Belfast Telegraph

Hotel closure leaves couple in frantic hunt for wedding venue

By Amanda Poole

A couple have told of how their wedding plans have been thrown into chaos after the Lansdowne Hotel closed suddenly.

It went into liquidation on Monday, leaving 35 employees out of work and scores of people with no venue for their functions.

The north Belfast hotel, owned by the Wong family, is part of the Welcome Group, which blamed difficult economic conditions for the closure.

Natalie McIlwraith (21) and Alex Dodds (25), from the Shore Road, are getting married on June 28 and had paid the Lansdowne nearly £1,000 for their wedding reception using a debit card.

The mum-of-one told the Belfast Telegraph she found out about the closure on Facebook on Tuesday and her fiance was only told last night as he had been holding his stag party in Amsterdam.

“I was totally gutted when I found out,” Natalie said.

“I would have appreciated a call or even an email.

“It was very stressful to find out in they way I did.”

Peter Carvill, from the insolvency and restructuring department at McKeague, Morgan & Company, said the Welcome Group had made a commitment to refund “every penny” customers have paid for functions, despite not being obliged to do so.

No timescale has been identified.

“There will be a meeting with creditors next Friday,” Mr Carvill said.

“Lots of people have been advised their money is lost. But I have spoken to about 40 different people already who were due to have events at the hotel and explained the Welcome Group commitment to pay every penny of their money back.”

Natalie said she feels a bit better knowing they will be getting their money back, but still had the headache of finding another venue and financing it.

Meanwhile, a shocked Lansdowne Hotel employee told this newspaper that they were worried about the future now that they are out of job.

“Everyone feels very let down by the owners of the hotel, not the manager,” they said. “To find out by phone was difficult. I was in a state. Nobody knows if they will get a job the way things are at the moment.”

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