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Three men deny conspiracy to sell Ritz hotel for £250m – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

05 October 2009 by
Three men deny conspiracy to sell Ritz hotel for £250m – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Three men deny conspiracy to sell Ritz hotel for £250m
Read the full article on BBC News >>

Heston Blumenthal got by on just three hours sleep a night
Three-Michelin-starred Heston Blumenthal - who had to close his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray earlier this year due to a norovirus outbreak that affected X00 guests - has revealed that he has "the constitution of an ox" and that, until two years ago, he only required three hours sleep a night, between Tuesday and Saturday. However, the chef confessed to the Observer that he now sleeps for five hours a night because his short-term memory has "gone" and he needs glasses. The chef also revealed that his oven blew up when he opened the restaurant. " I had one kitchen porter with me and 10 people in for dinner, so I had to tell him what to put in the oven with a bag of frozen peas on one side of my head and a bag of frozen chips on the other." A cheaper, more lightweight version of The Fat Duck Cookbook is published tomorrow for £35. - 4 October, Read the full article in the Observer >>

Rates bill for Dorchester set to double to £7.5m
The Valuation Office Agency's reassessment of commercial business rates last week - the first since 2005 - will more than double the bill for London's Dorchester hotel from £3.5m a year to £7.5m, according to research by chartered surveyor Gerald Eve. It warns that owners of landmark buildings will see rates soaring by as much as 115%, resulting in onerous taxation during a gruelling economic climate. The bill at airport operator Heathrow will spiral from £173.4m from £216.5m. Jay Schurder, the head of rating at Gerald Eve, said that the rateable value (RV) changes are inconsistent: "The All England Tennis Club will be pleased to see Wimbledon's RV fall by 14.3 per cent but Wembley Stadium increases by 17.6per cent and Twickenham Stadium rockets by over 88 per cent." - 4 October, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >>
Sports fan hopes to restore Altnaharra hotel to former glory Milton Keynes undertaker Duncan Mason has bought a remote Highlands hotel that he fell in love with on fishing trips with his father as a teenager which has been closed to guests for 18 months. Mason wants to restore the Altnaharra hotel to its former glory as a leading sporting venue that was highly commended in the Scottish Luxury Hotel 2006 awards and runner-up in the Scottish Fishing Hotel 2006 awards. The 14-bedroom hotel - a former drovers' inn that lies between Lairg and Tongue in Sutherland - has changed hands several times in recent year. Its last owner, Altnaharra Hotels, bought the hotel after it went on the market for more than £700,000 in August 2006. The company went into administration in February 2008 and, since then, only the bar has continued to operate. "We are enthusiastic for the way the Altnaharra used to be. We are mad on the Highlands and mad keen fishermen," said 46-year-old Mason, who hopes to reopen in time for Easter. "We've bought it as fans." The village of Altnaharra has around 20 residents, is more than 70 miles from the nearest city, Inverness, and is frequently one of the coldest places in Britain. - 4 October, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >> Hovis bakes jumbo bread-and-butter pudding for British Food Fortnight Hovis created a record-breaking bread-and-butter pudding that weighed as much as two baby elephants last week at its High Wycombe test bakery to celebrate British Food Fortnight. It took a team of seven Hovis bread experts 49 hours to prepare and bake the jumbo dessert, which weighed 3,300lb and measured 7ft by 5ft. It contained more than 1,000 slices of bread, 70 apples and 56 eggs. "No one's ever created a bread and butter pudding on this scale before but through a lot of hard work we managed to pull it off," said Graham Duckworth, product development manager. "It's an unbelievable achievement. I still can't believe we did it. It tasted great and we're all enjoying tucking in. Though we've got a lot of washing up to do." - 3 October, Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >>
'Staycations' bring bumper year to seaside resorts and small hotels
Seaside resorts Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth topped the list of destinations for the 12 million Britons who holidayed in the UK this summer, according to price comparison website Travelsupermarket, which suggested that three million people had opted for a 'staycation'. VisitBritain said online bookings in July and August had been the highest for two years while the Good Hotel Guide said small hoteliers had reported one of their best years. Hugh Macdonald, owner of Viewfield House hotel on the Isle of Skye, said: "We have had the most consistently good summer in 30 years. We have seen many more European visitors. The last time we had so many was 25 years ago when the pound was low." However, next year may prove tougher - a survey of 2,000 people by Travelsupermarket found 44% of Britons would pay 25% more for a holiday abroad, where they could be surer of better weather. - 4 October, Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>
Highlands council seeks UN approval for World Porridge Day Carrbridge Community Council in the Scottish Highlands has declared next weekend the first World Porridge Day and is seeking United Nations approval to make it an official celebration. The council, which wants the event to be held on the second Sunday of every October, has been timed to coincide with the annual World Porridge Making championship next Sunday, which is held in the village each year. Council organiser Linda Jolley said oatmeal-related events were happening not just in Scotland but also in Africa, Sweden, North America and Bosnia. "Porridge is one of the best things that Scotland has given to the world," Jolley said. "In our view, it is the traditional national dish of Scotland." Events in Scotland next week will raise funds for Argyll-based charity Mary's Meals, which provides healthy meals each day to 350,000 children across the world. - 4 October, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

By Angela Frewin

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