Harpenden House Hotel's sale leaves couple's wedding day in ruins

St Albans & Harpenden Review: 'To have to tell my fiancé on Valentine’s Day was horrific' - venue's sale leaves couple's wedding day in ruins 'To have to tell my fiancé on Valentine’s Day was horrific' - venue's sale leaves couple's wedding day in ruins

With only eight weeks until their big day, a couple planning to get married in Harpenden House Hotel were given the "horrific" news that the venue was being sold.

Hotel staff telephoned Gary Pitts, from Biggleswade, on Valentine’s Day to inform him that he would need a new venue for his wedding, due to be held on April 17.

The 31-year-old and his fiancée Stefanie, 32, were then left with the task of rearranging almost all of their plans with only two months to go.

Mr Pitts said: "I was at work and I got a phone call at about 2pm from the events planner saying the hotel was closing and that they were unable to stage our wedding.

"It’s the kind of thing you never anticipate hearing. We had sent the invites, guests had booked rooms, we’d even done the wedding tasting.

'She just burst into tears'

"The meals, the DJ, chair covers, everything was arranged. They must have known when they were taking our booking.

"I’m in shock with the whole situation. To have to tell my fiancé on Valentine’s Day was absolutely horrific. She just burst into tears."

Mr Pitts said he and his fiancé fell in love with the Harpenden hotel’s painted ceilings and Edwardian features, as well as the option to host the ceremony, dinner and reception there.

They booked the venue with a year to go and then set about arranging the rest of their perfect day.

He said: "My fiancé and I had been joking because everyone moans how stressful a wedding is and ours hadn’t been. Everything was nice and straight forward."

Mr Pitts said he was able to secure a new booking at Sopwell House in St Albans over the weekend, although "at a significant increase in cost".

He said: "All in all it’s going to cost an extra £1,500. You budget an amount for the wedding and we knew how much we were going to spend. If it was a £50 increase you would take the hit.

Compensation

"I’m trying to claim compensation back as they have a signed contract with me from May last year. We have wedding insurance so I’m trying to find out whether that covers us.

"As long as I’ve got Stephanie beside me, with all of our family I don’t care where it is. It’s her day and I want her to be happy."

Kath Webster-Brown, general manager or Harpenden House Hotel, sent the following statement from Fairview New Homes Limited.

"Fairview New Homes Limited has unconditionally exchanged contracts to acquire the Harpenden House Hotel. Completion of the purchase will take place on 3rd April 2014.

"The current owners and occupiers are responsible for providing vacant possession of the hotel prior to Fairview acquiring the freehold. The hotel will be winding down its operation between now and completion.

"While we continue to operate the hotel and up until its closure date, we will endeavour to offer our guests the highest standards of hospitality and care and work with those future guests that this effects to ensure that any disruption and concern is kept to a minimum."

Staff at Luton Hoo Hotel said they were working with couples who could no longer get married at Harpenden House Hotel, and where possible would honour existing contracts.

Have you arranged a wedding or event at the hotel? Telephone the newsdesk on 01923 216372.

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:57pm Tue 18 Feb 14

harpendenp1 says...

This is all very sad.....however im sure that this isnt the whole story..!! ive heard that people who have weddings planned have been offered a like for like at the Luton Hoo..who will honor the contract they had with Harpenden House........
Also...what about the dozens of people who will be made redundant as a result of the sale...many have familes and some live in at the hotel.....what about them??

The staff, I hear only heard about the sale on the Thursday before valentines...so they cannot be held responsible for this....its the owners of the hotel.....not the poor staff who work there...
This is all very sad.....however im sure that this isnt the whole story..!! ive heard that people who have weddings planned have been offered a like for like at the Luton Hoo..who will honor the contract they had with Harpenden House........ Also...what about the dozens of people who will be made redundant as a result of the sale...many have familes and some live in at the hotel.....what about them?? The staff, I hear only heard about the sale on the Thursday before valentines...so they cannot be held responsible for this....its the owners of the hotel.....not the poor staff who work there... harpendenp1
  • Score: 12

10:36pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Starlight22 says...

