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@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone requiring support or advice.
GuestHouse has been contacted for comment.