The second of our three operators that we'll be following as part of our Profiting from 2012 Business Tracker programme is the Best Western Ufford Park hotel, near Ipswich, which is very aware of the need for fair prices and is sponsoring a local rower. James Stagg reports
It may be 80 miles from the main events of London 2012, but thanks to high-speed transport links, Best Western Ufford Park hotel is able to boast that it's only an hour from the action.
Located on the A12 near Ipswich, the hotel, golf club and spa is already actively mark-eting for the games, seeing the event as a great way to highlight its own sporting offer. Originally a golf course, Ufford Park was established 19 years ago by Colin and Shirley Aldous who have turned it into an 87-bedroom hotel that incorporates the championship par 71 golf course as well as a floodlit driving range, thermal spa, health club and conference facilities.
Revenue manager Melanie Hawes says there has already been interest in rooms for next summer and while the hotel is keen to make the most of the interest, it is also aware of its responsibilities in terms of pricing. "Right now I'm trying to get our rates organised," she explains. "We've signed the fair price charter so we're conscious of keeping our rates reasonable. We're very conscious of our regular corporate guests and golf groups."
Ufford Park has already had an enquiry from a group of Australians who Hawes believes are visiting due to the hotel's proximity to Olympic training camps. "It may just be a coincidence but some Australian and Canadian athletes will have training camps in Lowestoft, 25 miles from here," she says. "It's unusual to have a group of Australians staying so it's probably connected."
Hawes is confident that they won't be the only international visitors as further training camps are to be set up in Bury St Edmonds and Ipswich.
Closer to home, the hotel is supporting a local athlete in his preparations for the Olympic Games. Through the Suffolk SportsAid Foundation, which helps talented British sportsmen and women, it is involved in the Destination Gold project and sponsoring rower Joshua Tonnar (see box).
General manager Nicholas Holdsworth says the sporting association is a positive message for the hotel. "Local companies like us are sponsoring some up and coming athletes that are potential Olympic candidates for 2012," he says.
Ufford Park follows Tonnar's progress and he participates in fundraising and marketing events at the hotel. "Now that golf is an Olympic sport there's an added benefit for us," Holdsworth adds.
Tonner will be on hand at the hotel's leisure open day to give tips to gym members, meanwhile a ball is being held in October to raise money for his training. Holdsworth says: "We have to raise a certain amount of money for him so we're organising a red, white and blue ball. We have to be careful about exploiting the Olympic brand but we will get the Olympic 2012 emblem on badges."
More Olympic-oriented events are expected, adds Hawes. "We want to get the staff excited about the games too. We're using the in-house newsletter to get people motivated and enthusiastic so we're hoping everybody gets on board."
keeping prices fair
Like other businesses around the country, the hotel experienced difficult trading over the winter and has since been hit by higher input costs, much of which it has had to absorb.
General manager Nicholas Holdsworth explains: "Where it hurts with everyone is the costs. We can't put our rates up in line with the rises in the cost of food or VAT. Last year it was 15%, so immediately 5% is taken away."
But despite the pressures, Holdsworth says the hotel has had a successful summer. "That's been a hit but in terms of occupancy we're very strong. We ran 85% in July."
And looking ahead to next year, Holdsworth confirms the hotel is conscious that it doesn't want to upset its regular guests by hiking prices. "Where we are we need to be careful," he says. "Our corporate market is vital to us so there's no way we can upset them by increasing rates over the Olympic period. So we won't do that. We have to be very careful on our allocation. We will keep prices totally fair."
ufford park backs local rower
Suffolk rower Joshua Tonnar is being backed by Ufford Park, which is helping him prepare for the London 2012 Olympics.
He secured funding through the Suffolk SportsAid Foundation's Destination Gold initiative, which encourages local businesses to back talented athletes from the county.
Adam Baker, Suffolk 2012 manager, explains: "The Suffolk SportsAid Foundation, which is behind Destination Gold, has pledged to provide Suffolk companies with an opportunity to associate themselves with a world-class athlete.
"We are asking local companies to effectively ‘adopt' an athlete and help them in their ultimate goal of representing Team GB, and Suffolk, at the most memorable sporting event in the world - the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."
Tarnia Robertson, marketing director at Ufford Park, says the hotel is proud to be his sponsor. "As a family run business we felt ‘adopting' Joshua into our family would enable us to feel a real part of what will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Joshua is a focused and talented young man who we believe could achieve great things at the London Olympics - we are very proud to be his sponsor."
The Suffolk SportsAid Foundation, launched in 2007, has now awarded more than 60 grants. Joshua was selected in 2007 for the Sir Steve Redgrave Sporting Giants Programme and has this year been training with the GB senior rowing squad.
Our Profiting from 2012 Business Tracker series is published in association with ACT Clean and People 1st
By James Stagg
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