A major north-east hotel has announced it will close temporarily during the winter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 47-bedroom Stotfield Hotel in Lossiemouth and ordinarily is host to international visitors, weddings and other events.
However, the Covid-19 crisis has led to a huge drop in bookings across the sector with concerns about the forthcoming winter season.
Now it has been confirmed the hotel, which employs about 30 staff, will shut from Sunday ahead of an expected reopening early next year.
A social media statement said: “This has been a difficult year for everyone not least of all the hospitality industry and we thank all of our customers for their support and encouragement, especially since we reopened in July.
“As we look ahead to the winter months, and with various restrictions currently in place around the UK, demand is simply too low for us to remain open.
“As a relatively large hotel, the costs to remain open are significant, so our best option is now to hibernate until demand returns.
“Whilst closed, our valued team members will now head back to furlough and will be ready to reopen as soon as we possibly can.”
The statement adds that staff have “tentative confidence” that next year will bring improvements for the industry.
Earlier this year owner Billy Roche highlighted the hotel had missed out on valuable support due to it being too large to qualify for the Scottish Government’s business support fund.
Hospitality firms across the north have repeatedly explained coronavirus had made it cheaper to close instead of remaining open at times during the pandemic.
Heldon and Laich councillor James Allan said: “It’s quite sad for them. The Stotfield has been hit hard by the lockdown because they are too big to qualify for support – they have really fallen through the cracks with a couple of other large hotels.
“When they did open again in July they got a lot of support, the first night they were pretty much fully booked, but because it’s so large it still worked out quite well with spacing.
“Christmas is usually a busy time for them with parties, it’s a shame it’s not happening this year.”