Across Scotland, hotels are struggling as the impact of lockdown closures has hit the hospitality industry hard.
At a time when many hotels would be looking forward to the peak summer season, they instead face the prospect of empty rooms and cancelled bookings as lockdown continues.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating, with the owners of Crieff Hydro the latest to announce jobs are under threat at its chain of hotels.
Although staff were furloughed, more than 200 of the chain’s 1000-strong staff who work across the company’s seven hotels are facing redundancy.
Ellie Bentley, a part-time housekeeper at Crieff Hydro Hotel, received a letter from the company saying she was at risk.
She says she feels the owners are throwing staff “under the bus” with the move, adding that there is very little work elsewhere that she can do in the Perthshire town.
“Another 30 days of me basically waiting on my toes, waiting for something to happen,” she said.
“I don’t know if I should start looking for a new job or how everything is going to affect me and my son.
“I am a single parent and that is my only way of getting some cash.”
‘Hospitality and tourism in Scotland is in deep, deep trouble.’Stephen Leckie, Crieff Hydro owner
Owner Stephen Leckie says he was left with no choice, adding that the hospitality industry is “in deep, deep trouble”.
“We’ve had to write to 241 [staff] at the moment to indicate their job is at risk.
“That’s not to say that all 241 will have to face redundancy, we’re hoping to preserve as many jobs as we can.” Mr Leckie said.
“We’re hemorrhaging so much money right now and we just don’t know when we might open and what opening might look like.
“Hospitality and tourism in Scotland is in deep, deep trouble.”
It’s not just staff at the Crieff Hydro that are under threat. Roles at five Crowne Plaza hotels in Edinburgh and Glasgow are also at risk, with some smaller rural chains already announcing job losses.
In a bid to get hotels ready for when lockdown restrictions are eased, sites like Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel have been undertaking a deep clean in preparation.
It is expected that it will take six weeks to clean the entire building, with staff planning to remove high touch points such as telephones and television remotes.
There are also plans in place for how customers can safely stay at the hotel.
Christopher Hodgens, from Ardoe House Hotel said: “First of all we will be going with rooms only, food and drink will be room service delivered to the room and then after that we will be looking to open the restaurant and bar once the guidelines are out for socially distancing with all the procedures in place.
“Staff will be wearing face masks and shields and gloves, there will be disinfecting stations all over the hotel.”
‘I want to get the economy, hospitality and tourism in particular back to as much normality as quickly as possible, that is in everybody’s interest.’Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister
With no concrete date for reopening in sight, hotels are being left in limbo alongside members of the public who are keen to travel
Julie Grieve, from Women in Tourism, said: “There is pent up demand from people to travel, we all know it’s going to be domestic for a while and we want to release that.
“We want to make sure people stay in Scotland rather than travelling to the rest of the UK. The uptake in bookings in Ireland as soon as the date was announced was phenomenal.”
The First Minister has shared the frustrations of the hospitality industry, and said while she was unable to pinpoint a date for reopening, she was keen for the sector to return to normality as soon as possible.
“Without putting dates on it which I absolutely understand everybody wants, I am not able to do firmly at this stage,” Nicola Sturgeon said at a press briefing.
“Without putting dates on it, my message is that if we all continue to take the actions that we’ve been taking to suppress the virus, then we will be able to do these things more quickly.
“I want to get the economy, hospitality and tourism in particular back to as much normality as quickly as possible, that is in everybody’s interest.”
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