The Lansdowne Hotel in Belfast, which is part of the Welcome Group, has been put into administration without notice. The hotel’s directors said in a statement that the decision to cease trading was made on Tuesday evening. There is due to be a meeting of creditors next Friday, June 1, during which a liquidator will be appointed. McKeague Morgan, an accountancy firm based in Belfast, has been appointed as the administrators.
There had initially been some confusion when signs were placed on the Lansdowne Hotel’s gates. The signs said that the hotel had been closed because of a health and safety issue. Customers are being referred in one sign to a firm of chartered accountants that specialise in tax and insolvency. Due to the closure, 35 workers at the hotel have been made redundant without notice. Additionally, several weddings, parties and other events have been cancelled. And even though the owners say they will refund deposits that guests have paid, this process could take several months before it’s all sorted.
Matthew Armstrong was planning to have his engagement party at the hotel this weekend. He says he was told the news by a hotel staff member. The worker said that the venue went into liquidation, and now he’s calling around to tell people that everything’s been cancelled.
Charlene Boomer was due to have her wedding reception at the hotel, and says she’s furious. She was contacted by a staff member just last week to discuss plans for her wedding and wasn’t told that the business was struggling. She explained that she found out about the closure through family and friends on Facebook and hasn’t been notified by the hotel. She was shaking, couldn’t sleep and was crying. Fiance Breandan Lynch added that the wedding is already stressful without this happening six weeks before it.
Paula Gallagher and Kieran Matthews are engaged and had been planning to have their wedding at the Lansdowne Hotel. Now they will have to find an alternative venue for the August 16 event. The couple says they have been able to get a provisional date with another property, but they can’t put down a deposit while Lansdowne still has their money. They questioned as to if the owner knew the hotel may go into administration when their deposit was made just last week.
The Welcome Group says it has been contacted by a lot of people who had booked events. They are still assessing the situation, but believe the hotel will be closed for the foreseeable future while they search for a buyer for the venue. Director James Wong, who has owned the hotel since 2001, says he’s saddened that they had to give the Lansdowne Hotel back to the bank this week. He blames the difficult economic environment for the closure, which also includes the restaurant. He explains that none of the other restaurants and takeaways in the group have been affected.
Mr Wong added that they employ 35 people at the hotel, and it’s unfortunate they have lost their jobs. However, they made sure all the workers were paid up to date. The hotel had been struggling, and they have been putting money into it without any help from the bank. The Wong family has also confirmed that they will personally repay all deposits, which is expected to account for tens of thousands of pounds.
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