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The Sun newspaper has today launched a major new campaign calling for a reduction in VAT on hotel accommodation and tourist attractions to 5%, after it got behind the industry's efforts to reduce the tax.

The campaign, called Give Us A Break, mirrors the industry's own Cut Tourism VAT campaign, led by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and its members.

The paper and the campaign's supporters argue that a reduction in VAT to 5%, as opposed to the current rate of 20%, would allow hard-pressed tourists to find better deals, as well as offering support to Britain's hard-pressed regions.

The Cut Tourism VAT campaign's thousands of supporters range from industry bodies such as the BHA and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA), to small B&Bs, family run attractions, zoos and major international brands.

The campaign claims that for every additional jumbo jet that arrives in the UK from China, £1m is added to the UK economy, £200,000 goes to the Exchequer and 20 full-time jobs are created.

The tourism sector currently runs a £17b deficit because five British people go abroad on holiday for every two foreign visitors who come in -  a situation that is expected to worsen as the pound gets stronger.

While the UK government charges all holidaymakers with 20% VAT, countries like Portugal, Holland and Belgium levy just 6% tax on all hotels, holiday camps and tourist attractions.

France and Spain charge 10% tax on staying in hotels and holiday parks, while VAT in Germans hotels is just 7%.

Graham Wason, chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, said: “This campaign is about more than just tourism – it’s about the people, communities and jobs driven by it right across the country. Ministers need to take a long term view and it’s clear that cutting VAT will offer a vital lift to many areas that have been forgotten for far too long.”

Thomas Dubaere, managing director of hotel group Accor UK & Ireland, added: “While the UK is a highly desirable destination for tourists, the current rate of VAT, which is double the European average, discourages a large number of potential visitors and prevents the industry from achieving its true potential. A cut in the rate of VAT for tourists would bring significant benefits for thousands of hospitality related businesses across the entire country, create much needed jobs and be a major boost for the wider British economy.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Con), said: “I have been a big supporter of this campaign and have made my points very clear to successive ministers.  I believe by cutting VAT we will increase levels of incoming tourism, making the United Kingdom much more attractive to visit.  Incoming tourism is new money into the economy of this county and should be encouraged where possible.”

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Accor brand Aparthotels Adagio is to develop two aparthotels in London, its first in the capital.

Adagio will open a 217-apartment site on Whitechapel Road in 2016 on the site of an office block, Black Lion House. It plans to launch the 137 apartment Adagio London Stratford two years later in 2018.

Both developments are in partnership with Union Hanover and EquityBridge Asset Management.

The one- and two-bedroom apartments, which include a kitchen and bathroom, will primarily be aimed at mid- to long-stay guests with tiered pricing from the fourth night onwards.

Aparthotels Adagio chief executive Martine Balouka-Vallette said: “We now have the right opportunities to launch Adagio in the city with two exciting openings which will deliver for the burgeoning extended stay market in London and Europe. Greater availability and increased consumer demand are driving the serviced apartment growth in the UK and Adagio will play a major part of this continued growth in years to come.”

Accor UK & Ireland managing director, Thomas Dubaere, added: “London continues to be a key market for growth and we are committed to strengthening all of our brands in the city, and indeed throughout the UK.”

Accor already operates an Adagio aparthotel in Liverpool and will launch in Birmingham next year and Edinburgh in 2017.

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London is in the midst of a property boom and looks set to become one of the world’s leading hotel markets, as strong growth in leisure demand turns the capital city into an increasingly popular tourist destination.

This was the conclusion of an HVS London Update breakfast seminar held last week at the Charlotte Street Hotel, attended by over 70 hotel operators, analysts and investors. The event was part of a series of market briefings organised globally by HVS.

Charles Human, MD of property specialist HVS Hodges Ward Elliott, presented a positive outlook for the capital, prompted by a population increase that is currently higher than that of either New York or Paris.

Tourism in the capital will be further boosted from increased Chinese demand as an improved visa procedure is implemented for Chinese visitors.

“London has a shortage of hotel stock on the market, which pushes both demand and prices higher and means that development costs are lower than acquisition costs. The capital also has a high proportion of poor quality hotels which needs replacing – either as hotels, or residential units,” said Human.

“London has enjoyed a strong return since the financial crisis and, with the exception of Paris, is the only European gateway city outperforming its peak pre-crisis RevPAR (revenue per available rooms) levels. In 2013 London was the most invested city in the world in terms of commercial real estate.”

The audience heard how lending for hotel development had become easier to access with more competition amongst established lenders. However, most of the key deals in London hotels had been secured on an all-cash basis with the intention of future refinancing when the time is right.

