Travelodge aims to be biggest hotelier in capital ahead of 2012 Olympic games

TRAVELODGE yesterday announced an &pound;84m expansion plan that will create 200 jobs and make it the biggest hotel chain in London.<br /><br />It has snapped up six new hotels in a bid to cash in when the 2012 olympics comes to the capital.<br /><br />Once the new properties open, the hotel chain will operate 45 London hotels, with a total of 6,482 rooms.<br /><br />Such a huge portfolio would enable it to overtake Whitbread&rsquo;s Premier Inn as the capital&rsquo;s biggest hotel chain.<br /><br />The six hotels will create around 200 jobs in the capital, with most of the positions being filled through Travelodge&rsquo;s partnership with the Job Centre.<br /><br />Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn yesterday said: &ldquo;We have long stated our aim of being the lead brand in London by the time of the games and we are pleased that this will now be achieved.<br /><br />&ldquo;The Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the tourism industry and we intend to take it with both hands.&rdquo;<br /><br />The additions to its estate &ndash; which are a mixture of new build hotels and refurbished office blocks &ndash; will open in Covent Garden&rsquo;s Drury Lane, Ealing, Stratford and Bromley, with a further two in Harrow.<br /><br />The news of Travelodge&rsquo;s expansion plans comes at a tough time for the hotel sector, as cash-strapped consumers stay at home in the downturn.<br /><br />Around 212 hotels collapsed in the first half of this year.