Aberystwyth hotelier fined for false claims and bookings
A hotel owner, described as a "real-life Basil Fawlty" on TripAdvisor by guests he misled with false claims about his properties, has been fined.
Emyr Davies, 40, of Aberystwyth, had to put some guests up at his home after double booking them.
Town magistrates heard he did not understand what "newly-furbished" meant on hotel advertising because his first language is Welsh.
He had admitted 12 charges of using unfair business practices.
Davies, who owns three hotels in the seafront resort, was fined £8,400 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 and compensation of £2,200.
A previous hearing was told he continued to use star ratings from the tourist body Visit Wales even though the grading had been revoked on his properties, Ty Belgrave House, the Four Seasons and the Queensbridge Hotel in Aberystwyth.
He accepted bookings for the "four-star" Four Seasons despite the hotel being full, the court heard, and some guests had ended up staying at Davies' home because rooms were not available at the hotel.
Maggie Hughes, prosecuting, representing Ceredigion council, said Visit Wales' had revoked Davies' accreditation following a flood of complaints.
Davies had continued to display Visit Wales signs at the hotels and on their websites, the court heard.
One customer arrived at the Four Seasons to find a "newly refurbished" room was filthy, had peeling wallpaper, floor vinyl that was lifting up and mould in the bathroom.
Eight of the 12 offences Davies admitted by Davies related to the Four Seasons.
Some guests said they were moved to lower graded accommodation in other hotels owned by the defendant.
End Quote Coun Dafydd Edwards Ceredigion Council
We have acted to stop the unfair advantage that Mr Davies attempted to create for himself by misleading customers about his facilities”
Others were put up in rooms in Davies' own home, with some ending up in a bedroom which still contained personal belongings of Davies' wife.
Magistrates told Davies that he had degraded the tourist industry in north Ceredigion and had let guests down badly.
Davies' defence counsel said his client insisted that he was taking steps to remedy the problems and that he regretted that things had got so bad.'Last resort'
He told the court that Davies' first language is Welsh and that he did not understand the meaning of "newly refurbished".
The court also heard that Davies had difficulty running the hotels and was still suspended by Visit Wales.
Coun Dafydd Edwards, Ceredigion council's cabinet member for environment, regulation and planning, said the council had only prosecuted as a last resort after Davies had ignored its advice and warnings.
He said: "Not only have we worked to protect consumers and visitors to Ceredigion, we have acted to stop the unfair advantage that Mr Davies attempted to create for himself by misleading customers about his facilities."
In reviews on TripAdvisor, one guest wrote: "The 'receptionist' could only be described at Basil Fawlty. WhenI asked if we could have a television in the room he gave me a key to a top floor room and told me to get it myself."