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Holiday firm collapses

Seven Scots hotels and Shearings cease trading

Pitlochry Hotel: victim of the crash

May 22, updated May 23

Seven Scottish hotels and Shearings coaches have ceased trading following the failure of a holiday company.

Specialist Leisure Group plunged into administration as the coronavirus prompted all tours, cruises, holidays and hotel breaks to be cancelled.

The hotels in Scotland that 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

In a statement obtained by a travel trade publication the chief executive Richard Calvert said: “The effects of Covid-19 on our 117-year-old company and the wider travel industry have been devastating.”

It will see loss of 2,500 jobs and the cancellation of 64,000 holiday bookings.

Travel trade organisation Abta said the vast majority were coach package holidays which are financially protected so customers with these bookings will receive a full refund.

EY, the administrator, confirmed that it had made more than 2,000 staff redundant who had previously been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme.

Shearings

Shearings is one of Britain’s best-known operators

Shearings Holidays is one of the most prominent coach tour operators in the UK, serving more than 170 destinations in the UK, Europe and further afield.

SLG’s operations include brands such as UK Breakaways, Coast & Country Hotels, Bay Hotels, Country Living Hotels, and Wallace Arnold Travel, and have ceased trading with immediate effect. The hotel chains will not reopen following the insolvency.

The company’s main lender, Lloyds Banking Group, and owner – the US-based private equity firm Lone Star Funds – tried to pull together a rescue deal last month.

John de Vial, Abta’s director of membership and financial services, said: “The Specialist Leisure Group included two of the UK’s best known coach holiday brands, Shearings and National Holidays, two much loved holiday companies who for many years have provided holidays both at home and overseas to a very loyal group of customers.

“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 coordinated strategy with clearer communication if it wants to help avoid significant job losses and support companies to weather the storm.”

Advice to Scots

Colin Mathieson, knowledge coordinator with Scotland’s national consumer advice service, consumeradvice.scot, echoed earlier reassurance that many package bookings with Specialist Leisure Group companies will be protected by ATOL or the Bonded Coach Holidays Scheme.

“There will, however, be some holiday bookings without financial protection, such as individual hotel stays,” he said.

“In these uncertain times the best advice is always to book future holidays on a credit card to ensure greater protection, and anyone with a booking on credit card should contact their card issuer to confirm if they are eligible to claim a refund.

“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.

“If all other options have been exhausted, claims can be made to the administrator.

“Anyone affected in Scotland can fill out a contact form at consumeradvice.scot and our advisers will be in touch after the Bank Holiday weekend to provide free, impartial and practical advice.”

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