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Heathrow hotels heaving as staff work round the clock for stranded passengers

20 December 2010 by
Heathrow hotels heaving as staff work round the clock for stranded passengers

Hotels at Heathrow Airport have been working around the clock to ease some of the misery experienced by passengers stranded by the heavy snowfall over the weekend.

Vincent Madden, general manger at the five-star, 605-bedroom Sofitel London Heathrow, described the situation as "logistically very challenging". As well as handling cancelled bookings from guests who couldn't reach the hotel and booking in those who were unable to fly out of the airport, the property also served thousands of meals to stranded British Airways passengers.

The hotel has direct access to Terminal Five, where British Airways is the main airline carrier.

"Some of the staff took three to four hours to get into the hotel and then did more than a full day's work, while many stayed with us overnight," said Madden.

"Disabled guests and families have been our priority, but the whole situation is a juggling act, which puts a huge strain on front line staff. I'm very proud that they have coped so well."

At the four-star, 649-bedroom Renaissance London Heathrow, the lobby - one of the largest of any hotel in the UK - was packed with distressed passengers unable to get their flights.

"It took quite a while, but we managed to get almost everyone checked into rooms, and for those people we couldn't accommodate we booked them into the Slough Copthorne," said general manager Peter Antinoph.

"As soon as everyone arrived, we gave them water as many of them had been at the airport for seven or eight hours without any drinks. And because there was a lot of frustration among passengers, as they couldn't find out any information about when they were going to be travelling, we provided many with free internet access.

"It is very much part of the culture at Marriott to be caring towards our guests, so our staff spent a lot of time among the crowds providing what help they could.

"In the midst of what was a very difficult situation, we were also hosting an Indian wedding for 200 people, and we didn't have a single complaint. All the staff coped extremely well; I'm very proud of them."

This morning the Renaissance served 780 breakfasts, double the normal for a Monday.

Snow hinders and helps hotels >>

Cold snap brings benefits to hoteliers >>

Hoteliers provide welcome refuge for stranded motorists >>

By Janet Harmer

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