A landmark Highland Perthshire hotel has unveiled a £1.25m development underlining its belief that buoyancy will return to the Scottish tourism market, post-Covid.
Owners of McKays Hotel in Pitlochry, J and R Group Ltd are, building 12 new contemporary bedrooms and creating a re-imagined 100-seat function suite. Mid-term plans include establishing a McKays ‘Townhouse’, with 2 apartments followed by the refurbishment of 7 en-suite rooms at an existing sister business which closed during lockdown.
The latest investment package, enabled by business and bank finance, takes J and R Group investment in McKays to around £3m and increases the number of rooms for guests to 39.
The construction was undertaken as a ‘live project’ by Dundee building company, Alpha Projects, who worked alongside, architect and design consultants, Dave Phillip and Steve Gibson. This enabled McKays to continue to trade as work progressed during the summer months.
Despite Coronavirus losses for tourism and fears over looming energy price spikes in October, McKays’ owners are confident in recovery for Scotland’s tourism sector, in the longer term.
“We have confidence in what we have created here as a product,” said Richard Drummond of J and R Group Ltd. “Our approach has been to continually reinvest in the business, to improve the quality for customers. We grew sales through the last financial crash of 2007/2008 and we have grown the business since then. That gave the bank confidence in us, as operators, and they also saw the impact when we began to build up our portfolio of rooms.
“We are a hotel, restaurant and bar. We also support live music across Scotland and artists locally through things like the ‘March Into Pitlochry’ boutique music festival. When guests come here, they are coming for a number of different reasons. We genuinely believe we are offering something that not every hotel has.”
The return of several major Events this year has seen solid advanced bookings for the new rooms, justifying optimism around the development.
The award winning Enchanted Forest sound and light show in Pitlochry will return, providing a major boost to the town, with over 600 000 visitors attracted since its inception.
Thousands also attended the 170th Pitlochry Highland Games on September 10th, with spectators and participants traveling to Highland Perthshire from across Europe.
The March Into Pitlochry music festival and Hogmanay Street Party will also return, providing a welcome influx of visitors over the leaner winter period – something which disappeared during lockdown.
“I don’t think we are back at maximum again. That may take a couple of years but we are confident the international market will return,” added Mr Drummond.
“Pitlochry can be like a League of Nations. It is a place of beauty and has a charm, in itself.
“It’s popular for weekend escapes from the city but also for day trippers. It is also a stop-off point on the way to the highlands.”