Christmas, a Time of Lost Gifts at Premier Inn

Even as the Christmas celebrations come to an end, at Premier Inn, a UK-based hotel brand from Whitbread PLC, gifts are still very much on the agenda as the group collates its annual list of left or lost gifts at its branded properties across the country.

Travel Inn has collated a list of forgotten Christmas gifts, left in rooms by its guests, which includes 18 Christmas jumpers, a pair of tickets to VIVA Forever, a set of diamond earrings, a set of Little Mix dolls, a Bradley Wiggins’ autobiography, a Furby, a One Direction fan t-shirt, and 17 copies of one of the best-selling books of 2012, Fifty Shades of Grey.

The company has also reported finding around 25 rolls of leftover wrapping paper, 137 blank Christmas cards and two homemade Christmas cakes.

Claire Haigh, the head of communications for Premier Inn, said, ‘We are surprised at the variety of gifts that our team members have discovered in the hotels this festive season. Christmas day may be over, but we will continue to spread the festive joy by going the extra mile to ensure that these presents are returned to their rightful owners.’

Premier Inn will be re-launching its Premier Inn Gifts Reunited Service at its Facebook page,, where guests may post a comment if they have lost a Christmas present, and it will be shipped back to them as soon as possible.

The brand is offering room nights priced at £29 for the winter season, for popular locations that include Exeter, Bournemouth, Liverpool, York and others in the UK. For an extra payment of £22.99 per person, the hotel group is also offering a three-course meal, a drink of choice, and a Premier breakfast the next day.

The group, with around 600 hotels across the UK and Ireland, has Recently won the Best Leisure Hotel Chain award at the British Travel Awards 2012.

New York to construct world’s biggest Ferris wheel

Developers in New York are adhering to their plans to construct the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

The city, which is in rebuilding mode after the devastating super storm, Sandy, is to go ahead and build the structure, which it is hoped will also be seen as a mark of the city’s resilience. The new addition will grace the shoreline of storm-torn Staten Island and, once completed, the structure is expected to be the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

Even though flooding after Sandy has caused some changes to the nearly $500m project, the developers have maintained their impetus and not scaled it back. While supporters say that Staten Island needs the boost now more than ever, detractors are of the view that there are other more immediate needs that had to be fulfilled rather than building the Ferris wheel. The 625-foot-tall tourist attraction is set partly in a flood zone.

Developer, Richard Marin, said that the development would add to the beauty of the city’s, oft-dubbed, ‘forgotten borough.’

Marin, the chief executive of New York Wheel LLC, said, ‘We’re providing some things for the city and for the local community that they would have no other way of getting right now. Quite frankly, this borough is extremely lucky that this kind of project is under way.’

Private money will pay for the project, and the city will receive $2.5m a year in rent for the two parking lots where the wheel, a mall and a hotel will be located. The project was planned in such a manner that ground floors will sit above what the federal government has so far considered to be once-in-100-year flood line. After Sandy, the developers have been taking extra care to ensure that buildings can withstand flooding.

UK Rail Fare Increases for Passengers in 2013

Rail fares in the UK have increased by an average of 3.9 percent at the beginning of 2013, as most railway companies announce hikes in their New Year fares.

Previously, East Midlands Trains, a UK-based train service, had announced an increase of around 4 percent in its fares, effective January 2, 2013, with the cost of a single journey to increase by around £0.52 per ticket.

Recent research published by the UK’s Trade Union Congress (TUC), has shown that since 2008, average train fares have increased around three times faster than average wages. This has resulted in the rail fare for an average family of four travelling to London from Swansea, Plymouth, Leeds, Manchester or Newcastle on an any time ticket, costing in excess of £481, which is the average weekly wage for a UK worker.

TUC general secretary and chair of Action for Rail, Frances O’Grady, said, ‘I understand the frustration felt by many commuters going back to work today. At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases.

As well as having to shell out record amounts of money for their tickets, passengers also face the prospect of travelling on trains with fewer staff and having less access to ticket offices. They are being asked to pay much more for less.’

Defending the fare hike, David Horne, the managing director of East Midlands Trains, said, ‘Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger. The government’s policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train.

We know that nobody likes paying more for their travel, especially to get to work. That’s why we are working hard with the rest of the rail industry to make the system more cost-efficient and help take the pressure off future fare rises. At the same time, we are investing in our trains and stations to deliver a better railway for our customers.’

Profits Decline for London Hotels in November 2012

Profits declined for UK hotels in November 2012, with hotels in London registering a 5.6 percent decrease in profit per room.

The recent HotStats survey of around 560 full-service hotels in the UK, conducted by TRI Hospitality Consulting, a UK based hotel consultancy group, reported that the euphoria of summer profits from the 2012 London Olympic Games has given way to the worst drop in profits in any one year.

In November 2012, hotels also recorded 1.4 percent year-on-year increase in food and beverage revenue, to £35.50 per available room, and a 2 percent decrease in Total Revenue per Available Room (TrevPAR), compared to November 2011.

Room rates also declined by 7.2 percent for Best Available Rate, 2.6 percent for the leisure segment, and 6.7 percent in the groups or tours segment, leading to a decline in the average room rate of 2.7 percent, to £136.41 in November 2012, from £140.19 during the same period in 2011.

Jonathan Langston, the managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting, said, ‘Not even a 3 percent increase in the number of visitors to WTM, to almost 29,000 trade visitors, was enough to save face for hotels in London and the drop in achieved average room rate for November was the greatest year-on-year margin of decline in this measure in 2012.

Although volume remained strong in the city and hotels in London are undoubtedly on course to achieve a third consecutive year of profit growth, it is unlikely that hoteliers will be popping champagne corks as they look to more challenging times ahead.’