A much-loved country hotel in the North East has been placed in administration, it has emerged.
The picturesque Whitworth Hall Hotel, near Spennymoor, has its own deer park and is the ancestral seat of the 18th Century MP for County Durham Bobby Shafto.
But the 29-bedroom Best Western hotel has struggled during the economic downturn, despite being a popular choice for weddings and functions.
Andrew Haslam and Gary Lee, of Newcastle’s Begbies Traynor, were appointed joint administrators for Whitworth Hall Country Park Ltd on Friday. They are, however, confident a buyer will be found for the County Durham hotel in the coming weeks and the jobs of all 40 staff have been retained.
Weddings booked for the next two weeks will be honoured and the administrators are investigating the hotel’s finances to see what can be done for other customers who have made bookings. It is not yet clear whether a lunch for around 80 people organised by the charity Red Cross next month will be going ahead.
It is said the hotel ran into financial difficulties following the death of managing director Alan Lax in the summer.
Mr Haslam said despite the sudden announcement it is “business as usual” at the hotel and said that interested parties have already approached the administrators about a sale.
He said: “Following the sudden passing of the managing director a few months ago, the remaining directors have continued to operate the business to the best of their ability, however due to the general economic climate, they have been unable to turn the business around.
“After discussions with the stakeholders, a decision was taken by the directors to appoint joint administrators. We are continuing to trade the business and the hotel is running as normal while it is marketed.
“The hotel enjoys an idyllic location and has great facilities, including 29 recently refurbished luxury bedrooms.
“With its excellent reputation and outstanding recommendations on leading review websites, we are confident of finding a buyer quickly.
“We have already received significant interest in the business as a going concern which we anticipate will result in securing a future for one of the county’s premier hotels.
“In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming the wedding parties for the celebrations booked over the next two weekends and would like to reassure them and other customers that it is very much business as usual.”
Customers are advised to contact the hotel direct on 01388 811772 to enquire about future bookings. Begbies Traynor have instructed Colliers International in Leeds as their agents and anyone interested in buying the hotel should contact Peter Bean on 0113 200 1890.