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Malmaison Birmingham has announced that a major refurbishment will get underway in January following what has been a record-breaking December.

The 189-bedroom hotel within the Mailbox – a converted Royal Mail sorting office – will see the transformation of 30 club bedrooms and the conversion of the Brasserie into a Chez Mal, a new restaurant brand that was recently introduced into Malmaison’s London hotel.

The new Chez Mal will feature a menu inspired by a traditional steakhouse and classic French brasserie, with dishes such as New York strip steak and mac ‘n’ cheese. There will also be a makeover for the bar, with a new entrance direct from the Mailbox Mall, which itself will complete a £50m revamp next year.

The improvements follow what has been a bumper year for the Malmaison Birmingham with revenue up 10% year-on-year and particularly strong trading during December, boosted by over 1,300 guests attending a series of Fire & Ice themed Christmas parties.

Damian Goom, the hotel’s general manager, said: “December really has been a record-breaking month for us; we have beaten our sales record three weekends in a row and last Saturday saw our revenue hit £57,000. Our rooms are running at over 90% occupancy, which is a real achievement given the number of hotels and serviced apartments in the city centre alone.

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Events to commemorate the outbreak for World War One are believed to have boosted hotel performance across the UK during November, according to preliminary figures released by business advisory and accountancy firm BDO.

Hotels in the regions experienced a 4% increase in occupancy to 75.7% and a 7.3% rise, year-on-year, in room rates to £60.82. For the second month in a row, growth in rooms yield, at 11.6%, was in the double digits.

Meanwhile, occupancy at London hotels was up by 3.6% to 86.2%, with an increase of 4% to £125.51 and 7.7% to £108.17 respectively in room rates and rooms yield.

Robert Barnard, partner at BDO, said: “Milestones such as the centenary of the First World War have such a profound impact on the UK population - thousands turned out for ceremonies in London and across the regions.  This year, unlike previous years, remembrance events took place throughout the month of November and as a result, hoteliers across the UK saw high occupancy.”

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Terence Southward has been appointed general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Liverpool.

Southward brings 21 years’ local hospitality management experience to the 87-bedroom hotel, having previously worked at the Haydock Park Racecourse for the Jockey Club in Merseyside; the Macdonald Hill Valley hotel, golf and spa in Shropshire; and at the Liverpool-based Feathers Hotel and Catering Company.

Commenting on his new role, Southward said: “I have great pride returning to the city to a unique property. I am a firm believer in ensuring the emphasis of a customer’s experience is on the attention to detail.”

Managed by Interstate Hotels and Resorts, the hotel was first built in 1865, and is now a Grade-II listed building. It offers facilities including a restaurant, lounge, spa, swimming pool, and conference and events spaces. 

DoubleTree by Hilton numbers more than 400 hotels worldwide, and offers famous signature touches such as a warm chocolate chip cookie on arrival. It is part of the Hilton Worldwide, whose other brands include Waldorf Astoria, the Hilton Garden Inn, and Hampton Hotels. 

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A London luxury hotel group has become the first in the industry to back an expansion of Heathrow.
The family-owned Edwardian Group London has come out in support of the Heathrow plans, saying it is the “only way” for UK businesses to benefit.
Inderneel Singh, MD of the five-star Mayfair hotel, said: “Ensuring the UK continues to increase its attractiveness as a destination for tourists and international business visitors is crucial to the success of our business. We are working to attract tourists from the Far East but our main market is North America and that is where we see a lot of opportunities for growth.
“The vast majority of visitors from the US to Britain fly into Heathrow. But Heathrow is full, putting at risk the excellent frequency to states such as New York, and restricting the ability of airlines to put on new routes to states such as Utah and cities such as Memphis, which remain unconnected to the UK
“It is not good enough for our economy to stand back while these passengers land in France and then Eurostar over to London for a day trip. If the UK is to benefit, we need them to land, stay, travel around and spend in Britain. The only way to do this is to expand our hub airport, Heathrow.”
Edwardian Group London has 14 hotels, with 12 in London, including the five-star Mayfair and Hampshire hotels.
While Edwardian Group London is thought to be the first hotel group to express a preference between Heathrow and Gatwick, the Heathrow plans have also won the support of the Confederation of British Industry and 25 Chambers of Commerce. Tourism agency London & Partners has not expressed a preference as it is funded by the mayor, who still favours an island airport in the Thames estuary, despite the Airports Commission rejecting the idea.
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Hilton Worldwide has introduced digital check-in and room selection technology across 4,100 hotels worldwide, including 119 in the UK and Ireland.

The scale of the digital roll out across 11 brands is believed to be the largest of its kind in the hotel sector. 

Through their Hilton HHonors accounts, guests will be able to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. They will also be able to request upgrades or make special requests regarding their room. 

