Birmingham Airport announces experience improvement programme

Birmingham Airport has said that it has commenced a multi-million-pound programme of development works to improve the passenger journey through the airport terminal.

The development works include revamping the security processing area to provide more boarding card gates, a dedicated security preparation area and a refreshed waiting area with new flooring and lighting. Additional staff are also being recruited in key customer facing areas, including terminal operations, customer relations and security officers.

Commenting on the plan, David Winstanley, COO for Birmingham Airport, said, ‘This investment comes following record passenger growth and to ensure that we’re prepared for the coming summer period where the airport will welcome new long-haul services to New York, Boston and Toronto, as well as many new popular short haul destinations.

‘The service we give our customers is an absolute priority for us so we’re investing a great deal to improve the airport journey for them.’

The Airport is also expanding its retail and catering offer. It has recently opened The Factory restaurant as well as added Kurt Geiger to its airside shopping experience. In spring, a new Bottega prosecco bar will open as well as wrapchic – an Indian inspired burrito and sandwich outlet.

Further, the Airport is building a covered walkway to the terminal from the free drop off car park, and a new 178-guestroom Hilton Garden Inn hotel will open in the summer. New digital wayfinding and signage will also be introduced before the summer season.

In addition, the airport said that a job fair will be held at the airport. Details are available at:, it added.

The Savoy Hotel Unveils Painting of River Thames

The Savoy, A Fairmont Managed Hotel in London, UK, has unveiled a panoramic painting of the River Thames that is being exhibited in the hotel’s Front Hall.

The painting depicts the river from the same vantage point as one painted in 1957, and which is currently part of the hotel’s collection. The recent painting is created by the hotel’s artist-in-residence, David Downes, also inspired by the iconic ‘The River Thames on Lord Mayor’s Day’ artwork, painted by Canaletto. The new painting also depicts the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant on the river Thames.

Kiaran MacDonald, the managing director of The Savoy, said, ‘The Savoy has enjoyed a long history of playing host to artists and commissioning artwork. We are delighted to have continued this tradition by working with David Downes to create a wonderful record of London and of such a historic occasion as the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.’

David Downes is a 41-year old autistic painter, specialising in cityscapes. He said, ‘I was very excited to have been asked by The Savoy to paint such an important occasion. The cityscape by itself is inspiring but the pomp and ceremony of the River Pageant made this a unique commission. I felt that I had the best seat in London from which to capture these stunning views and the glory of the pageant. It is a day that I will never forget.’

Prints of the painting are available to purchase at the hotel, including a limited edition signed and framed collection.

The hotel is claimed to have been an icon of British culture since 1889, and has recently reopened on completion of a £220 million restoration project.

Sonesta International Opens New Extended Stay Hotel in Somerset

Sonesta International Hotels, a US-based hospitality company with properties in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, is opening a new extended stay hotel in Somerset, in the United States.

The 140-room Sonesta ES Suites Somerset has been recently re-branded from an earlier Staybridge Suites Somerset, and is opening on August 1, 2012, under the new company’s administration and a new brand name. The hotel is offering studio, one and two-bedroom suite accommodation, all with a work area, a kitchen, and complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access.

Sonesta ES Suites is a recently launched extended stay brand from the company, offering a heated outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour exercise room, a sports court, a seasonal BBQ grille, a guest laundry, three conference rooms, and a 24-hour business centre. The hotel will also be providing a daily complimentary breakfast for its guests.

The company will also soon be opening the Sonesta ES Suites in Burlington, Orlando, and Andoverin US; and other Sonesta Collection properties in Philadelphia and Houston, US; Panama City, Panama;, and Villavicencio, Colombia.

The largest Sonesta ES Suites hotel is located in Burlington, US, offering around 400 guestrooms and suites for extended stays.

The Sonesta Collection, the company’s established brand, consists of upmarket hotels, resorts and cruises which are currently located in Baltimore, Boston, Hilton Head Island, Miami, and New Orleans, in the US; Saint Maarten, in the Caribbean, as well as in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Egypt.

