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Check In. Stop the spread. As part of Test and Protect, the Scottish Government has developed a new voluntary service to support hospitality venues to safely and securely collect visitor contact details digitally. Check In Scotland is fast, free and fully integrated with NHS Scotland’s contact tracing service. The service helps hospitality businesses collect and manage customer contact details, helping to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Stopping the spread starts with all of us. Register now. #WeAreScotland






There is lots more too.






e’re back to business. If all the estimates are correct we are in for a bumper summer. What better opportunity, with a captive audience, to present Scottish hospitality in its best light. So here’s hoping you can all maximise the opportunity. I recently caught up with James Thomson. He is one man who knows the craft of hospitality although he does prefer to call himself a restaurateur rather than a hotelier. I just think he is an extraordinary man. He certainly had plenty to talk about. See our main interview on page 18. There is also plenty of news and we have also launched our new updated website This will carry daily news on what is happening in Scotland’s hotel industry. In this issue, we also feature The Redhurst Hotel which has just revealed its new look and we take a look at the newly refurbished Marine Hotel in Troon. Nicholas Russell also unveils a solution to running safer weddings. He has put his idea to the Scottish Government. See page 16 to find out more.






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Susan Young Editor HOTELSCOTLAND Published by Media World limited t: 01560 600585 e: w:

Editor: Susan Young Editorial: Nicola Young Advertising: Nikki Oji, Sylvia Forsyth, Bernard Hughes Admin: Rebecca Orr @hotel_scotland

Subscriptions: HOTEL SCOTLAND is available by subscription at the rate of £52 per annum. The publishers, authors and printers cannot accept liability for errors or omissions. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the copyright holder and publisher, application for which should be made to the publisher. Articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. © Media World Limited 2021. Printed by Stephens & George Print Group.


First MD for Cyclas Hospitality

Cycas Hospitality, which owns Hotel Indigo Dundee and its onsite restaurant Daisy Tasker, has doubled its business in the last two years across five European countries. The business aims to double the portfolio again over the next two years. As a result of this growth Cucas has recruited its first Managing Director, Apurva Pratap. Pratap joins Cycas from The Student Hotel in Amsterdam where, as Chief Customer Officer he was responsible for increasing direct business share by 50% and boosted guest satisfaction levels across its properties.

Yotel opens in Glasgow


OTEL Glasgow is now open in Glasgow. This marks the brand’s second Scottish opening and its seventeenth city-centre hotel The hotel has 257 modern cabins (YOTEL speak for bedrooms) ready to book and offers guests a smart space on Argyle Street opposite Glasgow’s Central Station. It has a minimalistic design. Each cabin, in the latest signature YOTEL design, is equipped with features including the space-saving adjustable SmartBed™ with gel cooled mattresses, refreshing rain showers, Smart TVs and free super-fast WiFi

to encourage guests to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The hotel has a range of cabin types from Premium Queen and Triple to First Class and the VIP suite, offering impressive views over the iconic Glasgow Central Station frontage. The hotel will also be home to a bar called VEGA, four lane bowling alley and event space which will open in June. It will take over the . seventh floor with space for 282 guests. At night it will feature DJs but during the daytime, the unapologetically bright and bold space will lend itself well to co-working, casual meetings and private hire events.

Sweet Partnership as Eden Locke adds hive Scottish sustainable honey company Webster Honey has positioned several colonies of beehives at its first hotel hive site in Edinburgh, with Eden Locke in George Street agreeing to put four hives on its roof. Last year, in what was its very first deal with a hotel in Scotland, Webster Honey tied up with Monachlye Mhor Hotel in Balquidder. Webster Honey offers all sorts of organisations, from schools and nurseries, to businesses, the opportunity to look after its hives for a year or longer, supplying them with the honey from their hives when it is harvested, which they can then sell, or in the case of businesses with a food offering, such as hotels, use in dishes they serve, and at breakfast time. Webster Honey is currently looking at bespoke labelling for hotels that want to sell their own branded luxury range of products to guests. Commenting on the deal at Eden Locke, Daniel Webster, Managing Director of Webster Honey, said:, “We are delighted to secure our first hotel in Edinburgh. Locke is a fantastic brand to work with, with an excellent food provenance at its heart 4 • HOTELSCOTLAND

which I’m confident our honey will enhance. Hives can be sited anywhere, you don’t have to be out in the country to have bees, as we already have a hive on a roof at a nursery in Edinburgh. Roofs are a great and very safe place in which to put a hive and these ones will enjoy a spectacular view of Edinburgh, not that the bees will notice, they will be far too busy, but it will certainly be nice for Meik, our beekeeper!” “Let’s hope for another Summer of fine weather as last year our bees did really well with the warm Spring and less pollution due to lockdown.” Jamie Mackie, General Manager at Eden Locke, said: “It’s been so exciting to have the four hives positioned today and filled with over 20,000 bees. We are thrilled to partner with Webster Honey and provide a safe new home for bees at Eden Locke, where they can thrive. We’ve no doubt that our guests will enjoy sampling some homemade honey, while learning about the important role bees play in our environment – and if they’re lucky, even catch Meik for a chat!”



£21m boost for Rogue City Hotel Group Rogue City Hotel Group, the group which owns and operates Dunalastair Hotel Suites, has secured £21m in funding by Tikehau Capital, the global alternative asset management group. The funding is aimed at the continued construction on its two new sites in Glasgow and Cambridge. The Glasgow site, The Wellington, is a former Tribunal Court listed building, which will be restored into a 98-bedroom boutique hotel and meeting space and is expected to open in summer 2022. Nassar Khalil, founder & CEO of Rogue City Hotel Group and Leisure & hotel director of Henley Homes Group commented: “It has been a pleasure working with Tikehau Capital on this transaction over a sevenweek seamless closing process, which shows confidence in our concept, in one of the most challenging times for the hospitality industry.” The group has major plans to expand exponentially over the next five years with another site lined up in Perth, Scotland.

Research just published by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), does not support recent speculation that tourism in Scotland is set for a boom this summer. The STA conducted research, predominantly with hospitality businesses following the easing of some restrictions on 26th April and also collated the results of research undertaken by a number of member sectoral groups within the industry, totalling 980 responses. The STA surveyed 271 businesses directly and found that 30% took the decision to remain closed from the 26th April; of those, 31% have said that they did not plan to open on 17th May when restrictions will ease further. The organisation’s research highlighted an extremely slow start to accommodation bookings; between 41 – 45% of accommodation providers who responded indicated that over the course of May, June and July, occupancy is sitting at below 20%. While 62% of rural hotels have less than 50% occupancy for May and just 26% of rural hotels have indicated that they will have 60%+ occupancy for May. The picture is almost identical for June and for July, 54% of rural hotels indicate that their occupancy will be lower than 50%; just 30% have said they expect occupancy of 60%+. Predicated occupancy levels in the cities is worryingly low with 94% of hotels in cities reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in May, 98% of hotels in cities are reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in June and 87% of city hotels are reporting occupancy levels of below 50% in July. This is also reflected in the recent STR data which shows forward occupancy levels for Glasgow hotels sitting at just 14% for May and June, dropping to 13% in July and rising slightly to 15% in August. The picture is similar in Edinburgh with May occupancy at 19%, June 20%, July 19% rising to just 22% in August.

