As with so many across the world, Fern Hill Hotel and Training College has been financially flattened due to the economically devastating effect of both COVID-19 and the subsequent Lockdown within South Africa. With the outbreak in South Africa starting less than 15km away from our hotel, we felt the impact overnight with people, conferences, weddings, diners, and events cancelling due to the fear of Corona Virus.We went from a bustling, busy hotel and school, to almost completely empty for the two weeks prior to forced lockdown in March.
As members of South Africa's tourism industry we have sadly received no support or financial aid/relief. Our very comprehensive insurance cover (which includes cover for the SARS virus) is not paying out our business interruption. Banks won't loan bridging finance due to the hospitality industry being too high risk and there is no financial assistance as promised by Government to small and medium enterprises within South Africa.
We have sadly had to mothball our training college until next year as we cannot expect parents to pay for a practical-based course when we aren't allowed (by law) to operate properly until level 1. We have exhausted every alternate option before asking for help from the public. We know so many have been devastated by the COVID-19 virus. As a very last resort, we turn to the public to seek help. We are allowed to open up to business travelers now, but with us being closed for 3 months, and background overheads still costing us monthly, we have nothing left. As a family run business, we do not have large cash reserves like that of a corporation. Furthermore, after an exceptionally busy start to the year, we felt confident to personally sponsor 3 students through our school (at R150k per student), which without external financial backing will no longer be possible. Every year the Fern Hill Family sponsors two to three underprivileged students through our internationally recognized and accredited college. We have done this for the last 20 years.
As with all businesses, we have set costs and overheads that don't disappear just because we are closed. Such costs are: that of set minimum threshold electricity consumption amounting to R23k per month (even with a closed down hotel and all geysers, fridges etc off and with 170 solar panels installed); security of R35k a month (sadly a big necessity in South Africa including 24 hour guards, alarm and CCTV); frustratingly we still need to pay hotel insurance, municipal rates and taxes in the region of R30k a month...the list goes on.
We are appealing to our extended Fern Hill family and fans all over the world for your support. Your financial contributions (no matter the size) will help us cover expenses that have become insurmountable after losing three months of turnover. We are desperate, and the prospect of losing our 30 year old family business and hotel school, which has been a stepping stone for young adults into the hospitality industry, is becoming more likely with every passing day. 38 employees (who feel like extended family to us and are the main breadwinners for their families) will also suffer should we not pull through.
Any funds donated will go towards covering the hotel expenses that have accumulated over the last few months, and give us the capital to re-open with the myriad new regulations being imposed on the Hospitality industry. It will also help the Training College to stay open to continue the academic year with the 2020 class next year. If surplus funding is gifted, not only will this will allow us to retain our three sponsored students, but possibly sponsor additional students in 2021.
Thank you for reading this far and for your consideration.