Belgraves Hotel Opens In London

Belgraves in London, a luxury boutique hotel owned by Commune Hotels & Resorts, has opened in London.

The 85-room hotel opened recently in Chesham Place, Belgravia, London. It has been re-branded from an earlier Sheraton Belgravia hotel, and claims to offer a blend of traditional British hospitality with an American contemporary ambience.

The hotel features the 80-seat Hix Belgravia restaurant, a fitness facility, and a library bar. British designer, Tara Bernerd, was tasked with creating the interior architecture and design.

Commune Hotels & Resorts was formed by the merger of the Thompson Hotels brand and Joie de Vivre group of hotels, and includes a portfolio of around 30 independent branded hotels.

The company co-chairmen, John Pritzker and Jason Pomeranc, and chief executive officer, Stephen Brandman, said in a combined statement, ‘Our ethos is about individuality, community, locations that are authentic to their environment, and the kind of service that exceeds guests’ expectations and makes travel exciting again. We believe celebrating individuality is the best way to elevate the guest experience.’

The hotel offers a total non-smoking environment, with the front reception open 24 hours, as is the hotel’s in-house gym. The restaurant, Hix at the Belgraves, offers the creativity of chef and food blogger, Mark Hix, and the menu includes his favourite food items.

Belgraves is located in the stylish neighbourhood of Belgravia in Central London, and sits amidst globally recognised shops, the buildings of the Grosvenor Estate, owned by the Duke of Westminster, and the bustle of Sloane Square.

Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel in Cornwall Destroyed in Fire

Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, a luxury hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, has been severely damaged in a fire which started early in the afternoon of April 29, 2012.

Around 100 fire fighters tackled the fire. There were no fatalities, and 30 guests were moved to safety. The fire had started on the third floor of the property, and strong winds caused it to spread rapidly through the building, destroying the infrastructure and causing the roof to cave in.

The 120-room hotel, one of the biggest in the area, was opened by the Evans family in 1984, and was acquired by Best Western International Inc, a US-based hotel company, in 2000.

The 30 hotel guests, including Blur guitarist, Graham Coxon, were moved to alternative accommodation in the town, and as a safety measure, the authorities also evacuated a neighbouring hotel.

A statement from Devon and Cornwall Police said, ‘There is nothing at this stage to suggest these guests have come to any harm, and it is likely they have gone out on day trips, but police would like these individuals to make themselves known to officers at the scene or to call police on 101 to confirm they are safe and well.’

The Mayor of Falmouth, Geoffrey Evans, said in an interview, ‘It’s right at the start of the holiday season, we’ve got the Olympic Torch coming in a few weeks, and the Finn Cup (a sailing competition) as well, so I don’t know how this is going to affect accommodation. I think the hotel was fully booked, so to lose such a prominent hotel at this time of the year is a complete disaster.’

Financial climate forces hotel rates down in UK

A global report has revealed that hotel prices in the UK are stagnating.

The research suggests that the cost of a nights stay in a major city hotel can show the country’s economic health.

Growing economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China have seen prices increase, whereas the UK has seen hotel room prices drop by one per cent.

The capital city is the only place to see  rise in hotel prices, London has seen a rise of one per cent.

London is the only city in Britain to report a rise in hotel prices – a negligible one per cent – set against increases in 69 out of the 88 worldwide locations checked as part of the research.

In a recent survey of hotel rates, by, prices varied across Europe. The effects of the Greek economic crisis are evident in hotel prices dropping by around 10 per cent.

In contrast the euro is doing relatively well, popular city-break locations such as Barcelona and Amsterdam have seen rises of 8 and 9 percent.

Thanks to a visit from the US president and the Queen, Dublin have seen a rise in prices.

The Baltic states have also seen a rise with hotels in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia seeing prices increase.

However the protests seen prices across the Middle East and Africa have seen prices drop.

Australia’s strong economy have seen significant rises, Brisbane saw an increase of 26 per cent in rates, whilst New Zealand’s Christchurch saw the largest increase of 41 per cent in rates.

David Roche, the president of, explained:

‘Price volatility in 2011 meant UK travellers found it more expensive to stay in the majority of their favourite destinations abroad,’ he says.

