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Scotland's Crieff Hydro to acquire two McMillan Hotels

By Emma Eversham , 04-Feb-2014
Last updated on 05-Feb-2014 at 10:18 GMT

Scottish hotel resort Crieff Hydro has announced plans to acquire two hotels from McMillan Hotels and launch a joint venture to manage four Freedom Hotels properties, adding more than 400 bedrooms and £10m of revenue to its business.

Under the McMillan Hotels deal, expected to complete later this month, the operator of the 900 acre Crieff Hydro resort will take over the 132-bedroom Peebles Hydro and the 24-bedroom Park Hotel in Peebles.

The business, which is Scotland's oldest trading company, will also look to expand its collection through the launch of a joint venture with Freedom Hotels to manage four of its hotels - The Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate, The Isles of Glencoe Hotel & Leisure Centre, The Ballachulish Hotel and the Oban Caledonian.

Crieff Hydro chief executive Stephen Leckie said all six hotels had a different focus to Crieff Hydro, but offered 'a significant opportunity' to develop travel, tourism and leisure opportunities in important tourist areas. 

Investment

Leckie, who moved the company's banking from Lloyds to Santander to fund the acquisitions, said investment in the hotels was planned but the emphasis would be on providing quality service and training and developing staff first. 

"They are all very different from Crieff Hydro as a destination resort," he said. "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. Engaging with partner businesses locally and understanding what local customers want from these hotels will be really important to us.

"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.” 

Restructure

McMillan Hotels managing director, Douglas McMillan, said the deal followed a year's worth of discussions with Crieff Hydro's management and formed part of the company's restructure. 

"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. To that end, we have been determined that we should achieve as seamless a handover as possible and that these two much-loved hotels will be developed further," he said. "We are confident that Crieff Hydro will provide an excellent fit, and the hotels will continue to prosper and progress.”

The change in ownership is not expected to result in any staff redundancies and all customers with existing bookings or gift vouchers will remain unaffected he said.  

Colin Johnston, owner of the four Freedom Hotels said he was looking forward to working with the team at Crieff Hydro.

He said: "Having been through the hands of a few operators, it will take time for these businesses to stabilise but I know they have great potential. This is about the long-term for me and for Crieff Hydro. 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.”

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