Critical drubbing for Gordon Ramsay in New York – and more news from the weekend papers

08 January 2007 by
Critical drubbing for Gordon Ramsay in New York – and more news from the weekend papers

Critical drubbing for Gordon Ramsay restaurant in New York Michelin-star-chef Gordon Ramsay's new £3m restaurant in Manhattan's London hotel (the first of three planned eateries in the USA) has attracted a critical drubbing from three prominent food critics. The New York magazine, *New York Post*" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">The Scotsman](, 6 January

Legal challenge to Hard Rock Café sale
US property developer The Cordish Company has lodged a lawsuit in Florida against Hard Rock Café and its chief executive for allegedly colluding with the Seminole tribe of native Americans to limit participation in its recent auction. Cordish claims the Seminoles were given an unfair advantage in exchange for assurances that chief executive Hamish Dodds would run the 124-strong chain of Hard Rock Cafés and hotels after the sale. Cordish has also filed a suite against Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that advised owner Rank on the $965m (£496m) sale. It is feared the lawsuits may delay the deal, on which Rank shareholders vote on Monday. - [The Sunday Times](, 7 January

First Choice among bidders for French hotel room seller
Tour operator First Choice Holidays is understood to be one of four shortlisted buyers in the £200m (£135m) auction for Go Voyages, the French travel group that sells flights and hotel rooms and is a major a player in the online booking market. Investors Duke Street Capital, CDC Enterprises and Financiere Agache are also in the running to acquire Go Voyages from French hospitality group Accor, which plans to focus on its hotel and luncheon voucher business. First Choice, which recently bought online hotel room seller Late Rooms for £120m, is in talks over the possible sale of its £500m package holiday business. - [The Times](, 6 January

Dublin pub sells for €16m Landmark Dublin pub the Addioson Lodge looks likely to be redeveloped following its €16m (£10.8m) sale to property developed Joe Kenny and publican Kevin Fiztsimons. The duo paid €3m (£2m) over the guide price for the property and an adjacent detached house which together occupy a 1,064 acre site. - [The Irish Times](, 6 January.

Macdonald Hotels to sell £3m hotel to nearby timeshare owners
A Scottish Highland timeshare club is on the verge of buying a flagship Macdonald hotel in a deal that would end five years of legal wrangles. Timeshare Management Services Limited (TMSL) is in advanced talks to buy the Loch Rannoch hotel in Kinlochrannoch, Perthshire, for £3.25m on behalf of the 3,200 members of the Loch Rannoch Highland Club, which runs timeshare facilities next to hotel. The parties have been at odds since Macdonald Hotels barred timeshare owners from the hotel leisure and pool facilities after losing the management contract for the timeshare club to TMSL in 2003. The hotel group took the club owners to court over back fees and costs amounting to around £1m. - [Scotland on Sunday](, 7 January.

Swallow administrators close Greens hotel in Edinburgh
Ernst & Young the administrators for collapsed leisure chain London and Edinburgh Swallow Group, closed the 55-bedroom Greens hotel in Edinburgh's Eglington Crescent last Friday after talks to sell the leasehold fell through. The hotel, which employed 34 staff, was one of just 13 of the original 700 Swallow properties left on the administrators' books. Scottish hotelier Paddy Crerar continues negotiations for the management contracts on three hotels - the Golf View in Nairn, Old Manort in Lundin Links and Learmonth in Edinburgh. In a separate development, Glen Wright (the owner of the Dryfesdale Country House hotel in Dumfries) has paid £1.1m for Moffat House hotel in Moffat, which he intends to upgrade to four-star standard. - [The Herald]( ), 6 January

Food manufacturers snub FSA traffic-light labelling scheme
All but two food manufacturers have snubbed a new traffic-light food-labelling system launched by the Government's Food Standards Agency to advise consumers about levels of fats, saturates, sugar and salt. Only McCain Foods and the New Covent Garden Soup Company have adopted the FSA scheme, which awards foods red, amber or green lights. The biggest food companies - including Kellogg's, Nestlé, Cadbury Schweppes and Coca-Cola - are backing an alternative labelling scheme based on the proportion of the guideline daily amount (GDA) of fats, sugars and salts in a typical serving, along with a calorie count.. Supermarkets are split on the issue, with Sainsbury's Waitrose, Asda and the Co-op favouring the FSA scheme and Tesco and Somerfield plumping for the GDA approach. - [The Sunday Times](, 7 January

Premium cows fed gourmet wine to improve taste
Western Australian farmers are adding a litre of premium red wine to the daily feed of their pedigree Wagyu cows to add sweetness (and a 20% price premium) to the prized and pricey steaks. The diet of Chestnut Grove 2004 cabernet merlot - from a boutique vineyard in the celebrated Margaret River region - during each cow's final 60 days alive is also said to improve the colour and the shelf life of the famed marbled flesh, along with the appetite and contentment levels of the cows. - [Sunday Telegraph]( ), 7 January

FSB argues for compulsory registration to weed out cowboy B&Bs
The Federation of Small Businesses will urge VisitScotland to introduce compulsory registration to clean out cowboy B&B operations in a strongly-worded paper to be published this week. In the letter, the FSB also claims its members have little faith in the operation of the tourism marketing agency. It will call for greater spending on marketing and greater flexibility in the VisitScotland website, which currently claims areas are full or lack facilities when the statement is only true of establishments that are registered with VisitBritain. The FSB also criticises the plethora of quality assurance schemes with over-prescriptive and often contradictory standards. - Scotland on Sunday, 7 January.

Government denies organic food any healthier David Milibrand, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs, has angered organic bodies by claiming there is no evidence that organic food is any healthier than food grown conventionally with the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Miliband insisted organic food was merely "a lifestyle choice" and that conventionally-grown food should not be regarded as second-best. British farms use an estimated 4.5 billion litres of chemicals each year and are allowed to use up to 350 different pesticides. - Daily Mail, 6 January

Crop failures fuel further rises in bread prices
Bread prices are set to soar further in 2007 as poor wheat harvests in the USA, Australia, Argentina and the Ukraine have slashed wheat supplies to their lowest level in 20 to 30 years. Wheat prices, which soared by 35% in 2006 to their highest level in a decade, are forecast to grow by another 15% in the UK from January. - [The Observer, 7 January

By Angela Frewin

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