A WEDDING venue which has featured on hit show the Hotel Inspector has turned into a real-life Heartbreak Hotel after its Elvis-impersonating manager and his wife fled overnight.
Rebecca and Andre Dobson were among several couples who have been left out of pocket and without a venue when the Sandygate Hotel was left deserted by David Elliott and his wife Dyan.
The hotel in Wath-upon-Dearne, near Rotherham, had featured on an episode of Channel 5 show The Hotel Inspector, and Mr Elliott is locally renowned for dressing as Elvis to serve customers.
But despite building a good reputation over the last few years, staff arrived at work last Thursday to find Mr and Mrs Elliott gone and the hotel completely gutted of fixtures and fittings.
Police are now investigating complaints made by people who had booked the venue.
Steve Payne, 40, a DJ for events at the hotel, said he had received a phone call from one of the chefs who lives near the Sandygate and had found out about the late-night flight.
He said: “I got a call at about three in the morning from the chef telling me that he was at the hotel and Dyan and David were leaving.
“They had two vans and a load of people helping them, and they were clearing the place.
“I was totally shocked, and also concerned about my DJ equipment so I called the police, who said they would send someone over.”
Mr Payne said staff were shocked and added: “The place was just gutted.
“The fridge, freezer, cooker, ovens, bottles of wine and spirits, barrels, everything was gone.
“The bookings book with receipts and details of deposits paid was also gone.
“They were leasing the property, I think they had around three years left on it, and were trying to sell the lease on.
“A note left for the staff said something along the lines of ‘Sorry we’ve had to do this to all of you’.”
Mr and Mrs Dobson, of Swinton, near Rotherham, who were left £2,000 out of pocket, had planned for two years to make up for their shoestring wedding seven years ago.
The couple, parents to 12-year-old Lee-roy and eight-year-old Skye, received the shocking phone call from Andre’s father who had been contacted by staff at the hotel who found his number in some documents.
Mrs Dobson, 31, said: “I’ve been so organised because I wanted things to be perfect.
“It was supposed to make up for our wedding which was done on such a strict budget.
“I just can’t believe it because Dyan couldn’t have been more helpful.
“She was coming up with so many ideas, so enthusiastic, and David was a brilliant chef.”
Mrs Dobson and her 33-year-old husband, have managed to secure a last-minute booking at a nearby venue, which has agreed to let them pay by monthly instalments.
After the incident, a security team from the hotel’s brewery chain owner were sent in to check the venue.
The company, nationwide brewery chain Trust Inns, confirmed that the pub has now been re-opened under new landlord Glyn Atmore.
“The Elliotts have disappeared and we have no idea where they are.
“Everything inside the hotel was their responsibility as it was run as their business,” a spokesman for Trust Inns said.
Mr Atmore has attempted to compensate disappointed couples by offering them discounted rates to re-book their functions at the venue.
It is understood that around 50 couples planning to hold their wedding receptions at the pub were affected by the Elliotts’ disappearance and faced a stressful last-minute search for an alternative venue.
But publican Mr Atmore has stepped in to reassure customers that he will match any price they have been offered elsewhere for their events and will charge them only minimal deposits.
A spokesman from South Yorkshire Police said yesterday: “We are aware of complaints and are in the early stages of an investigation.”