A COUPLE from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast have swapped the warmth of Australia for the snow-capped peaks of the Highlands after unveiling plans to renovate a historic hotel.
Neil and Annie Whittle bought the Monadhliath Hotel in the village of Laggan with financial backing from Bank of Scotland.
Annie’s mother was from Fife, prompting a holiday last year to Scotland.
The couple fell in love with the Highlands and bought the hotel, even though neither has any experience in the hospitality sector.
Annie said: “It is an ambitious project and a lot of our friends back in Australia think we are nuts to make the kind of upheaval we have done and take this on.
“But we have no doubts. We used to dread the heat of a Queensland summer, so we can’t wait for the tourist season next year and what we can bring to the area.”
The Monadhliath was built in 1851 as a manse for the church whose ruins still lie in its grounds. It was converted into an eight-bedroom hotel during the 1970s.
Annie added: “It has enormous potential. The church ruins are beautiful and we would like to see the setting being used for weddings, with space in the grounds for a marquee for the reception.”
The couple also want to build a conservatory and upgrade the public rooms.
Bank of Scotland relationship manager Hamish Malcolm said: “The tourist trade is a vital aspect of the local economy and we are glad to have assisted in a project that seems sure to benefit it.”