My wife and I arrived there around 1pm for a wedding in May. The sun was shining and the forecast for the rest of the day was good too. We gathered our bags from the car and made our way to reception to check in, hoping that a room would be ready so we could change into our finery.
The first thing we noticed was the reception area was a bit dark as if someone had forgotten to turn on the lights. The two ladies behind the desk didn’t look very relaxed either and seemed to have a lot on their minds.
Just then a guy dashed through a door from one side of the hotel, hurried across the reception area and disappeared through another door on the opposite side. That wouldn’t have been unusual in normal circumstances, but I noticed the guy was soaking wet. An alarm bell was ringing in my head.
One of the receptionists told us there had been an incident. A water pipe had burst in an upstairs area and one half of the hotel was flooded. It had only happened at 9.30am that morning so at this stage they were still just trying to get to grips with the situation.
One staff member later described how when they started opening the bedroom doors, water gushed out to meet them. He said it was like the Titanic, so they knew then, they had a significant issue to contend with.
The wedding was due to take place in the hotel at 2pm so by now, guests were arriving in their droves, and all looking for the same thing – a room to change in. The receptionists were in an impossible position but in fairness to them they kept their cool as they juggled things around. Their priority was to look after the wedding party.
They were relying on paper lists of guests and their allocated rooms but by then, they knew fifty per cent of their bedrooms were already out of action, so they had to arrange alternative accommodation in other hotels nearby. They were operating in poor light too which didn’t help.
Word of the flood was spreading and there was a realisation that rooms were scarce. Half of the hotel was out of bounds at this stage, but people needed to get dressed and the clock was ticking. Some went outside and got changed in cars and in the back of vans while a few went behind trees in the car park. Others were sent to various bathrooms.
When I was dressed, I went to leave the bathroom but discovered there was a new problem. There was no handle on the door.
I couldn’t open it, so I had to phone reception for assistance. The receptionist was surprised to hear she had another issue to deal with on top of an already heavy load. Just then, I heard my wife’s voice, so I rang her, and she let me out.
As I passed reception, I heard one of the receptionists saying, “I can’t deal with that just now, I have a man trapped in the toilet.” As I passed her, I held my arms in the air and declared I had escaped, and she laughed.
I felt sorry for the staff, but there was a lighter side too. It was like being in an episode of Fawlty Towers. For a flood to happen in a hotel on a normal day would be bad enough but for it to happen on the day of a wedding just magnified the problem. It must have been extremely stressful for the staff, but they coped very well under the circumstances.
Once the wedding ceremony got under way, I suspect most people had forgotten about the inconvenience of having to get dressed in the bushes and got on with enjoying the rest of the day.
Some of those who were transferred to alternative accommodation may have been unhappy but in fairness to the hotel staff, they did their best under difficult conditions. Speaking to some staff members the following morning, they all agreed they had never put down a day like it previously and hoped they would never have to do so again.
They said about half the bedrooms were out of commission as a result of the flood and it was unlikely they would be able to use them again before the end of the summer. Bad news for the hotel and a serious blow to their season, but hopefully they will be up and running again soon.
It may be totally unconnected, but I should mention, for those of you with a superstitious bent, that the wedding was held on Friday 13th. Probably just a coincidence.