Sands Hotel in Margate sold for £2.8m – staff say they have been informed of redundancies

Sands Hotel Margate

UPDATE: It is understood the refurbishment closure date has been pushed back from the Easter weekend to June 6

Sands Hotel and restaurant in Margate has been sold for £2.8million and staff say they have been informed they will be made redundant after April 17.

The site has been bought by newly incorporated company NO. 16 MARGATE LTD which is registered in London. The company is owned three brothers who run GuestHouse. The independent hospitality group is owned by Tristan, James and Tom Guest. The trio started with a Georgian townhouse called No.15 in Bath, a venue in York followed, and then Brighton with a property which is due to open in 2023.

The £2,828,400 freehold purchase for the 20-bed hotel and restaurant in Marine Drive/High Street was made on December 17, according to Land Registry documents.

A staff member says they and colleagues found out last Friday. They added: “It was a shock to all the staff.

“The staff got told last Friday, our last day of trading is Easter Sunday, April 17 then Guest Hotels take over.

“We were told they plan to make all staff redundant and to close for major refurbishment. If the staff wish for their jobs back when it reopens then we will have to apply like everyone else.

“All hotel bookings, restaurants bookings, events, weddings etc have been or are being cancelled from the 17th with one wedding meant to have been taking place in June.”

Other staff say they only found out through comments made by suppliers and even guests.

Some 31 staff on payroll and staff from the cleaning company used by Sands will be affected.

Former owner Nick Conington said he understands staff will transfer to the new GuestHouse owners although he is aware the site will be shut to have work carried out.

He said: “Obviously I am sad to part with Sands which I have operated for nine years now but I am very happy it has been acquired by luxury boutique GuestHouse hotels who have exciting plans to take it forward and this will have a positive effect for Margate.”

Mr Conington, who said the new group will take Sands to the next level, said Easter Monday will actually be the last day of trading and he understands talks between staff and Guesthouse are due to take place this week.

He added: “I sincerely want to thank everyone who has supported Sands – customers, staff and suppliers and I wish GuestHouse the best for the future.”

Mr Conington bought the Sands Hotel site in 2011 through company SouthEast Retail – which listed both Mr Conington and partner John Adams as directors – receiving a £500,000 grant from the government’s Expansion East Kent scheme to help with the project.

Initially the site was going to be used for luxury flats but after discovering the property had originally been a hotel at the end of the 19th century, the plans changed to bring it back to its former use.

Mr Conington and Mr Adams were also directors of Sands Heritage Ltd, operator of Dreamland, but resigned the roles in May 2017 while it was in administration.

Mr Adams resigned from Sands Hotel Margate Ltd in 2019. Mr Connington is still listed as a director.

In accounts on Companies House made up to December 2020 Sands Hotel Margate Ltd had assets of £136,720 and net liabilities of £1,592, 941.

On the Sands Hotel website bookings for overnight stays are blocked off after April 15.

Margate Central Ward Councillors Helen Whitehead and Rob Yates said they had deep concern regarding the impact that this will have on staff at such a financially challenging time.

They will be contacting both the new owners to fully establish their future plans and Union representatives, to see what can be done to help staff affected.

Contact details for both Councillors are [email protected] and [email protected] for anyone requiring support or advice.

GuestHouse has been contacted for comment.


    • Have I understood the article correctly ?

      It seems to state that the owner of the hotel was Mr Conington.

      I assume this must be the case as the article also states that Sands Hotel Ltd has assets of £136,000 but debts of £1.5m.

      Therefore, Mr Conington walks away with £2.8m in his pocket whilst his company owes £1.5m to others.

      Does this sort of scenario sound at all familiar to anybody else ? ? ?

  1. Indeed, a strange time to buy a working hotel business and close for refurbishment at a time of the year when business is expected to be brisk. Earn some income over the summer months and then refurbish over the winter period.
    Sounds a peculiar arrangement to me.

  2. Peter can you explain iffy anybody can sell there property if they wish whether a house a flat a hotel a restaurant a cafe etc that is normal people invest in property all the time on this occasion I disagree with you.

    • As others have said. Closing a trading business coming into the busy period of a boom time for this sort of trade in the U.K. is madness.

      It does not bode well for the future of this business if they already make decisions like this.

      And the way they have treated their staff too

    • Yes, “Anybody can sell there property if they wish whether a house a flat a hotel a restaurant a cafe etc.”
      Do you not think it pertinent to consider the employees?
      In your case, obviously not.

    • Half a million ££s Government grant and were directors of Sands Heritage LTD the operators of Dreamland. It can’t be any more iffy than that, what with the iffy 4 million ££s the latest director of Dreamland managed to snatch out of the Government funding for the Margate Town Deal she was enrolled on!

      What does this tell you? they are all in it to grab government grants?, or are they nice business people who wouldn’t think of doing anything iffy? There is a connection here somewhere that doesn’t take too long to connect together. More sinking Dreamland ships propped up with public money anyone?

  3. Does it need a refurb?!? Not been in but it’s in very good condition isn’t it?

    Thoughts are with yet more staff that discover they have been deemed dispensable by those with extreme privilege.

    No doubt some posters here will find a way to blame the little people for this.

  4. I can confirm all staff were not informed at the same time, some even found out through guests which is highly embarrassing considering it was sold a while before. This sale is the best thing that could happen to this hotel although it’s a beautiful building and the staff remaining old and new try their best to keep it running they are failed by the owners. Hopefully the new owners will know how to treat and respect their staff and maybe they will be more successful.