Geraldine Calpin, global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide, said, “Digital check-in and room selection puts our guests in the driving seat and gives them unprecedented choice and control across their entire stay. 

“Never before have guests been able to check-in, select their room from a digital floor plan and customise their room ready for arrival. We are truly revolutionising the industry and this is just the tip of the iceberg for digital at Hilton Worldwide.”

Simon Vincent, executive vice-president and president, Europe, Middle East & Africa for Hilton Worldwide, added: “As a business, we have always prided ourselves on leading the pack – we were the first to put televisions in hotel rooms and now we are the first to let you choose your room – right down to the exact room number.” 

Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced that mobile key technology, which gives guests the ability to unlock their hotel room doors with their smartphone and to go straight to their rooms upon arrival, will be available in the US across four of its brands in 2015 – Hilton Hotels & Resort, Canopy by Hilton, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, and Conrad Hotel & Resorts. By the end of 2016, this technology will be available across the majority of rooms worldwide.

Hilton Worldwide comprises more than 4,250 managed, franchised, owned and leased hotels and timeshare properties, with more than 700,000 rooms in 93 countries.

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The brightest and most innovative names in Scottish tourism faced a mouth-watering feast as UK hospitality bosses created a show stopping menu for Scotland’s tourism Oscars.

This year’s Scottish Thistle Awards, which recognise excellence by individuals and businesses in the Scottish tourism sector, saw some of the biggest and best names in the industry enjoy a five star feast for the prestigious regional award ceremonies.

Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, catering and hospitality partners to several of Scotland’s most exclusive venues, including three of this year’s regional Thistle Award venues – Hampden Park, Perth Racecourse and Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicians - put together an inventive menu designed to showcase the best of Scottish produce.

Looking to demonstrate their commitment to fresh, local produce, Sodexo Prestige’s team of executive chefs sourced ingredients from across the country to feature in the menu for the important occasion.

Key components in this year’s menu included Highland Smoked Salmon from Fort William, Smoked Mussels from the Argyll Smokery in Dunoon and Venison from Braehead Foods in Kilmarnock.

Stephen Frost, Executive Chef for Sodexo Prestige said of the menu: “Given the nature of this prestigious event, my team of chefs were keen to put together an impeccable menu which not only wowed those who ate it, but showcased the excellent quality of the produce we have available here in Scotland.

 “Our Executive Chef, Trevor Garden, designed the menu for the occasion which featured an impressive Scottish Estate Roast Venison from Braehead Foods. We felt this was a prime opportunity to showcase the excellent quality of meat we have on our doorstep.

“The Scallops from Direct Seafoods added to our light and fresh seafood starter of cured Scottish Salmon and Smoked Mussels with Watercress Salad, Beetroot Salsa and Wasabi Tempura.

“We believe that these kinds of creative dishes help to demonstrate the talent of our expert chefs, while also ensuring an exciting and enjoyable dining experience for those involved.”

This year’s menu also included a cheeseboard put together by Taste of Arran to showcase their delicious selection of cheeses, oatcakes and chutney’s.

Amanda Brown, National Accounts Director for Sodexo Prestige added:"It was an honour and a privilege to cater for such a significant event for Scotland’s tourism industry.

“We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to this year’s regional winners and we wish all the best to those through to the finals.”

Finalists from this year’s regional awards are set to meet their competitors at the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow in March next year for the final Scottish Thistle Awards ceremony.

The national final will form part of the Signature Programme, at Scottish Tourism Week in March 2015. The Signature Programme will see Scotland’s tourism industry descend on Glasgow from the 3rd-5th March for six must-attend events, showcasing Scotland as an ultimate destination for food, drink, tourism and hospitality.

Stephen Carter, the Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards is all about recognising the cream of the crop, so it was only fitting that our shortlisted finalists were treated to the finest of menus.

“Sodexo Prestige did an outstanding job creating a three-course meal that celebrated our renowned natural larder and showcased the diverse range of ingredients available across Scotland.

“The calibre of entries to this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards has been fantastic and on behalf of the panel I want to congratulate all those shortlisted for our regional ceremony, particularly our winners to whom I wish the greatest of luck for the next stage of the competition.”

For the first time in its 22 year history, the Scottish Thistle Awards are now led by several organisations including VisitScotland, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

London's five star Marriott Hotel Park Lane will be given a fresh look in June as part of the hotel's repositioning.

The renovation of the Grade II listed building will aim to epitomise "Mayfair elegance" and attract the luxury market when the work is complete.

London-based RPW Design has been charged with the project, which includes the refurbishment of all 152 bedrooms, the lobby, executive lounge and meeting rooms. Five new suites will also be added.

Luxury materials such as leather, silk, solid wood and bookmatched marble will be used throughout the hotel, which will feature quintessentially British touches such as British artwork, Edward Goodyear hand-picked wild flowers and Floris bathroom amenities.

