Snow hinders and helps hotels

13 December 2010 by
Snow hinders and helps hotels

The recent heavy snowfall that wreaked havoc throughout the UK resulted in a mix of cancelled and unexpected hotel bookings.

Situated off a country lane, at the end of a mile-long drive, the three-red-AA-star, 18-bedroom Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead, West Sussex, was swiftly cut off by the arrival of the wintry weather. As a result, the hotel was empty for three nights, losing all of its bedroom and restaurant business, as well as several Christmas party bookings.

##### At Gravetye Manor staff tried to clear the drive, but as soon as they completed one end, the other was full of snow again

"The snow resulted in the loss of a huge amount of business," said sales and marketing manager Celine Jorgensen. "The frustrating thing was that as we were open and near Gatwick we would have welcomed stranded passengers, but they couldn't get to us."

Bizarrely, a couple from London phoned the hotel just as the snow started, saying that they were keen to be stranded in a country house hotel by the bad weather. They made a booking, but ended up being forced back at Croydon as the trains were unable to cope with the snow.

##### Copthorne Hotel staff Matthew Williams, hotel manager; Abbie Stewart, property maintenance manager; Darrel and Lee Hawkins, ground supervisor and assistant gardener; and Craig Cox, director of sales, cleared the snow so guests could leave

Meanwhile, just a few miles away, hotels at Gatwick benefited from the enforced closure of the airport for two days. Sister hotels the 122-bedroom Copthorne Hotel and Resort Effingham Park London Gatwick and the 227-bedroom Copthorne Hotel London Gatwick were both full during the worst of the weather.

General manager of the two properties, Peter Zielke, said that initially the hotels suffered cancellations, but then picked up business from passengers affected by cancelled planes and trains.

While some members of staff in administrative jobs worked from home, others who were needed to prepare and serve food and clean bedrooms battled their way through the elements.

"The effort made by the staff was fantastic - some of them walked for up to three hours to get here," said Zielke. "We were able to put up a lot of our employees as we have staff accommodation for 90 between the two hotels.

"Everyone was working on the front line, with many of the managers working for hours to clear the car park. The suppliers also did a fantastic job getting all deliveries through, despite being a few hours late.

"It was one of those occasions when demand for hotel bedrooms at Gatwick far outstripped the supply - we could easily have done with another 300 rooms."

By Janet Harmer

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