Gorillas, cockatoos, batteries and fire begin UK’s 2019
Gorillas, cockatoos, batteries and fire begin UK’s 2019
07 JANUARY 2019 8:26 AM

No one can be blamed for not paying attention to everything over the Christmas holidays, so here are some United Kingdom hotel-related stories that might have passed you by as you passed the port and Stilton.

Happy New Year to you all.

These are some of the hotel-related stories from the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 that might have passed you by.

Gorillas and penguins stolen and later returned
Many spent the latter months off 2018 worried about a six-foot tall, 350-pound fiberglass gorilla that was stolen from the roof of London hotel Karma Sanctum Soho.

The model of the primate—I would say most keenly resembling subspecies Gorilla beringei beringei—is nicknamed Ace and has a tattooed right arm. It was stolen on 14 November by two thieves who actually duped builders working on a property next door to inadvertently help them carry the hefty primate away from the hotel site.

Good news. After a hefty financial reward was offered, the hotel tweeted a confirmation of Ace’s safe return on 26 November, and on 4 December hosted a “welcome home” party for the gorilla.

And in non-European hotel-theft news, also returned was a large purple penguin stolen from the 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City.

That piece of art was missing only for a matter of hours.

Hotel becomes charging station
The Premier Inn Edinburgh Park, at the Scottish capital’s main airport, has become the first hotel in the United Kingdom to be battery-powered, according to parent company Whitbread PLC.

Also known as the Gyle Premier Inn, the 200-room hotel has installed the device that it claims will save the property £20,000 ($25,483) per year by undergoing power responsibilities for three hours per day, including energy needed in its restaurant, although I guess that makes it not fully battery-powered.

But still, good work, and Whitbread hopes the experiment will allow it to roll out the initiative across its other properties—and there are some 750-plus hotels across the U.K.

According to energy news website The Energyst, the battery is a 100kW/200kWh lithium ion battery, and Whitbread executives have said they “will not immediately use the battery to arbitrage wholesale market prices, but may do so in the future.”

The usual annual story on things left in hotel rooms
The good people at Travelodge—Premier Inn’s budget competitors in the U.K.—yearly compile a list of the odd things left in its hotel rooms.

I will not go on and on about what these items are, but I will call out two. The first was a heartbroken, sobbing groom who was still in his honeymoon room in the Cambridge Orchard Park Travelodge long after his (and presumably someone else’s) check-out time as he had sadly already received his Dear John letter, with the marriage seemingly over. The other was a Blue-eyed cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica) answering to the name of Brexit.

Cockatoos are able mimics, but the fact that any animal has learned the one word that must have been uttered in the U.K. 10 times more than any other lessens the amazement that it might be able to say the word Brexit.

That it was found in a Travelodge hotel in Brighton might suggest it has learned to say “No Brexit,” I am guessing.

UK’s oldest hotel up for grabs
Some might remember that the U.K.’s “oldest” hotel, the 53-room Royal Clarence, Exeter, in the county of Devon, burned down in late 2016 and thus is no longer the oldest. That hotel dated to 1770, as far as anyone’s records can detail.

Therefore this mighty nation needs a new oldest hotel, and that was adjudged to be Lowther Hotel in Goole, Yorkshire, which now is looking for a new owner, according to business advisory Christie & Co.

This 12-room hotel dates to 1824, its Regency style still evident, which might raise eyebrows when told the hotel features the Voodoo Chilli bar. Modern needs must, I imagine.

There also is good news for The Royal Clarence. It is set to reopen this year, which throws up a dilemma as to whether it will regain its title or will be considered a completely new hotel.

I am sure that is pigeon feed for any of today’s marketeers.

Whitbread step closer to being coffee-less
The European Union agreed on 3 January to the proposed sale of Costa Coffee by Whitbread PLC, the owner of the Premier Inn hotel brand, to Coca-Cola, which we reported on 31 August here.

The deadline for the decision was always to be on 4 January, but the politicians have come in a day early, which is perhaps heartening to see, or at least know can happen.

It is a little humorous to see that the deal, perhaps the biggest in Whitbread’s long history and something its executives have worked over for quite some time, is known by EU mandarins simply as M.9122.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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