Hospitality veterans strike deal for Lanarkshire hotel

Two hospitality industry veterans who worked together to launch the five-star Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow have made an initial acquisition after forming a new business venture.

Hans and Lydia Rissmann at The Strathaven Hotel. Picture: Contributed

Hans Rissmann and Peter Taylor have invested a seven-figure sum in transforming an 18th century country house hotel in South Lanarkshire. It is the first establishment to form part of their new hospitality venture – The Rissco Collection.

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The Strathaven Hotel, which is set in three acres of grounds, was acquired by its new owners in January and their refurbishment programme is now almost complete. The two businessmen plan to grow the Risso venture with more acquisitions over the coming years.

They are said to have spent more than two years looking for the “perfect opportunity” in the Strathaven Hotel, which has 22 rooms and employs 48 staff.

The new hotel’s restaurant and bar area has already been redesigned and the final phase of the refurbishment is close to completion with the grand ballroom due to reopen imminently. The investment has been supported in part by Bank of Scotland.

Rissmann said: “My father was a hotelier so I was born and bred into the industry and it has always been my ambition to have a hotel of my own.

“When we found the Strathaven Hotel we immediately loved the Georgian front to the building and we liked the challenge of reinvigorating the interiors to bring them up to date.

“The hotel had lacked investment in recent years and the local competition had improved, so it had lost trade, but this is a great area and Strathaven has great potential.”

Hotel industry veteran Taylor founded the Town House Collection in 1989 and oversaw the refurbishment of the former Royal Scottish Automobile Club in Glasgow into the Blythswood Square hotel and spa. He sold the Town House ­Collection to an American ­private equity firm more than two years ago.

Taylor and Rissmann are looking to reposition the Strathaven Hotel as a destination for weddings and business conferences when the 200-capacity ballroom reopens, and plan to double turnover to £2 million a year by hosting some 60 weddings annually.

While their current focus is on making Strathaven a success, the pair aim to create a group of five hotels over the next decade, with a plan to welcome guests to properties of a similar size in “characterful” rural and urban locations.

Rissmann said he was convinced that the Central Belt of Scotland was particularly well placed to welcome growing numbers of visitors in the coming years.

The investment in the Strathaven Hotel was supported by a £1m loan from Bank of Scotland.

Evelyn McNair, relationship director, SME banking at the lender, said: “The Strathaven Hotel is a beautiful building with huge potential that I’m sure will achieve great things with experienced operators Hans and Peter at the helm.

“Scotland’s visitor economy is hugely important to the nation and we are committed to supporting businesses like The Rissco Collection in achieving their growth plans.”