Hospitality & Tourism

Published: May 29, 2020 | Updated: May 29, 2020

Three Dorset hotels cease trading as impact of Covid-19 causes collapse of parent company

The Bay Majestic Bournemouth, one of three Dorset hotels which has ceased trading after Specialist Leisure Group went into administration.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Three Dorset hotels – two in Bournemouth and one in Weymouth – have ceased trading following the announcement that Specialist Leisure Group (SLG) has gone into administration with the loss of 2,400 jobs nationwide.

The Bay Savoy Bournemouth.

The Bay Majestic Bournemouth on the East Cliff; Bay Savoy Hotel (West Cliff) and Bay Royal Weymouth (The Esplanade) are among 44 hotels operated by SLG under the Bay, Coast & Country and Country Living hotel brands.

The collapse is blamed on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

SLG comprised five companies which sold holidays and other travel arrangements:

• Shearings Holidays Limited.
• Wallace Arnold Travel Limited.
• National Holidays Ltd trading as Caledonian Travel and Travel Style.
• UK Breakaways Limited.
• Shearings Hotels Ltd trading as Bay Hotels and Coach and Country Hotels.

Two of the companies, Shearings and Wallace Arnold, were members of ABTA while National Holidays and UK Breakaways were members of the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

Shearings had been providing holidays to the UK public for more than 100 years with its roots traced back to 1903.

The Bay Royal Weymouth.

The impact of the coronovirus crisis resulted in SLG struggling to provide thousands of refunds for cancelled holidays while new bookings ground to a halt.

SLG had more than 64,000 bookings, the vast majority of which were coach package holidays.

All package holiday bookings are financially protected and customers with these bookings will receive a full refund.

Coach packages are protected by the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

Shearings also offered a small number of flight package holidays which are ATOL protected and will be processed by the CAA.

Tim Seward, Chair of BH Area Hospitality Association, said. “It is sad to see two hotels in the town – The Savoy and The Majestic – go into administration from the Specialist Leisure Group as a result of Covid-19.

“It is also sad to see all the staff in these properties being made redundant, some we are aware of who had worked for these hotels for a number of years.

“Many hoteliers remain positive and hopeful across the town and look at ways of welcoming back guests to our beautiful area when we are allowed.”

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.”