by Lisa Grimaldi | February 01, 2005

London cityscape

Capital growth: London (with the House of Parliament shown) is enjoying a boom in hotel rooms.

The British capital will have up to 19,000 new hotel rooms by 2008, according to VisitLondon, the tourism body that represents the city. Over the next four years, 11,500 rooms will open in the capital; an additional 7,786 rooms are likely if London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games is successful.
    The hotels are getting bigger, too. In 2001 and 2002, the average size of a new hotel in the city was fewer than 100 rooms, according to VisitLondon. In 2003, that number jumped to 158 rooms, and by 2006, the average property here is projected to have 170 rooms.
    The city’s next challenge is to add convention space. Each year, London turns away more than $50 million in conference business due to the lack of a large, purpose-built convention center, per a recent study by the Mayoral Commission. Several other factors will be examined before a comprehensive recommendation is made to the city, said commission chair Gerry Acher.

Hotel developments
Brown’s Hotel has closed to undergo an extensive renovation to its 117 guest rooms and public areas. The landmark property, acquired by Rocco Forte Hotels in 2003, will add a fitness center and a business center before reopening this spring.
    The London Marriott West India Quay Hotel & Executive Apartments, with 301 guest rooms and 47 apartments, has opened at West India Quay. The property has 14 meeting rooms.
    Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has taken over management of The Savoy. (See “Fairmont Ventures Into Europe,” Incentive Newsline.)
    The Cumberland has completed a refurbishment of its 900 guest rooms and 26 meeting rooms. The property, formerly part of the Le Méridien portfolio, is the first hotel in Thistle Hotels’ new upscale brand, Guoman.
    The London Euston Plaza Hotel, with 150 guest rooms and 11 meeting rooms, has been reflagged as the Hilton London Euston.
    The 248-room Dorchester is undergoing a facelift. The project, to finish in June, includes the renovation of meeting rooms and public spaces.
    The 210-room Holiday Inn Docklands, which opened in May 2003 at the ExCeL Conference & Exhibition Centre complex, has been reflagged as the Crowne Plaza Hotel London Docklands.
    The 396-room Riverbank Park Plaza will open in April. The hotel will have 10 meeting rooms, two ballrooms and the Thames Room, which will offer panoramic views of the River Thames and the city skyline.
    Caesars Entertainment and British developer Quintain Estates and Development PLC plan to develop and operate a luxury casino resort adjacent to Wembley National Stadium and Wembley Arena. The project is part of a major redevelopment of the complex. The $600 million Caesars Wembley will feature a casino, a 400-room luxury hotel, a spa, shops, restaurants and meeting space. But the bulldozers can’t begin to dig just yet: The plan is subject to deregulation of the United Kingdom’s gambling laws; at press time, the issue was still under review by the British government.