SEVEN NEW LODGES FOR CORNHILL CASTLE Cornhill Castle in Biggar has announced it will be launching seven lodges on the grounds of the hotel in June. The lodges, which are currently under construction, will add a luxurious and versatile staycation offering to the Manorview portfolio as well as giving the hotel additional capacity for wedding parties looking to have more guests staying on site. Set beside the banks of the River Clyde, each lodge will be designed in a chic heritage style to mirror the look and feel of the castle rooms and will feature chesterfield sofas, stag head chandeliers and luxurious fixtures and finishes throughout. Each lodge will sleep up to 4 and will include king size or twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms, large living spaces for relaxing which can also double as an additional bedroom, open plan kitchens and private

decking areas with hot tubs and panoramic views of the Scottish countryside. Commenting on the new development at Cornhill Castle, Carlton Graham, Operations Director at Manorview Hotels said, “As the staycation market sets to boom for Summer 2021 we are delighted to be able to launch our new luxury lodges. We have been planning the development for some time and we are confident now is the perfect time to add to our offering at Cornhill. The hotel has previously been traditionally used as a wedding venue but we are anticipating a big demand from the short break market. “By increasing our capacity for overnight accommodation on site we can also increase residential guests numbers for weddings as well as offer flexible room options for events and small celebrations.” HOTELSCOTLAND • 5




eon Thompson is the newly appointed Executive Director of UKHospitality Scotland. He succeeds Willie Macleod, who is retiring from the role after 10 years championing Scottish hospitality businesses, as Scotland’s Executive Director for BHA and then its successor. Thompson, a highly regarded and influential senior political communications specialist, joins UKHospitality from VisitScotland. He has been instrumental in positioning the body as one of Scotland’s premier tourism and hospitality advocates. UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said, “I am delighted to welcome Leon to UKHospitality. He knows the sector inside out and has done brilliant work in positioning Scotland as a world-class tourist destination. I know he will be unstinting in his efforts to ensure we remain the number one

advocate of hospitality in Scotland. “I would also like to thank Willie for his years of dedication to an industry he first worked in as a teenager. Willie is much-loved in the hospitality community and brought a welcome sense of continuity during UKHospitality’s first few years. His hard work has ensured that valuable hospitality businesses in Scottish communities have had a voice at the highest levels of Government.” Leon Thompson said: “I am very much looking forward to joining UKHospitality, spearheading its work in Scotland and building upon Willie’s success. From my work at VisitScotland, I know that this sector is an immensely diverse and exciting one. I am looking forward to meeting UKH’s members and fighting to ensure the Governments in Holyrood and Westminster, and local authorities across Scotland work with us to get the best out of our businesses.”

£1.3M INVESTMENT IN BALLACHULISH HOTEL Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels has invested £1.3m into the Ballachulish Hotel, in Glencoe. The cash injection during its closure has resulted in extensive refurbishment of the 53 bedrooms and facilities of the hotel including restaurants, to ensure guests can enjoy a memorable break in the Highlands. Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff 6 • HOTELSCOTLAND

Hydro Family of Hotels, added:,“By investing in our Ballachulish Hotel, we have ensured our guests can have the best experience possible beginning with a warm Scottish welcome. “We are committed to investing, not only in our portfolio but also in Scottish tourism as it begins to rebuild, and we look forward to opening our doors in the coming weeks.”

Stephen Carter OBE takes Chairman role at EHM

Stephen Carter OBE has taken on the role of Chairman of the recently formed specialist management company, Effective Hospitality Management. Carter, who has has held senior roles at some of Scotland’s best known and most prestigious Hotels including The Fairmont and The Old Course in St Andrews; Cameron House, Loch Lomond and The Caledonian in Edinburgh, will work closely with EHM Directors, Kevin Keenan, John Shevlin and Simon O’Donnell. Stephen Carter OBE comments, “I am delighted to be joining Kevin, John and Simon on their journey as they bring to bear their experience to assist hospitality businesses throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK. As a team we have a great deal of experience when it comes to managing business through tough times and we look forward to helping owners steer a clear path out of this pandemic”. John Rawcliffe, former IT Director for Macdonald Hotels has also joined as a Non Executive Director. .




he Balmoral, Edinburgh, is set to appear in a new Channel 5 documentary series, featuring never-before-seen access to one of the most iconic hotels in the world as staff deliver 24/7 luxury. The four-part series, which premieres on Friday 21st May at 7pm, follows the team at The Balmoral throughout 2020 as they navigate through the challenges and triumphs of a truly extraordinary year. The first episode commences with a flurry of activity, including hosting some mighty sporting rivals, with the entire French national rugby team and its 100-strong entourage. Throughout the series the team prepare for VIP arrivals, travel across glens and dales in search of the finest products and celebrate world recognised achievements in one of the most challenging years in the hotel’s history. We meet many characters from the kitchens

to concierge and see visits from Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman of owner Rocco Forte Hotels, and his sister Olga Polizzi, Director of Design at Rocco Forte Hotels as they support the team throughout some exciting projects. Richard Cooke, General Manager of The Balmoral, said, “Over the past year we welcomed a film crew into the hotel to capture a year in the life of The Balmoral. Along with the hospitality industry throughout the world, we could never have imagined what was ahead. “For me, this documentary is about the people who give The Balmoral personality - our guests, the many suppliers who work with us and our incredible team, the custodians of our beautiful property. I’m truly delighted to see their genuine character shine through each episode, demonstrating their love for hospitality and world-class service.” Inside The Balmoral: Scotland’s Finest Hotel, airs on Friday 21st May at 7pm on Channel 5.”

PLANS FOR THE OLD COURSE HOTEL UNVEILED The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews is undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment project ahead of hosting the The Open in 2022. It will include a new penthouse suite overlooking West Sands Beach and the golf course, 31 new bedrooms, destination restaurant and bar, and upgraded wedding and events space. The addition of 31 rooms will mean the hotel will grow to 175 rooms. The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa currently has six restaurants and bars and will add to this i with the launch of a new 80-cover restaurant and bar. The hotel and all facilities reopened at the

end of April and remain open during the final stages of the refurbishment. Helen McBride, general manager, Old Course Hotel, Golf & Spa, commented on the renovations: “After an incredibly challenging year for hospitality, we are excited to unveil our multi-million refurbishment plans that are currently underway at the Old Course Hotel. “The new restaurant and bar will be a particularly exciting offering, which will truly add to St Andrews’ culinary scene. These renovations have enabled Old Course Hotel to adapt to ever-changing customer demands and competitive landscapes, which has become increasingly important over the past year.”.

NATIVE HOST USE PENTHOUSE FOR POP-UP WITH THE GATE Aparthotel group Native is set to host a pop-up Penthouse-party next month with special guests, The Gate. After seeing The Gate’s April fools post about their spoof roof terrace with pulleys and a hard hat, Native Glasgow reached out to the Gate team to curate this exciting collaboration and support local business. The Gate’s bartenders will shake up an exclusive menu as part of four-day residency in three of Native’s private penthouse apartments in a first for the hotel. The Gate team will bring their famous hospitality and service to Native Glasgow, and run from 12pm until 10pm over the four days with the Penthouse location providing guests with a fabulous skyline view overlooking George Square,. Gary White General Manager of Native Glasgow said, “We’re really excited to host our first Penthouseparty with The Gate team and we’re sure that our guests will love it. Their famous hospitality combined with our view of the city is going to make for one exciting event!” Ally Shaw, general manager of The Gate said, “There isn’t a more ideal destination than Native to host a roof terrace pop-up. The setting is unreal and the drinks are going to be banging!” The Gate x Native Penthouse Pop-Up will take place on Thursday, 13th May until Sunday, 16th May .



Arran Brewery put Loch Earn hotel out to offers Loch Earn Brewery Hotel has been put on the market by its owners, Arran Brewery. The 38 bedroom hotel in St Fillan’s, Crieff is being marketed by Christie & Company at offers over £775,000. The hotel so features 10 moorings, 3 bars and restaurants that have a capacity of around 200, as well as owners accommodation and a Loch side beer garden and car park.

Ballathie House, above, in Kinclave, Perth is on the market for £4,500,000 This castle style hotel and estate of around 235 acres, has 53 bedroom and private fishing rights on the River Tay. The restaurant boasts 2 AA Rosettes and the business is run by a General Manager with a full compliment of staff. The Royal Hotel in Campbeltown has a price tag of £2.750,000. It overlooks the harbour and has recently undergone a £5m refurbishment. The sale of the 4 star, 23 room hotel includes the Black Sheep Pub. The Merkister Hotel, situated overlooking Loch Harray on the West Mainland of Orkney, is on the market for £1,650,000. There are 16 letting rooms and a restaurant that is for both hotel guests and other visitors.

