The British hotel industry is now undergoing its biggest construction period in history, with a total of 74,000 new rooms having been opened since 2002.
According to the British Hospitality Association’s Trends and Developments report 2008, the current cycle of new builds is the greatest in the industry’s history, and forecasts a further 46,000 rooms to be constructed or planned for 2010 and beyond.
BHA Chief Executive Bob Cotton said the pressure to complete new builds in time for the 2012 Olympic Games is fuelling the industry’s growth.
He said: “So far, the economic downturn has not materially affected these plans, partly because of the long lead-time needed for hotel construction, but it might slow down future plans.”
Budget hotels are the clear beneficiaries of the building boom, with almost 140 new hotels opening in the 15-month period until December, as guests opt for cheaper stays during the credit crunch.
“The industry is clearly responding to consumer demand by introducing less expensive but high value rooms that are attractive to both business and leisure market,” Cotton added. “It’s significant that the vast majority of the new-builds are company owned, many of them under franchise; there are very few privately owned new hotels and very few unbranded hotels opening.”
The report also surprisingly noted a lack of new luxury hotel builds in London, as top name hotels opt to undergo dramatic and costly refurbishment programmes instead of expansion, with Claridge’s, The Connaught, The Berkeley, Berners and Four Seasons all planning to be extensively upgraded in the near future.