Crieff Hydro expands by acquiring two hotels and taking on management of four

04 February 2014 by
Crieff Hydro expands by acquiring two hotels and taking on management of four

The business, which is Scotland's oldest registered trading company, has also launched a new joint venture to manage a further four hotels, owned by Freedom Hotels: three on Scotland's West Coast (the Isles of Glencoe Hotel & Leisure Centre, the Ballachulish hotel and the Oban Caledonian) and the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate.

The moves will add more than 400 bedrooms and £10m of revenue to the Crieff Hydro, which has been run as a family business since 1868 and has a current turnover of £18m.

Crieff Hydro has moved its banking from Lloyds (Bank of Scotland) to Santander, both for its core business and to fund the acquisition and development of Peebles Hydro.

Stephen Leckie, chief executive of Crieff Hydro, said it will be the company's intention to "develop and enhance" the existing facilities of the new hotels and build on their individuality and personality.

"They are all very different from Crieff Hydro as a destination resort. In time, they will all share the same warmth of hospitality and independent thinking we have at Crieff. Apart from investing to develop facilities, we'll have a particular focus on bringing together all of the local elements.

"These are great destinations and while we aren't setting out to make these the most luxurious hotels in the area - we do want them to stand as real advocates for their villages and towns. What we are interested in is generating more new visitors to each of the areas."

John Jennett, managing director of Crieff Hydro, added; "Food quality is of signature importance at Crieff Hydro and in time we will bring the same ethos and approach that we have at Crieff Hydro to these hotels with an emphasis on quality, distinctive menus, local provenance and offering value for money."

The sale of the two properties to McMillan Hotels has been under discussion for more than a year. Douglas McMillan, managing director of McMillan Hotels, said: "We are in the process of restructuring our own business, refocusing and reinvesting in our properties in our heartland in the south west of Scotland. We are confident that Crieff Hydro will provide an excellent fit, and the hotels will continue to prosper and progress."

McMillan Hotels will be left with four properties: North West Castle in Stranraer; Cally Palace, near Dumfries; Fernhill in Portpatrick and Glenapp Castle in Ballantrae.

Meanwhile, Colin Johnston, owner of the four Freedom Hotels said the properties which will now be managed by Crieff Hydro, have been through a number of operators. He believes that Crieff Hydro is now the right business to help stabilise the hotels. "This is about the long-term for me and for Crieff Hydro," he said. "In time, I am sure that the teams in the hotels, the customers, Crieff Hydro and myself will all feel really proud to be part of this story."

The Hot Scots Power 40: Stephen Leckie and John Jennett, Crieff Hydro hotel >>
John Jennett appointed MD at Crieff Hydro hotel in Perthshire >>
Obituary: John Leckie MBE, former managing director of Crieff Hydro >>

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