Hotels are beginning to sell rooms for more than double their normal July and August rates for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics.
With fewer than 50 weeks to go before the start of the sporting spectacular, hotels in and around the capital are beginning to publish their prices for rooms which have not been allocated to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
As part of the bid to secure the Games for London in 2005, all branded hotels in London had to allocate 65% of their rooms to LOCOG at pre-negotiated rates, leaving just over one-third of the 121,000 rooms which will be open in the capital by the start of the Olympics to be sold.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which currently is quoting £304 for a room at the Sheraton Skyline London Heathrow in August 2012 compared with £125 for August 2011, said that the company is committed to fair pricing.
"Our prices over the Olympic period are based on the rates we charge during other high-demand periods in London such as Wimbledon and the Farnborough Air show," said Colin Bennett, area manager, England, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
"As hoteliers, we take a long-term view and we will not alienate future customers by over-pricing during the Olympic period."
Starwood and Whitbread decided to withdraw their hotel rooms from the LOCOG agreement which were being marketed in packages, with tickets to Olympic events, by Thomas Cook at rates which - in some cases - were more than 10 times higher than their original price.
Hilton Worldwide said it has no rooms available during the Olympics and Paralympics for any of the 16 managed hotels in central London, but it is selling rooms at hotels within a 30-minute train journey from the city centre. Rooms at Hilton Maidstone in Kent start at £194 in August 2012 (August 2011: £129), with the Hilton Cobham in Surrey charging from £210 during the Olympics (now: £180).
InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), whose Holiday Inn brand is the official hotel provider for the Olympics, opened its bookings for the Games on 7 August and says it is too early to tell what room uptake has been like.
Chris Hale, head of London 2012 for IHG, said that room rates are determined by location and room type, as well as the fluctuations of supply and demand.
"We expect that occupancy will be high at all our hotels in London and the rest of the UK during the Olympic Games," said Hale.
However, Travelodge chief executive Guy Parsons believes there will not be a rush for hotels rooms during the Olympics as many consumers, who are just getting by in the current economy, regard summer 2012 as a long way off.
"I think the take-up for Olympic rooms will be slow and we are certainly not going to see the same stampede for room sales that we did when Take That released their UK tour dates," said Parsons. "The day the tour dates were released, we literally sold out of rooms in all of the performing cities across the UK within a couple of hours."
Travelodge has based its room rates on its normal pricing model. Rates for July 2012 start from £99 (July 2011: £65) in central London and from £43 (£35) in outer London.
Travelodge's major rival, the Whitbread-operated Premier Inn, said it had taken "a healthy number" of bookings since putting 150,000 rooms in 109 hotels within a 35 mile radius of the Olympic Stadium on sale on 3 August. Currently costing from £99 to £189, rooms at Premier Inn during the Olympics will start from £159.
london visitor charter
The London Visitor Charter, launched by mayor Boris Johnson last month, has yet to receive any hotel signatories.
Intending to help reassure tourists they are getting value for money during their stay in London, the charter has received the support of a number of bars, pubs and restaurants, including the Punch Tavern, Hard Rock Café and Tom Aikens' three London restaurants.
Among other high-profile companies to sign up to the charter are Eurostar, the O2 Arena and the London Eye.
By Janet Harmer
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