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Delight Hotels could be expelled by freehold owner

08 April 2013 by
Delight Hotels could be expelled by freehold owner

It is believed that Washington Hotels wants to remove Delight as the operator of the properties, which include the 112-bedroom Redwood Country Club hotel in Bristol and the 62-bedroom Honiley Court near Warwick, because of a poor track record of management.

Delight Hotels, which was set up in December 2012, took over the running of the leasehold properties at the beginning of the year when the previous operator, Brompton Hotels, went into administration.

Washington Hotels - through its asset management company Mountain Capital - has an agreement to allow Delight to run the hotels until 6 May and will review its future options prior to that date. It is believed that it wants to bring in Licensed Solutions, turnaround specialist in the hospitality sector, to run the hotels.

However, despite the emergence of claims of poor morale among employees and staff sackings, Kyriacos Kimitri, one of the directors of Delight Hotels, said the company should be allowed to continue as the operator of the properties.

"We have brought stability to the hotels, increased room rates and carried out hundreds of thousands pounds of health and safety improvements to the hotel, which had not been done before," he explained.

In response to claims from the staff that promises of the introduction of a greater proportion of fresh food to the hotels' restaurants and increased marketing for the properties had not materialised, Kimitri said that such activities had been delayed because of the uncertainty regarding the future of Delight's contract as the operator.

"However, we now putting some of these plans into action and we have increased our marketing through the Daily Mail and Groupon," he said.

Despite this, he admitted that three general managers had been dismissed since Delight had taken over the hotels, for failing to carry out specific instructions, and that the company was looking to lose up to 10% of the 300-strong workforce across the eight hotels.

"The business is overloaded with staff," he said.

One of the sacked general managers, Michael Lee, who previously ran the 94-bedroom Madison hotel in Swindon, said he was thinking about taking his case to an employment tribunal.

"I have been dismissed for gross misconduct with no warning and have appealed but I have had no response to my appeal," he said.

Lee has now consulted his constituency MP for south west Devon, Gary Streeter, regarding the matter, who in turn said he would discuss the issue with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Streeter was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, Kimitri said that the staff dismissals had followed the correct employment procedures and he would have no hesitation in defending the company at an employment tribunal.

"We are concerned that if we are not allowed to continue running the hotels, they will be closed down, with the loss of 300 jobs," said Kimitri. "We are also concerned what will happen to the assets of the hotels as they don't belong to the landlords, but to a separate company, Pieces of Eight."

The directors of Pieces of Eight are Kimitri and Malcolm Gray, while the directors of Delight Hotels are Justin Wallace and Corby Hotels, which in turn names Malcolm Gray and Kimitri as its directors.

It has also emerged that Kimitri was disqualified as a company director for five and a half years in relation to a restaurant business called Youngworth Trading, but has been free to act as a director again since 2011.

In January 2012 Kimitri and Gray - through two companies known as Albermarle Hotels and Albermarle Hotel (no 2) - took over the management of another group of eight hotels, via a vehicle called Antler Hotels. Within a 
few months, liquidators were called into Albermarle Hotels and Albermarle Hotels (No 2), while Antler Hotels was wound up in January 2013.

DELIGHT HOTELS

Chimney House
Sandbach, Cheshire

Honiley Court hotel
Warwick

Madison hotel
Swindon, Wiltshire

Queensferry hotel
North Queensferry, Fife

Redwood hotel
Bristol

Tewkesbury hotel
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Waterloo hotel
Bracknell, Berkshire

Westfield House
Leicester

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