Tour route targeted

Highlands hotels acquired to focus on NC500 visitors

North Coast 500

Big attraction: North Coast 500 touring route

A group of hotels in the north of Scotland have been acquired by local business leaders with aim of building on the success of the North Coast 500 touring route.

They have formed Highland Coast Hotels which now owns Kylesku Hotel and Restaurant overlooking Loch Gleann Dubh; Newton Lodge, close to Loch Glencoul; The Royal Golf Hotel, Dornoch; and The Royal Marine Brora.

They will become part of The Highland Coast Hotels Collection, but each will retain its name and identity.

The company is chaired by David Whiteford, who lives locally and previously led the Northern Highland Initiative from 2009 to 2021.

An executive team is led by CEO, Roddy Watt, a specialist in the hospitality sector.

The new owners promise 100 jobs in the area and a commitment to sourcing supplies locally to sustain the economy.

Mr Whiteford said: “Together with my colleagues at Highland Coast Hotels, we are delighted to be building on the work of previous custodians of such fine, landmark hotel properties.

“With the aim of developing a collection of high-quality hotels on and around the increasingly popular and successful North Coast 500 touring route, these hotels represent a very exciting first step in building our portfolio. 

“We are very aware they are held in great affection by many regular guests, and this is a responsibility we take very seriously as we develop them for the good of the local communities, our employees, our suppliers and our stakeholders.”

Mr Watt added: “Our intention is to be recognised as the leading group of independent-spirited hotels on and around the route, for those wishing to welcoming, comfortable and authentic experiences in this spectacular landscape.

“We envisage that our substantial investment in the next few years will support sustainable growth in local Highland communities, extend the traditional season, and create many more full-time career opportunities within the hospitality sector.

“Our hotels will offer a broadening range of opportunities to our guests to immerse themselves in what the region has to offer.  Crucially, we intend to do all of this while being environmentally sensitive and protecting and preserving one of the most beautiful and fragile landscapes in the UK, and one of Europe’s last great wildlands.”

Tanja Lister, co-owner of Kylesku Hotel, commented: “We are so pleased to be handing on the baton at Kylesku, and that our much-loved hotel is to become part of The Highland Coast Hotels Collection.

“The new group’s forward-thinking culture, and its focus on great hospitality and environmental sustainability will deliver so much for our local communities and the region.

“We could not be happier to be passing on our legacy to such a professional and culturally aligned group, and all of our team are looking forward hugely to expanding their horizons and building on the success we’ve enjoyed over the last decade of our stewardship of Kylesku Hotel.”

Highland Coast Hotels have extremely positive plans for the hotels and intend to build on what has been achieved

– David Sutherland

Inverness businessman David Sutherland, who led a consortium which owned The Royal Golf Dornoch and The Royal Marine Brora Hotels, added: “Highland Coast Hotels have extremely positive plans for the hotels and intend to build on what has been achieved, so we extend our very best wishes to them for the future.

Highland Coast Hotels is expecting a strong summer season in 2021. 

With high occupancy levels already reported, the company is focused on UK-based guests looking to appreciate ‘slow tourism’, taking longer to enjoy restorative holidays whilst immersing themselves in the North Highlands.

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