A HOTEL is to shut just weeks after the Grade II listed venue was bought by a regional leisure operator.

About 30 staff will be made redundant when Whitworth Hall Hotel and Deer Park, near Spennymoor, closes indefinitely from next Sunday, October 25.

The hotel, which is the former ancestral home of the Shafto family, was taken over in the summer by leisure company The Apartment Group.

The purchase came just months after the Group bought the Jersey Farm Country Hotel, in Barnard Castle, which it plans to reopen as Runa Farm.

The company, which owns venues across the region including Northumberland hotels Newton Hall and Le Petit Chateau, had announced plans to invest millions of pounds at both sites to create five star boutique hotels aimed at the leisure, wedding and corporate market.

But last night chief Operating Officer Debrah Dhugga confirmed Whitworth Hall was closing.

The Apartment Group has made a total of 350 people redundant and also closed Newcastle bars As You Like It and Nancy’s Bordello as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Dhugga said many tours and weddings at Whitworth Hall had been cancelled and on Wednesday night just one room was occupied.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

She said: “Covid hit us, we thought by the end of August or September we would be coming out of it so we kept running the hotel.

“But it is just not viable to keep open. With the Covid restrictions and not knowing when it is going to end, we got to the stage where we had to close.

“We do hope to reopen and continue to work with architects and designers on the refurbishment plans, but when that is – six months or a year – I sadly cannot say.”

Around 30 staff will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

Mrs Dhugga added: “We have sadly had to do that and they are now serving their notice.

“I am heartbroken, I know this is people’s lives being affected and they are all lovely people.

"This is not because of something they have done, the hospitality industry is simply in crisis.

“We have told them all to reapplying for jobs when we are able to reopen.

"We have had to make 350 people redundant in total, I've worked in hotels and hospitality for 30 years and known nothing like it.”

One man, who has worked there for more than a decade, said: “It is disgusting.

"We know how difficult things are but with the redundancy situation we don’t know what the future holds and whether we’ll ever get those jobs back.”

Mrs Dhugga said extra security measures, including CCTV and on-site security staff, have been put in place to protect the estate and animals.

She said the company hopes to fully reopen Whitworth Hall so it can honour all 2021 bookings.