STAFF at Oxford's Randolph Hotel are being made redundant as its new American owner closes it for about six months for a major revamp.

Graduate Hotels, owned by Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners, announced it had acquired the Macdonald Randolph Hotel in Beaumont Street in December, and indicated there could be a controversial name change as a result.

A spokesman said at the time: "Renovations will begin in fall 2020, and the 151-key hotel will open as Graduate Oxford, part of the Graduate Hotels collection, in early spring 2021."

Read again: American chain buys Randolph Hotel but will name change

Now it has emerged that the hotel will shut on October 17 for the refurbishment, and most of the staff are likely to be made redundant.

It is understood that some staff have not yet returned from furlough following the coronavirus lockdown and are now being told they don't have a job, with management briefings taking place today (Tuesday).


Hotel general manager Philip Lewis confirmed the redundancies in an email to regular guest Stuart Jarvis, after he heard about the shutdown.

Mr Lewis wrote: "We are working very hard to try and save as many staff as possible but we will be closed for approximately five months.

"During this time we will receive no guests and no revenue, so saving any great number of staff is challenging."

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He went on: "The fire of 2015 was heartbreaking, however it was amazing that we were able to open the doors to the paying public after just four weeks. We are looking at a five-month closure which is very different."

Mr Lewis said the current situation and closure was unfortunate but 'vital for the good of the building and the history'.


He added: "AJ Capital are the first owners of this property in some time to invest the money required to bring it back to its former glory. I strongly believe that they should be commended for investing so heavily into Oxford's economy.

"The work done so far with the design team and historians is nothing short of breathtaking and the Victorian Gothic designs for the bedrooms and public space will certainly be a talking point, and something which visitors and locals alike can enjoy for years to come.

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"The plans for the hotel are such that we expect it to be a far busier and vibrant space than before, resulting in the potential for us to increase the employee head count by over 10 per cent.

"During the vigorous recruitment drive that will begin in March 2021 I would hope that many of the current staff would re-apply for positions."

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has expressed concern for staff being made redundant at a time when it will be hard to find a new job in the hospitality sector.

READ AGAIN: Oxford MP concerned for Randolph Hotel staff

Mr Jarvis, 66, a former manager of the Phoenix Cinema in Jericho, said he booked into the Randolph in the past few days so he could stay there one last time before it was revamped.


Stuart Jarvis, left

He added: "Staff who have worked there for many years are being made redundant – I don't think people will be impressed with the way the workforce is being treated.

"When there was a serious fire in 2015, the previous owners kept staff on the payroll and made no one redundant.

"I'm worried the decor will be a little bit crazy after the refurbishment, although I do want the Randolph to be a success."

A member of staff who asked not to be named said staff were being asked to attend briefings with the management regarding the redundancy process.

Read again: Parents puzzled by early years closure

He added: "It's hard to accept because when the new company took over we were promised jobs would be safe.

"It's particularly difficult for those on furlough to accept because they've not been back since lockdown."

Another member of staff said: "So we are going through a mass redundancy (75 out of 84) at the Randolph Hotel as we are closing for refurbishment.


"This is extremely unfair as the American company Graduate Hotels' other hotels who are going to close for refurb are getting retainers instead.

"Most of us have been with the hotel for years and have devoted our lives to give the best experience."

A hotel receptionist confirmed to the Oxford Mail that the Randolph was not taking bookings after October 17 and expected the hotel to be closed 'until at least May'.

In April 2015 a blaze started in the hotel kitchen, and the blame was placed on some flambéed beef which caught alight.


The fire at the Randolph Hotel in 2015

An extensive renovation programme followed.

The past five years at the hotel following the fire has not been entirely trouble-free and it was given a two-star food hygiene rating before recovering its five-star food hygiene rating.

Read again: Has the Randolph Hotel recovered after the fire

Graduate Hotels has not yet commented.

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