Australian man latest to fall victim of Aultbea Hotel’s sudden closure

The Autlbea Hotel has been closed since mid-April 2019. According to a former employee it was done so at the behest of owner Michael David Chalom. Several bookings have not been fulfilled since then despite the hotel having allegedly received pre-payments.

An Australian man who was scheduled to stay at the Aultbea Hotel this summer has said he is both “annoyed and disappointed” after discovering that the hotel was closed having already paid a deposit of £150 for his trip.

Mr Gary Haines from Sydney, Australia contacted the Free Press earlier this week for clarity over Aultbea Hotel after reading an article via the Free Press website. In his email, Mr Haines said he had a booking for two nights in June and had paid a one-night deposit of £150 and asked: “can you confirm for me the hotel is closed as I will have to make another accommodation booking?”

After informing Mr Haines that the hotel was indeed closed and had been since mid-April, he added: “We booked for two nights in September 2018, having stayed there previously.

“We paid a deposit and received a receipt/invoice so no concerns. I checked the website to see if they had updated menus and other information only to find out about the closure.

“I am very annoyed and disappointed that the owners just closed up without any contact or consideration for people who have a booking and paid money. What have they done with our money?”

Mr Haines is the third person to contact the Free Press about a pre-paid, unfulfilled booking at the Aultbea Hotel since its closure just over a month ago. Back in April, a former employee of the hotel spoke to the Free Press and claimed that they had come into work as normal for the breakfast shift on Wednesday 10th April only to find out via a telephone call from the owner David Michael Chalom that he had left and the hotel would be closing.

Gary Haines was due to travel from Sydney to stay in the Aultbea Hotel this summer but has been left £150 out of pocket due to the closure of the hotel.

In May we have also reported on the experiences of Perthshire cycling company owner Scot Tares, who has been left £300 out of pocket having booked three rooms for an overnight stay for a small cycling group. While New Mexico aerospace engineer Walter Rutledge and his wife Karen, are seeking a refund for a deposit of £120 after discovering their booking would not be honoured on the same day they were due to stay at the hotel.

The Aultbea Hotel is registered under the company View Hotels Limited and has two directors listed as David Michael Chalom and Valerie Fabienne Kuncze, who were both appointed on 27th July 2017 and recorded as having France as their country of residence.

The website also states the View Hotels Limited latest accounts are overdue having exceeded the deadline of 27th April 2019. The company also has two outstanding charges entitled to Barclays Bank PLC which were delivered on December 2017 and January 2018.

The Visit Wester Ross website has provided information for anyone who has booked or was planning to stay at the Aultbea Hotel – including the number of the Gairloch Hotel – 01445 712001 – which has said that they will provide accommodation if possible, and the Gale Centre – 01445 712071.

Commenting to the Free Press earlier this week, Gairloch Hotel Manager, Thomas Sutherland said: ” Upon learning of the unfortunate circumstances at the neighbouring Aultbea Hotel, my team have worked hard to offer accommodation to as many stranded guests as possible.

“Many guests had arrived in the area with no knowledge of the closure, some even arriving from overseas. We were pleased to support them and offer replacement accommodation where possible.”

As we went to press, the Aultbea Hotel’s website had at least half a dozen comments from guests who had lodged complaints about unfulfilled bookings, while on the Trip Advisor website there were three such complaints.

The Free Press has previously tried to contact the Aultbea Hotel by telephone and email but have yet to receive a response.

Police Scotland say they have not received any reports concerning these matters.

If you have been affected by the closure of the hotel, whether as a former employee, a guest who had booked with the hotel, or in any other way, and would like to share your experience, please contact our reporter Adam Gordon –

Article by Adam Gordon