that changes in the indices occurred before changes in demand. Then, they determined the correlations between each OECD indicator and the peaks and troughs in demand for each hotel type, finding that the CCI is the best predictor of overall Hong Kong hotel occupancy rates. However, the CLI provides better predictions for tariff B hotels.

The researchers suggest that their method could be used by hoteliers to supplement their revenue management systems and to formulate their own “predictive systems”. Although they used expensive statistical software to perform their analyses, they explain that hoteliers could easily download the relevant OECD data for their own source markets and conduct analyses in Excel, which are used by most businesses. Rather than deploying generic data on hotel categories, individual hotels could take their own occupancy data and apply the OECD indicators to predict their future occupancy rates.

This approach, the researchers argue, “offers the prospect of optimal hotel resource utilization and improved management”. Indeed, the use of publicly available data, such as the OECD indicators, makes it possible to plan for and target distinct markets at different times, rather than simply relying on historical occupancy rates.

The researchers use Hong Kong as an example to demonstrate their method of forecasting demand because it is a “leading international tourism destination” and has a “diverse and substantial accommodation sector”. However, the method could be applied as readily in other markets. And although they used data from the OECD, the researchers note that other sources are available, such as the World Tourism Barometer which is produced by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and outputs from the Australian government’s Tourism Forecasting Reference Panel. There is, they explain, “growing interest at both national and international levels in improving the accuracy of predictions through multiple inputs”. The greater availability of such data, and the use of relevant methods to exploit them, means that policymakers and hoteliers will be better equipped to predict future demand.

Tang, Candy Mei Fung, King, Brian and Pratt, Stephen. (2017). Predicting Hotel Occupancies with Public Data: An Application of OECD Indices as Leading Indicators. Tourism Economics, 23(5), 1096-1113.

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Cycas appoints Matt Luscombe as company’s first CEO

Hotel management company Cycas Hospitality has appointed Matt Luscombe as its first ever CEO.

Luscombe is set to join the business in March and will be based from Cycas’s head office in Amsterdam. The appointment follows a period of expansion for Cycas, having welcomed three new brands in 2018, doubling its portfolio in the process.

Luscombe brings nearly 20 years of hospitality and consumer experience, including ten with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). At IHG he held several senior leadership positions, most recently as COO for Europe where he was responsible for building the company’s hotel and loyalty brands.

Prior to that he spent five years heading up IHG’s franchise business across Europe and Africa, working with Cycas Hospitality and leading the hospitality industry’s first Olympic partnership by Cycas’s dual-branded property in London Stratford City. He joins Cycas from Coles Group, one of Australia’s leading retailers, where he was general manager.

In his newly-created role, Cycas said Luscombe will be responsible for “steering” the company through the next phase of its growth plans, which aims to see the business triple in size and boost its presence across Western Europe.

He will work closely with the co-founders and Cycas’s executive leadership team to further strengthen the company’s operations across the UK and mainland Europe. Co-founders Eduard Elias and John Wagner will both remain active in the company’s strategic leadership through positions on its board, alongside Cycas investors Huakee.

Matt Luscombe said: “Cycas is a true innovator in the hospitality sector and a business that over the last decade I’ve watched grow into a significant European hotel management company.

“While at IHG I always admired Cycas’s deliberate focus on employees and company culture, and saw first-hand how its distinctive approach successfully translated into happy, loyal guests and delighted business partners. To join at such a pivotal moment in the company’s inspirational journey is a privilege and, as CEO, I look forward to helping Cycas roll out its award-winning concept further.”

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Marriott Expands Across Africa With Hotel Signings in Morocco, Ghana and Liberia

MARRAKESH, Morocco, February 12, 2019 — From the Forum de l'Investissement Hôtelier Africain in Marrakech, Marriott International (www.Marriott.com) announced three new deal signings across North and West Africa, reinforcing the company’s commitment to expanding its presence across the continent. The new deal signings highlight the company’s growth in Morocco and Ghana, while marking its debut in Liberia.

Organised by Bench Events, Forum de l'Investissement Hôtelier Africain is a gathering that unites North and West African countries in a bid to develop their economies and support hospitality investment. The forum connects business leaders from international and local markets – driving investment into tourism projects, infrastructure, entertainment and hotel development across the region.

