Hotels, Their Evolution and Growth : Introduction to Tourism, Hospitality & Hotel Industry

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HOTELS

As per the Hotel Proprietors Act, 1956, a hotel is an “Establishment held out by the proprietor as offering food, drink and if so required, sleeping accommodation, without special contract to any traveller presenting himself who appears able and willing to pay a reasonable sum for the services and facilities provided and who is in a fit state to be received.” As a result of this definition establishments such as Hospitals, Hostels, Apartments and Prisons, although provide accommodation to people yet do not come under Hotels.

Common Law states that a “Hotel is a place where all who conduct themselves properly, and who being able to pay and ready to pay for their entertainment, are received, if there be accommodation for them, and who without any stipulated engagement as to the duration of their stay or as to the rate of compensation, are while there, supplied at a reasonable cost with their meals, lodging and other services and attention as are necessarily incident to the use as a temporary home.”

A hotel may be called as an establishment where primary business is to provide to the general public lodging facilities and which may also furnish one or more of the various services such as food, beverage, laundry, uniformed services etc. Hence, hotel can also be called as home multiplied by commercial activities.

As per the Reader’s Digest Dictionary the term ‘Hotel’ refers to ‘a house of entertainment of travellers’.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica the word ‘Hotel’ is of ancient origin, but its use in English for a house offering lodging and food for travellers is recent. The Hostlers of London took the name of Innkeeping in 1473. The word ‘Hostler’ or ‘Ostler’ having come to mean an inn servant. .

The term ‘Hotel’ was used in England in about 1760. Hotel or inn is defined by British law as a “place where a bonaflde traveller can receive food and shelter, provided he is in a position to pay for and is in a fit condition to be received”.

A hotel or an inn may also be defined as an establishment whose primary business is providing lodging facilities for the general public and which furnishes one or more of the following services a) Food and Beverage service b) Room service c) Uniformed service d) Laundry service and d) use of furniture and fixture etc.

In legal terminology a hotel is an inn and is required under common law to offer to its visitors lodging, food and protection to their baggage. Hotel service is generally based on these three fundamental necessity of life. In addition to these a modern hotel provides its visitors many luxuries of modern urban city living, all under one roof.

HISTORY OF HOTELS AND ACCOMMODATION INDUSTRY AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT

Early history of accommodation for travellers can be traced back to the Greek word ‘Xenia’, which not only meant hospitality but also the protection given to a traveller from discomforts. The city was bound to offer hospitality. In Sparta city, although due to rigorous customs visitors were not encouraged, yet goddess Athena was considered as protector of strangers and hence her name was ‘Xenia Athena’.

In this period travellers were mainly diplomats, philosophers, intellectuals and researchers. Guests were invited to stay with noblemen. In ancient Olympia, buildings constructed with the aim to accommodate strangers can be seen. They were called ‘Leonidio’ and were built in 4th century BC. The concept of hospitality can also be drawn back to ancient times. Mention of it is found in ‘Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer.

Hotelkeeping can also be traced back to many centuries and its evolution through the ages has been brought about by Britain’s economical and industrial changes and developments.
During the seventh and eighth centuries, it was the monasteries that supplied hospitality to strangers and, as no charge was made for the accommodation, all travellers were expected to contribute according to their means to the Abbey funds. As more people began to travel they grouped themselves together, not only for company, but for mutual protection from highwaymen and robbers. Consequently, travellers arrived in groups at a monastery and it was often difficult to accommodate them all. In the early 19th century the concept of a hotel room was a sitting room in the front, a bedroom behind it and a store room to keep trunks behind the bedroom and this century is known as “Golden Age of Hotel of Hotels in Great Britain and the World”, To overcome this, separate lodging houses called ‘Inns’ (a Saxon word) were built. The word ‘lnn’ came to mean a ‘Lodging House’ and until the passing of the Hotel Proprietors Act in 1956, it was the legal term for ‘Hotel’ and hotel proprietors were legally referred to as ‘Common Innkeepers’. ‘Common’ in this sense referred to Common Law.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, manor houses, being hospitable places. willingly gave accommodation to travellers. As no payment was expected, travellers tipped the servants as a ‘thank you’ for the generous hospitality received-thus the practice of tipping was born.

When high taxes crippled the generosity and hospitality of the owners of the manor houses, many became commercial inns. During Elizabeth the First’s reign, posting houses were established and travellers, in addition to getting refreshment were able to change horses before continuing their Journey.

The turn of the century saw an era that was called the ‘Belle Epoch’ when the grand and luxurious hotels flourished. A few hotels are still operating today. In London and some other cities attempts have been made to recapture some of the grandeur of the past era in the making of modern hotels, and bring back the memories the grand hotels of olden days.

The next stage in the cycle of evolution of the hotel industry was the coming of the motor car. It enabled people to visit those parts of the country which could not be reached by railways. This gave birth to inland resorts and the hotel industry began to flourish.

International air travel has helped create the modern ‘stop-over’ hotel. With the increase in this form of travel, the number of hotels built close to airports has multiplied.

Another trend in hotelkeeping is the motel which is the twentieth-century version of the old ‘Coach Inn’. People travelling the country by car, stopping overnight here and there, require not only refreshment for themselves, but also safe parking for their cars. Post Houses developed by the Trust Houses Forte Group are in fact the modern version of the old coaching inns. Great Britain is considered as “Motherland of Hotel Industry.”

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