The owner of the Aberdeen Northern Hotel has shut the accommodation side of his business, saying current energy prices make it “completely impossible to continue to trade”.
Steven Finnie previously spoke of his frustrations at crippling energy bills and rates at the Great Northern Road hotel, describing his plight as “heartbreaking”.
He has now decided to mothball the hotel’s 32 bedrooms but keep the public bar open.
‘Sadness and frustration’
A statement on the hotel’s Facebook page read: “Due to the current energy price crisis, it is with great sadness and frustration that I have had to take the decision to close the accommodation side of the hotel.
“The current gas and electricity prices have made it completely impossible to continue to trade.
“The public bar is still open but until utility prices come back down we will be unable to welcome guests.
“The hotel has been independently owned and operated for the past 25 years and this is the first time that we have had to close our doors, so it is incredibly sad.
“I would like to thank you for your support over the years and we hope to be able to open our doors again when, and if, things return to normal.”
As well as 32 bedrooms, it boasts restaurants, bars, dining and conference facilities, all manned by a team of around 12.
Speaking to The Press and Journal today, Mr Finnie said: “This winter there is going to be a complete decimation of the whole hospitality industry.
“As people’s bills go up the first thing they’ll do is stop going out.
“The only thing that might save the hotel is getting immigration to house people who are coming in and need somewhere to stay.
“Hotels right across the country are doing that. It’s crazy but it’s the only thing that would save the hotel.
“I’ve kept the bar open for now but I’m running that at a huge loss.”
Lack of support
Mr Finnie hit out at the lack of support given to businesses.
He added: “Small and medium-sized businesses have been hung out to dry.
“There’s none of the relief that we got in the pandemic.
“We’ve been suffering this since April and I’m still having to pay full rates.
“Even closing the hotel I’m still liable for thousands and thousands of pounds every month.
“We are at the stage now where a grant of a few thousand will do absolutely nothing.
“My electricity bill quadrupled and the gas bill has gone up five-fold.
“There is no support that can fix that. They’d need to give me £100,000 a year so I can operate as I did before. It’s impossible.”
Mr Finnie previously told the P&J his hotel was facing non-domestic rates bill of around £4,000 a month.
Added to this were electricity costs, which rocketed from £1,800 per month in March to about £8,000 in April amid spiralling inflation.
He feared the monthly total for electricity, gas and business rates may top £20,000 after a further increase in fuel bills from this autumn.
Businesses throughout the north and north-east are battling to keep up with soaring energy prices which have also left many households struggling to make ends meet.
Sheila and Mick Howarth, owners of The Belvedere Hotel in Stonehaven, made the agonising decision to close their restaurant and bar in the desperate hope of getting through the winter months as energy costs continue to rise.
And Jackie Wilson and Sheila Petrie, who own the popular Upperkrust takeaway food shop in Aberdeen, said they would need to charge £30 per sandwich to cover costs.
The Royal Crown Chinese takeaway in Torry was forced to shut after nearly 50 years of family ownership due to the mounting pressure of “impossible” energy bills.