As London itself spreads – with expansion towards the East and the South – hotel development is shifting towards new areas, particularly those with high corporate and residential growth such as the East and North.

In a discussion chaired by HVS chairman Russell Kett involving senior executives from Starwood Capital, Precis Holdings, citizenM and London & Regional Properties, the panel debated how it is leisure rather than corporate demand that is currently of more interest to hoteliers, as corporate rates have been relatively static over recent years.

This, the audience heard, was an advantage to the sector as leisure demand is easier to yield than corporate rates, which have little flexibility due to last-room availability and fixed contracts.

HVS Hodges Ward Elliott is a joint venture between the leading international hotel consultancy firm HVS and the leading US hotel real estate brokerage and investment banking firm Hodges Ward Elliott. HVS Hodges Ward Elliott acts as broker and investment advisor in European hotel real estate markets, and focuses on disposition advisory services.

HVSis the world’s leading consulting and services organization focused on the hotel, mixed-use, shared ownership, gaming, and leisure industries. Established in 1980, the company performs 4500+ assignments each year for hotel and real estate owners, operators, and developers worldwide. HVS principals are regarded as the leading experts in their respective regions of the globe. Through a network of more than 30 offices and 450 professionals, HVS provides an unparalleled range of complementary services for the hospitality industry.

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London Hilton on Park Lane welcomes a brand new spa offering, Spa to You. Located on the lower ground floor of the hotel, the new opening will be the first ever permanent Spa to You outlet, offering guests and visitors premium spa treatments from around the world, ranging from the latest vino-therapies from France, to traditional Japanese nightingale dropping facials, which contain a natural cleansing enzyme and have become popular with Hollywood celebrities.

Spa to You will offer the latest techniques in global spa treatments, created and developed through extensive travel, research and development. These treatments will be delivered to guests by a team of highly qualified and experienced therapists.

Spa treatments include a wide range of massages, from traditional Swedish and hot oil Polynesian massage, to Chinese Tuina/Acupressure, designed to balance the body’s chi and improve blood circulation. Manicures and pedicures, waxing body wraps and a range of alternative therapies are also available.

Taking inspiration from mother nature, Spa to You centres around earthy tones and incorporates warm leafy accents, botanical elements and slate hues. Muted lighting effects create a relaxing environment against a backdrop of light and dark natural timbers, while contemporary style is introduced through Indonesian and Italian design features, such as hand crafted rattan cocoon chairs. The newly refurbished space provides four treatment zones, with one single bed room, two larger areas for couples treatments as well as a manicure and pedicure area.

Located in the heart of Mayfair, London Hilton on Park Lane boasts 453 guest rooms and 56 suites, all with stunning views over Hyde Park and Knightsbridge. Guests can enjoy the hotel's idyllic central location, with London’s main attractions on its doorstep. From West End theatres and world famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the hotel’s close proximity to Hyde Park and Green Park underground stations make it the perfect base from which to explore. London Hilton on Park Lane also offers a range of famous London restaurants and bars, including the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows and Polynesian-inspired Trader Vic’s.

For more information or to book, please visit or call +44 207 493 8000 

Rates for hotel rooms and meeting spaces have significantly increased in Glasgow, ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The average cost of a hotel room in Glasgow rose by 12% to £75.41 in May, according to the latest data from HotStats.

Occupancy levels have also increased by almost 5% to 85% on average. 

Meeting room hire per available room increased by 17% to £109.81.

In the South East, hoteliers saw a growth of 4.9% in gross operating profit per available room. Despite a drop in demand, hoteliers managed to increase room revenue.

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French hotel group Accor has confirmed that it will open a property under its upscale business brand Pullman on the waterfront at Liverpool’s Kings Dock, next year.

The 216-bedroom hotel will be the second Pullman hotel in the UK, following the launch of a 312-bedroom property in London St Pancras in 2012.

Located alongside the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool, which will be integrated with the Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) Liverpool, the hotel will be operated by Branded Hotel Management (BHM) under a franchise agreement.

It joins Accor’s exisiting brands in Liverpool, including Formule1, Ibis, Ibis Styles Novotel, and Adagio.

Thomas Dubaere, managing director, Accor UK & Ireland, said: “The opening of the Liverpool Pullman highlights our dedication to our upscale offering and to growing this important area of the Accor portfolio. Our pipeline of new opening continues to be strong and as we progress towards our ambitious growth target of 300 hotels in the UK and Ireland.”