The brewery as mentioned below has the capacity to produce 3,500 litres per day with the cider shack having the capability of producing 1,000 litres per batch. The property, including the owner’s accommodation and the letting rooms, requires refurbishment and improvements and the cost of potential upgrades has been reported at around £1.5m

Buyer sought for Kilcamb Lodge Kilcamb Lodge Hotel, a former shooting lodge overlooking Loch Sunart, is up for sale at £1,500,000. This award-winning, four-star and three star rosette rating luxury hotel has 11 en suite rooms, a bistro and lounge and it includes development land. The hotel is on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and is near the A82 and the popular tourist routes to the North West Highlands and the Islands. It was voted Best Small UK Country House Hotel in 2019 by Best Loved Hotels with a high profit turnover and over the last 18 years has attracted a variety of high profile guests. The policies surrounding Kilcamb Lodge extend to about 17.80 acres in total. This includes 5.48 acres of gardens and meadow leading down to the shore. There is also 11.63 acres of attractive mixed mature native woodland. The former Victorian bathing House provides a

development opportunity with plans prepared for a luxury suite. There is also expired consent for an extension to the hotel together with three self-catered units within the woodland. Kilcamb Lodge includes 415 metres of foreshore to Loch Sunart.

KYLESKU HOTEL FIRST ADDITION TO HIGHLAND COAST HOTELS COLLECTION A newly-formed Scottish Highlands-based hotel company Highland Coast Hotels has acquired the Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland. It’s the first purchase for the company which is led by Chief Executive Roddy Watt,. The new company plans to purchase more hotels along the North Coast 500 route, building a group of independent, environmentally-friendly hotels. It also aims to help boost regional growth, and support local communities and suppliers. As the first step in the delivery of its strategy, Highland Coast Hotels is the acquisition of the awardwinning Kylesku Hotel and Restaurant, overlooking the Loch Gleann Dubh. The hotel will be open 24/7 throughout the year, will retain its name and become part of The Highland Coast Hotels Collection. Chief Executive, Roddy Watt comments, “Our aim is to provide the finest hospitality experiences for those visiting the North Coast 500 and to become the leading group of independent-spirited hotels 8 • HOTELSCOTLAND

on the route, for those wishing to enjoy the finest, most comfortable and authentic experience in this spectacular landscape. “We aim to support sustainable economic growth in local Highland communities, extending the traditional season and creating year-round employment. This will offer wider choices for tourists and other visitors to the region”. Tanja Lister, co-owner of Kylesku Hotel, commented: “We are so pleased to be handing on the baton at Kylesku, and that our much-loved hotel is to become the first member of The Highland Coast Hotels Collection.The new Group’s forward-thinking culture, and its focus on world-class hospitality and environmental sustainability has the potential to deliver so much for our local communities and the region. We could not be happier to be passing on our legacy to such a professional and culturally aligned group, and all of our team are looking forward hugely to expanding their horizons and building on the success we’ve enjoyed over the last decade of our stewardship of Kylesku Hotel.”


For more information on how best to approach post pandemic procurement in your business, contact www.


pring has sprung and the hospitality sector is gradually emerging from its enforced cocooning. Signs from the scientific community are hopeful that lockdowns will not be required again and I am sure the majority of cogent thinking individuals will maintain a collective fingers crossed mentality for some time to come on that front. We can only hope for a cessation of the seemingly endless media loop of picking over the pandemic entrails to be replaced with a new upward trajectory of optimism for our businesses and communities. So much has changed but the essentials of running your business remain the same as before and the principles of Procurement – right quantity, right quality, right place, right time and right price, remain reassuringly constant. However, that doesn’t mean everything around those tenets has to remain the same. Now is the time to breathe new energy into your supply chains, reinvigorate and reimagine your supplier relationships to draw on the concept of ‘building back better’. It would be easy to convert that phrase into a cliché but it is important to consider the sentiment behind it and find ways to improve all aspects of your business in Procurement and beyond. Start with a review of your supplier spend for a period of time that you believe best represents your normal level of trading – the optimistic viewpoint has to be that those days will return. Many of your suppliers will have been incredibly supportive throughout the past year and this is important to consider. However, business is business and all suppliers are alive to this fact and will appreciate that you are rebuilding the foundations of your business which will ultimately help them in the long term. They are in the same boat and a nuanced deployment of soft

skills all round will enable parties to reach a new understanding with existing or new suppliers to your business. These soft skills relate to behavioural and emotional intelligence, communication abilities in both written and oral form and relationship management. Soft skills will help fast-track connections between suppliers and your own internal stakeholders. Always aim to strike a balance with soft skills and the more traditional, solid, procurement skills to better understand a situation from an emotional and behavioural perspective – then adapt your style accordingly. When approaching matters authentically and full of integrity – i.e. with a sense of wholeness – you will find that your objectives generally fall into place with a supplier who best fits your business. When you have scrutinised your supplier spend in terms of spend versus risk to identify the potential for consolidation and minimisation of off-contract purchases, commence the tendering or benchmarking process to shape your supply chain and simultaneously create operational efficiencies. It’s always alluring to look at the high value spend but equally important is to look at high frequency, low value tail spend, with a mindset to consolidate and challenge why purchases in this category have not been contained within the higher value supplied spends. Opportunities will always exist to make savings through negotiation, altered specifications – with a focus on continuous improvement when any changes are considered – or through a more sustainable approach to delivering the desired cost and quality outcomes from your procurement decisions. Combining solid and soft skills in the fragility of the coming months will help set you for success in this new and hopefully exciting, post pandemic era. HOTELSCOTLAND • 9


Irish distillery Boatyard has launched a new batch of its Old Tom Gin, which is now available in the UK via Speciality Brands. Boatyard was the first gin distillery in Ireland to make an Old Tom gin. The new interpretation of the traditional style uses a flavoursome method of resting the gin in first-fill Pedro Ximénez casks and a small quantity of PX Sherry is also added. Made in small batches, Boatyard Old Tom uses organic wheat spirit and is distilled with eight botanicals including wild sweet gale from the family farm, juniper, coriander, liquorice, citrus and angelica. Joe McGirr, Founder Boatyard Gin commented: “Old Tom is a style growing in popularity and we see a lot of potential to reach gin aficionados. Old Tom Gin has a 41% ABV and RRP: £36.75.

Glenmorangie creates Single Malt Whisky “Made to Mix” Glenmorangie has released a new single malt Scotch whisky specially made for mixing. Crafted with top bartenders, X by Glenmorangie’s sweeter, richer taste is perfect for tall, simple serves, which promise to refresh the way single malt whisky is enjoyed. Glenmorangie’s whisky creators are endlessly imaginative in their quest to dream up delicious whiskies. They make their more delicate, fruity spirit in Scotland’s tallest stills, and age it in the world’s finest casks. Inspired by the flavour possibilities their whisky can bring when mixed, they consulted with a range of top global bartenders, to craft X by Glenmorangie. Created from a combination of whisky aged in bourbon casks, and some finished in new char oak casks, its sweet and rich taste both complements and cuts through all manner of mixers,. Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie’s Director of Whisky Creation, said:, “X by Glenmorangie came from our dream of creating even more flavour possibilities, with a single malt that’s made to mix. Consulting with top bartenders, we crafted this sweeter, richer single malt. 10 • HOTELSCOTLAND

NEW BOTTLE FOR NO 3 LONDON DRY GIN No.3 London Dry Gin is now available in a brand new 500ml bottle in the UK. The new bottle carries with it all the stylish, refreshed composition of the recently updated hexagonal 700ml bottle design. Berry Bros & Rudd Brands has decided to release the 500ml bottle to meet consumer demand for a slightly smaller sibling Available from wholesalers in the UK, the 500ml bottle keeps to the same shape designed by Stranger & Stranger. The hexagonal bottle shape reflects each of the six botanicals in the No.3 recipe, and the turquoise colour signifies the refreshing taste delivered by the perfect balance of juniper, citrus and spice. The name and iconic key remain front and centre, proudly reflective of Berry Bros. & Rudd, the brand creator’s home at No.3 St James’s Street for over 320 years. .



A greatly-aged and ultra-rare single malt has been released to honour the man described by whisky legend Charlie MacLean as the ‘father of single malt’. Just 355 bottles are available of the Gordon & MacPhail Mr George Legacy 1953 from Glen Grant Distillery, the first edition of a single-cask release planned each year. The 67-year-old whisky was laid down on instruction of Mr George Urquhart, or ‘Mr George’, as he was fondly known by those who knew him best. Mr George was a member of the second generation of the family that owns Gordon & MacPhail and the release marks the culmination of the company’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Charles Maclean, whisky expert noted:, “This is a remarkable whisky. It is full of the complexity that long maturation can bring, yet it remains astonishingly vivacious. Frankly, as good as it gets!” .

