Scotsman Hotel Group (part of JJW Hotels and Resorts)
Telephone:020 7758 8300
Fax:020 7758 8301
The Scotsman Hotel Group was a trio of luxury, design-led hotels founded in 1999 by former London restaurateur Jonathan Wix and former Regal Hotel Group directors Charles Vere Nicoll and Nicholas Crawley.
They are now part of JJW Hotels and Resorts, a hotel operator owned by Saudi tycoon Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber’s $9b MBI International corporation that operates hotels in Europe and North Africa.
Wix first made waves in the hotel landscape in 1991 when he opened the 39-bedroom 42 The Calls, one of the first boutique hotels outside London, on the site of a derelict 18th century riverside corn mill in Leeds. The groundbreaking townhouse hotel - voted Hotel of the Year in the 1995 Cateys – became the first hotel in the Scotsman Hotel Group to be.
In 1997 Wix bought the Scotsman building in Edinburgh from Ritz hotel owners the Barclay brothers for £4.3m – a Grade II-listed property built in 1905 that was the former home of the Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday newspapers. His plans to develop it into a flagship five-star hotel led to the formation (and name) of the Scotsman Hotel Group in 1999.
Backed with £90m funding from venture capitalist Botts & Company and the Bank of Scotland, the group aimed to open around 12 boutique hotels with 60 to 80 bedrooms and separately-run restaurants in key UK and European cities. It also intended to develop a three-and-a-half star UK-only format.
The 68-bedroom Scotsman opened in 2001 after a £19.5m refurbishment and the group’s third hotel – the luxury107-bedroom Hotel de la Trémoille in Paris – opened in 2002 after a two-year makeover.
However, an inability to translate buoyant trading into profits prompted the financial backers to shake-up the management in late 2001. Three of the four original directors quit, with Wix remaining as director of development but subsequently leaving to launch a boutique hotel in Morocco in 2004.
The future looked brighter in 2006 when the group was acquired by MBI International to form the heart of a standalone portfolio of luxury European hotels within the JJW operation that would include some of JJW’s top-end properties, including the Berners hotel in London’s West End.
But its central role was usurped in 2007 when JJW acquired the five-strong Eton Collection of townhouse and boutique hotels, into which it was absorbed.
However, JJWs nine UK properties fell victim to a legal dispute over unpaid loans bought against Sheikh Al Jabr by Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, which won a
global freezing order on his assets in 2010.
This setback forced both the five Eton Group hotels and the Berners hotel into administration in 2010 and into the hands of new owners.
The Scotsman Hotel Group fell into administration in October 2011, but was bought back by the sheikh in December after he settled his court battle with Standard Bank.
Address:JJW Hotels & Resorts (UK)
6 Queen Street