Bob Prattey, chief executive of ACC Liverpool, added: “The Pullman hotel will be the ‘headquarters’ hotel for conferences and exhibitions taking place at ACC Liverpool and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, so securing a leading, world-respected brand was imperative for us to ensure a comfortable stay for delegates and visitors. The hotel will enhance the accommodation available in the city and will be a welcome addition to our iconic waterfront.”

Launched five years ago, the Pullman brand is currently represented by 85 hotels in 24 countries, with ambitions for 500 hotels in the long term. It is part of the wider Accor portfolio, which has 3,600 hotels across 12 brands.

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The first in a new brand of lifestyle and wellness hotels from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened today in the US.

Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, the 129-bedroom hotel Even hotel is designed to meet the growing demand from guests for fitness opportunities when travelling.

It offers healthy grab-and-go items with clear nutritional and ingredient labelling, natural eucalyptus linens aimed at offering a cooler sleep, an in-room training zone, general manger-led community runs and ergonomic work spaces.

Kirk Kinsell, president, the Americas, IHG, described the opening of the first Even hotel as “a milestone”, with a second set to launch in Rockville, Maryland later this month.

“We know that for the travelling public, the ability to maintain their health routine while on the road is becoming more and more important and Even Hotels provides the tools and encouragement to make healthier choices at an approachable price point,” he explained.

Two further Even hotels are being developed in midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, with Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles all regarded as target locations.

Richard Solomons, chief executive of IHG, last year hinted to Caterer and Hotelkeeper that the Even brand could eventually launch in the UK.

“I can see a time when we will launch here, it is simply a matter of when,” he said. “It often takes five to 10 years for a brand to become established and gain the momentum to expand.”

The launch of the first Even hotel comes ahead of the opening of IHG’s first Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts property, the first luxury international hotel brand designed specifically for the Chinese guest.

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The UK continues to have the strongest pipeline of hotels under development in Europe, according to the latest statistics from STR Global.

A total of 922 hotels, totalling 149,235 rooms, are currently being developed across the continent, with the UK leading the way with 12,056 rooms under construction.

The May 2014 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report highlights the six next busiest countries for hotel development as Russia (9,250 rooms); Turkey (8,225); Germany (6,604); Italy (2,399); France (2,394); and Netherlands (2,362).

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Improvements across room rates and occupancy in regional hotels outstripped the performance of their Londoncounterparts during May, according to preliminary figures from business advisory firm BDO.
Hotel operators in the regions enjoyed a 8.9% year-on-year increase in rooms yield to £45.42, while the average room rate rose by 8.4% to £59.85, compared with May 2013. Occupancy increased by 0.5% to 75.9%.
Growth for London hotels was more modest, with rooms yield at £97.89 and average room rates at £117.27, an increase on last year of 2.1% and 4.1% respectively.

However, occupancy in the capital fell by 1.9% to 83.5%, due to the comparison with May 2013 when the UEFA Champions League Final was held in Wembley.

Robert Barnard, partner at BDO, said that after a strong start to the year in both London and the regions, the regions pulled ahead in the last month.

“Two bank holidays have certainly had an impact as holidaymakers escape to the country for the long weekends, but the real deciding factor for the capital has been the absence of a major sporting event,” he explained. “The actual occupancy level achieved of 83.5% in London does, nevertheless, reflect robust trading conditions in the capital.”

“The UEFA Champions League Final hosted at Wembley in May 2013 saw an influx of tourists from the continent, while the past month has been relatively quiet in comparison with the build up to the World Cup. It remains to be seen how this major international tournament will impact the UK hotel sector.”

BDO's hotel trends survey features mainly branded properties in the three- to four-star sectors.

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The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is to change its rewards club scheme to allow guests to redeem more rewards for their stay.

The IHG Rewards Club will allow registered guests to collect 10 club points for every US $1 they charge to their room, from 1 July. This will mean they can collect four times’ as many points on average as with the previous earning structure, according to the global hotel company. The current rules state that guests could only collect 2,000 points per stay, whereas the new rules will reward a guest with an average of 8,000 points.

This new programme will “unlock” several more rewards, including flights, music downloads, car rental, gift cards, spa breaks, hotel nights, and experience days such as sushi-making, sky diving, spa treatments or rally driving. For example, a spa day for two costs 67,000 points, while a night at the Hotel Indigo Berlin costs 20,000.

Club members will also be able to access free internet access at all IHG properties, from 1 July. Sign-up to the club is free online, and there are currently nearly 79 million members.

Peter Tippen, director of guest and loyalty marketing Europe for IHG, claimed that the loyalty scheme was the industry’s largest, and added: “IHG Rewards Club points guests have unparalleled freedom to choose how they make the most of their travels.”

IHG operates more than 4,700 hotels in almost 100 countries, under brands which include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo.

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