Hotels splash cash to pull in visitors

Work undergoing at the Headlands Hotel in preparation for the new season.  Pictured is Catarina Ruppert.
Work undergoing at the Headlands Hotel in preparation for the new season. Pictured is Catarina Ruppert.
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INVEST in your business and you will reap the rewards.

HOTELIERS are ploughing thousands of pounds into their accommodation in a bid to ensure their businesses have a bumper season.

Charles Ruppert, Sheila Ruppert, Brendan King, Catarina Ruppert and Sue Simkin at the Headlands Hotel.

Charles Ruppert, Sheila Ruppert, Brendan King, Catarina Ruppert and Sue Simkin at the Headlands Hotel.

As big-name firms such as Jessops and Blockbuster go into administration, Blackpool hoteliers are determined to come out of this year on top by investing cash into renovating their properties and then reaping the rewards.

Famous Promenade hotel The Queens is undergoing a £1m revamp.

The renovation of The Queens will mean it will have 111 en-suite rooms, new lifts plus a new heating plant and pressurised water system installed.

Leisureplex managing director Paul Sawbridge said: “The work is proceeding pretty much as planned.

The Queens Hotel

The Queens Hotel

“As with all building projects there are technical issues from time to time and the failure of the gas main in the street at the rear of the hotel in early January also caused us some problems and set us back a little.

“As a result, we have had to put the opening back a fortnight to March 18.”

He said he believes the recent fall in the value of the pound will begin to affect demand for overseas holidays, and help to boost staycations – holidays in the UK.

Mr Sawbridge added: “In short, we think the season will start slowly but pick up as we move through the year and we anticipate overall demand will eventually show a slight improvement on last year.”

Charles Ruppert, who owns the Headlands Hotel, Colwyn Hotel, and Sandpiper Holiday Apartments on New South Promenade, is just one of many hoteliers across the resort who has undertaken more than £65,000 of renovation work at his properties during winter.

Mr Ruppert said: “We’ve really had quite a bit of work done over the winter.

“We spent nearly £18,000 on new heating in the Colwyn Hotel and at the Headlands we’re having the whole place rewired which is about £35,000.

“We are a long established business and we’re hoping to gain more.

“By the looks of it bookings are up on last year so we should be looking forward to a good season.

“The demand is there. It’s just a case of hoteliers who decide to reinvest in their properties gain the rewards.”

However, Mr Ruppert added increased competition was coming from larger hotels dropping their prices to fall in line with independent guesthouses.

He added: “We live in a horrible time and people are down-sizing so they’re looking for the best deals.

“I find the big hotels are tapping into our market and reducing their rates which tells its own story.”

Mick Grewcock, who owns the Burbage Lodge and Queens Mansions holiday apartments, has invested £100,000 in his properties over the winter.

He said: “It looks like it’s going to be one of the best seasons we’ve had.

“What families want is good quality apartments which is why people go abroad, but believe it or not there’s only six three-bedroom holiday apartments in Blackpool, five of which are ours.

“It’s looking good for us and hopefully with the new resort pass for entry into Blackpool’s attractions, people will want good family accommodation to come to.

“People aren’t looking for cheapness, they’re looking for value for money.”

Craig Coleman, of the Edenfield Guest House, Cocker Street, North Shore, said: “It should be a good year, advance bookings are good so we’re optimistic.

“We’ve totally redecorated our dining room and we do it every year, there’s always something that needs doing.”

Jo McDonagh, owner of Barton House Hotel, on Barton Avenue, South Shore, is spending money on refurbishing her hotel for the new season.

Mrs McDonagh, who has run the guest house with husband John for six years, said: “Over the last two years we’ve had all the showers out and new suites put in and we redecorate every year.”

Claire Smith President of Stay Blackpool, believes the lack of big events such as The Open golf tournament will affect trade in the coming year, and says she has “a little trepidation” about how hoteliers will fare.

She said: “My concerns are quite obviously the current climate, every single day we’re hearing about another company that’s going bust.

“All this is having a massive impact on our industry because people who have been made redundant aren’t going to spend money on holidays.

“We’ve all just got to bang the drum and push what’s going on here over the coming months.”

Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for tourism and culture, said: “We welcome any investment hoteliers are making in improving hotels.

“To invest that sort of money it shows they are confident of some sort of return.

“It’s important people invest. We have enough beds but not enough quality and if hotels become run down it can be a sad indictment for the town.

“Businesses are struggling at the moment but I am hopeful hoteliers are seeing that with the investment in difficult times they will get their rewards. We have more to offer than most seaside resorts.”

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