I'm sure having a wedding cancelled at the last minute is very distressing, but I'm sure refunds are being given and there will be offers of another venue. Worst case scenario, another date will have to be scheduled. It's not the end of the world. My thoughts are with the Staff who are losing their jobs and for some, losing their home!
I'm sure having a wedding cancelled at the last minute is very distressing, but I'm sure refunds are being given and there will be offers of another venue. Worst case scenario, another date will have to be scheduled. It's not the end of the world. My thoughts are with the Staff who are losing their jobs and for some, losing their home! Starlight22
  • Score: 9

10:39am Wed 19 Feb 14

Henry103 says...

As is appears to be a developer purchasing the hotel; is is going the same way as The Gleneagles ? Another local amenity destroyed to be replaced by million pound + "apartments" and houses.
As is appears to be a developer purchasing the hotel; is is going the same way as The Gleneagles ? Another local amenity destroyed to be replaced by million pound + "apartments" and houses. Henry103
  • Score: 2

10:26am Thu 20 Feb 14

bunny24 says...

A friend of mine is affected by this, her wedding was booked in May, leaving 12 weeks to re-arrange - no one is blaming the staff, the blame clearly lies at the feet of the owners and Fairview Homes, surely they could have allowed weddings and events booked this summer to have taken place, building the new site cant be that urgent that they cant put it back 3 months. All in all this has been handled incredibly badly. As for the comment about refunds and other venues, when people find a venue to get married in, its usually after extensive searching for somewhere that fits the bill entirely and comes in on budget, decent venues are fully booked up to 18 months in advance - therefore, people are now forced to spend countless hours ringing other venues, only to end up with somewhere that they are not entirely happy with - this is supposed to be the happiest day of people's lives, not a total nightmare which this has become. There has been no offer of help or guidance in terms of other venues forthcoming from Harpenden House, in fact no one has even returned my friends calls. As for rescheduling the date, dont be so ridiculous - people have honeymoons etc booked. Whilst this may not seem like a big deal to some people, to others it actually is! Re jobs, working in the sector myself, the hospitality sector is extremely bouyant therefore the staff (all of which are an excellent standard) will find new employment. My main question is why did Fairview insist that the closing date have to happen so quickly - I've had to watch my friend be devastated for the last week and many sleepless nights have occured for all involved, all because of greed. Bad times. A new venue still hasnt been secured yet and the quest goes on!
A friend of mine is affected by this, her wedding was booked in May, leaving 12 weeks to re-arrange - no one is blaming the staff, the blame clearly lies at the feet of the owners and Fairview Homes, surely they could have allowed weddings and events booked this summer to have taken place, building the new site cant be that urgent that they cant put it back 3 months. All in all this has been handled incredibly badly. As for the comment about refunds and other venues, when people find a venue to get married in, its usually after extensive searching for somewhere that fits the bill entirely and comes in on budget, decent venues are fully booked up to 18 months in advance - therefore, people are now forced to spend countless hours ringing other venues, only to end up with somewhere that they are not entirely happy with - this is supposed to be the happiest day of people's lives, not a total nightmare which this has become. There has been no offer of help or guidance in terms of other venues forthcoming from Harpenden House, in fact no one has even returned my friends calls. As for rescheduling the date, dont be so ridiculous - people have honeymoons etc booked. Whilst this may not seem like a big deal to some people, to others it actually is! Re jobs, working in the sector myself, the hospitality sector is extremely bouyant therefore the staff (all of which are an excellent standard) will find new employment. My main question is why did Fairview insist that the closing date have to happen so quickly - I've had to watch my friend be devastated for the last week and many sleepless nights have occured for all involved, all because of greed. Bad times. A new venue still hasnt been secured yet and the quest goes on! bunny24
  • Score: 1

3:12pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Starlight88 says...

