Olympic 'bounce' giving UK hotels a welcome boost

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Staybridge suites, Intercontinental hotels group, Olympic games

The London Olympics have continued to impact tourist trade in the UK with many hotels reporting a boost to occupancy this year
The London Olympics have continued to impact tourist trade in the UK with many hotels reporting a boost to occupancy this year
One year on from the London Olympics, hotels in the capital and outside it are reporting a boost to trade which they believe has been caused by the feelgood factor linked to last year's sporting event.

While former Olympic cities Athens, Atlanta and Sydney suffered a post-Olympic slump, the same can't be said for London and the UK with recent visitor figures from the Office of National Statistics showing that some areas were enjoying their best year since 2008 and the latest TravelClick survey reporting an average year-on-year growth of 4 per cent across its registered hotels. 

Staybridge Suites, InterContinental Hotel Group's extended stay brand, opened a 162-bedroom property at Stratford overlooking the Olympic Park three months before the start of the Olympics and general manager Wayne Androliakos said trade had been strong ever since with occupancy at 94 per cent for the last four months. 

"We opened on the 1 May last year and by the end of June we were running at 100 per cent occupancy," he said. "We had members of the Olympic broadcasting team staying and we were the hospitality centre for the International Paralympic Committee as well as having some of the athletes stay. 

"That year we smashed our targets and got the perfect type of business for us, but you don't build a church for Christmas and we didn't build a hotel just for the Olympics. Nevertheless the Olympics has helped and we are experiencing the benefits of it and the development around it."

Post-Olympics hangover

Androliakos's colleague, John Wagner of Cycas Hospitality, owner and operator of Staybridge Suites Stratford, said the property's location had obviously helped, but was surprised trade had continued to be so strong. 

"Unsurprisingly, given our location, we were fully booked during the Games, but a year later and we've not experienced anything of the post-Olympics hangover that other host-cities suffered from.

"We have achieved a consistent high occupancy over the year, with the corporate market rushing to fill the gap left by Olympic visitors. Over 80 per cent of our guests are business travelers, and as many as 75 per cent of them stay more than seven nights. We had predicted this wouldn't happen until year three, meaning the bounce has put us a good two years ahead of the expected business cycle for a new hotel."

Outside London

While hotels near the Olympic Park would inevitably have benefited, some outside Stratford and the capital have seen occupancy rise too.  

Rockliffe Hall in County Durham, which has welcomed members of Team GB and the US Ladies' football team through its doors, said average occupancy was at 75 per cent this year, compared to 68 per cent last year with weekends at 100 per cent occupancy.

Managing director Nick Holmes, said he'd been surprised at the rise, particularly in the number of business travellers booking.

“There have been so many post-Olympic surveys and reports many of which claim only London and the South East have benefited from the Games," he said. "However, we have seen a very real increase in occupancy levels. Business tourism to the North East is definitely on the increase, post-recession, as people realise what outstanding venues, locations and facilities we have to offer.

"But also, more people appear to be taking ‘staycations’ and booking last minute breaks which is contributing to our continued growth. In addition, since re-launching The Orangery, our flagship restaurant, earlier this year we’ve seen a growing interest in lunches, afternoon teas and our more relaxed evening menus. It’s certainly a very exciting time for tourism at Rockliffe Hall and across the region as a whole.”

Bank Holiday bounce

Trade is expected to remain good for the rest of August for London's hotels with forward-looking data from TravelClick showing that 52 per cent of hotel rooms are filled for the August Bank Holiday weekend. 

The hotel market intelligence provider said the average daily rate across the 88 London hotels it covers over the Bank Holiday weekend is up an average of 28 per cent on last year's while occupancy for the Saturday night of the long weekend is at 65 per cent. 

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