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Bespoke Hotels defends decision to begin insolvency process at four properties owned by Fragrance Group

Manchester-Townhouse

Bespoke Hotels Group has defended its decision to resort to beginning insolvency proceedings for four of its hotels.

Staff at The Lyndene and St Chads in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester and The Duke in Plymouth were notified on Wednesday 3 February that they had all been made redundant.

Bespoke Hotels has told Boutique Hotelier that the appointment of an insolvency practitioner was a last resort, after months of looking for alternative financial solutions. 

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“With an ongoing national lockdown that still has no definite end date along with ongoing overheads we’ve simply been left with nowhere else to turn,” the group said in a statement. 

“Despite exploring all avenues across the course of many months, the devastating effects of almost a year of enforced closures, combined with an 80% drop in sales since the pandemic began, has decimated the hotels’ revenues.”

Bespoke Hotels Group has come under fire for its handling of the insolvency of the four hotels by The Fragrance Group of Singapore, which it leases the hotels from. 

Owners The Fragrance Group has accused Bespoke of a lack of communication and giving incorrect information to the staff it has made redundant. 

A statement from the company said: “Fragrance are now forced, due to a lack of communication from Bespoke Hotels and the incorrect information Bespoke Hotels have given staff, to clarify that Fragrance have offered extensive support and worked tirelessly since the pandemic forced hotel closures to arrange a way for Bespoke Hotels to continue to operate Fragrance’s properties. Fragrance are dismayed that Bespoke Hotels have not offered equivalent support to keep these hotels running (despite continuing to support and operate some 80 other hotels during the pandemic) and have now caused distress to numerous families without notifying Fragrance.”

Furthermore, it has claimed that Bespoke Hotels “put forward no feasible solution to the financial issues faced by the companies running their hotels and have offered no support from the wider Bespoke Hotels Group of companies,” a claim which Bespoke refutes.

“We informed the Fragrance Group on 22 January 2021 that we had no other option but to formally appoint an insolvency practitioner, with insolvency proceedings subsequently beginning. The virtual meeting with hotel staff held on 2 February was, sadly, a necessary part of that process,” Bespoke clarified.

“We’re extremely saddened by the impact these permanent closures will have on the hotels’ staff and indeed their local communities and we have done all that we can to avoid having to do so. The hotels are fantastic businesses with loyal staff and we hope that new operators will be able to reopen them and benefit from a great British summer.

“As an organisation, Bespoke Hotels has been managing and running hotels for more than 20 years and this is the first time we’ve had to resort to insolvency proceedings – something that serves to underline our commitment to responsible business practices. However, the financial burden of the pandemic at these hotels has very sadly proved too much to bear,” Bespoke’s statement concluded.

Speaking separately to Boutique Hotelier, Bespoke’s chairman Haydn Fentum confirmed that The Fragrance Group of Singapore had been kept informed, both verbally and in writing, at every stage of the process over the last few months.

The Fragrance Group, headed up by Hotelier and property magnate Koh Wee Meng, acquired a number of properties between 2017 and 2020 as it embarked on a rapid expansion roll out across the UK.

Manchester’s Townhouse Hotel was taken over in August 2017 for £12.5m and The Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool was acquired in September in the same year off a guide price of £6.5m.

Tags : bespoke hotelsbusinessHOTEL MANAGEMENTthe Fragrance Group
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

23 Comments

  1. As a group organiser my wife and I paid over £7 thou for a coach party of pensioners Mon to Fri at the lyndene hotel Blackpool march of last year which was cancelled due to covid we were refused a refund and accepted transfer to march of this year so am awaiting a response from yourselves for our refund yours sincerely Mr s Stacey 07811 831592

  2. I would like to know when I can have my £120.00 deposit back that I paid on 5the January 2021 for our Christmas break. Could you ease answer this message as I want to book somewhere else

  3. Mr Tomas. Green

    Please could you let me know when I could have my deposit of £150.00 which I paid on the 27th December 2019 for Christmas 2020, I phoned up after. Christmas 2021 to ask for a refund, but I was told they wouldn’t refund my deposit, but would put it towards another booking later in the year when the hotel was allowed to reopen. I look forward to your quick reply. The hotel I am referring to is the The Lyndene in Blackpool.

  4. Whats happening to deposits taken for bookings this year we paid £60 last april and re booked due to covid 2 more dates the last only 2 weeks ago for june this year .
    So are the company going to refund these deposits ????