Pinkster has launched Pinkster Spritz, a lower-abv spirit drink. Bottled at 24%, Pinkster Spritz is made with ginsoaked raspberries left over from producing Pinkster and is initially available in two flavours, Raspberry and Hibiscus, Elderflower and Raspberry Stephen Marsh, Pinkster’s Managing Director said, “Drum roll please for Pinkster Spritz, a mainstream alternative for spritz drinkers with discerning taste buds, looking for a naturally delicious light aperitif. “With more and more people trying to lead healthier lifestyles and cutting back on alcohol, all consumer insight indicates that lower-abv and lower-calorie drinks are totally on trend.”

RED DOOR GIN RELEASES LIMITED EDITION FOR SUMMER Only 6,000 bottles of a limited-edition Red Door Highland Gin with Summer Botanicals (£29.99/70cl, 45% ABV) have been released for sale. The gin, carefully crafted behind the distillery’s iconic red door in the small copper pot still, affectionately called ‘Peggy’, is available at Red Door Highland Gin with Summer Botanicals combines bright aromatic bergamot with the fresh citrus bite of bitter orange, balanced by delicate floral notes of rose petals and raspberries to deliver a delicious soft fruity finish. David Thomson, Brand Manager, Red Door Gin, said, “As the days start to get brighter and warmer, it’s the perfect time to start experimenting with new flavours and refresh the summer drinks cabinet. This special edition gin is refreshing and fruity making it ideal for al fresco entertaining or as a base for summery cocktails. “As a small, handcrafted gin distillery we love to experiment with flavour combinations and create special editions that capture the season perfectly. With only 6,000 bottles available, we expect this gin to be hugely popular over the summer period.” .



GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE “Is using eco-friendly cleaning fluids as good as installing solar and is that better than locally sourcing food. What about using suppliers that are eco-friendly? And what, exactly is eco-friendly? Recycling anyone? ”


ith Cop26 coming to Scotland this year and Climate Change likely to dominate the headlines in the months ahead the investment in protecting our climate will continue to grow apace. But do we all understand what climate change actually means? What is ‘it’ and what causes ‘it’. I have long held the view that climate change is the wrong word - it just encapsulates so many different things that it makes it hard for people to get their heads around it. And if they can’t understand it and how it fits together then changing behaviour is just that little bit more difficult. And it is behaviour change that we need. More recently I was helping to judge some hospitality sustainability awards and again, it felt like that was a ‘catch-all’ word that was very hard to judge. For example is using eco-friendly cleaning fluids as good as installing solar and is that better than locally sourcing food. What about using suppliers that are eco-friendly? And what, exactly is eco-friendly? Recycling anyone? I started trying to understand climate change around 3 or 4 years ago when we were looking at doing a brief video project with Glasgow University. The idea was how to explain it in 3 minutes. To explain Climate Change. It was impossible. This eventually evolved into a game as a pilot in schools that first Glasgow City Council helped and supported and then Highland Council got involved with too. It was a pilot app that encouraged primary school children to take action in every day life within the concept of a climate challenge game - the idea that small things done together can make all the difference. The epic win as we called it. But what it meant was that we had to make it meanginful. So found a way to calculate the carbon cost (and energy cost) of things

like recycling a can of coke, walking to school, turning down the heating 1 degree or the washing machine to 30 degrees, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, eating one less burger, composting the food waste or buying from a local producer. Each of these things touches on a different aspect of climate change. For example even within recycling and reuse you have plastic, aluminium (the coke cans) and then with food consumption you also have soil erosion (a huge issue) and then beef, that touches on a few areas of climate change or sustainability or being eco-friendly. Yet, each specific area covers a different part of someones every day life. Did you know that one of the biggest thing you can do that can impact carbon saving is to eat one less burger? And no, it has nothing to with the methane. It worked really well with the pilot group of kids saving enough energy over a 4 week game to heat a street. We had built it into a gamified learning experience but sadly, at the time, we couldn’t raise funding to keep rolling out the project but it proved that measurement mattered to behaviour change (and improved learning) as well as having a meaningful impact on carbon use. Three or four years later, I am still amazed at how little education there is around all of the issues we need to deal with and how each one effects us and why each one, even in itself, is so important. Do people really understand what carbon cost means or carbon saving and do they really understand why it matters? I think some businesses do but I don’t think consumers really connect it all together and I can’t blame them. It really isn’t that simple. We can understand not wasting things and recycling carbon and plastic but do we understand why? I really don’t think you can change behaviour without understanding and there is a large gap in that understanding. For hoteliers and other hospitality, how then should things be communicated - which aspects HOTELSCOTLAND • 13


“I can’t help feeling we were sold the tip of the iceberg. There are big structural changes, including in how we think and communicate, that need to occur and drinking out a glass bottle from a straw is miles away from dealing with the problem. ”


are the most important and might have the most impact. My guess is cleaning and linen. But I am not sure how marketable ‘clean, green, sheets’ is going to be as a booking driver. And how easily are the different aspects measured? How are hoteliers supposed to know what to tackle first? For example, obviously there might be an issue around solar but the impact this will have on carbon saving in relation to other things that could be done will vary from hotel to hotel and group to group. For example, travel is obviously a carbon cost so how many visitors are travelling long distances? How much of the menu is beef, how much is refrigerated and how much is transported in refrigerated lorries (for what distance?) And how much is flown in from Spain, New Zealand ? How many rooms - what type of linen? It isn’t just about saving energy ‘in situ’ it is about all the energy used to create all the things we consume or that are made with energy to enable us to consume them (how was the table made?). I was looking back at a previous article on this subject from a couple of years ago and noticed this paragraph “Initiatives that help keep businesses as carbon-neutral as possible (removing CO2 emission or compensating for them) that has included moves to remove plastic straws in drinks, replacing plastic bottles with glass, and having lights switch off automatically when guests leave rooms and reducing heating in rooms not being utilised.” While it’s great that this was done, sometimes I can’t help feeling we were sold the tip of the iceberg. There are big structural changes, including in how we think and communicate, that need to occur and drinking out a glass bottle from a straw is miles away from dealing with the problem.

When we were doing the climate game we had devised a number of tables that were able to measure activity and consumption with a carbon cost - right down to individual units so that the children could count their savings - it was the only way to motivate and to make it real and understandable. This carbon cost was also an energy cost that could then be translated, easily, into a real money cost. We need just one metric or one standard that everyone understands and everyone can use. This article was triggered by something I saw on packaging last week. Oatly now include a carbon cost on their packaging. What did that litre of oat milk cost in terms of Carbon? I loved it. This is the only measure that we need - it should be a standard measure that equalises the carbon and climate debate and one that can help us all focus on the bigger and most impactful areas for each business and each business sector - each one will have unique considerations. I hope Oatly’s challenge to all food manufactures is taken up and then that all manufactures carry the carbon cost per unit because this, like travel, can be the Michelin star of products and services which can then be a real value brand enhancer to roll out in consumer marketing. It could also help hotels be measured in the same way - an overall carbon cost saving regardless of the tactic to achieve it. Some hotels will have a higher carbon cost in one area and others will, as a proportion of cost, have them in another area. Why should one matter more than the other. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we understand carbon cost and the wider climate issues. The good news is that I know just the app that can help!




