Fancy a UK holiday?  Expect higher prices, smaller menus, and no hot tubs

Fancy a UK holiday? Expect higher prices, smaller menus, and no hot tubs

Fancy a UK holiday?  Expect higher prices, smaller menus, and no hot tubs

View of the city seen through the window at dusk - plainpicture / Frank Herfort

View of the city seen through the window at dusk – plainpicture / Frank Herfort

“Unfortunately, hot tubs could become a thing of the past,” says Vicky Saynor, owner of the Bethnal & Bec self-catering resort in Hertfordshire. Saynor, whose three luxurious stable conversions feature underfloor heating and outdoor hot tubs, has seen the cost of heating oil double from 2020 to £ 5,000 per year, with electricity bills from company tripled in the past three months to £ 6,000 per year. Both prices will rise from October, with no indication as to whether oil costs will be covered by the Semi-Annual Energy Plan for Business, announced Thursday over a muted response from hospitality service providers. “Frankly, I’m petrified,” says the 46-year-old.

Saynor recently contacted guests to see if they would accept a power consumption surcharge added to the room rate. With the answer “a resounding no,” she is considering removing the cabins’ energy-gorging hot tubs and closing the resort for lazier times in the fall and winter. “I think you’ll see a lot of smaller hotels close apart from the Christmas and New Year rush,” she says.

Winter is coming

Holiday season aside, the long autumn and winter months have traditionally been the season to get a bargain in hospitality, with hotel room rates dropping about 30% from the peak season. Now, with Liz Truss announcing limited six-month support for businesses with their energy bills, leading hospitality exponents, including famed restaurateur Tom Kerridge, have warned that energy and food price increases will they are combining with customers tightening their belts to present a “terrifying landscape” for hospitality this winter.

“Hospitality businesses are considering whether to stay open or close completely for the winter,” says Kerridge, noting that many pubs and hotels are bearing heavy debt burdens due to Covid closures. “Even with the announced price limit of six months, we will see closures and layoffs. We also need a restructuring of corporate tariffs and a reduction in VAT, as VAT is an initial tax that will free up money that we can spend on a daily basis. “

Dan Brod is co-owner of The Beckford Group, which operates four “pubs with poncy rooms” and two restaurants in the West Country. He says the magnitude of the energy price hikes we’ve already seen risk “wiping out all profits” for smaller hotels and that the six-month help promised to businesses versus the two-year lockdown for households does not. it goes far enough where Troubled hotels are concerned.

“Six months isn’t useful because we need to know what’s going on in one to five years,” says Brod. “That’s why companies set their energy bills for one or two years at a time as the short term means you can’t invest and guarantee product quality or be sure to cover your wages.”

Smaller hotels and restaurants are more prone to price shocks than large chains as they are less able to borrow and have lower cash reserves to tap into, Kerridge says, as are spa hotels and properties with pools. high energy consumption. Furthermore, it is still unclear whether the numerous rural restaurants and hotels such as Saynor’s that use fuel oil or liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be included in the measures.

Chef Tom Kerridge - Bone Soup Productions / Ellie Kynaston

Chef Tom Kerridge – Bone Soup Productions / Ellie Kynaston

In the face of a recession, Brod says, many companies are cautious about raising prices and are absorbing cost increases as best they can. “They rightly don’t think customers will pay £ 25 for a burger,” she says, predicting this will be “a losing winter” for many British restaurants and hotels.

Brod believes hotels and restaurants could switch to short weeks (closed Sunday to Wednesday). Like many hoteliers, he is changing the lighting in the corridors of his hotels, which currently lights up in the morning to signal a change from the night to day atmosphere. “Without plunging customers into darkness, we’re obviously turning off some lights,” he says.

Serena von der Heyde, owner of The Georgian House Hotel boutique in Pimlico, expects to see her annual electricity costs rise from £ 5,725 to £ 13,119 in October and is unsure to what extent the announced energy plan will compensate. She plans to close part of the hotel as demand drops this fall and she is also installing solar panels to provide 35% of the hotel’s electricity and partnering with My Green Butler, a hospitality consultancy, to eliminate wasted energy.