  5. HARRY Loach
    We have had to cancel 3 bookings at the Lyndene and brought forward our deposits of £298 to our next holiday in March the 15th for 7 days due to covid 19 but now just found out the hotel as been closed down altogether can you tell us how we can claim back our deposits thank you

    1. Hi Harry I’m same as you I’ve got over 360.00 in deposits and got no idea how to make a claim on getting my money back from hotel lyndene …I always paid cash at the hotel and book with them ….just wondering have you heard back from them and do you know how we can make a claim to .yours susan talbot

  6. Only commenting on the blackpool hotels that were put into andministration on the 2nd feb 2021,£2.000.000 in debts are owing in total, including fragrance,hmrc paye,and customs vat,local suppliers and contractors,£500.000 in deposits have been taken by bespoke up to 2nd feb 2021 a day before going into administration,not including staff wages.a 5year lease was signed by bespoke from fragrance in sept 2017, lots of confusion about bespoke saying on the staff zoom call that they tried to negotiate with fragrance about coming to a compromise rent agreement during lockdown.fragrance company deny this,if mr coh was contacted about coming to an arrangement then i dont blame him one bit not complying to this as bespoke have made millions out of these two hotels in blackpool.not to mention the two other hotels that went into administration. bespoke hotels only had 18 months left on the lease so going into administration and having the debts wiped off was the no1 option.the list of debtors is endless,what i find strange is that 4 of the main bespoke suppliers were not on the debtors list!,mabe thats because they will still supply to their hotels when they re-open.fragrance and all the other debtors and the staff were well and truly done over by bespoke hotels and by the multi million pound dodgy directors.

    1. Bespoke hasn’t gone into liquidation, only the 4 hotels mentioned so they should be made to pay off all the debts for these hotels, including staff wages, etc. Sound like a bunch of crooks. Beware of Bespoke Hotels when booking holidays.

    2. Hi my name is Mrs susan talbot I had 5 hols booked in with lyndene hotel Blackpool and due to covid got transfer for this year and 120.00 on hold in total 360.00 in deposits and now find the hotel as gone into liquidation …I paid cash and always booked with the hotel how do I make a claim on getting my money back please

  7. The big damage here is to the staff.
    People dedicated their skills to these properties and been treated badly by Bespoke.
    A remote call with the MD basically saying the hotels wouldn’t open and we’re now all been made redundant. On any time the MD or anyone from Bespoke offered any comfort for the staff.
    The whole pandemic period been badly managed by Bespoke with no or little information all the way through.
    I hope new operators take these amazing properties on board and reopen quickly, hopefully keeping some of the staff.
    Bespoke literary disapeared from our lifes at the end of that video call.
    Shame on Bespoke Hotels for the way the haven’t dealt with their loyal staff.

  8. We Too have BOOKED N paid £120 Deposit last YEAR N THEN COVID given no Refund so moved to Easter this year 2021 and Cant get hold of anyone by Telephone or E Mail so I suspect we have lost our money n our HOLS DISGUSTING THEY WAY STAFF have been treated and also us the Customer

  9. We have paid £180 in deposits before lockdown and don’t know how to get it back emails can’t be sent nor phone calls does anyone know what to do we booked with st chads

  10. Hi, we are owed £282 from a booking last year, which we tries to cancel but was told we couldn’t and had to transfer to another date. We were waiting to find out what was happening this year with covid before booking a date as we has to change a few times last year. It’s not looking good for us all, unfortunately.

    Mr and Mrs Smith

  11. Go through your visa card company…annoying how they fleece people right upto the point of liquidation walking away with thousands… Law needs to change if your still trading you must repay what people of lost, but thats never going to happen rich get richer…. Wrong on every level….

    1. Sadly you won’t get your money back off your credit card company either as the credit card company state you cannot claim against a section 75 claim because we entered into a contract with the Lyndene Hotel but payment was taken by Bespoke Holidays on the credit card bill. This means that there has been a break in the DCS chain and section 75 does not apply. DCS stands for Debtor, creditor and supplier.
      We as customers are the debtor, the creditor is the credit card company and the supplier is Bespoke Holidays however, my credit card company state that in their opinion the supplier was the Lyndene Hotel and as payment was taken by Bespoke Holidays then the DCS rules do not apply and I’ve lost my money.

  12. I booked 2019 £150 deposit which was for oct 2020 had to cancel but they said they would transfer it to oct 2021 still no refund

  13. how very very sad for all, we to had paid £60.00 deposit, when ive looked on websites lyndene is still open for bookings. dont understand what is going on. Can someone tell me if this hotel is still open and has been took over by another company. I feel very sorry for all staff and all of us who have enjoyed staying there. Looks like we have all lost deposits.

  14. Hi I| am In the same situation as all of you I have lost £240 deposit and because I “accepted a credit note” (with no other option) I now am not able to claim any of the monies back or redeem the credit note Lyndene although open for NEW bookings sent me this standard message
    Please note that as of 22nd February 2021 the Lyndene was taken over by a new management company, previously it was managed by Bespoke Hotels. Bespoke hotels went into liquidation on 2nd February, so we do not have any access to any previous deposits, customer data, or booking that were made before March 2021. Looks like we have all lost money – I do feel for the staff involved x

  15. Hi Paul This is the response I got from the bank
    Unfortunately, the bank is unable to assist with your claim.

    This is due to your acceptance of the credit voucher. Unfortunately, when you accepted this credit voucher it invalidated your chargeback rights regarding this claim. In doing so the bank no longer has any legal Chargeback rights to progress your claim under Mastercard’s rules and regulations.

    We are sorry we could not offer you a more accommodating response.

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