Luxury hotel loses five-star status after owner brags about ‘no poofs’ policy

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A luxury hotel in Scotland has been stripped of its five-star status – after the owner bragged that he had never employed gay people.

Stewart Spence MBE, the owner of five-star Aberdeen hotel the Marcliffe, was alleged to have made the comments at the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HITS) event earlier this month.

According to reports, Mr Spence, a friend of billionaire property tycoon and Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, bragged: “I’m not a poof. I have never employed a poof and I never will.”

One guest said: “Jaws dropped. Nobody could believe that such a well-known and influential figure was openly expressing such horrible, bigoted views.”

Mr Spence has attempted to walk back the comments, however this week his hotel was dealt a blow by VisitScotland.

The tourism body has delisted the Marcliffe from its website, citing rules that require Quality Assurance members to comply with the Equality Act, which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

A spokesperson said: “VisitScotland is currently looking into this matter as a priority and in the meantime, we have suspended the Marcliffe’s QA membership and the hotel’s entry on

“We have advised the hotel that their membership of QA and listing on the website is suspended until such time as we have received written evidence that they do not operate a discriminatory policy with staff and customers and that they both fully understand and meet, in full, the requirements of appropriate legislation.

“We have also advised them of training and support available through organisations such as Stonewall.”

The hotel’s five-star status may be reinstated if it is able to provide evidence that it does not operate a discriminatory policy.

VisitScotland confirmed: “Only on receipt of the written evidence requested will their QA membership and entry be reinstated.”

Mr Spence has claimed the comments were a joke and that he does not discriminate.

He said: “I made some very ill-advised comments at the dinner and I am absolutely mortified. I would like to sincerely apologise for the offence caused.

“I don’t know what I was thinking. I was hoping to raise a few laughs around the 1970s theme and while the word I used may have, regrettably, been commonplace in that generation, they were still entirely unacceptable.

“The Marcliffe is an inclusive place both for staff and customers. We welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. I really regret this and am truly sorry.”

A spokesperson for HITS said: “We strongly disagree with the homophobic views and comments expressed by one individual at the dinner.

“We would like to reassure everyone that his offensive comments were his own and in no way representative of the opinions of HITS.”

Mr Spence received an MBE in 2015 for services to the hotel industry.