TWENTY four jobs are at risk after a Portland hotel announced it is to close.

The four-star Ocean Hotel and Spa at Southwell Business Park will shut its doors this coming Monday.

Managing director Verna Herry said the closure came ahead of building work next door at Maritime House to prepare for the new Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy which she said would affect business.

IPACA won an appeal earlier this year to build a £14m campus at the site, a former MoD underwater weapons facility.

Ms Herry, who said she was working with the staff in an effort to find new jobs for them elsewhere, indicated she would set up another spa business in future.

She previously ran the Ocean Spa before overseeing the takeover of the Venue Hotel and Cliff Panoramic Restaurant under an ambitious expansion plan last year.

Renaming it the Ocean Hotel and Spa, the takeover represented a substantial investment on the island and aimed to increase prospects for bringing more visitors to Portland.

Staff this year celebrated being awarded a four-star rating by the national tourist board for England, making it only the second four-star rated hotel between Lyme Regis and Sandbanks.

The accolade came after the business scooped a certificate of excellence for being in the top 10 per cent of accommodation and facilities on international website TripAdvisor.

Shocked staff were informed of the closure yesterday. The hotel is in the process of contacting spa clients and future guests.

Ms Herry said: “We have worked tremendously hard in recent times to build and market the hotel as a welcoming spa retreat and our four star status from Visit England endorses this.

“However, with IPACA building work about to commence we now recognise that the hotel and its location is no longer an attractive destination for guests seeking a luxurious peaceful break.

“We have taken the decision to close before building work commences in order to avoid compromising the essence of who we are as a company and disappointing future guests.”

She added: “My personal passion has always been focused on training and sharing knowledge. In time we will re-locate our business and create a spa and training academy that will not only provide wonderful treatments but also offer training to students interested in health and beauty.”


BOROUGH councillor and Southwell resident Margaret Leicester said: “It’s always sad to lose a business and seeing people being put out of work but personally I’m not surprised by this decision.

“This is because right from the word go I didn’t think this was the right location for a hotel.

“It’s the same reason I objected to IPACA going up there – it’s off the beaten track.

“The hotel itself is lovely and the rooms are beautiful but it’s not a holiday destination.”

Town councillor Sylvia Bradley said: “I’m disgusted because it’s to do with the academy which I wasn’t in favour of going there. It’s totally the wrong place for a school.”

President of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce Julie Cleaver said: “It’s really sad when a business closes.

“Verna and her team put a lot of hard work into the business and went through a lot of changes and I’m sure this was a difficult decision.

“I hope they manage to find employment for the staff that will be affected.”