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A BETTER, SAFER WAY TO RUN A WEDDING BY NICHOLAS RUSSELL, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF BALBIRNIE HOUSE The existing Scottish Government guidelines allow for someone who has Covid (but does not know they have Covid), to attend a wedding. It is a risk therefore to everyone, fellow wedding guests and hospitality workers alike. If common sense prevails wedding venues could deliver Covid-free weddings. Nicholas Russell has presented his solution to the Scottish Government and is awaiting their response. This is what he has to say.


s things stand now, Scotland’s government has issued updated guidelines, which seemingly paves the way for citizens who may not know they have Covid, to attend weddings. Thereby placing fellow guests and hospitality workers at risk. Guidelines currently allow 50 wedding guests, rising to 100 guests on 7th June. Face coverings are required, social distancing is to be in place, alcohol is permitted, as is live music without dancing. This is, to say the very least, going to be a challenging set of circumstances. We can now prove that there is a better, safer way in which to proceed. We therefore call simply, for logic. What we outline below can similarly be applied very quickly across the span of hospitality. Eleven thousand people went clubbing in Liverpool last week, without any social distancing, but we still can’t have dancing at weddings? There is a solution. We now have over 300 future weddings booked at Balbirnie House. It is likely that England will have removed all social distancing restrictions on 21st June but we don’t have a date for this in Scotland. In the meantime, what about all the weddings taking place between now, and when Scotland’s government issues ‘guidance’ and a date for the removal of social distancing. From all ongoing discussions with our many clients, nobody wants to have wedding pictures showing everyone with face coverings. They want to to dance. Simply put, weddings wish to revert back to normality, with all love and celebration with nearest and dearest ... that is the love, humanity and tradition of weddings and celebrations. Over recent days our main twitter feed has been contemplating Balbirnie House pro-actively creating a temporary Covid ‘safety system’, which would enable us to fully re-open for weddings without social distancing requirements. NB Optional and 16 • HOTELSCOTLAND

only for wedding clients who wish to do so. The header tweet has now been contemplated by over 22,500 people, and there are currently no valid reasons stated whatsoever, as to why we should not proceed. The proposed system is based on Liverpool’s trials last week which appears to have been a success. This was made possible by everyone confirming negative Covid test results. Balbirnie House would propose to go one step further, by also investing in a wedding Trusted Trace App. But we could only do this, if all relevant wedding guests were in agreement to all working together to ensure everything is 100% intact. (If a wedding wishes NOT to go ahead with what we propose, and to proceed as per the existing Government guidelines in relation to social distancing, face coverings, no dancing etc, then stating the obvious we can do that). We have the team in place, the infrastructure and capabilities to deliver what we propose. There is now a service to order free packs of rapid lateral flow tests to be sent to your home. In addition, there are now Community testing sites available across Fife, providing quick and easy access to testing. Current Scotland government guidance for weddings is split into SHOULD and MUST. The MUST legal requirements include: ‘Guests MUST wear face coverings (inside) other than when eating and drinking’ - an interpretation of that is if you have a glass in your hand, you are drinking. The other MUST is in relation to closure timings at the end of the special day, straightforward ... Everything else, is stated as guidance all of it. We need to respect the rule of law, but we can certainly choose to reinterpret how we can proceed with the

combination of hospitality and guidance, if we can deliver a new system that renders the guidance as obsolete. Our thinking is, that as we can deliver this ‘system’, our Risk Assessments can then also incorporate the logic of our hotel brigade taking eg twice weekly Covid tests, and on that basis, we immediately then revert back to normality for weddings. If everything and everyone is Covidfree, and App records are flawless, we would be happy to accept that all other forms of guidance can be logically reinterpreted back to a return to normality. And perhaps even more importantly, in creating the proposed system we can see no valid reason as to how or why any representative of any authority should wish us not to proceed, let alone having any law in place to prevent us from proceeding. The same testing requirements and App process would similarly be required for anyone visiting the hotel to provide services in association with the special day. Our ability to provide the backdrop for any wedding, is of course fully dependent on anything that becomes a new legal requirement in Scotland. What are your thoughts? If you have your wedding booked, would you be happy for all guests to proceed with this? Many people are nervous about everything that has happened, would this ‘safety system’ give confidence in attending weddings? Let’s go a stage further. The most heartbreaking thing we are seeing today, is incoming enquiries one after another about making bookings for example, for Golden Weddings. So if we created the above ‘system’ for weddings, we can also create it for Golden Weddings. Any feedback most appreciated, Nicholas Russell MD Balbirnie House




ver 500 industry professionals from around the country attended the HIT Industry Dinner, in 2019.The dinner, one of the charity’s biggest fundraisers, generated over £69,000 on the night for the HIT Scotland scholarship programme, which allows people working and studying in the hospitality industry in Scotland to broaden their skills and experience by taking advantage of a tailored learning experience. Hopefully by this time next year it will be on again - just some of the happy guest back in 2019... roll on 2022.






restonfield was looking magnificent when I visited. The sun was shining, its lawn was perfectly manicured and fluttering in the breeze were a multitude of bright red parasols and a peacock was majestically strolling around. It was a sight to lift your spirits. I was there to catch up with James Thomson the fabled hotelier and restaurateur who is a Scottish legend. The protocols were all in place from the meet and greet, to the hand sanitiser and temperature control – but the hotel itself was as familiar with its baroque-style glamour and just as immaculate. James greeted me on the outdoor terrace which overlooks the hotel’s ground, a perfect place to have a relaxing chat. It’s certainly been a dramatic year for us all, James is no exception. He tells me, “I’ve been very busy. I’ve probably worked harder in the past year than I have in the last 40 because I’ve only had a really small team around me. It’s also

the first time in 40 years we have been closed.” James, who received his OBE for services to hospitality and Scottish Tourism, was only 20 when as Scotland’s youngest licensee he opened his first restaurant, The Witchery. Then came The Secret Garden, followed by The Tower in 1998 and of course Prestonfield which he acquired in 2003. His industry accolades include a Catey for Independent Restaurateur of the year and a Silver Thistle Award too. He is a founding member, and past Chairman of the Edinburgh Restaurateur’s Assocation and is on countless other boards related to tourism and the arts. His vast experience has certainly stood him in good stead during the last year. “When we were told we had to close it was devastating,” says James. “My staff were all looking to me for answers, and I didn’t know them. I kept saying we will just have to wait and see. I knew we could pay the salaries for a month or a couple of months, but that was all. Fellow restaurateurs were also calling, none of

INTERVIEW us knew what to do. “I remember listening to the news when Rishi Sunak announced the furlough scheme which covered 80% of the salaries. I was actually in tears watching it. I could hardly believe it. I think we all thought that the furlough might be 50% or 60%, but 80% was just incredible. It was such a relief and I will forever be grateful to him for that. I think the whole industry feels the same way.” He continues, “The first lockdown was pretty grim. It was slightly surreal because I live in a really picturesque little village and the weather was lovely which made it hard to believe that there was a virus ravaging the world. “One of the first decisions I had to make was about whether to keep or close The Tower Restaurant. I had to make the decision on my own without consulting any of my team members as they were furloughed. Our lease was up and I only had a short window to decide if I was going to terminate it or not. I made the hard decision to close it. “It’s really tough when you’re a rooftop restaurant and you’re relying on a small lift which only accommodates four people. At the time I wasn’t sure whether customers would be keen to get into lifts and the answer was probably not. This of course was a year ago and we didn’t know how long the lockdown would last. I don’t think anybody ever thought that we would be locked down for so long and then we’d open and then go back in another long lockdown. So it was the right decision to make but it was still very hard. I knew that it would result in 50 redundancies and that was the toughest thing because a lot of the team had been there since we opened 22 years ago. “The redundancies were horrible. They were one-to-one interviews and all were done by Zoom but all the staff were so lovely about it because they realised it wasn’t my fault. I almost wanted them to be angry with me because it actually made it harder because they all were so nice. Luckily because we made the decision early, when hospitality did reopen in the summer, they all managed to get jobs. It was the right decision as history has shown.” Talking of history takes us back to James’ early career and indeed the first time he saw Prestonfield which was as a child of five. He explains, “My father worked for a savings bank and he used to entertain here and occasionally I came with him. I remember walking up the driveway and seeing the house. I know I was five because I was very proudly wearing my first school uniform.” The house and the peacocks made quite an impression on the five year old and perhaps it was then that James developed a quiet resolve to own it one day. However his father may have doubted

James’ ambition when he got report cards from George Heriot’s, that described his son as a “dreamer”. James smiles, “I would explain to my father that one in four dreams do come true. I did have a dream, I always dreamt of owning Prestonfield.” His father may also have been surprised when James decided to go into hospitality because at school he had also been shy. But he always loved drama and theatre design and he brought his flair and his love of theatre to all his venues which are unique, flamboyant and opulent. “ I do consider myself lucky because I’ve lived a life that has been full and I’ve managed to create spaces that I would enjoy myself. I worked seven days a week for the best part of 20 years – and when you do that you want to enjoy the space you work in.