“New and established markets across North and West Africa continue to present us with immense opportunities to further enhance and diversify our portfolio in the continent,” said Jerome Briet, Chief Development Officer, Middle East & Africa at Marriott International. “The new deal signings further strengthen our robust development pipeline, which is a result of our long-established presence in Africa and the trust owners have in Marriott International and our compelling portfolio of diverse brands.”

The three new hotel signings announced during the Forum de l'Investissement Hôtelier Africain are:

The St. Regis Marrakech Resort
Marriott International’s luxury brand portfolio in Morocco is slated to further expand with the signing of The St. Regis Marrakech Resort. The St. Regis Marrakech Resort will be a part of the Assoufid Golf Resort and will include 80 luxuriously-appointed guestrooms and villas, all offering spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains. With leisure facilities such as a spa, pool, and a state-of-the-art fitness center, The St. Regis Marrakech Resort will also feature six distinctive culinary experiences, including two specialty restaurants and the iconic St. Regis Bar inspired by the King Cole Bar at the brand’s flagship in New York. Offering the ideal escape from the city, the resort will be in close proximity to the award-winning, 18-hole Assoufid Golf Club which has established itself as one of the best courses in Africa. Anticipated to open in 2024, the resort is owned by Assoufid Properties Development SA and developed by United Real Estate Company (URC), part of the Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO) group of companies.

Residence Inn by Marriott Accra Kotoka Airport
The company’s footprint in Ghana is expected to further expand with the signing of the Residence Inn by Marriott Accra Kotoka Airport, which will mark the debut of the extended-stay brand in the country. Projected to open in 2023, the 12-story hotel will consist of 160 spacious suites with separate living, working and sleeping zones, all equipped with fully functional kitchens. Other facilities in the hotel will include three food and beverage outlets, including a rooftop bar, a health and leisure club and a boardroom. The hotel will be strategically located in the Airport Residential Area of Accra and less than 1.5 kilometres from the Kotoka International Airport. A franchised property, the hotel will be managed by Yamusah Hotels Management Company Limited, the owner and developer of the property.

Four Points by Sheraton Monrovia
The company expects to make its debut in Liberia with the Four Points by Sheraton Monrovia. Anticipated to open in 2020, the hotel will consist of 111 stylishly appointed guestrooms and four food and beverage outlets, including a rooftop bar and lounge and speciality restaurant. The hotel will be in the heart of Monrovia’s central business district and near key governmental and ministerial buildings, diplomatic facilities and the University of Liberia. The hotel will boast Four Points by Sheraton’s approachable design and excellent service and reflect the brand’s promise to provide what matters most to today’s independent travellers. The Four Points by Sheraton Monrovia is a franchised property owned by Sea Suites Hotel LLC and will be managed by Aleph Hospitality.

Strong Growth Momentum across North and West Africa

Marriott International is on track to expand its footprint in Africa to 200 hotels by the end of 2023. The North and West Africa regions play a pivotal role in the company’s overall growth strategy for the continent.

In North Africa, Marriott International currently has 30 hotels and over 10,000 rooms in its portfolio and with a robust pipeline in place, the company expects to grow its hotel portfolio by 60 percent by the end of 2023. Presently home to nine Marriott International brands, the company expects to introduce six new brands in North Africa – including St. Regis, W Hotels, Autograph Collection, Residence Inn by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott and Marriott Executive Apartments. The company anticipates the opening of four new properties across North Africa in 2019, including the debut of The Ritz-Carlton Rabat which will mark the company’s first luxury property in Morocco. Other planned openings include the launch of the St. Regis brand in Egypt with The St. Regis Cairo, the Four Points by Sheraton Setif in Algeria and the Marrakech Marriott Hotel in Morocco.

In West Africa, the company expects to grow its current footprint by 75 per cent with the addition of nine new hotels and more than 1,800 rooms by the end of 2023. Currently operating 12 properties across Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Guinea, Marriott International plans to enter Benin and Ivory Coast as a part of its development pipeline. In 2019, the company is on-track to open the Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, its ninth property in Nigeria, and the Protea Hotel by Marriott Accra Kotoka Airport in Ghana.

