The founder and chief executive of the Arora Group put planned renovations at the 119-bedroom Arora Park Hotel in Poyle on hold to offer free-of-charge overnight shelter at the hotel for those evacuated by flooding.
Arora's foodservice supplier Brakes is donating hot and cold food and drink, as well as disposable crockery, hot water boilers, freezer and cleaning equipment to the hotel during the shelter period.
Arora said he contacted defence secretary Phillip Hammond after witnessing the witnessing flood damage near his offices at Heathrow.
“Wanting to do something very tangible to help was my first instinct”, he said.
“I was so impressed with how the local council, national Government and all the emergency services were rallying together to help those affected.
“Philip Hammond immediately put me in touch with Paul Turrell, chief executive for Runnymede Borough Council and I offered to provide overnight accommodation for those evacuated from their homes.”
Turrell said the council was ‘indebted’ to Arora for helping out during a difficult time.
“With the national daily news showing pictures of Staines, Runnymede, Chertsey and the surrounding areas there is no one in this country under any doubt about the impact that the flood has had in our communities,” he said.
“Our Rest Centre in New Haw is providing temporary shelter and hot meals for those evacuated and the overnight accommodation that will be available.. at the Arora Park Hotel will substantially increase our capacity to assist. It will also enable residents to stay locally which is a key requirement at this time."
Meanwhile, many UK hospitality businesses have themselves been the victim of flooding, with those in the west, south and south west currently the most badly affected.
However, Peter Brunt of property experts Colliers International said that many of his clients had demonstrated ‘typical resilience’ in facing the floods.
“I also saw a publican last week who happily told me that he floods every year, he knew it did before he bought it but the place is set up to be resilient,” he said.
“He told me his customers were all in the bar in wellies on Boxing Day and it made for a great atmosphere – so long as you have flagstone floors and you can just lift the furniture on bricks and push a mop around once the flooding has receded.”
Blunt said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that the pub and hotel network had survived the worst economic downturn since the war, and was beginning to enjoy the ‘first fruits’ of recovery.
“From what we have seen our resilient and resourceful owners will still be here when the weather has finally, thankfully, returned to some kind of normality,” he said.