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Bank of China to finance £100m hotel in Westminster – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

16 August 2010
Bank of China to finance £100m hotel in Westminster – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

A round-up of the weekend's news affecting the hospitality industry: renowned Lyon chef found dead in freezer; Gordon Ramsay sells stake in TV production company for £20m; David Miliband criticises the beer tie, and more…

Bank of China to finance £100m hotel in Westminster

The state-owned Bank of China is to fund a landmark hotel in London's West End in its first substantial hotel investment in the UK. It will provide the Splendid Hotel Group with a £50m development loan to build a six-storey, 245-bedroom hotel at the former Queen Anne's Chambers near New Scotland Yard. Construction costs will fall between £180,000 and £200,000 a room and the hotel's final value will be at least £100m. Splendid signed up the InterContinental Hotel Group as the operator on a 20-year contract in October and plans to open the InterContinental London Westminster hotel in 2011. The Bank of China opened its London branch in 1929 and coverted it into a wholly-owned UK subsidiary in October to allow it to expand further in Britain and the Continent - 15 August

Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Renowned Lyon chef found dead in freezer

Police in Lyon found the corpse of one of the city's most famous chefs in a freezer at the flat he shared with his girlfriend, where they believe it has been concealed for almost two years. Retired chef Jean-François Poinard, 71, who was one of Lyon's top chefs during the 1970s and 1980s, was found fully clothed in the freezer beside the couple's bed on Tuesday. His girlfriend, 51-year-old former waitress Guylène Collober, admitted that she had killed Poinard during a violent quarrel 18 months ago, saying that he had fallen awkwardly and struck his head after she punched him in the stomach. Poinard had quarreled with his family since becoming involved with Collober so his disappearance went unnoticed until she revealed the secret to her daughter earlier this month. Investigators have ruled out it being a premeditated crime for financial gain. Lyon newspaper Le Progres described Poinard as one of the city's "great names" in gastronomy, writing: "He was a passionate and exacting chef, but also a true ‘bon viveur' who was as well liked out of the kitchen as he was respected inside it." - 15 August

Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>

Gordon Ramsay sells stake in TV production company for £20m

Multi-Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay is to make £20m from the sale of his 50% stake in One Potato Two Potato, the production company behind his TV series, Gordon Ramsay's F Word. Ramsay has agreed to sell his half to All3Media as part of the takeover of Optomen Television, which owns the other half. Ramsay's restaurant empire came close to meltdown last year as sales collapsed and debts and tax bills mounted and his wealth is believed to have dropped from £70m to £40m - 14 August

Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

David Miliband criticises the beer tie

Labour leadership candidate David Miliband has criticised the beer tie and says his campaign will include proposals to "save British pubs". "One of the biggest problems facing pubs is the ‘tie' - forcing some pub landlords to buy their beer and other services solely from the pub companies (‘pubcos') they rent from," Miliband declared on his website. "This means many of them pay over the odds, which reduces their profitability and increases prices for drinkers." The Campaign for Real Ale has lobbied for reform since the mid-1980s, saying the pubcos charge tied tenants up to 50p more a pint and prevents them from stocking local beers. Although the Office of Fair Trading found no evidence that the beer tie was anti-competitive following a super-complaint from Camra, it agreed to reopen its inquiry into the tenanted sector in February and is due to publish its results next month. Meanwhile, Camra said that business secretary Vince Cable and consumer minister Ed Davey had pledged to give the pubcos a June 2011 deadline to improve the way they treated licensees - 14 August

Read the full article in the Independent >>

Bombed Mumbai hotel reopens

Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel, which was extensively damaged in a siege by four armed Islamic militants in November 2008, reopened for business on Sunday, India's Independence Day. Guests and members of staff were killed when the militants laid siege to city landmarks for 60 hours in November, resulting in the death of 166 people. Staff cheered and tossed rose petals in the air on the hotel's grand cantilever stairway on Thursday as chairman Ratan Tata garlanded a bust of the founder of the Tata Group, which owns the Taj hotels. "This flagship property, this venerable Old Lady, is going to reopen in the same glory, the same splendour of more than 100 years," Tata said at the ceremony - 14 August

Read the full article in the Independent >>

Tom Aikens signs up for monster barbecue

Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens has splashed out on the world's largest fixed barbecue, dubbed God-grilla, for his new restaurant at Somerset House, according to the Daily Telegraph. The bespoke steel grill was built by engineer Jack Henriques and commissioned by his brother Mark, who manages the Stone Barn wedding venue in the Cotwolds and runs Cripps Catering. The 11ft tall barbecue, which costs about £10,000, is equipped with abbatoir-style meat hooks for hanging whole carcasses and can cook seven whole lambs, three pigs, two cows, 1,000 sausages, or 500 burgers at once. It weights more than two tons, has two 11ft tall chimneys, and requires 14 bags of coals to ignite. Temperature is controlled by using a jack to raise and lower each of the seven coal trays individually Jack, who is now selling the God-grilla through Bespoke BBQ Company, intends to build an even larger barbecue - 13 August

Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

Cold weather creates tastiest English apples since the 1970s

The cold winter - the chilliest start to the year in 30 years - has helped produce the "tastiest" crop of English apples since the 1970s, according to growers. They say it allowed the apple trees to hibernate during the winter, saving their energy for blossoming while the cold killed off pests. Although a cold snap and dry weather during fruiting means the apples will be smaller than usual, high levels of sunshine have ensured a sweet and intense flavour, while the recent rain will make them juiciery later in the season. Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, said varieties such as Discovery and Worcester Pearmain would hit the shops this weekend, with later varieties such as Cox and Braeburn coming on stream in November. He said the UK crop would be up slightly this year to more than 100,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, bad weather in France has cut the Continental crop by almost 20%. Although just 30% of apples eaten in the UK are home-grown, Barlow said consumers were finally realising that UK apples were tastier because they grew more slowly in Britain's variable weather. Pears fared less well, however, as they flower earlier and were caught by the frosts - 14 August

Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>

By Angela Frewin

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