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Tui Group sees 4.4% Q1 turnover growth

TUI Group, the German travel and tourism company, has reported turnover growth of 4.4% to €3.7bn (£3.2bn) for the Q1 period ending 31 December 2018, compared with €3.5bn (£3bn) last year, driven by strong performance from its hotel arm.

However, underlying EBITA decreased by €46.9m (£41.1m) year-on-year to €83.6m (£73.3m) during the period, with the main reasons for the decline in earnings being attributed to the “unusually long and hot summer in northern Europe”.

The group’s ‘holiday experiences’ segment, which encompases hotels and resorts, cruises and destination experiences, also accounted for around 70% of the group’s operating results during the previous financial year. During the 52-week period ending 30 September 2018 profits increased by 10.9% to €1.22bn (£1.09bn), and the group also saw its turnover jump 6.3% to €19.7bn (£17.7bn).

CEO Fritz Joussen said: “The overall trends for our sector are intact. Travel and tourism remain a growth market. Customers continue to travel, but they are currently resistant to increases in price. During this consolidation phase in our sector, it is particularly important to adequately participate in market growth.

“TUI has a good strategic and operational positioning, and the transformation of the group as a digital platform company is progressing. We have paved the way with our investments in hotels and ships, our IT and digital strategy and the acquisition of the Italian digital platform Musement in 2018.”

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Shiji Helps Marriott International to Complete Successful System Switch in China

Working with Shiji Group Professional Services teams, Marriott International successfully completed a full system migration of 167 former Starwood hotels in China in late December 2018.

The project was managed by Marriott in conjunction with Shiji teams using efficient project management methods and exclusive tools built to ensure the process happens smoothly. The migration of 167 hotels across China realized successful Opera system switch and connection with Central Reservation System to Marriott International Group standards.

The migration was completed from start to finish in three months and was started in September 2018. It is part of the global IT deployment plan of Marriott International Group. At its peak, Shiji Professional Services teams had nearly 100 engineers and staff working on the project, which ultimately led to one of the largest data migrations efforts at this scale. It is the largest of such project ever conducted in China. It was managed without disrupting any of the operations workflows in the hotels.

The efficient system migration was the result of a multi-party coordination between Shiji Group and Marriott China. Both teams worked together to plan out the migration in minute detail, including fall-back options and reducing system shutdown to a minimum. With 20 years of experience serving high-end hotels, Shiji also had an in-depth understanding of Marriott International Group’s operating standards to make the implementation a success. Martin Bookallil, Vice President of Information Technology for Marriott International Asia Pacific, expressed his appreciation and recognition to the Shiji systems operation team and partners.

"We are honored to take part in the successful transition of this landmark project. To provide customers with stable, professional, and effective technical services is our constant pursuit at Shiji,” said Kevin King, Chief Operating Officer of Shiji. "We will continue to serve the industry with excellent and efficient services globally, so hotel operations can more easily do their jobs in serving their guests."

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Front of House: Maytime Inn

Tell us about your background and how you came to own the Maytime Inn.

I have always worked in pubs from as soon as I was old enough to do so. The opportunity came up for me to get my hands on the Maytime just after I left university. I was originally looking with a friend – who had a much better financial backing than me – at buying an old manor house and converting it into a country house hotel. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but I still wanted to go it alone and decided to go after the Maytime. I went and created all the business plans and got the bank loan approved as long as I could come up with 50% of the money, which I couldn’t. I was working for Greene King at the time as an assistant manager and not earning anywhere near enough for that. Fortunately I have a great family who agreed to give me the financial backing and actually cut the banks out, but do the deal on the same rate. That was very lucky. Maytime was actually the first place I found on Google – I knew I wanted a place in the Cotswolds and this was the first property that came up.

What was it that particularly drew you to the Maytime?

I wanted something that could be a project. When I saw it I thought the property had fantastic potential, but it wasn’t being used. It was owned by a couple who had owned it for about 40 years and not a lot had changed during that time. I thought that it was something that I could take over and really have the opportunity to put my mark on.

You renovated the inn when you first bought it, what changes did you make?

