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Fat Duck diners seek compensation over food poisoning – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

21 September 2009 by
Fat Duck diners seek compensation over food poisoning – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Fat Duck diners seek compensation over food poisoning Victims of the food poisoning outbreak at Heston Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant in Bray are seeking legal damages from the chef over his ‘pathetic response' to the episode. More than 500 diners were struck down by norovirus, or winter vomiting bug, after eating sewage-contaminated oysters at the Fat Duck, which was closed down for two weeks. The victims were further angered by an e-mail from Blumenthal last week which they said tried to shift the blame from the restaurant, which the Health Protection Agency had criticised for failures in food preparation. Solicitors Hill Dickson are acting for boxing promoter Frank Warren and a number of other high-profile figures while TV presenter Jim Rosenthal has hired another legal firm to pursue his claim. - 19 September, Read the full article in the Daily Mail >>

Michelin reviewers move into social networking in America
Read the full article in the Independent >>
Christian hoteliers may lose business after offending Muslim guests
The Evangelical Christian owners of the Bounty House hotel in Aintree, Liverpool, face losing their livelihood after a discussion about religion with two Muslim guests in March led to a criminal charge. Proprietor Ben Vogelenzang, 54, offended the guests by allegedly calling the prophet Mohammed a warlord (a claim he denies) while his wife Sharon, 53, upset them with the opinion that Muslim dress put women into bondage. The guests complained to the police, who charged the Vogelenzangs under public order laws with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words' that were 'religiously aggravated'. The couple, who appeared before magistrates this week, deny using threatening comments and say the charges represent a worrying attack on freedom of speech. As a result of the case, bookings have fallen by up to 80% after a local hospital stopped recommending the hotel to people taking courses there. - 20 September, Read the full articles in the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday >>
IHG officially launches $1b Holiday Inn makeover
The $1b(£600m) facelift of Holiday Inns' 3,300 worldwide properties was officially launched in New York this week by Buckinghamshire-based owner InterContinental Hotels Group. "We've got one of the iconic brands of the world," says Kevin Kowalski, a former Coca-Cola marketing executive and global head of the chain. "We want to make sure it's fresh and current and relevant for today's traveller." The hotels, which are run by local franchisees, will have to spend an average $100,000 to $200,000 on improvements. Changes include a new logo, revamped public spaces, landscaping, new lighting, signature plant pots, power showers, and a choice of soft or hard pillows in each room. Each hotel will also have to plug in a lobby scent machine that will pump out a blend of ginger, white tea, citrus and musk at full-scale Holiday Inns, and sweet grass and green tea at cheaper Holiday Inn Express sites. Hotels unwilling to fund the changes will be stripped of the Holiday Inn brand, and older hotels with motel-style exterior corridors face the axe. Kowalski said the chain had lopped 130 properties off its estate for each of the past three years. - 19 September, Read the full article in the Guardian >> David Hockney backs MPs'call for smoking rooms in pubs
Veteran British artist David Hockney is backing a cross-party group of MPs who are calling for a relaxation of the smoking ban to allow people to light up in designated rooms in pubs. The 72-year-old lifelong smoker told BBC's Politics Show that he was appalled to find the owners of his local café in east Yorkshire no longer allowed people to smoke at outdoor tables because they feared smoke would drift inside and breach the law. In a sideswipe at the nanny state, Hockney added that if ministers had told the recently deceased TV chef Keith Floyd to give up rich food, alcohol and cigarettes ‘he would have said to them that's not what I call living. Up yours!' Smoking was banned in all public indoor spaces in 2007. - 20 September, Read the full article in the Mail on Sunday >> Malmaison owner sues former motorcycling star over unpaid loans
Hotel millionaire Richard Balfour-Lynn has filed a High Court writ against former motorcycling champion Julian Clark over an alleged unpaid loan of £62,500. Balfour-Lynn, whose companies own the Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and De Vere hotel groups, claims he agreed to loan Clark, a long-term friend, a total of £50,000 in April to buy twelve motocross bikes which he planned to resell. The writ alleges that Clark agreed to pay back £62,500 - the original sum plus 25% interest - by 13 May. Balfour-Lynn, who was reported to be in talks with Lloyds last month about restructuring AHG's £1.4b debt, is seeking repayment of the loan plus interest of £13.70 a day. - 20 September, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >> Woman with cut throat found in landmark US hotel
A naked woman with knife embedded in her slashed throat was discovered by a maid at the luxury Jumeirah Essex House hotel on the southern edge of New York's Central Park on Saturday afternoon. Police said the woman appeared to be in her 30s. Guests at the landmark 44-storey, 509-bedroom art deco property said they had no idea a body had been found until newspaper reporters turned up asking questions. - 20 September, Read the full article in the Sunday Express >> Police shift search for missing chef to Cyprus
Detectives seeking York University chef Claudia Lawrence, who disappeared six months ago, have turned their attention to Cyprus. They revealed at a news conference yesterday that officers had travelled to the island to interview people she had met on her travels there. It also emerged that the last text message sent to the 37-year-old's home on the night she disappeared in March had been a bar worker from Cyprus, who has co-operated with the investigation. However, Lawrence's passport was left at her home in York. A former boyfriend told the Mail on Sunday he feared Lawrence had been killed by someone she had met in Cyprus. She was apparently due to return to the island in April, a month after she disappeared. - 19 and September, Read the full articles in the Independent and the Mail on Sunday >>
By Angela Frewin

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