Two local hotels bought by Indian tycoon fall into administration

SANJEEV NARANG Picture Iain Ferguson,

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Administrators have been appointed for two local hotels little more than two years after wealthy Mumbai tycoon, Sanjay Narang and his sister, Rachna, paid £3 million for them and one other property and then reportedly spent triple that on an ambitious refurbishment programme.

Mr and Ms Narang launched Mars Black Sheep Hotels Ltd, which now comprises only the Cluanie Inn at Glenmoriston and Whispering Pine Lodge near Spean Bridge, formerly the Letterfinlay Lodge.

The third hotel bought at the same time, the former Craigard Guest House at Invergarry – since relaunched as Rokeby Manor – is unaffected by the administration.

According to documents filed with Companies House, Donald Iain McNaught and Matthew Purdon Henderson of Johnston Carmichael were appointed joint administrators of Mars Black Sheep Hotels Limited, in March.

The administrators confirmed to the Lochaber Times that both Whispering Pine Lodge and the Cluanie Inn are both now being operated under management that will continue under the administration, although both sites are currently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown. Rokeby Manor is unaffected by the administration as it is owned by a separate entity.

Mars Black Sheep Hotels Ltd went into administration following a dispute with a building contractor.

Educated at a school in the Himalayas, Mr Narang studied hotel management at Cornell University in the United States and established the Mars Group in 1991 – it is now a major force in the food and hospitality industry in India.

The Lochaber Times, which interviewed the Narangs after they also bought adjacent private homes with 200 acres of land near Invergarry, tried to contact the Mr Narang.

But according to Saket Gupta, marketing director for Black Sheep Management Services Ltd that, while Mr Narang was prepared to meet and discuss the situation once the lockdown had ended, he did not want to make any comments at this stage.

Allan Henderson is one of three Highland Council members representing the Caol and Mallaig local authority ward that includes Whispering Pine Lodge as well as Rokeby Manor.

Councillor Henderson said: ‘It is really disappointing hearing of company failures, especially after so much investment in the well-known properties, but not really surprising as business trading is suspended during the pandemic and before the hotels have had any real chance to trade.

‘There is always a risk of over investing, as companies chase the dollars, rupees and yuans, but COVID-19 has added a new dimension to that, in fact to catastrophic levels.

‘During this crisis many businesses will  have the potential to fail with no grant support for larger companies and none for smaller B&Bs paying domestic rates.’