Monday, March 02, 2009

The Holly Tree Hotel must be the outstanding success of the West coast of Scotland

Can you imagine dining at a window with this view. This is taken from the Bar at the Holly Tree Hotel. They do the absolute best bar meals in the West of Scotland at the most sensible prices.

Gillian and I know the Holly Tree Hotel as customers. When we cannot stay in our cottage which is only 400 yards away, we stay in the Holly Tree. We eat often in the Holly Tree, and so do the visitors to our cottage. Everyone, without exception gives it top marks.

It was not always so.

When we came here 20 years ago, the Holly Tree was always nice, but expensive under the original owners. So you took out a mortgage and paid it off your credit card over the following year. The standard dropped under different owners, and we gave up.

Then the McFatridge family took it over. They slowly re-built the standard, built up the trade and worked out the best way to go. With a couple of years experience behind them last year they went for broke. They improved just about everything and spent a lot of money. Made major upgrades everywhere. They brought the bar to the front, so everyone could look out at the stupendous view, enlarged the dining area, got a new chef. They put in a real winner then, the indoor swimming pool, which has been a great success.

We did ask them if they could find a way of producing some meals at prices which normal holidaymakers in our cottage would find reasonable. They did better than that, much better.

When their new chef went in, he developed a bar meal drawn from the main restaurant menu, and priced it at around £10 or so for a main course. That makes it the best in the area. Combined with the view, and the super service, I'll bet they are now the best Hotel/Restaurant on the West Coast anywhere from Campbeltown to Applecross.

This is tremendous. With upgrades going on in all the rooms, the reputation is spreading all around the country. They've been packed out through February.

Just as a contrast, the two bigger hotels in the area have gone into liquidation twice in the past four years, and have been saved by the skin of their teeth through a management buy-out. The other classy hotel, too classy, too expensive, arrogant service "no, we only do a three course menu even though there is no one else in the restaurant, that'll be £80 sir" can't sell the business at all.

Good luck Holly Tree. We love success stories like this. It is the well run family business which will survive and grow in this recession.

Gillian and I know. We've lived through four of them.

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