Gleneagles Hotel lined up for £200m sale

The Gleneagles Hotel. Picture: TSPL
The Gleneagles Hotel. Picture: TSPL
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GLENEAGLES Hotel is to be put up for sale after owner Diageo announced yesterday it had received “numerous ­expressions of interest” since last year’s Ryder Cup golf tournament.

There is speculation the five-star Perthshire resort, which has three golf courses, could fetch more than £200 million.

The drinks group’s firms, which does not have any other hotels, has owned Gleneagles since 1984, three years after it was sold by British Rail.

Diageo attempted to sell the 850-acre site in 1998 but offers failed to meet expectations, thought to be around £100m.

It is believed there were further sale moves six years ago.

Property firm Jones Lang LaSalle has now been drafted in by Diageo to seek potential buyers.

US private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, which owns another Ryder Cup venue the Belfry, near Birmingham, was reported yesterday to be interested.

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The tournament last September, in which Europe beat the United States, attracted 250,000 fans from 96 countries to Gleneagles, including some 3,000 from the US.

The hotel has 232 bedrooms and 14 function rooms.

Accounts for Gleneagles for the year to June 2013, which were filed last March, showed its pre-tax profits more than halved to £262,000 from £591,000 the previous year.

However, turnover increased by more than £2m to nearly £40m.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Diageo said: “Gleneagles is one of the UK’s finest luxury hotels and one of the world’s most fantastic golf resorts.

“We are sure there are many people who would love to own Gleneagles and have received numerous expressions of interest over the years, and particularly since the Ryder Cup.

“As you would expect, we have a duty to consider such interest carefully.”

The hotel was conceived by Donald Matheson, then general manager of the Caledonian Railway, while holidaying nearby in 1910.

He was impressed by the countryside and dreamed up a palace-style hotel surrounded by golf courses.

Gleneagles was opened in 1924 by successor firm London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

The hotel’s own station, on the Stirling-Perth line two miles away, was upgraded for the Ryder Cup.

Two courses – the King’s and Queen’s – opened in the hotel grounds in 1919.

A third, the PGA Centenary Course, was created by Jack Nicklaus in 1993.

The champion US golfer returned three years ago to oversee changes to the course as part of preparations for its hosting of the Ryder Cup.

When the railways were nationalised after the Second World War, Gleneagles became part of British Transport ­Hotels in 1948.

It was sold by British Rail in 1981 to a consortium of Scottish businessmen for £10m, along with the Caledonian and North British (now Balmoral) hotels in Edinburgh.

The hotel was bought by Perth-based distiller Arthur Bell in 1984, which sold it to Guinness the following year, both of which are now part of Diageo.

The hotel site includes an activities centre whose shooting school was originally named after Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart – a keen clay-pigeon shooter – and an equestrian centre that was named after horseman Mark Phillips, Princess Anne’s former husband.

Chef Andrew Fairlie opened a restaurant at the hotel in 2001.

One of its latest ventures is the Gleneagles Arena, a £650,000 indoor tennis centre and conference venue, which is due to be completed in the spring.

The 2,500 square foot building will be able to accommodate up to 2,000 people.

Gleneagles has also embarked on a £1.1m upgrade of 36 bedrooms, to be finished in three months’ time, which follows the refurbishment of a similar number last year.

Work includes new carpets and air conditioning.