The guest experience will also be enhanced with the introduction of a signature arrival and bespoke personal service, Apple products throughout, Bluetooth LCD screen TVs and mobile check-in.

Nicolas Kipper, the newly appointed general manager, said: "We aim to compete with the best hotels in London with an exclusive and unique Marriott offering. The new design, an increased suite count, an elevated service and an enhanced in-room offering, will make us even more appealing to the luxury market."

RPW Design’s managing director Jan Wilson added: "Our designs aim to bring out the English Heritage of the Francis Verity designed historic building extending its intimate feel and residential character into the hotel’s interior. Elegantly designed rooms and public spaces will have all the facilities expected in a leading luxury hotel."

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IHG is to acquire the US-based Kimpton hotels and restaurants for £275m and roll the brand out globally.

Kimpton describes itself as the world's largest independent boutique hotel operator, with 62 hotels across the US and a further 16 in the pipeline. It also operates 71 hotel-based restaurants and bars.

IHG said it had plans to double Kimpton's current £13m EBITDA by the end of 2017. Kimpton currently achieves growth of 4% per annum in system sales and has seen a 7.7% growth in comparable revpar in the last five years.

The deal will complement its Hotel Indigo and Even hotels brands and make it the market leader in the boutique sector. IHG said it would now accelerate the growth of the Kimpton brand, within the US and globally.

IHG chief executive Richard Solomons said: “Kimpton is a well-established and highly successful business that has built an industry-leading position in the US. It has created a portfolio of world-class hotels and destination restaurants, and the distinctive and innovative Kimpton brand will fit perfectly into the IHG brand family.  Adding Kimpton to our portfolio of preferred brands creates the world’s largest boutique hotel business.

"The acquisition is another step in IHG’s well-established asset-light strategy of investing in high-quality growth, building on a strong track record of developing iconic global brands. We will use our scale, network of owner relationships, and powerful digital platforms to accelerate Kimpton’s growth both within the US and internationally."

Kimpton will continue to be led by chief operating officer Mike DeFrino, Solomons added.

Mike Depatie, chief executive officer of Kimpton, said: "IHG is the ideal partner for Kimpton and has absolutely the right experience and specialist capabilities to help the business move to the next phase of rapid growth."

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The 12th December saw the MICE industry come together and join the nation on a very festive Friday to help raise money for Save The Children by participating in their Christmas Jumper Day! pledged to donate £5 to Save The Children for each photo they received and Tweeted of companies in their Christmas Jumpers! 

Michael Begley MD says “We love to support charities and this is fantastic cause which also gives our team the excuse to get festive and have fun! With the wonderfully extrovert personalities we all know and love in this industry, we received and tweeted some excellent photos whilst donating lots and lots of money”.

The conference and events sales team at Scotland’s national stadium produced a stunning result when they were crowned ‘Sales Team of the Year’ at the Sodexo Prestige annual sales conference.

The UK Prestige Venues & Events Sales Conference aims to reward the efforts made by conference and events teams across their 50 strongportfolio.

Hampden Park was presented with the prestigious title as an acknowledgement of their sterling efforts in sales for 2014, despite the huge demand placed on them due to the stadium being a key venue for this year’s Commonwealth Games.

The conference, which was held at St James’ Park – official PV&E venue and home to Newcastle United Football Club – also looked to discuss the ongoing sales strategy following a highly successful year for the company.

The event featured team building exercises and presentations before being rounded off by a glittering evening meal and awards ceremony, which saw the Hampden team presented with the impressive accolade after a thriving year at the flagship venue.

David Trotter, Catering and Services Director for Stadia and Racecourses in Scotland, said: “Our team at Hampden are absolutely delighted with the outcome of this year’s Sales Conference.

“It has been an incredibly busy year for us at the stadium, with the Commonwealth Games taking up a significant chunk of our time and focus. Yet despite this, we have seen a financial growth of 14% on our sales targets this year and a 26% growth in comparison to 2013, which is fantastic. This is due to our commitment to customer service and quality standards both at our venue and across the portfolio.

“I would like to thank the team at Hampden for all of their efforts and dedication to the venue throughout 2014 and hope that we can continue to move into 2015 with the same success.”

The conference included over 50 Sales Managers, General Managers and Directors from Sodexo Prestige and the evening ceremony saw Jane Thomson, Hampden Park’s Sales and Revenue Manager, win the coveted Regional Managing Director’s Choice Award for Scotland.

Amanda Brown, National Accounts Director for Sodexo Prestige, said: “We are thrilled by Hampden’s success at this year’s Sales Conference and for everyone else who received an award.

“Our sales teams at our venues are incredibly important to ensuring the smooth running of the conference and events side of our business, so it is great to see the Hampden team performing so well.

“The planning, delivery and clear-up of the Commonwealth Games took up a huge amount of time, which makes the team’s efforts all the more impressive.”


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