Scotland

Seven tourist hotels across Scotland cease trading

Bay Great Western Hotel in Oban Image copyright Google
Image caption The Bay Great Western Hotel in Oban is one of the hotels affected

Seven Scottish hotels have ceased trading after a major UK travel firm went into administration.

About 2,500 jobs have been lost and 64,000 bookings cancelled with the collapse of Specialist Leisure Group.

The hotel and travel company included well-known coach holiday brands Shearings, Caledonian Travel and Wallace Arnold.

Travel body Abta said the firm had struggled to provide refunds for trips cancelled because of Covid-19.

It added that the vast majority of cancelled bookings were coach package holidays and customers with these bookings will receive a full refund.

The hotels in Scotland which, according to a statement by the joint administrators, have ceased trading are:

  • Bay Highland Hotel in Strathpeffer
  • Bay Great Western Hotel in Oban
  • Bay Tarbet Hotel at Loch Lomond
  • Bay Caledonian Hotel in Fort William
  • Bay Waverley Castle Hotel in Melrose
  • Pitlochry Hydro Hotel in Perthshire
  • Portpatrick Hotel in Dumfries and Galloway
Image copyright Google
Image caption The Bay Tarbet Hotel at Loch Lomond was part of the Specialist Leisure Group's operation in Scotland

The Specialist Leisure Group, based in Wigan, also operated Wallace Arnold Travel and accommodation brands such as Bay Hotels, Coast and Country Hotels and Country Living Hotels.

The firm said on its website that all tours, cruises, holidays and hotel breaks had been cancelled and would not be rescheduled.

In a statement obtained by Travel Weekly, the firm's chief executive Richard Calvert said: "The effects of Covid-19 on our 117-year-old company and the wider travel industry have been devastating.

"In the most trying of circumstances we have fought tooth and nail to save the group and the jobs of our 2,400 loyal employees serving over 1.1 million customers annually.

"It is heart-breaking that the required funding or investment could not be secured to get us through this unprecedented crisis."

'Very sad day'

John de Vial, Abta's director of membership and financial services, said: "Today is a very sad day for these customers and the thousands of staff who will have lost their jobs.

"The fact that two such well-known brands with a loyal customer base have had to call in administrators is a stark indication of the pressure that the holiday industry is under as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Abta has repeatedly highlighted to the government the urgency of the situation and the need to set out a co-ordinated strategy with clearer communication if it wants to help avoid significant job losses and support companies to weather the storm."

Can I get my money back?

Many package bookings with Specialist Leisure Group companies will be protected by ATOL or the Bonded Coach Holidays Scheme.

However some bookings, including individual hotel stays, will not come with financial protection.

Colin Mathieson, knowledge coordinator for consumeradvice.scot, advised holidaymakers to book any future trips on a credit card to ensure greater protection.

Anyone with a booking on credit card should contact their card issuer to confirm if they are eligible to claim a refund, he said.

Mr Mathieson added: "Some debit card payments are protected under the chargeback scheme, and depending on your policy, people may be able to claim on their travel insurance.

"Finally, if all other options have been exhausted, claims can be made to the administrator."

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