Couple who booked Canmore hotel for wedding worried they could lose money because booking downsized

CANMORE, ALTA. — Ryan Cain and his fiancé Sarah Whitelaw have stayed at Lady Macdonald Country Inn, in Canmore multiple times.

“We found Lady Macdonald and it was an absolutely beautiful spot,” said Cain.

The couple who now lives in Kimberley, originally booked all 13 rooms for their wedding accommodations for May 2020 and put down a $1,000 deposit.

“With Ryan and I both working food and beverage there’s no expectation that we would get the thousand dollars back,” said Whitelaw.

But they also made another $3,000 payment.

“We paid money in instalments because we’re used to people in this industry having to chase down payments for functions and stuff, and then we were made to feel like it was our fault they don’t have the money to give back,” said Cain.

The couple postponed their wedding until May 2021 because of COVID-19 health restrictions. They said they asked the owner what their options were moving forward. They decided to scale back the wedding from around 26 guests to six, so they no longer needed as many rooms.

Cain said they were told by the owner in email they didn’t have money to refund them but they could carry that amount over for the revised booking.

“It was frustrating and confusing to know that they weren’t tracking the payments,” said Whitelaw. “He’s putting a lot of blame on us for things that seem unreasonable.”

Whitelaw said she also understood there wouldn’t be any discounts on the updated booking because they reduced numbers.

“They’ll give us up to $1,000 refund but then there’s still a matter of a large sum of money we’re getting no services for,” said Cain.

OWNERS RESPOND

“As this was a surprise to us today, we are digesting how the Whitelaws may want to proceed and intend on rectifying the situation as soon as possible,” said Breanne Leach and Perry Wong, owners of Lady Macdonald Country Inn in a statement to CTV.

The owners said the couple asked to make a deposit after the initial $1,000 and they verbally declined, explaining they needed the money at the time of the event.

“In August 2019, Sarah gave our on-site manager an additional $3,000 deposit unbeknownst to him,” reads the statement.

The owners said the hotel’s policy for events is the full inn must be rented for two nights. Repricing may apply if there is more than a 10 per cent deviation from the original agreement.

Last week the inn agreed to the decreased booking for the new date even though it was against the full inn booking requirement.

“The estimate for this new event is $3,000 and we agreed to refund a max of $1,000 (only because we did not want them to decrease more….We thought this would be extremely fair and we were giving concessions.”

Leach and Perry said the hospitality industry has been hit hard during COVID. The inn lost $200,000 during the first three months of the pandemic.

“We honestly thought we were doing the Whitelaws a favour to make sure we could accommodate their special day and they would have no loss of money at all.”

Cain said they have to decide what to do with their booking.

“On an emotional level we don’t really want to have our wedding there anymore. On a logical and financial level, we don’t want to lose out on what money we do have invested in it,” said Cain.

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