Like many hotels, the Georgian House Hotel will be slashing its menu to reduce the amount of food that needs to be refrigerated on site, a high cost for many restaurants. Von der Heyde says customers should prepare for the increases beyond the doubling of room rates we have already seen since the end of the pandemic and asks Brits to be patient with hospitality service providers. “We are developing a new way of operating and the experiences of restaurants and hotels may seem a little different right now,” he says.

The balance

For many hospitality providers, the balance between meeting customer expectations for evasive luxury and limiting energy consumption is difficult to achieve. Saynor says her guests typically “take a vacation thinking about the bills” and turn up the heat as they open the windows of her studies.

Among self-catering owners, the stories are legions of families arriving with their entire wardrobes to recycle seven loads of washing machines. Despite this, there is broad industry consensus that excess energy surcharges introduced on some Airbnb properties would be unpleasant for hotel and B&B guests. “People don’t book a vacation to think about their energy bills,” says Brod. “The point of hospitality is to keep some theater.”

Tom Ross is CEO of the PIG Hotel group, whose energy bills will be significantly higher than last winter even with the proposed government intervention. He is confident that customers are starting to demand energy efficiency in restaurants and hotels. “I think guests will start to notice a waste of energy – lights left on unnecessarily, air conditioning blaring – and it will have a negative connotation for a hotel brand,” he says.

Brod agrees that there could be long-term positives in the hospitality crisis winter. “There will be environmental positives, but right now we are fighting the fire brigade,” he says.

A question of costs

Will the price of a hotel stay increase? Overnight costs for UK hotels have risen 12% in the hospitality sector this year and are set to rise another ten% during the winter months. Restaurant bills will increase by around 6% in the next year, after having increased by 9% already in the year through August. Expect higher-than-inflation increases in the cost of using the spa as well (a large hotel energy cost).

Will the hotels close during the winter? Smaller hotels, including those that use oil or LNG for heating and are not expected to benefit from the per-business unit price cap, have already warned that they may be forced to close for periods as nights approach. Hotels in larger groups are unlikely to close, although it may involve a number of energy-saving measures, such as reducing menu options, closing hotel areas, and dimming lighting.

Could the hotel pools close? With a pool consuming 2,500 kWh of electricity per year on average (the equivalent of a three-bedroom house), closing pools or running pools with unheated water is an obvious energy saver. Germany banned private swimming pool heating this summer to save gas supplies, a move that could be followed by other countries. With the cost of running a hot tub rising 60 percent in the year to 2022, expect to miss out on that outdoor bath.

Can prices increase after booking? No. Hotels must comply with the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trade Act (CPR) and the 2009 Service Provision Act, which stipulates that the prices quoted for accommodation and other services must be available before the customer make a reservation. Furthermore, these prices must not be misleading or have misleading omissions (such as a hidden supplement for energy consumption).

Will self-catering facilities charge extra energy?

Calypso Rolph, 41, runs self-catering establishments in Margate and Deal (staysbythesea). She says times were already tough for self-catering vacation businesses, with more competition from landlords turning long rentals into vacation rentals. Like many self-catering providers, Rolph is weighing a surcharge for excess energy consumption on his properties, which will be levied when cleaners take readings on his cottages’ energy meters after a guest’s stay (i owners who rent their properties through Airbnb can already request this payment through the site’s resolution center).

Rolph is also considering taking his properties out of the tourist rental market and offering them to “digital nomads” for longer stays, to reduce his growing spending on cleaning and changing. These energy supplements, as well as gracious requests for guests to reduce their energy consumption, could become a feature of living rooms with kitchenettes.

Also expect to see more self-catering establishments installing prepaid meters or, in the case of self-catering establishments on larger sites, removing the ability for guests to control heating levels and do so centrally, even with announced support. .

However Richard Bond, owner of self-catering rental agency Finest Retreats, says he recommends owners to increase overall rents rather than add a discrete energy tax, so expect to see overall price increases as well. “Experience tells us as soon as guests see a separate [flat] full of energy they think they have free rein to have the heating on at 30 degrees with the windows open at the same time, ”he says.

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