An employee of Suite Hospitality, known as SHL Hotels, the hotel management company which fell into administration last week, has written a heartfelt letter to the Queen ahead of the closure of one of the hotels on Friday.
The Crown Estate is the landlord of the Harte and Garter hotel in Windsor, which stands opposite the castle.
In the letter, seen by The Caterer, the team member said: "Your Majesty, I am not writing from across the world, the commonwealth or even the United Kingdom, I am writing to you from across the road. The reason I write to you is simple, the business I currently work for has found itself been put into administration which is, as I'm sure you can understand, devastating. Not only because of the people affected but more so because of what is being left behind."
The 98-bedroom hotel remained open for key workers and vulnerable individuals during lockdown, some of whom had been the victims of abuse, or had nowhere or nobody to turn to.
The team member recounted: "Key workers stayed at the hotel, arriving tired, emotionally drained and exhausted, we put on our best hospitality smiles and did all we could to make them feel welcome and safe… We were here day and night to take in people who needed refuge. We were here keeping an eye on the town making sure that no harm came to it."
Staff also looked after a group that needed to quarantine, meaning they had to be tested for the virus and stay in the hotel for two weeks with them.
"These staff stayed away from their families for two weeks, willingly, working extra hours for absolutely nothing, willingly", the letter goes on, "Because we are passionate about the business, we care about people and because hospitality runs within our blood."
The letter ends: "My plea to you is, if there is anything you can do to help us keep the Harte and Garter hotel in business I know this community would be forever grateful. It's part of the history of Windsor, like hospitality runs in my blood, this hotel runs in the blood of Windsor.
"Your Majesty, I appreciate that you will have far more pressing items on your agenda but if you could take the time to just pop to the window, look across the road and appreciate the beautiful building sat across from you and not because of how it looks from the outside but perhaps now because you know a little bit about what happens on the inside. I was always taught ‘it's what's on the inside that matters most.'"
Suite Hospitality also operated Makeney Hall in Belper, Derbyshire, and Buckerell Lodge in Exeter. The company had a disappointing year in 2019 and had been in negotiations with major creditors and landlords to find a way for it to continue.
Unfortunately, two of the landlords could not reach adequate terms and as a result, the board decided it would have to proceed to administration, making it the latest hospitality business hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
On 16 June, the directors appointed Julie Palmer and Ian Walker of Begbies Traynor's Exeter office as administrators of the company. The business employs 110 staff, most of whom are furloughed, and the administrators are trying to transfer operations of as many of the company's trading sites as possible to save jobs.