Crerar Hotels pushes upmarket with £15m investment

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Crerar Hotels is to undertake a multi-million-pound overhaul of its portfolio as it looks to position itself at the “top end” of the Scottish hospitality sector.

The firm, which is run by controlling shareholder and chief executive Paddy Crerar, said the move was being made to meet a growing demand from well-heeled staycationers and also to satisfy demand from the growth in high-value tourism coming from emerging Asian markets.

The hotel operator is now in the final stages of “phase one” investments at a numbers of its establishments, including Oban Bay (Oban), Loch Fyne (Inveraray), Golf View (Nairn), Glencoe Inn (Glencoe) and Isle of Mull Hotel (Mull), with committed spend to date in the region of £10 million. Each hotel is now at or set to achieve a minimum of high four-star status, Crerar added.

The remaining retained hotels in the group’s portfolio will follow the same investment route and market positioning, with phase two investment amounting to some £5m.

The investment to date has been self-financed by trading profits and earnings from asset disposals. The final phase will also be funded from trading and, potentially, from the sale of up to three more hotels, announced last week.

Paddy Crerar said: “This is one of the most exciting times in our history where we can plainly see a global market itching to discover what we locals already know about Scotland.

“We are so fortunate to live in such a brilliantly beautiful country and a country that remains steadfastly hospitable as well as inclusive.

“We also recognise that the debacle of Brexit is a true and dangerous threat both to how others see our country, by association, and also who will or can join our workforce.

“At a time when Scotland has record employment no one can afford to ignore the net negative impact that loss of freedom of movement will place on business and communities, particularly those in rural locations.

“That’s another reason why investing in our business is so important – with an inevitable shortage of labour, skilled and unskilled, we have to be the employer of choice.

“We are confident that with the best hotels in the best locations we will attract and retain the best,” he added.

Crerar Hotels last week announced the sale of three of its properties in the North-east. The 92-bedroom Ben Wyvis Hotel in Strathpeffer, the 83-bedroom Craiglynne Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey and the 52-bedroom Eight Acres Hotel in Elgin (pictured above) are being offered as a portfolio, with property agency Colliers inviting offers in the region of £6.85m for the freehold assets complete with goodwill and trade contents. The hotels may be sold individually, based on the level of offer.