Hotel Hell: The heartbreaking reason why Sandy had to sell Layla’s Riverside Lodge

Hotel Hell: The heartbreaking reason why Sandy had to sell Layla’s Riverside Lodge

Sandy MacDougall, the former owner of Layla’s Riverside Inn, decided to sell the business after a serious health scare.

Shows like Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell have never really had the best track-record for keeping the hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns and lodges which appear on the show, open once the buzz around these episodes die down.

But that does not mean that it is not absolutely devastating to see the owners of these establishments crumble after years of hard work.

Unfortunately though, there are plenty of reasons why the Hotel Hell establishments, like Layla's Riverside Lodge (formerly known as the Four Seasons from the show’s second season) still have to close their doors, even though their transformations were seemingly successful.

The reason why Sandy decided to sell his lodge

Layla’s Riverside Inn seemed to be doing very well in the years after Ramsay and his Hotel Hell crew turned the establishment upside-down, and the business even maintained a 3.5 out of 5-star rating on Yelp and a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.

But unfortunately, Sandy MacDougall (the lodge’s owner) was forced to sell the property in 2022, due to his ailing health.

Sandy announced in a June 4, 2022 Facebook message (posted to the Layla’s Riverside Lodge page) that he suffered a heart attack in February.

Sandy joked that he had planned to live at the lodge until his death, but that this reality hit home just a little too soon. So he made the difficult decision to move south to “rehab [his] body and soul”.

He later added “Well this is my home I just can’t live here now”, emphasizing just how difficult it truly was for him to make the decision to sell his beloved property.

The lodge’s storied history

According to Sandy’s LinkedIn page, he opened his lodge all the way back in 2011.

And with all of the Hotel Hell updates and  the lodge’s new owners, it is fair to say that this property has become a true shape-changing chameleon over the years, as follows:

Year Description
2011 Sandy MacDougall opens the lodge and names it the Four Seasons Inn
2014 Ramsay visits the lodge and convinces Sandy to change its name to Layla’s Riverside Lodge
2022 Sandy sells the lodge and the new owners change its name to Sugar Maple Inn

What happened to Sandy’s dog – Layla?

If you tuned in to watch this episode of Hotel Hell, then you will likely know that one of the aspects that makes this episode so unique, and one of the main reasons why it has been established as such a fan-favorite through the years, is because of Layla (Sandy’s dog), who Ramsay ultimately decided the lodge should be named after, to promote the fact that it was such a pet-friendly establishment.

Unfortunately though, Layla passed away in 2021, before Sandy’s health issues started and before the idea to sell the hotel likely even entered his mind.

Sandy still has a passion for animal welfare

Sandy’s passion for animals and dogs in particular, was clear since the moment that Ramsay stepped into his pet-friendly lodge-slash-kennel.

And it seems like even though Sandy was forced to give up his beloved lodge, he has not reached the point where he has given up on his mission to help animals yet.

Sandy is now the owner of SSS Ranch SC in Conway South Carolina. This is a farm, kennel and ranch which produces a variety of organic produce like meat, poultry, eggs, and cut flowers and houses all of the English Setters that Sandy has rescued and bred in the last couple of months.

The lodge’s new name and new owners

Sandy mentioned in the last few sentences of his farewell message that loyal patrons should “stay tuned” to see the future of the lodge and even responded to one comment saying “we are locating down south.”

But since the lodge’s website and social media pages are still inactive at this point, it seems like these plans may take some time to play out.

However, the former Layla’s Riverside Lodge property has certainly seen a few updates since its new owners started calling the shots, and the lodge’s name was changed to Sugar Maple Inn.

The new owners, Natalie and Julian Dion, refer to this new project as a “dream realized” and have been taking reservations since July 2023.

It seems like this husband and wife have already started updating the lodge’s rooms and added a games room for some additional entertainment.

These changes have boded well so far, as Sugar Maple Inn has already received several excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.