Brides-to-be have been left devastated after their chosen country wedding venue locked the doors and shut up shop following our previous revelations about their financial predicament.
The Shieldhill Castle Hotel in Biggar ran into problems last year when it failed to pay staff their wages, and then started bouncing cheques.
When our reporter started receiving calls from worried individuals who had accommodation and event bookings, he travelled to the hotel last week in an attempt to get some direct answers.
What he found was shocking. Bundles of uncollected mail was lying within an open storm door at the front of the hotel, some of it addressed to the hotel, others to director Mary Yuill and more addressed to firms called Scotbreaks Limited and Sweeney Leisure Limited, whom we have confirmed Yuill is listed as the sole director of at Companies House.
Despite repeated attempts to find anyone to speak with, it became obvious the hotel had no staff present and our reporter found the main entrance locked with a secure keypad.
One couple we spoke to told us: “We paid a £1100 deposit for our wedding package, and although we have insurance they won’t pay out unless the hotel is in receivership. This means we’ll have to wait to try and get our deposit back, while now frantically searching for a new venue.
“I’ve made repeated calls to the hotel and the lines just ring out, so have no idea what’s going on.”
Previously we reported on how staff had refused to work for the hotel after waiting for nine weeks without being paid, before eventually receiving cheques which bounced.
The hotel had been advertising Christmas dinners and a gala Hogmanay ball, but all were cancelled at the last minute, with the explanation given to some who had booked and managed to speak to a member of staff that there was a burst pipe in the hotel, but promises given that full refunds would be made.
We also heard from Susan Atkinson this week who told us: “I had booked a night’s stay at the Shieldhill Castle for my son and his wife as a Christmas present through Wowcher. We live near St Andrews and they travelled for over an hour-and-a-half on January, 3 to reach it. They phoned to say it was in darkness and there was only one light on upstairs. I tried phoning the hotel but the inbox on the answering machine was full. Alarm bells were ringing so I phoned Wowcher to see what they could do. They advised to take photographs as proof and that they would now investigate the situation.
“Unfortunately my son and his wife had to travel all the way back home without their Christmas present. I felt absolutely gutted for them.”
A TripAdvisor review commented: “These premises are effectively closed - They cancelled Christmas lunch and their New Year Ball with little or no notice. Not answering client emails regarding refunds. Clients are turning up to find the hotel closed.”
Meanwhile the company which runs the hotel, Sweeney Leisure Limited has been subject to a striking-off order by Companies House dated November 27, 2018, but records show that this was suspended on January 1 after the registrar received an objection.
Meanwhile, in a separate twist, Mary Yuill failed to defend an employment tribunal case brought against her by a former employee at another of her businesses, The Crannog Restaurant in Stirling. The case centred on an unauthorised deduction from the claimant’s wages of £2208, and her failure to pay holiday pay of £960. Yuill was ordered by the judge Mary Kearns to make payment of both sums at the hearing on September 19, 2018.
We have attempted to contact Mary Yuill for comment but at the time of going to press had received no response to calls or emails.