April's onerous business rate hikes are the biggest concern for country house hotel owners in the UK, according to a new report.
More than a third of respondents (38%) said business rate increases were now their biggest worry, pushing staff recruitment into second place (34%).
The report's author, BMR Hospitality International, said projections for the sector suggested an average increase of 17% in business rates this year.
Guy MacPherson, a director at BMR, said country house hotels were particularly susceptible because of their large size and high rateable value.
"It's of huge concern to independent owners, of which the majority are," said MacPherson, citing Matfen Hall in Northumberland, which has already suffered a 126% increase in rates from £50,000 to £126,000 over the last two years.
But BMR's annual survey also found owners expected strong sales growth this year. However, recent reports of crumbling consumer confidence means expectations for the leisure market have now fallen.