In this week's Caterer and Hotelkeeper - and on our sister website, Caterersearch.com - we catch up with recently crowned two-Michelin-star chef Brett Graham of the Ledbury in London. Trade, which continued to be solid for the restaurant through 2009, has of course been enhanced in the past few weeks and, unsurprisingly, he has seen a notable increase in the number of chefs dining front of house. (See our video at www.caterersearch.com/brettgraham.)
But while many establishments that we talk to report favourable takings at the moment, despite variable weather conditions and a cash-strapped consumer, the hotel sector in particular appears to be bearing the brunt of a difficult year.
Up to 40 hotel companies are expected to go into administration in the first quarter of 2010, according to insolvency experts Carter Backer Winter - while administrations rose by 161% in 2009 compared to 2008 (see page 7).
Provincial hotels seem to be driving this particular trend, partner John Alexander points out, as hoteliers have failed to overcome cancelled corporate bookings (as a result of the 2008 banking crisis), and the dire British weather at Christmas and January. On top of that, the potential promised by staycations last summer did not really materialise quite as the industry had anticipated.
While the road to recovery is a long and winding one and many operators are, understandably, furiously navel-gazing as they try to survive this tricky period, regional hotels could do worse than pull together, and, with the help of the tourism bodies, work out a marketing strategy that benefits the whole area as well as their own property.
In the meantime, as our resident blogger Peter Hancock often says, we must continue to lobby the Government for national tourism promotion. Rest assured, Caterer and Caterersearch.com will be doing its bit to raise this with each of the main political parties in the run-up to the election.
Amanda Afiya, Web Editor, Caterersearch.com