Employees of an Aberdeen hotel have spoken of their shock after it shut its doors, leaving 75 staff redundant.
The Treetops Aberdeen on Springfield Road closed yesterday after its operator ceased trading.
However, the hotel’s owners say they are looking at the possibility of reopening “under different management or operators”.
The hotel, which opened in 1964, was formerly a Hilton franchise but it is no longer affiliated with the hotel giant and is owned by Maple Aberdeen Propco 6 SARL – a Luxembourg registered company.
They had appointed 77 Hospitality to operate the hotel as tenants, however they have ceased trading and the lease has been terminated.
Its employees had been called into a meeting on Monday and were told the hotel would be transferred to a new owner, but they would all lose their jobs in the meantime.
However, this takeover bid never materialised and the staff were told to tell guests on Wednesday night they could not stay yesterday.
Solicitors acting on behalf of Maple Aberdeen Propco 6 SARL said: “Due to difficult trading conditions through the winter and the general state of the hotel and leisure market in Aberdeen, the tenant operators of the Treetops Aberdeen, 77 Hospitality (UK) Limited, have had to cease trading with immediate effect.4
“The owners of the hotel are reviewing their options with their advisers, including the possibility of reopening the hotel under different management or operators.”
The kitchen and bar were both closed as the hotel operated with a limited staff, with customers who had booked in told to find other accommodation yesterday.
A former staff member, who did not want to be named, confirmed it was unlikely the former Hilton-branded site would be opened again as all employees had been laid off, with no redundancy packages seemingly in place.
He said: “We were called into a meeting on Monday and told by 77 Hospitality they were ceasing trading and were unable to fulfil their obligations to the payroll and running of the hotel.
“We were all made redundant but received no written confirmation of this and they just handed us our P45s.
“They told us we were being taken over by a new company but it would be a smaller operation so would need less staff.
“However, when they invited 30 of us to join this, we asked for contracts but did not receive them.
“With no guarantee of payment, there is no staff to cover the hotel so we were told to wind it down.
“Staff acted out of our own goodwill telling customers about the situation and this was not fair to staff members.”
The leisure centre at the hotel also confirmed it has closed.
A statement from 7 Health and Fitness said: “We can confirm that we will be closed as of 12pm yesterday and there are no plans – at present – to reopen in the immediate future.”
The hotel has hosted a number of big events over the years and also welcomed some big celebrities as guests.
Mel Gibson stayed there in 1990 when he filmed Hamlet in Stonehaven.
Another unnamed member of staff, posting on social media, said: “Myself and 70-plus staff members were told on Monday to pack our things and not to come back unless we heard otherwise. Devastation, confusion, sadness and anger are just some of the emotions we are feeling, as we have to put our lives on hold.
“With no legal advice being provided and little communication from the company, we are at a standstill.”
Many groups who had booked events at the hotel have been left in the dark.
Ultimate Judo Aberdeen has been hosting events at the Treetops for 10 years and had paid a £300 deposit to host its 10th birthday gala celebration on May 16.
Head coach Gordon McCathie said: “I’m reeling and really upset as a lot of work went into this event and now we have to scramble around and try to find somewhere else at such short notice.
“We’ve used the venue for 10 years and had a good relationship with them but now we have to phone around.
“We might have to cancel if we don’t find a similarly priced replacement, which would be very disappointing.
“It was meant to be a celebration but now it’s under threat.”
Fiona Milne, from Northfield, was devastated to find out her wedding in two weeks time had been cancelled and she was now £4,000 out of pocket.
The 44-year-old, who has been with her partner David McBain for 21 years, said: “We booked about a year ago and paid a deposit and never really heard from them until a month ago when they told us they were dropping the Hilton part of the name.
“We paid the full money for the event and I am devastated that, with two weeks to go, it has now been cancelled.
“They have let down so many people and have left us out of pocket.
“I went to the hotel yesterday and was told they were shut and to contact their solicitor, but we’re unlikely to get our money back.”
She added she had received messages from other hotels offering the couple “really nice deals”.
Katie Richards, from Northfield, was due to have her wedding at the Treetops in August.
She said: “We have no idea what’s going on at the minute. We had an email from them at the end of last month saying it was no longer going to be a Hilton and was going to be rebranded but not to worry.
“We’ve paid for our wedding up front and I’m concerned we’re going to lose all our money. We have been saving and scrimping for years to be able to afford this and now we have no idea whether it will go ahead or not.
“My son is four years old and he’s been going on and on about the day, calling it his wedding. To have to cancel it would be heartbreaking.”
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Meanwhile, Leah Taylor, 33, from Fraserburgh, booked the hotel for a reception on May 16. Leah and her husband-to-be Liam Greig are due to tie the knot in Las Vegas beforehand.
She said: “I’m absolutely devastated and feel betrayed by the hotel.
“I phoned them on Tuesday and they guaranteed everything was fine and not to worry and now this has happened.
“We paid the £300 deposit but probably won’t get that back and a few of our guests are coming from Germany and they booked online and have lost their money.”
Andrew Martin from the Aberdeen and Shire Hotels Association added: “I’m a local lad and the Treetops brand was synonymous with quality for many years, so it’s very sad to see an iconic hotel enter into a difficult trading situation.”