How coronavirus is ‘killing’ the Grand Sapphire Hotel – one of Croydon’s top wedding venues
More than 160 devastated couples have had to cancel their nuptials at a popular Croydon wedding venue.
Owner of the Grand Sapphire Hotel, Suleman Raza, is concerned about the future of his business and the wedding industry as a whole.
Tomorrow (July 4) will see the reopening of pubs and restaurants and also mean that weddings can take place with a maximum of 30 people, including any suppliers like photographers.
But the pandemic has seen more than 160 weddings cancelled at the Grand Sapphire Hotel in Imperial Way, approaching what is usually the busiest time of the year.
“The uncertainty is really killing us. Not only have people cancelled their weddings, people are not booking for next year because they are worried about another spike,” said Suleman.
“The future is looking very tough right now.
“It also has a great emotional impact on the couples who had the biggest day of their lives planned and booked. What we are seeing now is that they are dealing with the emotional trauma and the stress of that.
“Not only is there stress about cancelling, it is about when they will be able to do it.”
The venue usually hosts large weddings with a 1,200 person capacity and there is no clear idea of when large gatherings will be able to take place again.
Throughout the pandemic the business missed out on government grants because the ‘rateable value’ of the building is more than £51,000.
The Grand Sapphire hotel has seen more than 160 couples cancel their weddings
Suleman added: “We did not qualify for any government grants and we are under a lot of pressure from the couples who booked at the venue asking to refund the cost and postpone the event, which is pretty fair on their part.
“We want to see wedding venues included in the wider hospitality sector by the government, they must take action to protect this industry.”
The venue usually employs 120 members of staff, 90 per cent of whom are currently furloughed.
He is worried that if they cannot open up soon he may end up losing some members of staff.
And overall so far he thinks that the business has lost £1.5 million due to the pandemic.
For now the company has offered all customers a postponement until December 31, 2021 at no additional cost.
But with large gatherings not likely to be allowed anytime soon, Suleman thinks that the whole wedding industry could be permanently affected by the pandemic.