Future of Best Western Hotel staff up in the air

Staff at Wollongong's Gladstone Avenue Best Western Hotel face an uncertain future as an unnamed buyer prepares to snap up 44 of the complex's 55 units.

The hotel's previous owner, Invest Serviced Apartments, which contracted Best Western as the brand/hotel group, went into receivership in July 2009.

Since then, insolvency firm PPB Advisory has managed the property on behalf of Macquarie Bank, which became mortgagee in possession of the units.

PPB Advisory would not be drawn on the identity of the buyer or the value of the contract.

There are three full-time, eight permanent part-time and 25 casual staff employed at the hotel.

Before going into receivership, Invest Serviced Apartments sold 10 of the hotel's units to private investors. Those units have continued to operate as hotel accommodation as they cannot be inhabited on a permanent basis.

A PPB spokesman said it was not known whether the new buyer would re-employ the hotel's staff.

"As the receivers and managers we employed staff and we will be paying all entitlements including redundancy," he said.

"The new owner, because they're not buying the business, have requested if they can have a discussion with staff about the new operations but they're not being transferred.

"Obviously they've got a hotel to run and hotels need staff and we'll be assisting any way we can."

The PPB spokesman said while the buyer wanted to remain anonymous for now, he could confirm the building would continue to be run as a hotel. He said rumours the University of Wollongong was the buyer were unfounded.

A Best Western spokeswoman said settlement of the new contract was expected to occur on March 14 after which time the hotel would no longer operate as a Best Western hotel.

"All Best Western guests currently holding a reservation at the hotel will be contacted and offered the choice to relocate to Best Western's second Wollongong hotel, Best Western City Sands," she said.

Invest Construct Pty Ltd, which was run by the same directors as Invest Serviced Apartments, opened the hotel as a Best Western in April 2008. The identity of the new buyer is expected to be made public before March 14.

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