Iconic Qld hotel shuts doors, lays off 200 staff
ONE of Queensland's most iconic hotels, Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast, has shut its doors, laid off 200 staff and told them there is no money to pay their entitlements in the latest coronavirus catastrophe.
The move has angered staff at the Chinese-owned 'six-star' hotel who were told last week they could take holiday pay.
Palazzo Versace began standing down staff and dramatically scaling back operations on March 23 as the coronavirus crisis deepened.
In a letter seen by The Sunday Mail, the hotel told staff they could apply to use any accrued leave or long service leave during the stand-down.
Last Wednesday, staff were told the hotel would 'temporarily close' from midday on Friday 'to undergo a maintenance and rejuvenation program'.
But in another memo to staff on Friday, staff were told that 'regrettably we must deliver our message with great disappointment as we are unable to process leave requests due to financial constraints'.
"Further annual leave is unable to be approved and the Stand Down (unpaid) of your employment will recommence from Monday 30th March 2020," the memo states.
The hotel said it was awaiting the Federal Government's JobKeeper payment, due in the first week of May, which would be paid to all eligible employees.
"We strongly urge you to apply for the JobSeeker allowance while we reassess our short-term financial stance as a result of these unprecedented times," the hotel told staff.
One Versace employee told The Sunday Mail that staff were shocked and shattered, and slammed the hotel's actions as 'wrong and unjust'. "It is so disappointing because we are such a tight knit group," the staffer said.
"We understood the stand downs - we know the industry is under pressure and accepted that we had to be patient and wait until things improved.
"However, we thought when they offered us the opportunity to use our holiday leave payments to keep the money coming in for a while, we had a bit of breathing space.
"It seems strange to be announcing renovations, which cost money, on Wednesday and by Friday say there's no money to honour holiday pay entitlements. Something's not right.
"The hotel is owned by Chinese interests with hotel operations around the world. I have workmates who cannot now afford their rent or food and it's their money that is owing. It's wrong and unjust."
In a Facebook post on Friday, Palazzo Versace said it was closing 'temporarily'.
"Palazzo Versace Gold Coast is determined to overcome the significant challenges that we currently face and while we undergo a temporary closure of the hotel only, we remain positive and will utilise this time to enter a 'pre-opening' phase whereby behind the scenes, Palazzo Versace Gold Coast will reposition, rebalance and revitalise the hotel until we can once again, reopen our doors to our guests and staff members alike," it said.
Developed by the Sunland Group as the world's first Versace-branded hotel, the Palazzo Versace opened in 2000 and was sold in 2012 to China's Dong Run Group, which operates hotels and high-end department stores.
Originally published as Luxury hotel's 'wrong and unjust' staff move