Briefs: UK raising VAT to 20%; Gran Meliá in Indonesia

UK raising VAT to 20%: The U.K. hospitality sector received a kick in the teeth on Wednesday when British Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that VAT rates on most goods and services in the hospitality sector will jump from 12.5% back to its pre-pandemic level of 20%. UKHospitality CEO Kaye Nicholls called the move a big setback for hospitality businesses still fighting to recover from COVID-19 and other rising costs. She added that thousands of jobs could be lost as a result of the VAT hike and, of course, consumers will face a price hike, as well.

Rendering of Gran Meliá Lombok

Gran Meliá in Indonesia: Invest Islands, Lombok, Indonesia, has unveiled the Gran Meliá Lombok, a beachfront and hillside resort at Torok Bay with a value of more than US$80 million. Currently under construction and slated to open in 2024, the project was conceived by Invest Island’s project team along with Bali-based Inspiral Architecture & Design Studios. The project’s interiors are being designed by PTI Architects. To be managed by Meliá Hotels International, the resort will comprise hillside duplexes and one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, featuring private pools, panoramic windows and ocean views. It will also include Kamya Moroccan tented suites, Aurora minimalist villas, Inspiral eco-luxury villas and La Residenza Bauhaus-style residences. Keeping in mind sustainable practices, the property will be made using organic, locally-sourced materials and feature energy-saving fixtures, rainwater storage and solar panels.

H.I.G. funding for Shiva Hotels: H.I.G. Capital, Miami, Florida, has provided a £76 million (US$100.55 million) mezzanine financing through an affiliate to the U.K.-based Shiva Hotels, backed by a portfolio of hotel assets in London (including The Guardsman, Buckingham Gate and Middle Eight Covent Garden). The funding is expected to allow Shiva Hotels to focus on implementing its business plan.

Heritage adds in New Mexico: Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is adding The Clyde Hotel in Albuquerque to its portfolio effective April 1. Formerly the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, the 392-key, 20-story hotel’s lobby and ground floor public spaces are currently undergoing renovations. There are plans to refresh the guest rooms in the coming months. The entire renovation project is expected to take around two years. The hotel is named after Clyde Tingley, the former chairman of the Albuquerque City Commission and the 11th governor of New Mexico.

Break travel improves US performance: U.S. hotel performance improved from the previous week, driven by the Spring break travel, and showed better comparisons compared to 2019, according to STR’s data through March 19.

  • Occupancy: 66.9% (-3.7%)
  • ADR: US$151.63 (+13.6%)
  • RevPAR: US$101.44 (+9.5%)

The weekly occupancy level was the highest since the week ending August 7  2021, while ADR was the second highest for any week on record. Among the Top 25 Markets, Miami recorded the largest increase over 2019 in each of the three key performance metrics: occupancy (+3.1% to 87.8%), ADR (+39.2% to US$348.95) and RevPAR (+43.5% to US$306.49). San Francisco/San Mateo saw the largest occupancy decrease (-29.9% to 60.2%), while the steepest RevPAR deficits were in San Francisco/San Mateo (-54.2% to US$107.11) and Washington, D.C. (-24.5% to US$93.23).

Vos appointed to Hotelschool The Hague Board of Trustees: Hotelschool The Hague has appointed Belmond CEO Roeland Vos as a member of the Board of Trustees effective April 1. Vos will help Hotelschool in developing the curriculum and growing the research programs. In January 2023, will succeed present Chairman Wolfgang Neumann, who will step down after having served nine years on the board. Vos has previously served as president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Europe, Africa and the Middle East and holds several supervisory positions, including at the Dutch catering company Albron.

Annual sustainability roundtable: Climate commitments in supply chain contracts and how sustainability can help in rebuilding the workplace family emerged as the two main areas of focus at the 12th annual Sustainability Roundtable in Ithaca, New York, hosted by the Center for Hospitality Research at the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. While reducing carbon emissions is a significant milestone for climate change, measuring the reduction varies greatly creating significant challenges for firms to operationalize carbon reduction strategies. Participants also noted a lack of standardized data and metrics to measure emissions across supply chain partners. The significant labor shortage in the hospitality industry has been concerning, with the quit-rate of U.S. hotel and food-service workers peaking at 6.8% (more than twice the national average of 2.9%), translating to over 890,000 individual workers, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the situation, hiring bonuses, higher wages and better benefits (free meals, 401k matches, etc.) did not prove to work very well, while employees have been asking for better managers, better communication, proper training and avoiding workplace harassment/protection from abusive customers.