SERIAL entrepreneur Mike Clare, who pocketed £200 million after selling his chain of Dreams bed shops in 2008, is investing £12.5m in his three Scottish country homes by adding spas to the sites.
Clare’s leisure company, Clarenco, spent about £10m snapping up Ackergill Tower near Wick, Carberry Tower, near Musselburgh, and Kinnettles Castle at Dundee.
He bought Ackergill and Kinnettles from their family owners and the former Church of Scotland training centre at Carberry from Gartmore House, a Christian activity holiday charity.
Now Clare has outlined plans to add spa facilities to the three venues and has brought in a team to run conferences, weddings and other events at the properties.
Clare told Scotland on Sunday: “After I sold Dreams, I began investing in property but it was boring and I wanted to invest in something I enjoyed too. These retreats will be run as businesses but I’m passionate about restoring and maintaining old buildings, breathing new life into them.”
Clare expects to turn a slim profit from the three properties at the end of their first year in business, before building up earnings from there.
Carberry was owned by the Elphinstone family and was home to Lady Elphinstone, the late Queen Mother’s sister and aunt to the Queen, who stayed at the tower. When Lady Elphinstone died in the 1960s, the tower was given to the Church of Scotland.
South of the Border, Clarenco has snapped up Bath Lodge Castle in Somerset, Stanbrook Abbey in Worcestershire and Plas Rhianfa on Anglesey.
In April, the firm bought No Man’s Land Fort, one of the fortified islands built in the 1860s off the Isle of Wight by Prime Minister Lord Palmerston to repel French warships targeting Portsmouth.
Clarenco already owns the neighbouring Spitbank Fort, which has been turned into a luxury retreat with nine bedrooms, three bars and three restaurants, along with conference facilities for 60 guests.
The company wants to turn No Man’s Land Fort into a similar facility but on a larger scale, with 27 bedrooms and space for 200 people attending conferences or other events.
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