Peeling wallpaper, mouldy bathrooms and tatty floors don’t sound the most inviting attributes for a seaside hotel.
So owner Emyr Davies advertised his Four Seasons establishment as being “newly refurbished” instead.
He added a few fake star ratings and tourist board accreditations for good measure.
But his somewhat imaginative approach to marketing landed him in court after a flood of complaints from visitors about the three hotels he owns in Aberystwyth, West Wales.
Last week Davies was ordered to pay almost £12,000 (about R144 000) in fines, costs and compensation after admitting 12 charges of unfair trading under consumer protection legislation.
Aberystwyth magistrates heard some guests who had booked the Four Seasons found themselves shunted off to other accommodation because Davies had double booked their rooms.
They ended up in his wife’s bedroom, still filled with her personal belongings, or in lower-graded rooms in other hotels.
Those who got to stay at the Four Seasons itself, however, were even unhappier. In a litany of complaints on travel websites, they told of filthy rooms, grubby vinyl flooring and mouldy walls.
Davies, 40, claimed that he didn’t understand what “newly refurbished” meant because his first language is Welsh.
Maggie Hughes, prosecuting for Ceredigion council, said tourism body Visit Wales had revoked the star ratings for Davies’s hotels after a series of complaints, but he refused to remove them from signs outside or on his website.
He also boasted accreditation from the AA, which has not recognised the hotels for some time.
At the Four Seasons signs indicated it held a two-star AA rating, as well as three stars from the Welsh Tourist Board. Rooms cost about £90. Davies, who also owns Belgrave House and the Queensbridge hotels, was told by magistrates that he had degraded the local tourist industry and badly let down his guests.
They fined him £8,400 and ordered him to pay £3,000 in costs to Ceredigion Council. He will also have to pay £550 compensation to guests who were misled about bookings. Councillor Dafydd Edward said the council had prosecuted as a last resort after Davies ignored warnings.
Simon Margrave-Jones, Davies’ solicitor, told the Mail his client had made significant improvements to the hotels over the past 24 months. He added: “Mr Davies regrets any distress or inconvenience caused to his guests.” - Daily Mail