Iconic Somerset West hospitality landmark has been deemed unviable by the current tenant and its future is now uncertain.
The landmark Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West, just outside Cape Town, may be set to close its door permanently.
The property, which is currently operated by the Spanish-based NH Hotel Group, has been a feature of the Western Cape hospitality landscape for more than 30 years.
LEASE IS NOT BEING RENEWED BY NH HOTELS
However, NH has confirmed that it will not be renewing its lease and will vacate the four-star, 198-room property when the current agreement runs out on 31 August.
It seems the decision may not be directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, as NH says in its official statement that the closure is a consequence of a detailed feasibility study conducted in October 2019.
The company has confirmed in its statement that the hotel’s employees, many of whom have been with the Lord Charles for many years, will be retrenched.
OWNERS DO NOT REQUIRE A ‘GOING CONCERN’
NH’s statement adds that it is “fully committed to ensuring that all team member dues and settlements as a result of the decision will be fully provided for prior to the conclusion of [the] lease”.
The Madrid-based hotel chain, which operates over 350 hotels in 28 countries, emphasised in its statement that it has not been asked by the property’s owners to return the hotel as a “going concern” and it will therefore cease operations.
According the local website Cape Town Etc, “the much-loved hotel has offered its services for 32 years and the closure will affect around 150 families”.
MANY FORMER GUESTS EXPRESS THEIR SADNESS
The future of the property, set on nine hectares of land around 30 km from Cape Town International Airport, is unclear after 31 August.
Many former guests have taken to the Lord Charles Facebook page to express their sadness at the imminent closure.
“I spent several happy stays there … the staff were wonderful, the hotel’s greatest asset. I wish them all well in these difficult times,” said one.
“This is such sad news. Thank you for so many great memories,” wrote another.