In 2003, James’ dream of buying Prestonfield came true. The house, which was buit in 1678, by the King’s architect Sir William Bruce, was converted into a hotel in the 1960’s but it had never been previously on the open market. Owner Charles Stevenson knew James because the two were associates when they joined with 18 other Edinburgh businessmen to establish the Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association, for the opening of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. “Charles realised that I could perhaps help him with dressing events in particular the Politician of the Year, which was a huge event, hosted at Prestonfield. He had seen my work for the BHA. “When I came for meetings I was always dreaming about what I would do with it if I owned it. I loved the architecture and the location. I always thought that it would be my idea of living in the country because it was only minutes from town, and it was surrounded by 650 acres of park, three lochs and an extinct volcano. “About a year after the Politician of the year Charles got in touch to ask if I’d be interested in buying the hotel. I was. I was fortunate to buy it off market with Charles remaining involved until he retired when I purchased his shares. Despite owning the 23-bedroomed hotel James still considers himself a restaurateur.

“I’m very much a restaurateur that happens to have rooms. “With Prestonfield everything just fell into place, I was really lucky. The same happened with The Tower. I used to drive past it, and I could see the rooftop restaurant developing. Then a caterer who was tendering for the job invited me to go in with them on a joint pitch. We were both successful. It was a difficult birth but a beautiful baby, which grew into a much loved character over twenty two wonderful years’’ The Tower became one of Edinburgh’s iconic restaurants, but despite its closure James firmly believes that there are better times ahead. Says James, “In years to come people will tell their grandchildren that they lived through the pandemic. They may find it hard to understand that we couldn’t go out to a pub, or have a drink, that we couldn’t eat out, or go inside people’s homes – its been like prohibition for our generation. “However I have also lived through the miner’s strike, which was a 3-day working week and we didn’t have any financial support back then. When the electricity went off so did the freezers and the lights and we didn’t have technology to help us. You had to buy the local paper to find out when your electricity was going to go off and it was off for a few hours a day. I started my business in that environment! “There have always been highs and lows. Some of my best years in business were the eighties when the economy was booming. Then we had the Gulf War , the Falklands War and Banking crisis in the early 90’s, when lots of people lost their jobs. That was a terrible time.’’ The good news is that hospitality has proved to be resilient, and certainly the pandemic has brought out the best when it comes to the industry collaborating. “One of the great positives about this time has been that this industry has united like never before. I have met a lot of new people on Zoom meetings and have made new friends, which is great. We had a lot to talk about as we were all in the same boat. It is unfortunate that many of our pleas have fallen on deaf ears at government level but I think the important thing is that the public have been listening to what we say and public support has never been higher for our industry. “I have often been really moved by some of the cards and notes I’ve received from people. Because public opinion and support is very much behind us I do think that good times will follow from that.” He wouldn’t be drawn on the political front but did say, “The virus was changing all the time so I can understand both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament making mistakes. They have both made some HOTELSCOTLAND • 19

INTERVIEW good decisions and some dreadful decisions or at least poor decisions, but I suppose you have to take it all in context. “Sometimes we have to say, well, what could we do better? And what should we have done? But in this instance, hospitality has done just about everything it could have. This has been one of the times where people have had to speak up publicly and say,’ We can’t go on like this.’ At the very least we need to see the science behind the decisions. What is the reasoning? I think it was really terrible that the industry was blamed for the spread of the virus, when bringing universities back was clearly a wrong decision. “Hospitality did everything that it was asked to do and more, yet it continued to be shut down and shut down, and more and more restrictions put upon the sector.” “For instance it does seem ridiculous when its cold and wet outside that you have to sit outside rather than sit in a well ventilated room with the windows open to have a glass of wine. “I think it’s been so difficult for staff as well. Although we have the rules, the goal posts are changing all the time. I’ve noticed with staff coming back, a lot of people are suffering quite badly because they’ve been in lockdown. It has put quite a strain on relationships and if you’ve got kids plus homeschooling, homeworking it all takes its toll. “People have been finding it very hard even people whom I thought would cope. Because we can’t do the simple things in life that we’re used to doing it has just aggravated the situation. I think the hospitality industry is very social, we are social animals and when that’s taken away from us it can lead to deep depression. However there are also positives. “One of those is that it’s made us all realise how special some of the things we took for granted are meeting a friend for coffee or a beer or glass of wine, or a casual plate of pasta with a friend after work or celebrating special occasions. “Before the pandemic, I’d be out at least three nights a week attending different events. Sometimes you think, Oh God, another event tonight. But now I’m actually quite looking forward to starting to socialise again. “I think it’s also made people, appreciate hospitality and the staff. I found that after the the first lockdown people were really, really nice to the staff and we hardly got anybody complaining about anything, which is nice. You know, people were so appreciative that the staff were there and looking after them in a safe enviroment.” At Prestonfield they have now adapted The Stables, in the hope that they can get major events back as soon as possible. The business has invested in several new measures such as a camera that can take the temperature of 40 people a minute, high touch areas have been minimised and automatic doors introduced. 20 • HOTELSCOTLAND

The business benefitted from a £2.5m CBIL loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland. James commented, “I think this time round, the banks have generally been really supportive according to the people I’ve spoken to. The CBIL loan was a godsend. We have still got around 190 staff and we had to pay holidays, NI and pension costs. We haven’t had an event in The Stable since march 2020, in fact 60% of my business is still closed. We needed the loan to survive. “I think one thing our industry, particularly the independents have done, is stand by their staff. They are our biggest asset. Most of us have tried to cling on to as many staff as we possibly could. This time has certainly been challenging without a doubt but the virus is something we’re going to have to live with because we can’t just hibernate every winter from now on. We can’t just say, well, summer’s here, we’re going to party. And then every winter we’re going to hibernate. I don’t think so. “We also have to get the economy back on its feet because there’s no way we can actually survive if we don’t. How are we going to provide care for the elderly, social benefits and such like if we don’t have people paying taxes. So we have to find a way of allowing businesses to operate so we can rebuild the country and the economy again and support those weakest in society. “This pandemic has certainly made me take stock of my life and what is important to me. It has made me realise that I’m not immortal. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. So we’ve really got to enjoy every day we have, and we must have hope for the future. “I believe the best is yet to come. I mean, after the first world war the twenties were the ‘Roaring Twenties’. And I do think that once we learn to live with this virus, we are going to have good times again. The economy will do well and people will enjoy their lifes. And talking of enjoying life James has certainly done that over the years. He says, “ “ I remember my early days at The Witchery and one of my first celebrity guests was Stanley Baxter who he was doing panto in Edinburgh. At the time the Stanley Baxter Show on a Saturday night was huge. I couldn’t believe he was one of my guests. Over the years I have met people that are household names that you just would never, ever imagine meeting. I’ve had wines that I’ve never ever imagined I could ever afford and have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world, because of the friends in the industry and friendships I’ve made. I feel very lucky. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody coming back and having lunch and seeing people I haven’t seen for 14 months. I sincerely hope the friendships we have all made over the last year will last a lifetime.”


Vaccine passports - If it allowed me to go to a concert, a wedding, a rugby match or football match, then yes I would. I don’t think we should require it to go shopping. I think it’s going to come and if it helps open up the economy, I think people would support it. Shutting the borders - I think that personally, we should probably shut the borders for this year. I know it’s tough for people who are desperate to go abroad on holiday, but there are so many wonderful places to visit in the UK. Recruitment - We are going to miss our international staff. I think it is going to be tough. Employers are going to have to adapt to that. Employees also now want a better life work balance and we for instance our chefs now work, three days on, three days off and that helps to attract and retain good staff. Any kind of crisis tends to accelerate change. Change which is coming down the line anyway. Retirement - Exactly the opposite. I know I wouldn’t like to retire. Lockdown has given me a taste of what retirement looks like and its not for me .I think I’ll just drop one day. Nature – I don’t like to kill anything, I always put spiders out and I love bees and planted out my garden to attract them. I absolutely adore animals and wildlife and have rescued several highland cattle and peacocks I get any field mice in my cottage, I catch them and let them go. But we Raven the cat,who has a life of riley at the hotel. Hence why, I have cat treats in my pocket. Economy - I do think we need to have a strategic plan for getting out of this and boosting the economy and I would like to see businesses consulted properly and our views taken onboard by politicians. The tourism tax - “The tourism tax is ridiculous even thinking about a tax at this time. Hotel Occupancy is currenting running at less than 20% in Edinburgh and the cost of collecting the tax would create yet another burden on our industry and would send out a very negative message to visitors. Prince Philip - “I think we all know people that have tragically died during the pandemic and we haven’t all had time to grieve. I think the Duke’s death actually gave the nation time to grieve. It actually helped me deal with the emotion that had been building up inside me. People he admires - Peter Lederer, Stephen Carter, Gordon Campbell-Gray... and many,many more... Advice - There are certain things you can’t control - there’s no point in spending energy and wasting time on these things and worrying about them. Spend time working on the things you can