‘A variety of factors, including currency movements and a growth in corporate travel, pushed up prices at a time when many consumers were already struggling to pay their bills at home.’

The Winged Hotel

Isn’t it annoying when you have to trudge through first class, bypassing those smug passengers adjusting the settings on their fold out squashy beds, lazily flicking through the channels on their personal flat screen TV’s and leisurely reading through the menu to decide exactly which exotic tropically inspired dish they would like during their flight. Whilst sipping on an elegant flute of champagne. Then you reach your own designated seat at the rear of the aircraft; home of howling babies, restricted leg room and a simple choice of fish or chicken.

However, thanks to the one of a kind hostel in Stockholm, everyone can enjoy the first class experience at a fraction of the price. A disused 747 jumbo jet has been converted into the world’s first hotel, which remains stationary on an abandoned runway. Gone are the days where a donut pillow is a necessity to get any kind of shut eye on-board an aircraft, as the hostel titled ‘Jumbo Stay’ promises the best night sleep you will ever get on a plane, as turbulence is no longer an issue.

The transformed aircraft is home to several en-suite rooms, a 24 hour café, Wi-Fi access, numerous flat screen televisions with more expansion to come. The owner and creator of this ingenious idea is Oscar Dios, who intends to take full advantage of all available space. The cock-pit is a double bedroom and the wings are scheduled to be converted into a relaxation deck with a glass shelter for guests to stroll along and unwind. The twin engines too, are to be adapted into capsule double bedrooms, aptly to be titled ‘the engine rooms’.

In terms of décor, ‘Jumbo Stay’ does not leave much to the imagination. Exit signs, passenger notices, hygiene rules and safety posters still adorn the walls of the aircraft to emphasise the hostel’s unique theme. The cock-pit is the most popular room to reserve as the pilots original controls (deactivated obviously) remain; a dream come true for any fan of ‘Thunderbirds’.

Proud inventor Oscar Dios was quoted: ‘I saw this plane and I instantly knew it would be perfect for a hotel. It had been in service for Pan Am, Singapore Airlines and many others. I knew I could give it a new lease of life’.
Two nights at the Jumbo Stay hostel cost £189 per person, a reasonable price for such a very distinctive experience. As this new idea is only just taking off, it looks the mile high club may be gaining quite a few extra members now thanks to Jumbo Stay…

Article by Emma Boyle

No boys allowed

A hotel in Denmark due to open its doors next month will house an entire floor exclusively reserved for women.  Taking ‘girl power’ to a whole new level, the ‘Bella Sky Comwell’ located in the heart of Copenhagen has decided to devote an entire floor purely for females, following extensive focus group results on hotel stays and experiences.
The Danish four star establishment has specifically designed the rooms to cater for all necessary ‘girly’ requirements a standard hotel room should conventionally provide. The carefully selected alterations have been made to ensure all newly modified features of the room meet the high feminine standards. Modified items include; a pristine and spacious bathroom with extra towels (as one is needed to stand on when getting out of the shower, one to wrap round hair and one to wrap round the body). An elongated sink to position all perfume bottles, make-up bags, usual toiletries, hair accessories, face-washes, moisturisers, lotions, body-sprays and all other seemingly compulsory clutter women are just compelled to bring along with them, despite how short the duration of their stay may be.
A Jacuzzi bath and the traditional shower are also elements that have had a bit of fine tuning, with the installation of an extra-large showerhead and staggered shelves to place numerous shampoo and conditioner bottles. State-of-the-art super-strength hairdryers have also been included in addition to specially adapted mirrors that magnify, to allow the application of make-up easier. The detailed designs of the rooms are meant to make a woman’s stay as relaxed and useful as possible; with all personalised items very accessible and applaudable in terms of practicality.
The floor will also be world class in terms of sanitation and cleanliness, as the focus groups revealed that women thought rooms that had not been occupied by men were more hygienic. Thus, ensured with the knowledge the rooms are solely dedicated to women only, guests are hypothesised to feel more at ease with the purity of their surroundings.
The open discrimination of the hotel towards men is taken very seriously, as men’s keycards will not allow them access to the floor, including male members of staff.  Perhaps decades of nagging about confined sink space and a dated hairdryer in hotels are finally paying off.

