By then he had already spotted a new business venture which he thought would be a perfect fit for Falkirk district’s growing tourism trade and the increasing demand for hotel beds in the area.
Back in harness, last Friday saw him open his new Premier Lodge hotel – and life is just as busy as ever.
Situated in West Mains Industrial Estate, it is close to the motorway links and just a few minutes walk from the Helix Park and world famous Kelpies.
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His previous venture, the Cairn Hotel in Bathgate, is now under the stewardship of Hannigan Hotels and his son Douglas.
Robert has launched the Premier Lodge with wife Mhairie and Carol Stalley, who worked with him in his previous venture, and their new business to be known as Avon Hotels.
He said: “When this opportunity came up I knew it had the potential to be successful.
“It’s situated within what was Grange House, the previous headquarters for Morrison Construction, so it is a well-built structure.
“We’ve totally gutted the building and now have 48 rooms over three floors. There are stairs and a lift to the two upper floors and we offer a selection of rooms with twin, king and super king beds.”
He added the first guests have already stayed and were delighted with the high standard of finish in the rooms which are all en suite.
“We’ve had a very good reaction and are looking forward to greeting even more guests in the weeks and months to come.”
The rooms also boast free WiFi and a digital TV, along with daily housekeeping.
Along with Carol, who is in charge of the daily running of the hotel, there are eight other staff working in reception, night porter and housekeeping roles.
Robert started off in the hotel industry when he operated the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh, but says times and expectations have changed over the years.
“People now want a nice bedroom – something as good as they have at home and the quality furnishings we provide will give them that whether they are visiting for leisure or business.”