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he Marine Hotel Troon is a landmark destination on the west coast of Scotland. For nearly 130 years it has been a retreat of luxury, the home of golf and a place for special occasions for many families. It is set on a beautiful South Ayrshire beach overlooking the Isle of Arran and has recently benefited from a refurbishment by ICA, a specialist hotel design studio. Samantha McCulloch, Interior Designer drew inspiration from the hotel’s location and historic roots. The challenge the designers embraced was to restore the character of the building that had faded over the years whilst being mindful of its traditions, culture, and clientele. Drawn in through the restored revolving doors you are instantly cocooned in a richly warm lobby and delectably dark study like reception with timber panelled desks and Persian rug, considered details and intriguing artwork. These earthy neutrals and opulent materials are carried throughout the hotel, into the lounge bar where dark timber flooring and a deep green colour to the ornate ceiling grounds the original yellow oak panelling throughout. Intimacy has been brought to this once open space through artful zoning solutions like open shelving and snug-like panelled booths. Large windows offer unobstructed views across the golf course and out to sea fully submerging you into the landscape, all the while


enveloped in a sultry rich warmth. The muted palette, drawn from natures nuances – from flora to fauna – are complemented with velvets rich in tone, buttery soft leathers and layered with heritage fabrics – patterns, textures, and distinctive weaves, play subtly on this heritage, avoiding cliches. Together with considered ambient lighting create an environment imbued with style and comfort. Artwork played a key role in portraying the story and history. The designers worked together with an artwork consultant, Elegant Clutter, and the hotel to bring back to life vintage photography, original sketches of the building’s early years, newspaper articles referencing the hotel and other pieces which have been showcased throughout the hotel. Collaborated with new pieces which strengthen the narrative. “From the concept design to snagging the project, everything is done with meticulous ease, making sure the client’s wishes are incorporated in the process.” Colin Richards, General Manager, “ICA worked closely with the design team to realising the client’s ambitions, delivering the project on budget, whilst maintaining the hotels operational requirements during the construction phase. Sequencing and phasing of the works were key to keeping the hotel operational throughout the process and events that were critical targets for the hotel to meet, all the while ensuring the guests have a comfortable stay. “

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he Redhurst Hotel in Giffnock, owned by Manorview, has just reopened after a complete refurbishment which saw the hotel stripped right back and brought bang up to date with a contemporary new look. The hotel, which was built in 1967 by the Stakis Hotel Group, was bought by Manorview in 2013 and at the time it received a cosmetic upgrade, but this new revamp has included an entire refit of the establishment. Manorview collaborated with Space ID on the interior design with Glasgow-based Thomas Johnstone leading the refurbishment and Nixon project managing. Managing Director of Manorview David Tracey explains, “The builders took it back to brick and left us with a shell of a building. Nothing has remained untouched, although we have not changed the layout too much.



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“As a company we like to take on rather tired hotels which have been under invested in, and bring them back to their former glory. This is exactly what we have done here - our aim was to give the local community a great bar and restaurant space to use.” Says David, “The Redhurst has this special place in the heart of the Giffnock community. In fact many people in the southside of Glasgow remember it fondly. We have kept the same relaxed and welcoming ethos which the Redhurst is renowned for but we now provide a more diverse and contemporary offering.” The hotel now has a new look restaurant and bar, Bird & Bell, which offer new all day dining options, a stunning outdoor terrace, which runs the length of the hotel, a new ballroom and event spaces as well as 17 chic new guest bedrooms and public areas throughout the hotel. David concludes, “We all feel very privileged to be able to open a new hotel at this time. Our General Manager Lesley Smith is particularly delighted as she has been here 30 years and over the eight years we had the hotel, prior to refubishing, we kept promising her we would do it.” Steve Graham, founder of Manorview Hotels adds,“After a year of closures and uncertainty it feels good to be breathing life into our venues again.. “




t’s no secret that small hotels, guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts have had a terrible time during the pandemic. But at last, with the arrival of the various vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now is the time to maximise your efforts and welcome back paying guests by raising your profile. This is where “Get Seen Get Booked” will show you how it’s done. Manager/owners of small hospitality establishments have a myriad of roles to play, from cleaner and caterer to launderer, bookkeeper and legal eagle. But in the end, the whole enterprise lives or dies on the number of guest bookings. “Get Seen Get Booked” is an online programme specifically designed by the owners of a guest house with significant marketing experience. It assists other owners to market their property more effectively, while still managing the day-to-day requirements of running their operation. Once a property owner has completed the set up, it only takes 15 minutes a day to deliver an integrated marketing plan that will increase bookings, increase the number of nights stayed per booking, and attract more of these bookings directly (as opposed to paying commission to online travel agents) – the 3 golden rules of marketing for small hotel owners! Significantly, this course has been prepared specifically for owners of small hotels, guest houses, cottages and B&Bs. It is not a “generic” marketing

course. It has been written, tailored and tested by marketing people who now run their own guest house. As a result, the advice is very specific. You won’t find it full of generalised, Google, Facebook or PR advice that can be found anywhere on the web. It does not waste time going into massive detail on digital marketing theory. Instead, it focuses on the essentials of marketing a small hotel, explaining how to do it well, in just 15 minutes a day. Topics covered include: • Your website • Online booking systems • Local activity guides • Digital activity • Online advertising • Bloggers and influencers • Newsletters • Public Relations • Travel Guides • Travel Agents There is also a final module to assist with preparing an annual plan that, once implemented, will ensure you get everything done that needs done. Together with Hotel Scotland, we’re delighted to offer readers 25% off from now until the end of May 2021, making the course available for just £21. Just use code HMS25 at checkout! HOTELSCOTLAND • 27


Glencoe Inn Tyndrum Road, Glencoe, Ballachulish

“The sumptuous interiors have been created with true Scottish hospitality in mind, and the result is the absolute definition of low-key luxury that we’re confident our guests will love.” Chris Wayne-Wills



rerar Hotels has re-opened the Glencoe Inn to guests, showcasing the results of a refurbishment of more than half a million pounds. Boasting new-look bedrooms, food and drink offerings and outdoor areas, the four-star Inn has been transformed into a boutique accommodation experience at the heart of the world-famous glen. On entering the property, guests experience a warm welcome from the hosts into a sumptuous, yet homely feeling lounge featuring log fires. Exploring the ground floor, residents of the Inn will enjoy exclusive access to the lounges and bar. And with many cosy corners available, those staying can sink into leather sofas by the roaring fires to enjoy books and board games. From here, guests can venture to the outdoor terrace to enjoy a drink while taking in the stunning views of the loch – or spotting some local wildlife, including deer, who also frequently visit. All 15 bespoke bedrooms and bathrooms have been fully refurbished creating ultimate comfort for guests. Interiors are inspired by the surrounding rugged landscape, taking in views across Loch Leven or the Pap of Glencoe. Those looking for something extra special can book into the Loch View Feature Suite, with its own king-size bed as well as a roll-top bath in the bay window, which allows for uninterrupted views of the loch – perfectly placed to watch a serene sunset after a day of hiking. As well as a thermal experience with a hot tub and

sauna, the outdoor ‘Hidden Garden’ spa offers one of the country’s most awe-inspiring backdrops – for guests’ eyes only. The Glencoe Inn’s food and drink offering has also been upgraded as part of the six-figure investment, offering guests as well as passing visitors the chance to sample the best of Scottish produce. Chris Wayne-Wills, CEO of Crerar Hotels said, “We’re thrilled on two counts – re-opening our doors to welcome guests and showcasing the results of an outstanding refurbishment. “Despite the challenges of the past year, we have created a home from home experience against the backdrop of one of Scotland’s most famous landscapes – exactly what we were determined to do when the investment was secured. “The sumptuous interiors have been created with true Scottish hospitality in mind, and the result is the absolute definition of low-key luxury that we’re confident our guests will love. With a food and drink offering serving the best in Scottish produce, an exclusive guest spa experience that allows you to relax whilst enjoying aweinspiring views, and bedrooms designed with comfort in mind, we’re offering the ultimate Scottish getaway that reflects our world-class location. “We’re already receiving fantastic feedback from guests and expect to have an exceptionally busy summer when staycationers across the UK get a glimpse of what lies in store.”


