A POPULAR seafront hotel has closed without warning after the company behind it decided Blackpool “was not a good place to be”.
The UK Holiday Group said it had pulled the plug on The Warwick Hotel because the resort wasn’t the place for them – leaving the property standing empty and 50 staff out of work.
Tourism bosses today slammed the company’s attitude, while the New South Promenade hotel’s former general manager said the property was running “absolutely brilliantly” with bookings already taken between March and August.
Paul Bennett, MD of the UK Holiday Group, said: “At this point, Blackpool is not for us and we find the whole thing very disappointing.
“We found operating in Blackpool is not a place we want to be in. The hotel market in Blackpool is not good – rates are very, very low and very competitive.
“We decided our money is best spent in areas where we can get a better return and we don’t see that being Blackpool at the moment.”
The 50-bedroom hotel was closed for winter when staff -– including general manager Alan Read – were told it would not be re-opening as planned on March 1 and they were being made redundant.
Mr Bennett said uncertainty about a new hotel and apartment development on New South Promenade was another factor in the firm’s decision but as yet there were no plans to market the hotel and it could re-open in future.
The firm’s Grand UK Holidays division still operates coach tours to Blackpool, and a picture of the resort is prominent on its website.
Mr Read, who has been in charge of running the hotel for the last eight years, said: “It was running absolutely brilliantly. I’ve been there for many years and it was going from strength to strength.
“We had coach loads of bookings coming in for this year from March until August. We had regular customers who would come every year – they were not so much guests as friends.
“Everybody was just shocked – 50 members of staff all made redundant.”
UK Holiday Group’s Grand UK Hotels Group still operates venues in Skegness, Kendal, Llandudno, Great Yarmouth, Bridlington, Blair Atholl, Weston-Super-Mare, Torquay, Sandown, Llandrindod Wells, and Great Yarmouth.
The news comes just days after hotel chain operator Leisureplex swooped to buy Promenade hotel The Queens, and pop superstar Elton John announced he would be playing the first of a series of concerts on the new-look Tower Headland.
And the UK Holiday Group’s stance toward Blackpool has been slammed by Claire Smith, president of Stay Blackpool.
She said: “I believe you take out what you put in. If they are not reinvesting – and we have to continually reinvest to keep up with customer demand – then it’s going to go downhill.
“They need to look at what’s going on in Blackpool, we’ve brought in Merlin and there’s the new Promenade.
“Blackpool’s visitor numbers are up and this is an economy which is growing.”
And Howard Lewis of the Blackpool Business Leadership Group added: “I’m very surprised at the comment with all of the investment in Blackpool – Merlin, the Pleasure Beach, the new look Promenade.
“This season is the most positive we’ve seen for a long time. Perhaps the UK Holiday Group weren’t members of VisitBlackpool and StayBlackpool to know about all of these things.”
Mick Grewcock, who runs holiday apartments Burbage Lodge at Queens Mansions, on Queens Promenade, added: “Blackpool is on the up if we can get the message across it’s changing.
“They’ve not looked at the bigger picture of what’s happening in the town.
“It needs time and I think they have pulled out prematurely.
“Leisureplex must think differently otherwise they would not have bought The Queens Hotel – there’s definitely a future.”