John Gibson: How to run the iconic Balmoral

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Pedals up Arthur’s Seat early mornings while the city sleeps. Franck Arnold should have more to do, you’d imagine. And he has.

Imagine managing the Balmoral with its 188 rooms, currently all occupied, not to mention his staff of 300. More than Hibs pull at Easter Road, I quipped.

It’s a daily challenge and no laughing matter. Nary a wrinkle at 46, father of three (two boys and a girl, all at Edinburgh Academy) and he and wife Salima live “above the shop”, so to speak.

“The children much prefer to give their address as No 1 Princes Street, rather than the Balmoral,” said Franck. Back from a marketing trip to the States, he returned to an Edinburgh still plagued by the city centre turmoil.

But he was upbeat.

“The trams will heighten the city’s profile and I’m delighted to see Hans Rissmann at the Conference Centre offering capacity for large events we’ve not seen till now.”

While the Balmoral’s boss has been there, done that, got the T-shirt for supremo Rocco Forte in Brussels, Athens, and Madrid, his love affair with Edinburgh seems more intense. An athletic affair. He’s run in two Edinburgh Marathons. This time three hours 20 minutes. He’s gearing his staff for the Rob Roy Challenge.

Personally he’ll compete in the walking, swimming and cycling triathlon later this year. Proud of his product in Princes Street, Frenchman Franck, who sees his folks at home in Strasbourg regularly, is emphatic: “We can never be complacent if we are to remain the Capital’s iconic hotel. Included in our plans, we’ll open this autumn in our drawing room a rare array of 450 single malts. We’ve yet to announce a name for the room. It’s still under wraps.”

Doubtless Mr Arnold, readying for a training spin on his bike to Musselburgh and Prestonpans (and “maybe as far as Gullane”) has got it all tied up.