An interesting but not surprising article in last week’s Irish Independent describes how many Irish hotels are suffering greatly from the cost of running a leisure centre, incorporating swimming pools and sometimes jacuzzis, saunas and spas.
One example describes an unnamed western hotel with annual bill of € 300,000 for gas and electricity, “with much of the total … accounted for by its leisure centre”.
A businessman involved in the sector tells the reporter how many hotels are owned by builders who, although they knew how much it would cost to build a leisure centre, “didn’t know what it cost to run one”.
Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) chief executive, John Power, describes how leisure centres add hugely to the costs of running a hotel, citing energy as a large cost factor.
Validity is leant to a widely held belief, when the article states that while 8-in-10 people choose a hotel because it has a leisure centre, only 2-in-10 actually use it when they stay there. I’ve always believed that. Whenever I stay in a hotel, I do make sure to take a swim, but am always amazed at how few other guests are there.
Having said that, with a staff of maybe 4 or 5, plus the energy consumed to keep them running, it really makes little difference whether or not guests use the facility. There is no extra revenue anyway. Extra revenue can only be achieved from the local population and club membership fees. That’s a tough ask in the current climate.
Finally, the article mentions another big problem for Irish hotels in 2009. Massive recent building has brought a huge over-capacity to the sector, with an extra 21,000 beds provided in the market since 2002. Occupancy rates have fallen to 52%.
Footnote : I alluded to club membership above. I once joined a nearby hotel’s swimming pool and gymnasium club. The staff were so poorly trained and discourteous that I left and never rejoined. good facilities are one thing – quality staff quite another.