A kitchen worker at the five-star Virgin Hotel in Glasgow has told how his colleagues broke down in tears when they heard they were to close and lose their jobs just days before Christmas.
Union Unite has estimated between 130 and 200 job losses due to the closure allegedly caused by the company that ran the hotel, V Hotel Glasgow Limited, having insufficient funds to keep the plush lobby open.
The 240-room hotel on the banks of the River Clyde opened to much fanfare in August, offering guests the chance to ‘show [Glasgow’s] rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality”.
But staff said they first heard about the risk to their jobs by reading a report circulated hours before a circular email urging staff to attend a critical meeting at 10am. next morning.
In that heated meeting with management, one worker reportedly shouted “Are we going to get paid this month? This is a joke'.
The Virgin Hotels spokeswoman insisted all staff would be paid for their work for the month.
More than two-thirds of staff walked out of the meeting only to find their wristbands or keycards revoked.
All rooms with stock, such as alcohol or expensive food and equipment, were either closed or locked.
Kitchen staff compared the final days of Virgins Hotel Glasgow to Basil Fawlty running the empty Overlook Hotel made famous in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
Said the experienced kitchen worker The independent anonymous: “The hotel itself was mostly dead. Some mornings we would have less than 10 guests for breakfast. It was a shame, the venue itself is amazing.
“There was no attempt by the administration to try to import any business. We didn't have afternoon tea, we didn't have Sunday lunch, we didn't have lunch specials and we didn't have evening events for people to attend.
“Since we were bound as a luxury offering, there was nothing fancy with most of the food being bought despite having an insanely talented kitchen team.
“We're a five-star hotel and we open cans of beans and use cheap washing-up liquid. We couldn't even pay for our own cleaning supplies.
“Some weekends we would only have four guests eating breakfast. We had far more staff than guests.
“It was a bit like The Overlook Hotel in The Shining, there was hardly anyone around and it was getting worse and worse.
“Even during that final meeting, the senior staff was like let's put all those chairs away before anyone gets there. Then they all got in and decided to get the chairs out again. It was like Fawlty Towers and summed up all the confusion.”
He blamed the hotel's marketing department and the owners for not giving the hotel enough promotion or holding enough events to keep it going.
He said: “Money has been wasted on attracting lifestyle influencers to get free food and stay and write about how great it is.
“That's not how Glasgow works. The food has to be good, critics will pay the real price and give it an honest review.”
said a spokesperson for Virgin Hotels The independent that all staff would be paid for the month after Lloyds Developments Limited – the owner of Virgin Hotels Glasgow took over.
He said: “Virgin Group has tried to find solutions, including an offer to buy the hotel, in order to keep the hotel open, keep the team in work and ensure the development of the hotel is completed, creating something that the city of Glasgow she could be proud. of.
Unfortunately, the lenders have not accepted Virgin's offers and intend to continue a sale process with the hotel closed. Virgin Hotels is very disappointed by this decision after the hard work everyone has put into the hotel and because of the impact it will have on the team working there.
“Virgin Hotels' warmest thanks and gratitude go to those employees, suppliers and guests who have been integral to the launch of the hotel in the city of Glasgow. Virgin Group and the owners are committed to ensuring that employees are paid for every day they have worked this month.
“The Virgin Hotels team continue to have high ambitions for the management of the hotel in Glasgow and look forward to its re-opening once a new owner has been found. No other Virgin hotels are affected – all other Virgin hotels remain open and operating as normal as all Virgin hotels are independently owned.”
The directors of V Hotel Glasgow Ltd, the employer and operating company in relation to the hotel, are being advised by FRP Advisory LLP as they place the said company into liquidation.
A spokesperson for FRP said: “We know this will be a very difficult time for employees, particularly around Christmas. Every effort has been made by the Managers and Virgin Hotels to find a way to move the hotel forward in recent weeks, but unfortunately this has not been possible.
“The immediate closure of the hotel has of course meant that the business is no longer financially viable and will therefore go into liquidation in the coming weeks.
“We are grateful to Virgin Hotels for their support in covering the shortfall in the company's finances so that we can make payroll and ensure that all employees receive full wages until 31StDecember. We will also continue to support employees to make further claims with the Redundancy Payments Service.”