Logis Hotels – an alternative future for the classic New Zealand country pub
Recently we were visited by a small group of people in their vintage cars, including a very old Rolls Royce. It is quite surprising to me how often we do get visited by people driving vintage cars. Sometimes they are on tour and stay the night, at other times they simply call in for lunch.
Anyway, this post is not about vintage cars; rather, it springs from a conversation I had with one of the drivers from one of these groups. From memory, it may even have been the owner of the Rolls Royce.
This particular Rolls Royce had travelled to many places internationally, the owners shipping it to different destinations all over the world, and then touring around in it. As such, both car and owners were well travelled.
It was from this well-travelled vintage Rolls Royce owner that I first heard about the French (and now international) Logis chain of family-owned Hotel – Restaurants.
A History of Logis Hotels, Post WW2
My understanding of the history of Logis Hotels is mostly what I gleaned from talking to the vintage Rolls Royce owner. While there is plenty of information online about the present state of the Logis Hotel network, I could find very little about its history. Because of this dearth of information, I may have a few details wrong, but believe I have got the overall story roughly right. Please correct me if I am, in fact well off the mark.
Following World War 2, among the many reconstruction projects the French government embarked upon, there were also some social initiatives. One of these social initiatives was a desire to encourage and maintain the life and economic health of small rural towns and villages. Having people, especially young people, carry on living in these villages was recognised as a key part of this policy, but how to accomplish that?
One idea involved the recognition that the small family-owned hotel was a key establishment in many of these rural towns. In 1948 three men came up with the idea of offering marketing services and cheap loans to upgrade many of these rural hotels. There were a few rules:
- No more than 12 rooms
- Must be in family ownership with the family hands-on operating it
- There were also some rules regarding hotel infrastructure upgrades
- Where food was offered, the idea was that this would be primarily regional dishes
The thinking behind the policy was that these small hotels, many of which also had restaurants, would provide employment to young people in the village, possibly stopping them from drifting into a bigger city. Also, the inflow of visitors would provide an economic stimulus to the local rural area.
Over the years the rules have changed, but the essence has not with over 2500 hotels now members.
Where is this post about Logis Hotels in France going?
Visit just about any small New Zealand town, and you will find a country pub. Many of the buildings are built of timber and have quite a unique character, though often needing a spruce up. Some still offer basic accommodation.
Sadly, in many cases, these establishments have closed, or have reduced opening hours. The decline in the number of these establishments has been in response to tougher drink driving laws, cheap beer and wine availability in supermarkets and declining rural populations.
The Provincial Growth Fund
As part of the coalition agreement following the last New Zealand election (2017), a provincial growth fund was set up. This fund, with a budget of 1 billion dollars per year, is tasked with increasing economic growth in the regions.
It is a shame that no-one has suggested a useful option for some of the funds could be a Logis type scheme to encourage the growth of a network of upgraded country hotels. Cheap loans and other assistance could be made available to help with these upgrades. As in France, the effect would be to keep people in the countryside and encourage diverse economic activity in the regions.
I think this is an idea worth consideration, though already it may be too late.
Does anybody else think this could be a good idea?
Hotel Erreguina, Banca, France
Hotel De France, La Chartre sur le Loir, France