BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Thursday 9th September, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
ExCeL London - 30 Sep - 01 Oct 2021
18 October 2021 - Virtual
New boutique hotel braves recession to open in Leeds
Three townhouses in an old and elegant part of the city have been merged to create this smart boutique hotel.
Behind its red Victorian brickwork, there is a touch of art deco about the stylish reception area and bar while downstairs is a restaurant overseen by Albert Roux.
Upstairs are three floors of bedrooms and suites each with free WiFi, plasma screen, an iPod docking station and a personal cocktail shaker.
But despite the comfort and 30s glamour, is it wise to be opening a hotel in today's economic climate, especially when that property is in the city's financial centre and that city is Leeds.
The doubts are swiftly swept aside by Sally Rouse, general manager of The Ellington and sales and marketing manager of Pantin Hotels. "We have been two years in the planning and David (Pantin, founder of the new hotel group) has always said we are in it for the long haul.
"The site is right and we saw it as a niche location we could market for a boutique hotel that has got everything, a restaurant, meetings rooms, good access and a very high level of service," she said.
"We also thing of Leeds as an aspirational city where people like the fine things in life."
Set in the heart of the city's financial and legal district, The Ellington is going for the corporate market during the week, both people who visit the city for a few days on business and those who live and work there who can drop in for a drink or a meal.
The financial centre has been a part of Leeds since the 1980s and, despite the recent global battering, it is the largest in the UK outside London.
Ms Rouse also believes that with the city's beautifully restored Victorian shopping arcades and surrounding tourist attractions like York Minster, Bronte Country and the National Media Museum at Bradford, Leeds is an ideal weekend leisure base.
To cater for the business traveller, The Ellington has free WiFi and laptop connections in all bedrooms - the current number one request from most travel managers - as well as two meeting rooms, one the Boardroom accommodating 14 and the other the Wellington Room able to take 30 theatre style. Both are available for private dining.
"The corporate are looking for comfort, a hotel that is easy to use. They want free WiFi as that is such an important part of their day. We think it is crucial these days.
"And they want a certain level of service which is discreet but there," Ms Rouse said.
If the economic omens for The Ellington are risky, the pedigree of its founder is not.
David Pantin is a former managing director of Rocco Forte Hotels and Dawnay Shore Hotels. In a career spent largely in the hospitality industry, Mr Pantin has also worked in the Caribbean for Trusthouse Forte and as managing director of London's Cafe Royal from 1991-1993 where he also founded The Green Room cabaret.
He set up his own enterprise in 2006 and his first hotel is already a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, one of only seven in the UK and the only one outside the capital.
With The Ellington opened for only one month, Mr Pantin is already planning his second property.
Ms Rouse, also formerly of Rocco Forte where she was, among other posts, director of sales and marketing at Brown's Hotel, is also aware of the challenge.
"Of course it is a concern...you only have to look at how the markets have been fluctuating in the past few weeks.
"But we are in for the long haul. It could be a rough ride for sometime but we will come through at the other end.
"We are sure there is a market out there for something a little different and will like that it is not part of a large chain.
"We are already getting clients coming in on a weekly basis, repeat business and that is fantastic for us. It makes us definitely optimistic," she said.
Note: March 20, 2009: The Ellington Hotel has since closed. We shall update this as soon as we have further information