When I took it on it needed quite a lot of work doing to it. It had been flooded in 2007 and the previous owners had refurbished it afterwards, but they hadn’t really fixed any of the damage properly. There was still quite a few issues electrically, plumbing wise, and a lot of areas with damp in the walls. We stripped everything back and repainted, resealed, re-did large parts of the electric in the building and reinstalled and modernised a lot of the building’s plumbing work. During the first stage we changed all of the windows and doors, we took out the old carpet in the raised restaurant area and put wooden flooring down, as well as changing all the furniture. We changed the bar and we refurbished the toilets as well.

What were the biggest challenges you encountered during that process?

I had never done it before. I had come from being an assistant manager in a Greene King-managed house to being the owner of a property, so I wasn’t only being the general manager I was also taking on the role of owner, which has its own set of challenges. You become a lot more responsible for the business. General managers always have the option to walk away, but as the owner it is your life and you have absolutely no choice but to get it done and make the business work. I had pretty much come straight out of university and I had never studied hospitality – I did an undergraduate degree in city and regional planning and a masters in construction project management, so I got to use those skills. It was all about juggling everything, in the beginning that was quite hard work really.

You were just 23 when you bought the property, was it hard at such a young age?

I remember sitting down on one of my first days that I moved and thinking, ‘right I’m here now, what do I do?’. I just sat there thinking about everything that needed doing and I just had no idea where to start. One of the first things I did was take a sledgehammer to the old bar, just so I could see the space and work out what we could do with it.

What did the second stage include?

After the first stage we opened and we traded for the rest of the summer, and then just after Christmas in the first full-year that I was here we shut the kitchen down for a couple of weeks and completely refurbished that. At the same time we were completely refurbishing the bedrooms, which took a couple of months.

How did the second stage compare with the first?

In hindsight I think we rushed the first stage a little bit. I wanted to get in the property and open it to make the most of summer. From me finding the property, moving in, making the plans and getting them executed and then opening for business, that whole process was about a month and a half. It really was a quick turnaround.

Tell us about the bedroom designs.

We based the concept on the pub’s old name, which was the Three Horseshoes. Pubs are part of the UK’s heritage so I think it’s important to remember the heritage of the pub, it would be a shame to forget that and there’s too many pubs that are becoming standardised. It’s called the Maytime as the old owners were called May and Tim, and I thought that was a nice touch so we kept the name. Before that it was called the Three Horseshoes so we based the bedrooms on that theme. We have the Hunting room; Sadlers room; Tack room; Farriers room; Boot room; and the Yard and Groom room.

Maytime is an inn, how would you say it differs from a hotel?

We are a pub that’s also an inn. We are in the middle of nowhere so the room trade is very important to us and we need to make sure they are full, but people will only come and visit us if the food is nice and the drinks offering is where it needs to be. We have a 70-cover restaurant and only six rooms, so if I don’t have that food and drink offering at where it needs to be I will not be able to survive on just those bedrooms. That’s where we differ to a boutique hotel as a lot of them won’t have restaurant space and if they do it’s certainly not as large as ours.

You have a passion for gin and the bar stocks more than 70 different brands, does that give the property a niche?

It’s actually 85 brands of gin now. We are a freehouse and we can buy whatever we want from whoever we want, without restriction. That gives us the freedom to have a much more diverse range. It gives guests the ability to just have a play – the idea of a bar is that it’s supposed to be a fun place to visit and that’s what we do. We have books that we have written at the bar, and they are all about the gins with distillery details, what the gin is about, how it is made, what botanicals are involved and for each gin we have our own recommended ‘perfect pour’.

You also have a selection of fine wines?

We have fine wines by the glass, and that’s proven very popular. We are a drive-to destination for most people so many guests will just want a glass of wine. We have a range of very fine wines, but by 125ml glasses. These are wines that you would never normally find by the glass. We have a system that allows us to get the wine out of the bottle without actually opening it – it replaces the empty space with argon gas, which is neutral so it stops the wine from going off. That means we can do as many wines as we wanted to by the glass without any risk of wastage.

You are located in the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, does that help attract guests?

The Cotswolds is definitely a tourist destination, so that helps to draw people in. We are on the edge of the Cotswolds but we are quite well placed for people coming from London, so we are perfectly situated for people that fancy that weekend escape to the countryside. Internationally it helps a lot as well because people want to come and experience the British countryside, and by staying in an inn they get a unique experience as well as an historical feel.