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones in that my wedding wasn't due to be until June 2015 at Harpenden House. I have plenty of time to re arrange unlike some poor people, who really do have my sympathy!

We booked our wedding only a few weeks ago, started making plans etc & then 8 days later I had a email from a external supplier I was using & told me he'd heard that the hotel was closing. Needless to say I called the hotel straight away to be told it was infact true!!

The hunt for the perfect venue now begins all over again.
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones in that my wedding wasn't due to be until June 2015 at Harpenden House. I have plenty of time to re arrange unlike some poor people, who really do have my sympathy! We booked our wedding only a few weeks ago, started making plans etc & then 8 days later I had a email from a external supplier I was using & told me he'd heard that the hotel was closing. Needless to say I called the hotel straight away to be told it was infact true!! The hunt for the perfect venue now begins all over again. Starlight88
  • Score: 0

10:23am Fri 21 Feb 14

Mr Y. says...

I think the council should refuse any planning permission for houses on this iconic plot! Let's see if this is what happens!
I think the council should refuse any planning permission for houses on this iconic plot! Let's see if this is what happens! Mr Y.
  • Score: 0

10:26am Fri 21 Feb 14

Mr Y. says...

I think the council should refuse any planning permission for houses/flats on this iconic plot! Let's see if this is what happens! Or if the same things happens to harpenden house as has happened to the gleneagles! Which has been torn down and will never look the same again!
I think the council should refuse any planning permission for houses/flats on this iconic plot! Let's see if this is what happens! Or if the same things happens to harpenden house as has happened to the gleneagles! Which has been torn down and will never look the same again! Mr Y.
  • Score: 0

6:25pm Tue 25 Feb 14

kmorris88 says...

My fiance and i were booked into this hotel for our wedding reception on the 12th April 2014 to use the Wine Press for our wedding breakfast and the Garden Suite for our evening reception. We had spend many months looking for our perfect wedding venue (we are having a church wedding!) and had finally found this, fell in love and booked it in May 2013.

I was called on Friday 14th at 5pm to be told that the hotel had been sold for development and that they could no longer hold our reception on the date we had booked.

I was shocked as i was just about to send out the wedding invites and begin to arrange the final meal choices etc.

We were told that Luton Hoo would be able to honour our budget and were available on our chosen day, however after a visit to Luton Hoo on the Monday it was the complete opposite to Harpenden house, therefore not what we wanted from a wedding venue. (The venue was too large, held at least 2 weddings on a Saturday and did not have enough accommodation for all our guests as other weddings were booked. we would have also had to use the smaller rooms due to the other weddings having been booked first.
Monday we rang around many venues in the Hertfordshire area and found 4 that were available with our date, we set about visiting each and then chosen a new venue.
Our new venue was very sympathetic with us and extremely helpful, as well as the company that we have hired to do the flower arrangements and decoration.
My fiance and i were booked into this hotel for our wedding reception on the 12th April 2014 to use the Wine Press for our wedding breakfast and the Garden Suite for our evening reception. We had spend many months looking for our perfect wedding venue (we are having a church wedding!) and had finally found this, fell in love and booked it in May 2013. I was called on Friday 14th at 5pm to be told that the hotel had been sold for development and that they could no longer hold our reception on the date we had booked. I was shocked as i was just about to send out the wedding invites and begin to arrange the final meal choices etc. We were told that Luton Hoo would be able to honour our budget and were available on our chosen day, however after a visit to Luton Hoo on the Monday it was the complete opposite to Harpenden house, therefore not what we wanted from a wedding venue. (The venue was too large, held at least 2 weddings on a Saturday and did not have enough accommodation for all our guests as other weddings were booked. we would have also had to use the smaller rooms due to the other weddings having been booked first. Monday we rang around many venues in the Hertfordshire area and found 4 that were available with our date, we set about visiting each and then chosen a new venue. Our new venue was very sympathetic with us and extremely helpful, as well as the company that we have hired to do the flower arrangements and decoration. kmorris88
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree