Hoteliers are furious that rooms they have agreed to supply to the organisers of London 2012 at a fair price are now being sold on at higher-than-expected rates via a third party.
Thomas Cook, one of three official ticket and hospitality providers to the Games, is selling rooms, in packages with tickets to Olympic events, at prices which - in some cases - are 1,000% higher than the rates charged by the hotels.
"There is considerable indignation amongst hotel operators that they are being labelled as greedy and sharp operators when in fact they have no control over the prices being charged by Thomas Cook," said a British Hospitality Association spokesman.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has secured nearly 56,000 out of the total of 114,000 rooms in London hotels for the duration of the events. Rates charged by the hotels were calculated on the average room rate achieved during 2007, topped up by inflation increases as recorded by the Consumer Price Index.
In one case, Thomas Cook is offering a two night package, including tickets to the beach volleyball and swimming events, as well as meals and transfers, at the five-star Sheraton Park Tower, at £7,198.
Colin Bennett, area manager for England for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, operator of the Sheraton, said that it was a cause for concern. "As hoteliers, we take a long-term view and we certainly do not want to alienate future customers by over-pricing rooms during the Olympic period," he said.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also expressed concern that astronomic room prices will have a damaging impact on London's hotels which could last for many years. "Hiking up prices and taking advantage of London's guests in 2012 is just wrong," said Johnson. "It just sends out completely the wrong message when we have such a unique opportunity to sell London to the world."
A spokesman for LOCOG said that the ticketing/hotel package rates were set by Thomas Cook, which as one of 38 domestic sponsors, is contributing to the £2b required from private finance to host and stage the Games.
"Of the rooms we have secured, Thomas Cook has a small allocation - around 8% - and, of these rooms, the vast majority is priced and sold at the lower end of the market, enabling families from outside London to get to the Games for a very reasonable price," he said. "80% of its ticket and hotel packages are on sale for £500 or less and two thirds are £300 or less."
Thomas Cook said that it has been "inundated" with enquiries and bookings since launching the packages on 15 March.
A company spokesperson said that the Games Break Plus option guarantees bookings at London's best hotels and events, as well as hosted service, meals and private coach transfers. "Our packages offer much more than just a ticket/hotel combination and any comparison relies on successfully obtaining all those tickets as outlined in the short break," she said. "These are guaranteed tickets now, they are not connected with the ballot system.
"Current separate hotel prices cannot be compared to this - as with all high demand dates they will be higher and in most cases are not yet available to book for August 2012."
thomas cook olympics package prices
â- County Hotel Woodford (three stars) Bed for two nights and two events £698 for two people
â- Radisson Edwardian Berkshire (four stars) Bed for three nights and three events £3,598 for two people
â- The Cumberland (four stars) Bed for three nights and three events (Games Break Plus) £6,598 for two people
â- Waldorf Hilton (five stars) Bed for four nights and five events, including opening ceremony (Games Break Plus) £13,998 for two people
By Janet Harmer
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