‘Why I turned down £1 million to take in asylum seekers at my luxury hotel’  

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The owner of a luxury hotel in Kent has told why he rejected a government offer to house asylum seekers saying he “couldn’t think of anything more absurd”.

Richard Martin, who owns the Blazing Donkey boutique hotel near Sandwich, told GB News he was offered almost £1.1 million for a one-year contract.

The successful hotelier said he was not prepared to make most of his 50+ staff redundant and let down the community, who rely on his venue for weddings and other events.

The hotel, which is tucked away in the east Kent countryside about 12 miles from Dover, has won awards for its service and been voted one of the UK’s top glamping sites.

The owner said when he was contacted by a Home Office contractor, they promised him full occupancy for a 12 month deal worth £1,080 million.

Mr Martin told GB News: “My first thought was: “This is interesting, 100% occupancy.

“My second thought, when I realised how they were going to achieve that, was one of complete astonishment.”

The hotel employs 25 full time staff, but that number swells to more than 50 in peak season. Most of those employees would have lost their jobs, as the basic contract did not involve catering and other services provided by the hotel.

Like many people, the hotel’s director Trefor Squire, was made redundant from his previous job during Covid.

He told GB News the thought of going through all that again was unbearable. “You know, for me and some others here it would have been terrible.

“We live here, me and another couple of employees as well. This is our home. This isn’t just a job, this is my home and I see it as a home.

“And you know I’m not a young man, so it would have been terrifying.

“When you come here you can just see how unsuitable this would be for an asylum seekers’ venue entirely.

“This is used exclusively for our special events, mainly weddings, and we’ve hosted 2,500 here since we created this space.

“And so, for the asylum seekers that were intended to stay here, this has absolutely no purpose and it’s a valuable asset for the people in this local area.”

Even though he was being offered a significant sum of money, Richard Martin said he was not even tempted.

“Well, it sounds like a lot of money on its own, but our business is very well established and it wouldn’t change anything here. And of course it would only be for one hit. So absolutely out of the question.

“We’ve got clients that have weddings booked into 2025. We’ve got staff here that need looking after.

“So our responsibilities are not just to ourselves as shareholders but to our customers and of course all those staff that have worked for us over the years.”

The Home Office does not comment on individual asylum seeker hotel contracts. But the government is under enormous pressure to find a solution to the Channel migrant crisis, which has seen more than 42,000 people cross in small boats so far this year.

However, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said recently he was committed to reducing the Home Office’s reliance on hotels, which is costing around £7 million every day.

He also said those asylum seekers housed in hotels should be staying in “basic accommodation”.

No one who has visited the Blazing Donkey hotel in Kent would ever describe the accommodation there as basic.

Source: GB News

Photos: Blazing Donkey boutique hotel near Sandwich

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