Ken McCulloch is not only a great ‘von viveur’, but he is one of the most respected hoteliers in the industry. A fact recognised when he won Hotelier of the Year from his peers in 2008. He was also a founding member of Connoisseur Scotland. Today his Dakota Hotel group is still breaking the mould. He started the group in 2004 and it now includes Dakotas in Edinburgh and Eurocentral, a Dakota Deluxe in Glasgow and, any week now, a Dakota Deluxe Leeds. Ken, who has been in hospitality since his teens, started out at British Transport Hotels, then ran the Cumbrae Club for his father before joining the Stakis Group as trainee Assistant Manager, moving up to General Manager at the tender age of 23. Says Ken, “BTH taught me to do things properly and Stakis to do it commercially.”
After Stakis he opened La Bonne Auberge in Glasgow, and a few years later Charlie Parker’s in Royal Exchange Square. After he sold that he did a joint venture with Alloa Pubs and took on The Belfry and the Buttery in Glasgow, and then Rogano. Then he went back into business for himself and in 1986 transformed the former Cavendish Hotel in Glasgow into One Devonshire with, his now wife, Amanda Rosa. He has said it is one of the things he is most proud of. Next on the agenda was Malmaison Hotel Group. The first hotel opened in Edinburgh in 1994 with the backing of the Arcadian Hotel business, and when he sold it four years later his investment reaped some £55 million. You might think at that stage he would have retired. But no. He bought two more hotels in Monaco before coming up with the idea of Dakota. With Leeds set to open imminently and plans in place for a new Dakota Manchester, the company aims to have one in every major UK city.
The company now employs 400 number of people and turns over in the region of £20 million.