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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 14:18 GMT
Youth hostels get 13.5m revamp
YHA Ilam, Peak District
YHA Ilam in the Peak District is to get a 2m upgrade
Dozens of youth hostels in England and Wales are to receive a 13.5m revamp as part of a modernisation programme.

Twelve hostels have already been upgraded and will be re-opened to the public in time for the 2008 season.

"When we announced a new strategy for YHA [Youth Hostel Association] two years ago, we made a firm commitment to providing great hostels in great locations," said YHA head Roger Clarke.

The organisation is closing 35 hostels, but with few job losses, it says.

Among the 37 properties earmarked for an upgrade are Ilam in the Peak District, which will get 2m, Pen y Pass in Snowdonia, which will get 1m, and Ambleside in the Lake District, which will receive 600,000.

Better bed for the night

The refurbishments were identified in a national survey of the 161 properties owned and operated directly by YHA. Through franchises, the organisation has a network of 208 hostels.

Mr Clarke said the modernisation scheme was "all about improving the experience for guests who choose to stay with YHA and that means investing in our staff and our buildings".

The first batch of 12 hostel upgrades are nearing completion. They include Pwll Deri, a clifftop cottage in Pembrokeshire, Manchester and London St Pancras.

YOUTH HOSTEL REVAMP
12 hostels already upgraded
37 properties to receive 13.5m
77 more hostels identified for revamp
35 hostels are being closed

Three new properties will also be unveiled in the course of the next year - a 4.3m hostel in central London opening next month and facilities in Eastbourne and Lewes, Sussex, which will open in early 2009.

When the YHA announced its modernisation programme two years ago, it said it was axing 32 hostels.

Now three other properties have been added to the list after the YHA decided the low visitor numbers did not justify the investment - Bangor in north Wales, Great Yarmouth and Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

Mr Clarke said: "It is always regrettable when we announce closures... but the YHA property network is organic... the creation of good quality facilities in excellent locations is a necessity for our survival and growth."

In the past two years, the organisation says, 18 properties have joined the network as franchises.



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