By Scott Wright

THREE hotels that formed part of venerable travel company David Urquhart Group have been put on the market to raise cash for creditors.

David Urquhart Travel, whose coaches were a common sight on the Scottish road network for nearly four decades, announced last week that it had ceased trading in light of the “dramatic” impact coronavirus has had on the travel and tourism industry.

The demise underlined the devastation wrought on the sector by the pandemic, which has sparked a collapse in holiday bookings and the mass grounding of aircraft under moves to halt the spread of the disease. Package holiday giant Tui said this week that it will axe up to 8,000 jobs across the world as it looks to cut costs by up to 30 per cent.

It is widely expected that the tourism, hospitality, and leisure industries will be the last to re-open as lockdown measures are gradually eased.

Coach operator David Urquhart Travel is one of three firms in the David Urquhart Group, alongside David Urquhart Transport and Hart Hotels, which employed a total of 57 staff and are now being wound down under a proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The three properties owned by Hart Hotels, Glenmorag Hotel in Dunoon, Garve Hotel in Garve, and Mackay’s Hotel in Strathpeffer, are now up for sale. It is expected that their sale will generate enough funds to repay creditors in full.

David Urquhart Sky Travel, which specialises in beach holidays and European city breaks, is not part of the CVA process and continues to trade.

Donald McNaught and Matt Henderson of Johnston Carmichael have been appointed joint nominees for the proposed CVA on behalf of the three companies affected, with three CVA proposals lodged at the Court of Session on May 4.

A spokesperson for the directors of David Urquhart Group said: “The ongoing coronavirus crisis has had a dramatic impact on all business sectors, but especially on those within the travel and tourism industry where it is impossible to establish when operations will return to normal.

“The directors have made the decision, in the absence of interested parties, to wind up the coach tour business in an orderly manner over the next few months.

“This is not a decision which has been taken lightly. The coach tour company has served loyal customers for more than 37 years, throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and has been a prominent figure within the leisure and hospitality industry.”

Johnston Carmichael said in a statement that the CVA proposal is aimed at allowing the orderly wind down of the business, which will primarily involve the sale of the three hotels.

Mr McNaught said: “Having used the CVA process to successfully protect businesses in the past, I see it becoming an invaluable tool in the current crisis. A CVA can allow business owners to seek protection from creditors to buy valuable time in which to implement plans to help turn their business around or, at the very least, seek to maximise the return to creditors.

“The CVA process is a relatively light touch that allows directors to make their proposals and then implement them. In all cases it should provide a significantly better return for creditors than alternative insolvency procedures, partly due to the lower costs involved.”

Property firm Colliers International has been tasked to sell the three hotels. Robert Smithson of the agency said: “These three properties are substantial, well-established hotel assets in excellent trading locations, so we expect strong levels of interest from UK and international buyers. The properties provide an outstanding opportunity to acquire an instant portfolio of over 175 letting bedrooms; but our client would also consider offers for each of the popular hotels.”