First female Hotelier of the Year Grete Hobbs dies aged 92

14 April 2020 by

The first woman to win The Caterer's Hotelier of the Year accolade in 1989, Grete Hobbs, has died aged 92.

Hobbs, who transformed Inverlochy Castle at Fort William into a 17-bedroom hotel in 1968, passed away peacefully in the early hours of Saturday 4 April.

The family said: "She was a fantastic mother to us and a loving grandmother to Joe and Romy. We loved her and respected her throughout her long and exciting life and we are content in the knowledge that she is now at peace with her late friends and family who she also loved."

The family intends to hold a private funeral, and there will be a memorial reception to celebrate Hobbs' life and achievements when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Danish-born Hobbs and her husband Joe inherited the property in 1964 and the hotel won Hotel of the Year in the 1971 Egon Ronay's Guide. Hobbs put the hotel on the international map in the 80s and 90s and it was extremely popular especially with the US market

Hobbs sold the hotel in December 1996, although continued to play an active role in the business.

Harry Murray, chairman of Lucknam Park in Colerne, Wiltshire, and 1986 Hotelier of the Year, described her as charming, always elegantly dressed and someone who aimed for perfection.

He said: "I first met her in 1986 when I was presented with the Hotelier of the Year award in Edinburgh; Grete told me some 20 years later that because the award was in Scotland she thought she had won and had actually written a speech."

She went on to win the award in 1989, nominated by Ronald Jones (1988 Hotelier of the Year), then managing director of Claridge's.

Murray added: "Grete was very interested in the theatre and I once remarked to her that had she not been a hotelier she would have been a great actress."

Terry Holmes, executive director of Red Carnation Hotels and 1985 Hotelier of the Year, said: "She made such an impact on the industry, as a hotelier and as a lady, because there weren't many ladies who were running luxury hotels in those days."

He described her as a perfectionist who was "revered" in the business and "had lots of long-term staff who absolutely adored her".

He added: "She was always lauded and held up as a great example of our industry, and she loved doing what she did."

Richard Edwards, who was the first Hotelier of the Year in 1983, said: "She ran a superb hotel, nothing was too much trouble... A very nice, charming lady, she'll be missed. "

1993 Hotelier of the Year Ken McCulloch said: "I'm so very sad to hear of Grete's passing. She was an inspiration to us all, what she did for Scotland was wonderful – Inverlochy Castle put Scotland on the map in terms of luxury hotels."

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