The June edition of Inside Traveller is now available by mail and on-line. Amongst the subjects this month are:
• Virgin Atlantic and its new A330s. A story of ineptitude which shows just how desperately the airline needs new ownership and proper management.
• The secret behind the enormous success of the W hotel brand.
• More on the sorry story of von Essen Hotels.
• Is it worth a cuddle on Air New Zealand?
• Should you even think of flying with Tiger in Australia?
• Have Wizzair trumped the rest of the budget airline industry with their new product?
• How to stop the loss of a passport becoming a financial nightmare.
• Is there any point in using www.cheapflights.co.uk?
• Another stunning own-goal from easyJet. Do they really have a clue what they are doing?
If you are not already a subscriber, visit insidetraveller.co.uk.
We thought that the Administrators for the failed von Essen hotel group sounded a little optimistic when they began their work. Whatever one thought about the company and its management, it was far from a simple organisation. Unravelling it was never going to be easy.
Now one of the auditors involved has described the internal accounts as “eccentric” which is an interesting term. Police have also been alerted over a £30 million loan.
It would not be suprising if the whole affair now gets rather messy.
That is not our worry but we are concerned about the individual hotels in the portfolio. They are trading as normal at the moment but are all up for sale. It is not pleasant for managers or staff to be in a state of limbo and, sooner or later, this unease will be felt by guests.
Like puppies in Battersea Dogs’ Home, these historic country house hotels, need a lot of love and attention. The sooner the properties find themselves with owners who are able to take care of them, the better for all concerned.
The Sunday Times will publish its annual Rich List this weekend. It can’ t be an easy task calculating the wealth of people,some of whom are rather anxious to hide their financial affairs from the public gaze whilst others are keen to appear far wealthier than they are. Many pour scorn on the results and suggest they are meaningless.
We mentioned that the von Essen hotel group was placed in administration a couple of weeks ago with debts of £248 million. The company and its boss, Andrew Davis, had a rather controversial reputation in the hotel business. Not everyone will be sad to see the company disappear.
Last year, The Sunday Times placed Andrew Davis, at number 244 on their List showing his “wealth” at £292 million.
On the face of it, this looks like another classic Rich List “error”. On the other hand, we would not be entirely surprised if the figure was pretty accurate…
The biggest surprise here is that the company has survived for so long. There were rumours some years ago about slow payments and disputed invoices but the company continued to grow and buy more historic UK hotels. Their management of the hotels has not been without controversy either with many complaints about poor service, high prices and lack of investment – though some hotels in the group seemed able to please most of their customers.
The group owes £250 million but the administrators stress that it is the group, not the individual hotels, that has problems. The hotels will continue to trade as normal until buyers can be found for them. In most cases, we would expect this should not take too long but, inevitably, when the parent hits the rocks, the hotels will have only restricted access to funds for any improvement works and might face some hiccoughs with their day-to-day suppliers.
The group’s properties include the famous Cliveden Hotel and Sharrow Bay. We hope that all these hotels will soon find new, and rather more caring owners, in the new future.