The project is a bit of a mess - the client screwed up their redesign project and ended up ditching their developer and now upper management are riding staff members and their new agency pretty hard. We've been working with them on another capacity for a couple of years now and are trying to sort this out for them, but have limited access (took us a month to get a copy of their htaccess file for example).
It's certainly not for PR reasons, the site is pretty well established and they do loads of non SEO related marketing around the world on a regular basis (in fact non-brand search probably only accounts for 1-2% of their revenue).
In terms of legacy rankings, it was really only the location hub pages that ever ranked for anything anyway (it's hotels; the rest of the pages were just info, local fluff, etc).
Realistically given the amount of time we have to assign to the project and given what we know about the client and what they are likely to implement, it was felt a simplified htaccess solution would be best. It's easy for them to digest and the many to one redirects are decent for visitors (same language, same location, same intention behind any searches or click throughs).
We've got a phone call with their new developer next week - I'll chat with them about the script option, but tbh I can't see the client prioritising that at all.
Thanks for the input!