Article by Emma Boyle

United Kingdom; Home of Holiday Thieves

Brits are the worst when it comes to stealing various objects when staying in hotels abroad, a survey has revealed.

In a recent survey conducted by the discount travel site ‘’, results showed that when Brits holiday abroad they are notorious for stealing various objects from the hotel that they are staying in.

Of the general public that were interviewed, almost half of holiday-makers thought it to be perfectly acceptable to take hotel items as and when they pleased, especially if they felt that they had over-paid for their room.
The survey by showed that over 15 per cent openly admitted that they had stolen various bits and pieces from their hotel rooms, regardless if in Rome or New York.

Approximately sixty per cent of people questioned agreed that taking shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles was a customary thing to do, stressing that these were among the more mild and minor items to pinch. Hotel stationary also proved popular entities for over 30 per cent of Brits to pocket; ranging from notepads, pens and even clipboards guests of the hotel freely inherit.
A smaller number of tourists opted to nick larger items such as slippers, mini bar drinks and towels; casually stuffing them into their suitcases an hour prior to checkout and then sauntering through reception without so much as an anxious scan at the staff.
Studies have shown however, the most prolific offenders tend to be men, Londoners and younger holidaymakers. Nineteen year old Psychology student Alexandra Rose’ said: ‘’We went to Malia this year on a party holiday and we all took the hotel dressing gowns and towels. We were paying for the room and whatever was in there, at least temporarily belonged to us.’’
This attitude is magnified somewhat in male holiday-goers, with hotel guests going so far as to pocket the batteries out of the television remote controls and pillow cases from the bedding. Results also prove that English people were the most frequent thieves whereas Scottish people were least likely to rob something from their hotel room.
Many surveyed didn’t classify their newly adopted items as ‘stolen’, merely complimentary goods the hotel issued them as guests. When it’s close to the expiration of our holiday, after we’ve had a dip in the chlorine star shaped pool, slapped on enough after sun and eaten our own body weight in shellfish, we instinctively glance around the room to size up, exactly, what is up for grabs.

Article by Emma Boyle

Worlds smallest 5 star hotel

AT 2.5 METRES wide and with just 53 square metres of floor space – this luxury lodging  is the world’s smallest five-star hotel.


The Eh’hausl hotel in Amberg, Germany, would be a perfect location for vertically-challenged jet-setters such as Tom Cruise, Bernie Ecclestone or even French PM Nicolas Sarkozy to make a short getaway.


Although Mr Sarkozy’s 5’9″ supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, may have to watch her head if she tries to enter the diminutive domicile.


From the outside, the EUR240/GBP210 per night hotel looks as though it has been sandwiched in between two neighbouring buildings.


But its deceptive frontage disguises a luxurious interior packed with a range of full-sized treats.


Guests at the Hobbit-style hotel, located around 130 km/80 miles from Munich, can expect to find flatscreen TVs, gold-trimmed furniture and a spa bathroom across its six floors.


And just like its larger counterparts, there is, of course, a mini-bar.


Described by its owners as a ‘luxury hermitage’, the hotel is unmanned, with guests handed keys to the building when they check-in.


Upon opening the doors they are greeted by the strains of Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ emanating from invisible speakers in the walls.


El Hausl is fully booked months in advance, although this owes much to the fact that it can only house one couple at a time.


A hotel spokesperson said: “The hotel is very popular with guests from all over the world, from South Africa, America, England and Russia.


“As well as the size our guests are always very impressed by our hotel’s historic background.”


Translated from the German as ‘Wedding House’, the Eh-hausl was built in 1728 after the local council decreed that couples could only get married if they owned a residence.


Spotting a business opportunity, a local merchant built the small, cheap house and sold it to young couples who would live in it for a matter of weeks while they carried out their nuptials.


After they were married, they would sell it on to another pair of would-be newlyweds.


According to local legend, people who spend just one night at the hotel can enjoy a blissful, lifelong marriage.