Ahead of the ninth series of her Channel 5 TV show The Hotel Inspector, hotelier Alex Polizzi has said hotel owners at venues she visits are continuing to make the same mistakes around cleanliness and service.
In an exclusive interview with BigHospitality, Polizzi defended the representation of the hotel business the show gives the public and claimed the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics were not benefiting the industry.
The niece of the legendary British hotelier Sir Rocco Forte also revealed she was plotting a move back into the hospitality industry after taking a back step from running Hotel Endsleigh in Devon since becoming a mother.
After taking a small break from filming the show which sets out to salvage Britain's worst-run hotels, Polizzi returns to the small screen with The Hotel Inspector on Thursday 5 July.
"Our expectation of what one gets for £60 or £70 is much higher than it used to be," the 40-year-old hotelier told BigHospitality. According to Polizzi since starting the series the people she visits continue to make the same three mistakes - they run dirty hotels, they have no aptitude for looking after other people or they have been doing it too long and have lost their way.
"I have got an 87-year-old owner in one, an 80-year-old owner in another and a 77-year-old owner in one more and all of them are struggling to keep up with the times. I am struggling to keep up with it - I see the prevalence of things like TripAdvisor and I feel old."
The growth of the boutique hotels and the level of guests' expectations, Polizzi argued, have not helped the elderly hotel owner. "The older you get the fewer places you stay in yourself, the fewer places you visit and so your impressions of what is acceptable and what is not get stultified completely. It is quite hard to stay up with fashion and at a certain point you just give up with your rooms."
Passionate about industry
In the latest series Polizzi returns to two past offenders with mixed results but she denies the series helps pervade a negative perception of the industry and hotels as bad places to start a career.
"Why would I still be passionate about the hotel industry if I thought it was all shit?," Polizzi asked. "You would have to be stupid to think the whole hotel industry is like the bit I see in The Hotel Inspector - these are hotels in trouble. They are not offering training or anything useful, they are just trying to survive."
The hotelier, who worked with Marco Pierre White and trained at hotels around the world, said the series only showed the bottom of the pile. She argued people not choosing hotel careers was a deeper problem and could be attributed to the lack of a Lausanne-style training centre and the negative perceptions of a service career generally among the English.
Polizzi is strident in her view that the Olympics are not destined to have the longed-for impact for the British hotel industry. "I feel really sorry for hoteliers," she said before explaining that some business owners in Weymouth, where the Olympic sailing will be taking place, were struggling. "Having expected this onrush of Olympics visitors all the hotels put up their prices and some don't have one booking. I am sure that is true up and down the country."
Cheaper hotels, she claimed, were doing better while those with higher rates and those reliant on corporate guests were not feeling the boost from the Games. "It is going to be 'kick bollocks scramble' for two months and then back to normal. We all have to be cheerleaders for the Olympics but frankly I wish they weren't happening in London."
Polizzi, who has campaigned for a better rating system for hotels, said she was now leaving the running of Hotel Endsleigh in Devon to the on-site management and her mother Olga Polizzi who also runs Hotel Tresanton in the South West.
"When I had a child I knew I wasn't going to be able to run a hotel anymore - it is not a part-time job."
However she revealed she was eyeing up a return to the hospitality industry. "I really miss being at the coalface - I miss that daily contact with customers. It would be a rooms or food business but I have been looking for ages to find something that is right. I would like to start something up sooner rather than later because I am quite conscious that I have been away for a couple of years," she concluded.