What has been your favourite aspect of the whole experience so far?

I think watching it grow, it’s almost like having a child. You take something on and you keep building on it. When we first opened nobody in a 10-mile radius had ever heard of the Maytime. We now have a much better reputation locally and are also better known further afield. It means a lot to me that the business has grown to that extent.

What are your future plans for the Maytime Inn?

We have renovated the garden in 2015, and we came third in the best beer garden in the UK competition by SME Insurance. That was our last major project and it really extended the garden – we put in an outdoor bar and extended the seating from about 20 to 120 people. I have just moved out of the pub and we are now in the process of turning the space upstairs, where I used to live, into staff accommodation. That’s the next expansion because due to our location we really struggle to get staff in and keep them. The Cotswolds is an expensive place to live and people that live around here generally don’t want to work in hospitality. We have to provide the accommodation to get the good staff. As we get busier and busier we can’t survive on that core management team anymore, we have to expand on our staff. After that we will see, but we are running out of space now.

Perhaps a second property then?

It’s on the cards. That’s another reason for me moving out, to make sure that this place can continue to run as well as it is now without me being here seven days a week. Say six or twelve months down the line, and I’m happy that it is managing, then perhaps we could start looking at pub number two.

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Avantgarde Hospitality Acquires The Ivy Boutique Hotel in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Ill. (February 11, 2019) – Avantgarde Hospitality LLC, a privately held hospitality investment firm, announced today the acquisition of the stylish Ivy Boutique Hotel, 233 E. Ontario Street in Chicago, Illinois, establishing its presence in the downtown area. The Ivy Boutique Hotel joins a roster of 4 Chicago hotels currently owned by the sponsors, broughtonHOTELS, who has been operating the property for the past year and introduced the Seller to Avantgarde. This brings the collaboration to 4 projects with broughtonHOTELS mid-west regional office based in Chicago. In an effort to provide enhanced quality products to the Chicago hospitality sector, Avantgarde Hospitality LLC and broughtonHOTELS plan to upgrade and rebrand The Ivy Boutique Hotel’s Sky Lounge rooftop bar space, offering Chicagoans and travelers alike an exciting escape above the city.

“We’re excited to have joined forces with Avantgarde Hospitality’s principals on our latest management assignment in Chicago,” said Larry Broughton CEO of broughtonHOTELS. “The hotel is already an amazing property, but we’re looking forward to renovating the Sky Terrace rooftop bar and bringing something sexy and new to Chicago.”

“When Avantgarde Hospitality learned of the Ivy Boutique Hotel, we quickly realized that the asset was hiding in plain sight and were thrilled at the opportunity to acquire it. We look forward to increasing the visibility of this hidden gem, and to immerse the hotel in the local community,” said Frank Anderson co-founder of Avantgarde Hospitality.

The Ivy Boutique Hotel features 63-rooms, the majority of which are suites with 675 square feet of luxurious accommodations. The hotel is less than 0.2 miles away from Chicago’s premier commercial district, Magnificent Mile, and only 0.9 miles from the Art Institute of Chicago. The property offers numerous amenities and services, including the Divine Lounge lobby bar and restaurant, room service, complimentary Wi-Fi, meeting and event space and a lively rooftop bar during the summer months, which will undergo a series of updates beginning in winter 2020 to ensure year-round usage.

“The Ivy’s outstanding location, contemporary ambiance and opulent accommodations reaffirms our commitment to the boutique luxury segment of the industry,” said Broughton. “We’re thrilled to see it through its transition into a new ownership group, and are looking to significantly expand the hotel’s profile in the luxury travel market.”

Sky Terrace’s $1.5 million renovation is expected to be completed by Memorial Day 2020. It will add a retractable roof allowing the space to be accessed all year featuring breathtaking views of downtown. The improved roof top will offer guests an inviting retreat, sixteen stories above the bustling Streeterville neighborhood, to enjoy refreshing cocktails and tasty bites.

For more information on The Ivy Boutique Hotel, visit their website www.exploreivy.com or call 312.335.5444.

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A recent survey from hotel solutions provider HRS has found that the demand for innovative technology in hotels is on the rise


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