An iconic Ayrshire hotel and wedding venue has considered staff redundancies with the future looking 'very bleak' due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seamill Hydro held a consultative meeting with just under 200 staff to discuss the business' future on Wednesday, June 17.

In a letter to employees, Steven Sweeney, Finance Director said: “Sylvester, Lorraine and I have been involved with Seamill Hydro for 35 years and in that time, we have seen fires, floods and recessions but never have we faced such a grave challenge as the one that now lies ahead.” 

A statement from the hotel states the intention of Wednesday's meeting was to discuss with the team any way of avoiding compulsory redundancies.

Kenneth Gibson MSP raised the matter during First Minister's Questions in Holyrood, yesterday.

Mr Gibson said: “The famous Seamill Hydro, opened in 1880, faces unprecedented difficulties due to the pandemic and yesterday started a redundancy consultation with its 200 employees, with around a quarter to a half potentially losing their jobs.

“This is due to the falling tourism and income from functions such as wedding receptions.

"Redundancy will have a devastating impact on both employees and the local economy."

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Kenneth Gibson MSP asked what more could be done to help the sector.Kenneth Gibson MSP asked what more could be done to help the sector.

Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying she knew the hotel well, having grown up in Ayrshire, and was committed to supporting it as much as possible.

She said: "I know how distressed everyone associated with it will be.  A feeling that will be replicated across the entire hospitality sector.

"Any decision to consider job cuts is a dreadful one to take and I know how difficult that will be. And we will continue to extend as much support as we can to staff there or any other tourist business at this time, but we will fundamentally work to get the sector open as quickly and safely as possible."

The West Kilbride hotel has seen an unprecedented decline in demand due to the virus with bookings for the months ahead at historically low levels.

A statement released by the business states that the various challenges it faces 'paint a very bleak picture for the sector in the months ahead', citing a lack of clarity around reopening conditions, availability and form of further support, Brexit and the potential of a second wave of the virus.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: An old picture of bathers at the Seamill Hydro, courtresy of North Ayrshire Heritage's Flickr site.An old picture of bathers at the Seamill Hydro, courtresy of North Ayrshire Heritage's Flickr site.

The statement goes on: "The business has stressed to employees that no decisions on the need for redundancies or the number of people who may be affected have yet been taken.

"However, taking this step is a clear sign of the seriousness of the outlook for the business."

The business states that the forced closure has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of pounds per month, with many weddings and thousands of guests being displaced, meaning the hotel is not enjoying its usual seasonal surge in demand.

On a brighter note, it states: "The longer-term outlook for the business still looks very strong with the Firth Pavilion being one of the most in demand wedding venues in the region and 2021 playing host to more weddings than in any other year.

"The last decade has seen investment of more than £12 million making Seamill Hydro one of the finest independent hotels in Scotland and winner of the Coastal Hotel of the Year at the 2020 Scottish Hotel Awards."