Monday, July 17, 2006

Travel Lodge - Pets & Smokers

I think this may be of some interest and help to your members.

It may not {yet} be a huge problem in England, but this is a real headache for we Scots - below is a copy of an email I've sent to both FOREST and Travel Lodge: no reply from either as yet, but I'm sure it's a dilemna being faced by millions of people across the UK.

Dear Sir/Madam;

For your interest, and to perhaps save your members the same kind of frustrations which I've just experienced, I would highly commend the Travel Lodge group, who have hotels throughout the UK, and rooms from as little as £15 per night. And yes, that's per room - not per person!

When I recently tried to plan a trip from Scotland to London, I'd hoped to break the 10 hour car journey by stopping overnight somewhere in, or near, the Lake District.

Problem: Both myself and my wife are smokers, and we have two labradors. Two weeks of internet searches later, I still hadn't found a single hotel or B&B which would accommodate both smokers and pets.

Time after time, I encountered sites which proclaimed "Smokers welcome. One well-behaved pet allowed", or alternatively {and much more commonly}: "Up to three well-behaved pets welcome. Smoking strictly prohibited throughout the premises. Smokers may use the car park".

I was on the point of abandoning our trip completely - having searched for hotels and B&B's anywhere within 15 miles of the M6 between Carlisle and Morecambe, when I came across the Travel Lodge website.

Although the standard room rate {sleeping up to 4 people} is £47 per night, 'SuperSaver' rooms are available for only £15 if you can book at least 21 days in advance. Even if this isn't possible, many hotels offer 'Saver' rooms for as little as £26 - still a massive saving over standard B&B rates of at least £27 to £40 per person, per night.

Granted, breakfast isn't included at these prices; however most places have adjacent 'Little Chef' type facilities, and many do offer dining facilities for an additional charge.

My only complaint is that Travel Lodge impose a fee of £10 per pet per night, which I think is a bit excessive; however having said that, a total cost of £35 per night for two adults and two dogs - in a room where you can have a coffee and a cigarette - is more than acceptable: it's positively unique!

Hats off to Travel Lodge then: without them our trip south to visit our daughter simply wouldn't be happening, and pending government-imposed legislation which will make it impossible for them to continue to offer these facilities to travellers, there is no question whatsoever that they will benefit significantly.

With over 13 million smokers in a national population of less than 60 million {at least 30 million of whom are either under 18, over 75, registered as being severely blind or disabled, or don't actually mind smoking}, it goes without saying that places which fail to cater for both smokers and pet owners will be the first to see a downturn in trade.

Hope this information is of help, and lastly I should add that I have no association whatsoever with the Travel Lodge group, other than as a very satisfied customer.


John Hughes.