Engaged couples left devastated after Plymouth wedding venue closes

The venue is hugely popular for couples planning a wedding. Credit: ITV West Country

Couples have been left devastated after a wedding venue in Plymouth announced it is closing down and those with bookings won't get their money back.

The Moorland Garden Hotel, located between Roborough and Yelverton, has been shut throughout the coronavirus pandemic and owners have now sold the business.

As well as many heartbroken couples, up to 60 jobs could be lost as a result of the closure.

In a letter to customers, bosses said: "The building is being sold at a significant loss affected by recent events and is not able to return your deposit payment (s).

"The company is reviewing its creditor liabilities and next steps in that respect, therefore in first instance you will need to speak with your event insurer or credit card company about reclaiming any deposit paid."

Many couples now won't be able to say 'I do' when they had planned to. Credit: ITV West Country

In a statement managers said they were looking to sell the business with a view to it continuing as a hotel. However, once the sale was complete they were made aware the buyer had other plans.

Disappointed couples are now speaking of their frustration that they won't be getting any money back from the business.

Kirstie Wood and Luke Shalgosky planned their dream wedding at the venue for July 2022. Kirstie said the first she heard of the news was through their photographer, not the hotel.

The couple, due to welcome their second child soon, had paid a £600 deposit for their big day and are annoyed they won't see that money again.

The couple are "devastated".

After crying for most of the morning when she found out what happened, Kirstie said her sadness soon turned into "anger and frustration".

It was hoped the building would continue as a hotel once it was sold. Credit: ITV West Country

Several other couples have posted about their despair on social media - with many now facing the reality of losing thousands of pounds and not being able to say 'I do'.

Kelly Forbes and her partner Rob were planning to become husband and wife in two weeks' time (14 August), but changed their wedding to 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis.

The couple were making weekly payments to the venue. Their last payment was taken on Friday 31 July with no mention of the hotel sale, they say.

Kelly and Rob had paid more than £2,000 towards their big day - fortunately they are hopeful they can make a claim through their wedding insurance.

Many others though, Kelly says, "aren't in that situation".

With so many cancellations and postponements due to lockdown restrictions, this is not the first time many engaged couples have had to look for alternative dates and venues.

The hotel is located just outside of Plymouth in Yelverton. Credit: ITV West Country

Company statement

The Moorland Garden Hotel issued a statement: "The company has been seeking to sell its business as a going concern with a view to business at The Moorland Garden Hotel continuing.

"However, it has become apparent that on completion of the sale of the hotel the buyer plans to convert the building for another use, so the company will cease to trade as a hotel and it will therefore not be in a position to host any of its previously booked business."

The statement added the business has been "severely impacted" by Covid-19: "Prior to the mandatory closure of the hotel in late March the ability to service all of its weddings, events and hotel stays was clear.

"However the switching off of revenue to zero overnight meant it had to borrow further to meet costs which didn't go away, and despite the furlough scheme and other significant Government initiatives and support from Barclays Bank the hotel is being sold at a significant loss and is unable to return any deposit payments."

It said the company is reviewing its other creditor liabilities "with its professional advisers." In 2019 it still owed the bank more than £500,000.

The statement concluded: "This is obviously devastating news for everyone involved, clients, staff and the company directors. The company prioritised letting the wedding couples know to allow maximum time fore making alternative arrangements. We do extend our best wishes to them all for their future."