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Highland hotel at centre of redundancies storm is recruiting new staff

By Gavin Musgrove

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The Britannia Hotels advert which has been appearing in the Inverness Courier and Strathspey and Badenoch Herald.
The Britannia Hotels advert which has been appearing in the Inverness Courier and Strathspey and Badenoch Herald.

DESPITE laying off 30 workers with immediate effect, the owners of the Coylumbridge Hotel have been advertising for more staff.

Hale-based Britannia Hotels proclaim that their employees "make them a market leader".

But that will ring hollow with those who have been made redundant today and effectively homeless after being told to leave their hotel accommodation at a time when the risk from Coronavirus continues to grow at a fast pace.

The advert describes the individuals they are looking for as those that make the "essence of a happy and fun loving atmosphere" and where the work is "exciting, the environment dynamic and the prospects unlimited".

The environment has proved to be dynamic for the affected workers, many of them from the EU who have said they now have no-where to live.

The advert appeared in the latest Inverness Courier and Strathspey and Badenoch Herald and has run for several weeks now.

It is booked to run next week ahead of the recruitment day itself on Saturday March 28.

The advert goes on to say: "If you are willing to learn, committed to quality and want to succeed, able to communicate with people at all levels and above all can keep smiling, then apply to Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel today!"

The hotel operator is offering job opportunities in food service, the kitchen, leisure, restaurant, housekeeping, reception and other parts of the hotel.

Meanwhile TripAdvisor, the world's biggest online travel company, has suspended reviews for the Coylumbridge Hotel as the storm continues. The budget hotel group is still trending on Twitter.

In a strap posted across the top of the hotel's Tripadvisor review page it states: "Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.

"If you’ve had a first-hand experience at this property, please check back soon – we're looking forward to receiving your review!"

The hotel is ranked 10th out of 11 for the Aviemore area on Tripadvisor and had 3992 reviews and a three-and-a-half star rating up to updates being suspended.

Referring to the recruitment advert, Mark Tate, chief executive of the Cairngorms Business Partnership said 'you couldn't make it up'.

He commented: "At a very basic level, I cannot begin to imagine how the people impacted by the terrible way the redundancies were handled yesterday are feeling.

"The advert will simply take that to a new level.

"What I do know is that this is not reflective of the fantastic businesses we have in the strath.

"Business owners are facing impossible dilemmas, there is support coming from Government but it needs to come quicker. It is a rapidly changing situation and we are doing our best to keep our members up to date.

"Every member of the CBP I have spoken to this week says their first concern is for their employees."

Alan Stewart runs the neighbouring Cairngorm Sleddog Centre and said that the feedback on Britannia Hotels from his customers has been far from positive.

He remarked: "We have had a lot of really bad reports from our clients about this shower.

"It is such a shame the area is in the news for these reasons. It is the last thing we need."

"Personally I have come across them in Aberdeen during my time in the offshore industry. They have truly the worse name in Aberdeen."

Offers of assistance continue to roll in for the stricken hotel workers.

The Old Bridge Inn – which also runs the Aviemore Bunkhouse – stated: "We have had many cancellations in our bunkhouse here and if we can help you out drop us a line. There are beds here for you until you workout your next steps. Get in touch people. We've gotcha."

The Winking Owl, also in Aviemore, is offering them a two-course meal between 2pm and 4.30pm today and over the weekend.

The bar and restaurant's Graeme Anderson said in a post: "All staff made redundant from Coylumbridge Hotel are welcome at the Winking Owl... I have rounded up some ingredients from Profish, Balliefurth Butcher's and Williamsons all free of charge.

"All we ask is some evidence of employment and hopefully we can pull through this together. This goes all weekend."

Britannia Hotels said this morning that it was not offering any comment at this time.

Related article: Highland hotel sacks 30 EU nationals by letter

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