VALOR HOSPITALITY APPOINT NEW DIRECTOR AT CROWNE PLAZA Valor Hospitality Europe, the management team behind Crowne Plaza Glasgow, has appointed Joanne Martin as director of sales and marketing at the hotel. Joanne has over 26 years’ experience in the leisure and hospitality industry, having previously held regional positions for Radisson Hotel Group and Millennium and Copthorne Hotels with a strong focus on the Glasgow market. In her new role, Joanne will work alongside Crowne Plaza Glasgow’s general manager, Jason Dombrower, to drive and develop sales and marketing strategies, ensuring the hotel is primed for recovery as Scotland prepares to ease leisure and hospitality restrictions connected to the pandemic. Commenting on her new role, Joanne said: “I am excited to be part of the Crowne Plaza and the wider Valor team at what is such a pivotal time for the hospitality industry. It’s been a difficult year

for everyone but I’m confident the sector will bounce-back. “I’ve been aware of Valor for a long time and am looking forward to being part of a team which prides itself just as much on employee progression, as it does business growth. This is a great opportunity to rebuild and reposition the iconic Crowne Plaza Glasgow hotel and brand in the post-COVID market and I’m looking forward taking on this new challenge”. Jason Dombrower, general manager of Crowne Plaza Glasgow, said: “With her extensive knowledge of the Glasgow hotel market, Joanne has quickly become an integral part of the team as we prepare to open our doors to the public again and a new state of normality is established. “Having a strategic plan to help generate more revenue for the hotel has never been more important, so it is fantastic to have Joanne onboard to drive that forward.”


The Institute of Hospitality has announced Robert Richardson FIH as its new chief executive. Robert succeeds Peter Ducker FIH at the helm of the international professional body for current and aspiring hospitality leaders and managers. An award-winning hotelier, Robert is no stranger to the IoH. In his previous role as general manager of the Cave Hotel in Kent. Robert supported the institute as an active member of its supervisory board; and in September 2020 he was elevated to the role of IoH vice-chairman. For his invaluable commitment to the aims of the IoH, he received the Institute of Hospitality Judges’ Award in 2018.

TWO GM’S JOIN CRERAR HOTELS John de Villiers is the new General Manager at the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, while Scott McDonald has taken the reins at Thainstone House in Inverurie - bringing a combined total of 38 years’ industry experience to the Scottish hotel group. Scott, who started his career in Scotland at Gleneagles, joins the team at Thainstone House from his most recent role as General Manager at Sydney House in Chelsea; whilst John is relocating to Mull, along with his wife and young son, from Namibia where he most recently worked as General Manager at AM Weinberg Boutique Hotel in Namibia. The double appointment demonstrates Crerar Hotels’ optimistic outlook towards the bounce back of the hospitality sector as lockdown restrictions begin to lift. Both General Managers will be focused on ensuring the safest possible environments for staff and guests returning to their hotels ahead of re-

opening. Scott said:, “I’m thrilled to take up my new post at Thainstone House, where my priority will be on raising the hotel’s already high standards and ensuring our guests receive nothing less than the first-class experience the property is renowned for. Whether guests stay with us for leisure, business, a spa day, or are simply dropping by for afternoon tea or a meal in our renowned Green Lady restaurant, we want them all to feel special and will do everything we can to ensure their every need is catered for.” John said, “Joining the Crerar Hotels team on Mull in preparation for welcoming back guests is an honour. This stunning island retreat in such an idyllic setting was well-worth relocating for. The multimillion-pound refurbishment is creating the perfect destination in which to relax, absorb fresh coastal air and do some exploring – and I cannot wait to open our doors and welcome guests back to stay with us.” HOTELSCOTLAND • 29


GLASSES WITH V-BLOCK Utopia has just launched Pasabahce glasses with V-Block antimicrobial treatment for ultimate hygiene Pasabahce glasses have been treated with the new V-Block technology from Şişecam Group. V-Block prevents the growth of micro-organisms on glass surfaces, contributing to a safer and more hygienic environment for consumers and businesses. V-Block Technology uses a special formula applied to the glass at high temperatures during the production process. The V-Block coating stays active during the full life cycle of the glassware and is scratch resistant and dishwasher safe. “We believe this is the world’s first glassware to be treated with an antimicrobial coating,” says Josh Rammell, marketing manager at Utopia. “It will help support the fight against the global pandemic, offering ultra-hygiene with no sacrifice to style or function.”


A tech company has launched the world’s first smart selfdisinfecting door handle, which can potentially eradicate millions of pathogens per building, save businesses thousands in cleaning costs and contribute to a post-COVID19 way of life. Swiss tech company, Tweaq launched its self-cleaning aluminium door handle, Touch 1, in November 2020. Customers can register their interest now for delivery in 2021. How it works: The user engages with the door handle as they normally would. Once the door handle is released, the Tweaq Touch 1 is activated and the peristaltic pump brings the disinfectant liquid from the casing to the sponge inside the ring around the door handle. An internal system drives the outer aluminium ring backwards and forwards once along the surface, eliminating 99% of bacteria and viruses in under three seconds.

TABLEBED GETS BACKING A new space saving TableBed is now on the way to becoming a household name after it raised €600k for international growth.The funding will be used to strengthen the team and for international growth and product development. Tablebed’s solution and product is perfect for the hospitality industry looking for new ways to operate and efficiently use their space. Office by day, hotel by night One example of a Tablebed hospitality client is VALO Hotel & Work in Helsinki, Finland. VALO was ahead of its time, as it developed its “office by day, hotel by night” concept before the pandemic. The utilization rate for office buildings is often a mere 5-10 percent. Taking advantage of the rooms overnight is therefore ecologically wise. All of VALO’s 422 rooms can be turned from meeting rooms to hotel rooms.


KARL LAGERFELD NOW AVAILABLE FOR HOTELS Design fashion house Karl Lagerfeld and Vanity Group have partnered to supply an exclusive line of skin care and haircare amenities to high end hotels around the globe. The collections include Agruemes et Vetiver and Murier et Santal. Paul Tsalikis, CEO of Vanity Group comments, “Amenities are about exceeding guests expectations. When a guest checks in to a hotel, there is nothig better than having a luxury product prominently displayed. Karl Lagerfeld is a globally recognised brand, that is well respected.”









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The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has revealed that she will be considering what to do regarding social distancing restrictions before her next update in three weeks time. It may be that there will be some good news for hospitality and particularly wedding venues, particularly if the restrictions can be removed. The way things stand at the moment there is not much joy with regard to these events. I certainly think that Nicholas Russell’s suggestions should be looked at by the Government and sooner rather than later. If you haven’t checked out what he has to say - see page 16. I was pleased to hear that Tanja Lister and Sonia Virechauveix have sold Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland. The two worked tirelessly throughout lockdown to ensure that their business survived and I’m sure they would have kept on their sterling work if they had not had an offer, that was obviously too good to refuse. I wish them all the very best and I hope to visit their next hotel, should they decide to invest their funds in a new venture. Graham Chalmers of Glasgow’s Radisson Red has been busy. Last month he initiated a campaign to get customers to #bekindtohospitality in the run up to the reopening of hospitality. The aim is rather obvious - to get customers to think about staff who are serving them. It is obvious to people in the trade that staff are under an amazing amount of pressure - to do the right thing, look after customers all while maintaining good service levels despite having been off work for most of the year. It is always hard to get back into the grove, and it has never been harder. I hope anyone reading this if you are not coping, talk to someone. Meanwhile, he has now developed the campaign now that we are up and running. Well done Graham and all the other bodies and people that are supporting it. Look out for it on digital billboards throughout Scotland.

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