As a fifth generation hotelier, it’s hard to think of Stephen Leckie doing anything other than working in hospitality. Not only does he have a family bond with the property – as great-great-great-grandnephew of Dr Thomas Meikle who founded the alcohol-free, clean-eating spa centre in 1868, but he brings strong vision and savvy to the role. After completing a BA in Hospitality and Tourism at Edinburgh Napier University, Stephen cut his teeth at the Queens Moat Houses hotel chain, where he was the company’s youngest general manager at 25. As Crieff Hydro’s Chief Executive, Stephen has built up the hotel as a leading player in Scotland and the UK, particularly as a family hotel. In fact, he has built up the whole group – which now includes ten properties in Scotland and England – with the ethos that this is a family of hotels and of staff. Stephen also works hard to move tourism in Scotland forward. He has held positions on everything from the local community council and Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, to now currently sitting as chairman of the Scottish Tourism Alliance.
The hotel group has taken over a management contract to operate the Peel Café in Peebles, a popular stop-off with cyclists and walkers visiting the Borders. Also in Peebles, both the Park Hotel and Peebles Hydro have seen a massive refurbishment, with The Park completely renovated in upcycled materials from the recently closed March Street Mills. Today the group has more than 750 bedrooms and employs 1,200 staff. Turnover for the group in 2016 was £24.3 million, with £19.9 million of that coming from Crieff Hydro and its sister hotel in Crieff, The Murraypark. However the group is currently cost-cutting due to increased operating costs and recently offered staff voluntary redundancies. Stephen Leckie explained that he has been forced to cut staff as financial burdens, such as major increases in food and drink prices, continue to take their toll on the company.