Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a Wester Ross hotelier amid claims that he instructed staff to close the Aultbea Hotel in Wester Ross during breakfast last week and told them by phone he wasn’t coming back
A former employee of the hotel, which is now closed, spoke to the Free Press and claimed that they had come into work as normal for the breakfast shift on Wednesday of last week only to find out that owner David Michael Chalom had left and the hotel would be closing.
Our informant, who did not wish to be identified, said: “I went in for the breakfast shift and everything was fine. Then we received a call from my boss, David, who told us to tell the customers that there would be no chef – because the boss was also working as a chef until one came – and that they had to stay somewhere else that night. “
“That morning me and another person working there had to shut down the hotel.
“It was someone helping out who picked up the call about 8 o’clock. I didn’t speak to him myself, but I briefly heard the conversation. They told me that David had gone during the night and we had to tell the breakfast guests. We then got a call an hour later from him to say he wasn’t coming back.
“But he didn’t tell us where he had gone or give us a reason, so we were confused whether we still had a job or not. He didn’t give us or anyone else an explanation as to where he went.”
The ex-employee said there were nine or 10 guests staying in the hotel at the time of the call. The source added: “The manager spoke to them (the guests) mainly, but I also spoke to them briefly about where they could find somewhere else to stay. They took it a lot better than I thought they would.”
The Aultbea Hotel is registered under the company name View Hotels Limited and has two directors listed as David Michael Chalom and Valerie Fabienne Kuncze, who were both appointed on 27th July 2017.
On the Companies House website, the country of residence of both Mr Chalom and Ms Kuncze is recorded as France.
The eight-bedroom Aultbea Hotel, which is located on the shores of Loch Ewe north-east of Gairloch, has since attracted criticism on the Facebook forum for Gairloch and the surrounding area amid claims that visitors who had booked to stay at the hotel had arrived there only to find out it was closed.
In a post published on Saturday, one member of the forum wrote: “Does anyone know what the story about the Aultbea Hotel is? We have guests booked to stay there tonight, but there is a sign on the door that says, ‘sorry the hotel is closed’.”
Another person said that they knew of “two lots of people” who were booked in there in the previous week, but the hotel was closed.
The Free Press contacted the Aultbea Hotel by telephone and email to clarify whether the claims that customers who had booked were given no prior notice of the hotel closing were indeed true, but as we went to press we had not received a response.
We then conducted a search on a few popular hotel booking sites to check if it would possible to book a room at the Aultbea Hotel but there was no availability across any of the sites.
In a recent post, the Visit Wester Ross Facebook page published a message which read: “Important Notice: We understand that the Aultbea Hotel appears to have suddenly closed without warning – a notice has appeared on the door to that effect, their Facebook page has stopped, and the owners have reportedly left the area.
“If you have a booking with this hotel, you are therefore advised to contact the hotel immediately for clarification. We will update this notice as and when we have further information.”
The hotel is currently listed for sale on the property website ASG Commercial at offers over £600,000.
The Free Press have become aware of allegations that former staff members and suppliers are owed wages/outstanding monies from the hotel.
If you have been affected by these issues and would like to share your experience, please contact our reporter Adam Gordon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by Adam Gordon