A property company behind the multi-million pound purchase, refurbishment and re-opening of two Highland hotels has been placed in administration, owing an Aberdeen-based construction firm more than £3 million.
Mars Black Sheep Hotels, which owned the Cluanie Inn, at Glenmoriston, and the Whispering Pine Lodge, at Letterfinlay, had been involved in a lengthy court wrangle with contractors Douglas and Stewart Construction before it called in the administrators.
The company was part of the Black Sheep Group, launched by Indian entrepreneurs Sanjay and Rachna Narang last year. The brother and sister invested £3m in buying three Highland properties and a further £9m refurbishing them after being disappointed by the standard of hospitality they found during a holiday in the area.
A spokesman for Black Sheep Management Services, which runs the establishments, said the administration move did not affect the operations of the hotels, which are currently closed under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The group’s other hotel, Rokeby Manor, at Invergarry, is unaffected, as it is owned by a separate entity.
Black Sheep Hotels Group is owned by Mumbai-based hospitality company Mars Enterprise, headed by Mr Narang.
The company announced the reopening of the well-known 18-bedroom Cluanie Inn, which lies on one of the main routes to Skye and dates back to 1787, last September.
The following month it launched The Whispering Pine Lodge, which has 25 bedrooms and was formerly known as Letterfinlay Lodge. Built as a hunting lodge in the 1880s, it became a hotel in the mid-1900s.
The firm’s marketing director, Saket Gupta, said: “The company which operates all the Black Sheep Hotels is Black Sheep Management Services Ltd, which continues to operate all our hotels, although they are presently under lockdown restrictions due to the Covid -19.
“One of our property owning companies had a dispute with a contractor due to which it has gone into administration, but this does not affect the hotel operations in any manner whatsoever.”
Donald McNaught and Matt Henderson, of Johnston Carmichael, have been appointed joint administrators of Mars Black Sheep Hotels.
In a statement, the Johnston Carmichael said: “The two hotels owned by the company, The Whispering Pine Lodge and The Cluanie Inn, are both operated under management which will continue under administration, although both sites are currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.”
A spokesman for Douglas and Stewart Construction said the firm’s solicitors had requested further information from the administrators and therefore could not comment further at this stage.