THE co-founder and managing director of Auchrannie Resort on Arran expressed "great sadness and regret" over its temporary closure amid coronavirus-related restrictions.

Announcing the hotel and spa resort would close until January 29, Linda Johnston said: "Sadly, we have no choice, as the cost of opening is not sustainable for the business and we must make sure that Auchrannie emerges from the pandemic in good shape to welcome guests back and continue to support the island and community as we have for the last 32 years."

She emphasised staff would be protected using the UK Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. The hotel and spa resort has a team of about 180 people.

Ms Johnston said: “The hospitality industry has spent vast sums on implementing safe systems to make sure we could open safely following the national lockdown. Arran businesses implemented Covid precautions responsibly and effectively and this was demonstrated during the four months from July 2020 when the island was able to trade effectively and welcomed large numbers of visitors without a single case of Covid-19.”

She explained that the “travel and other restrictions in place since the introduction of the tier system on 2 November 2020, ever-changing guidelines and uncertain times ahead make it impossible for the business to trade viably at this time”.

Ms Johnston added: “With the furlough in place, our team is protected, whilst closing the resort allows us to minimise costs and reduce risk by creating certainty instead of speculation in our cash-flow projections. Having said that, we still need to cover very high fixed costs each month we are closed which run into six figures, for which we receive very little support, but we would face a much larger loss if we attempt to continue trading in the current situation...

“We understand the effect this decision will have on guests, team members, the community, the supply chain and other businesses who rely on tourism over the winter. We are also sorry we are unable to open our leisure facilities to the community, and are acutely aware that this leaves the island with no indoor swimming or gym facility."

Ms Johnston said that, during the closure, a small team would be retained to keep the resort "safe and in tip-top condition" while the reservations department would remain available to answer any queries while the hotel continued to take bookings online and by phone for next year.

She added: "With a vaccine on the horizon, there is now light at the end of the tunnel and we know that with the right support and the chance to trade viably out of the pandemic, Auchrannie and Arran will emerge from this difficult, worrying and stressful period, as a better place to live, work and visit.

"We’d like to thank everyone for their support and understanding throughout the pandemic including our own team members who have been inspirational throughout. In the meantime, stay safe everyone and we look forward to welcoming visitors back in February."