  5. HThe htels in Bath and York look pretty good – although small rooms and big prices. Could be a step forward for Margate – not sure about the conspiracy theorists on here but do agree the Nayland Rock would be a huge asset if it was restored/renovated, it’s not the best ‘first impression’..

  6. It’ll be sad to see Sands go having been a staple of the seafront for a good few years, but this is just the end of a long list of poor management from the owners. They never treated their staff with respect and the fact that guests found out before senior members of staff is just awful. If the business sold in december, why were they still taking bookings for summer? Feel so sorry for the staff and guests that now have to change much needed holiday plans.

  7. By anyone’s count, it is VERY unusual to close a hotel for refurbishment just as peak season is about to begin. Unless there is something profoundly, dangerously wrong with the premises, which I cannot envisage being the case, it is hard to understand the business case for such a decision.

    Also, and perhaps the current employees should seek independent legal advice because, believe me, I am no expert, wouldn’t TUPE apply? The hotel is being sold by one owner to another and continuing as a going concern. The staff are not redundant, their jobs are not ‘no longer required’, so is it legal to make them all redundant for the purposes of refurbishment? As I say, if it were me, the least I’d do is have a free phone consultation or face to face with a solicitor.

    • I wondered about TUPE too, but guess the closure for ‘refurbishment’ constitutes an interruption,or fundamental break in business, which lets the new owners off of any obligations to existing staff as it won’t be a going concern?

      Absolutely – a consultation with an employment lawyer would be sensible.

      • So no real refurb, just an excuse to get rid of the staff. There needed no refurb in this splendid premises anyway.

  8. Having stayed at the sands on numerous occasions I found the staff to be pretty good. It’s a shame they’ve been treated so poorly.
    We stopped staying there as the decor started to look very tired in places and in need of refurbishment a couple of years ago, It lost its glitzy appeal and importantly value for money . The cocktail bar and views from the restaurant however were memorable.
    Am I correct that Connington was closely associated with Arrowgras or numerous individuals with close connections to Arrowgrass who have hoovered up large amounts of real estate in town and also presided over the failed management of Dreamland. So it’s no surprise he is now leaving. The Towns real estate and assets are largely held by those who have benefited by their involvement and association with offshore hedge funds under the guise of keeping Dreamland a float.

    • Yes, you have nailed it there !! Funding going to the wrong places ending up in business owners pockets. Once it is in private accounts the business is sold off with those debts accrued. Dodgy offshore business with unknown investors which Dreamland is still in debt to, but aren’t they up for sale too after getting themselves government funding ?

  9. Most big property deals in Thanet are dodgy to some extent.
    There is more than a whiff of something underhand with Sands, Dreamland, Nayland plus other projects I have heard are in the pipeline.
    The money that is raised to finance these projects certainly has dubious origins to say the least. It wouldn’t surprise me if Russian cash is involved somewhere..

  10. Cast your minds back to when the property was empty. A TDC Councillor was granted a large sum of money to refurb the building by TDC only to put the building up for auction without doing any work. TDC in their wisdom decided that the lady in question would not have to repay the ‘gift’. The property was sent to auction by the lady and was bought and developed and became the Sands Hotel. Here is the history from vacant to finished, well it was almost finished on the final day of filming.

  11. Our wedding was also booked for later in the summer at Sands. Nobody’s been in touch and I only found out from this article. Frustrating as friends and family have booked accommodation, with some coming from abroad, since it was apparently sold in December.

  12. More dubious deals in Thanet..the government throws money at Margate only to find that it ends up in the pockets of companies only interested in making a quick shedload of money. Do our politicians and councillors care? They follow the lead of the idiot clown running the country.

  13. We were due to stay here during our wedding in late April. No contact from the hotel so far, but not surprising if they can’t even let the poor staff know.

  14. Absolutely shocking news, we were there last week for a friends birthday and the staff were non stop catering to our every need working so hard and now they seem to have been thrown in the scrap heap right around the corner from peak season. Where was the consultations , the warnings, maybe giving people who have bills to pay and lives to lead the chance to transition smoothly to a new position. Instead of a bombshell announcement with seemingly no regard while the rich get richer and poor people who have events planned are told they can’t have it . Wouldn’t it make more sense to close in the winter ?

  15. We do feel really sorry for the staff – this has been shoddily handled all round – we have our wedding booked there and so far we have not been contacted by anyone connected to the hotel. Is our wedding cancelled? If so, will we get our money back? Will we and our guests be refunded for rooms booked and paid for? We just want information!

    • Steve, we got through to the hotel and were told to expect to be contacted within a week with regards to deposit etc. Sadly that’s all the member of staff was able to tell us, other than that it would probably advisable to start looking elsewhere.

      Hooe you’re able to sort it out as best as you can and get all costs refunded.

  16. This whole scenario is very bad and sadly will reflect on peoples perception of Margate, we have a wedding booked in August, and like others have not been given any information at all considering it was sold in December. Indeed we were there last Friday discussing details of the wedding with staff who clearly didn’t know anything about the sale, the staff have been treated appallingly as have the customers, no consideration has been given to other offshoot traders surrounding the hotel, ie photographers, hairdressers, bakers, florists etc. the owners should be ashamed of themselves. As of yet we have still not received any notifications from the hotel.

  17. This is the same (smiling ) Nick Connington who bought the Woolworths building in the high street for I think nearly £2 million a couple of years ago and other real estate in the town I believe.

  18. What about spending the money on upgrading the public toilets? Margate brings in a lot of tourists and if they can’t see any decent toilet facilities they won’t come. Please let’s not have the bootfair toilets we had last summer along the beach front. What an eyesore and let down!

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