The landmark Fernwood Hotel and Convention Center in the Poconos has closed.
About 60 employees received text messages this week telling them the facility Bushill was closed and informing them that they were instantly out of work.
The closure, affecting the Fernwood Hotel, on-site restaurants, game room and convention center, is part of a major remolding plan, said Jim Ertle, president of Fernwood Hotel and Convention Center.
Not affected are the snow tubing hill, golf course and timeshare villas that are owned by the Bushkill Group.
A full renovation of the facility, including the 127 hotel rooms behind the convention center, will modernize the place. There are plans for electrical improvements. The place will be configured similar to its current layout but updated.
The long-vacant original hotel next to the side parking lot will be demolished as part of the improvements.
There were plans to renovate when the Ertles acquired the hotel in December 2011, and some work was done while guests were present. But the level of work that needs to be done will be too disruptive for guests.
The work also must be financed, which Ertle says was always the plan, but in 2011 the hotel was unable to secure a loan.
Banks are now loosening up financing for the hospitality industry, Ertle said, and he expects to have financing in place to move forward with the renovation shortly.
“We’re looking to open back up in the summer,” Ertle said.
One employee, Mary Folk of Bushkill, a head server at one of the restaurants, said, “I’m furious. I don’t have a job now. This is not how you let people go.”
“A whole lot of open mouths, dropped jaws,” is how Keller described the scene at the Fernwood Hotel on Monday.
Many who received the text telling them Monday would be their last day on the job said they were told to seek employment elsewhere.
The Fernwood website does not mention it is closed, but does mention renovations happening in 2013.
Try to book a room online and a message appears: “This is an invalid or inactive offer” and offers a phone number to call for help with a reservationist.
A live person then answers and explains the hotel is closed and reservations are not being taken.