The Townhouse Team Get Ready for Busy Winter Season
BLAIR HAS DONE HIS “HOUSE” WORK CREATING SUPERB HIGHLAND PERTHSHIRE BOUTIQUE B&B & RESTAURANT
The Townhouse was given a new lease of life in 2015 by local businessman Blair Girvan, and his team, who redeveloped the historic building and former Palace Hotel in Breadalbane Terrace, Aberfeldy, into a stylish fifteen bedroom boutique B&B, with its own “Upstairs Restaurant”.
Now the Aberfeldy B&B is set to experience its most popular autumn winter season yet, with its marketing offer of 25% off when you book three nights or more, with 15% off for those booking two nights, proving a very popular selling tool to boost occupancy at this time of the year, and particularly, during the run of the popular Enchanted Forrest event, provide an incentive to visitors to extend their stay to more than one night.
“We’ve worked hard, over the past three years, to build an excellent reputation for boutique B&B accommodation for couples, together with offering a stand alone restaurant which excels in offering well priced meals using local produce,” said Blair, who purchased the building in 2012 after selling his family’s garage, which lay adjacent to The Townhouse, to the Co-op retail group. “We offered a similar package for summer bookings which was very well received, and saw us run at over 80% occupancy, which is excellent for a business of our size and scope.”
“Even although we enjoyed a very good summer of fine weather, with perhaps more Scots holidaying at home instead of rushing off abroad, in today’s competitive market you still have to be seen to be offering extra value, and encouraging customers to stay longer with you,” he said.
“A three night stay lets them truly experience what we have to offer in terms of good old fashioned service, cosy welcoming decor which references our Highland Perthshire heritage and setting, and tasty food using ingredients from our tried and tested local suppliers.”
We find that word of mouth, and personal recommendation is another powerful tool for us,” added Blair.
“During “The Enchanted Forest” demand for accommodation is at a premium. We’re not in Pitlochry, but can still take advantage, as over the past few years the whole area has been given a huge boost, and visitors will look for good value deals.”
Blair explained that, back in 2012, he wanted to invest locally in a new business venture. Although he knew that the former Palace Hotel had lain empty for ten years and would be in a terrible state, the building enjoyed a great, central location on the main road south, in and out of Aberfeldy.
“We took a chance and bought it knowing it would need extensive renovation,” he said. “It has proved to be a great decision, although we did have to spend a million pounds to complete all the work, finally opening for business three years later in June 2012.”
Dry Rot had set into the building, and detailed planning permission, and consent from Historic Scotland was needed to tackle all the repairs and re modelling because of the age of the building, dating from the late 1800’s.
“It was once a twenty three bedroom hotel,” said Blair, “But we remodelled it into a far more manageable, more modern, fifteen en-suite bedroom B&B. Some of the original rooms were far too small for a modern hospitality business, and not all of them had room for an en-suite. I came up with the layout design myself, and then got my architect to draw it up properly, submitting it for planning.”
The completed layout created a stylish entrance hallway with rooms, restaurant, named aptly “The Restaurant Upstairs”, and lounge bar above, retaining many character features.
Blair wanted to reference Highland Perthshire in the décor of his new business, but not in an overpowering, or “overtly twee” way.
“Once all the rooms had been formed, I enlisted some help from Catherine (surname), a local interior designer, who came up with the décor and furnishing ideas for the bedrooms and public areas. I knew roughly what I wanted. but Catherine’s vision brought it all to life,” said Blair.
“I think she did a fabulous job, managing to get that all important balance right,” he said of the mix of muted greys, browns and beiges which are used in the main lounge, where a checked carpet takes centre stage, together with an exposed brick wall, stylish leather chairs, feature wall lights, and ironwork accessories.
Originally planning only to offer a boutique B&B, it was the approach from locally based chef Lee Patrick, who used to work as Head Chef at The Inn on the Tay at Grandtully, that changed Blair’s mind to also offer a restaurant.
“As well as working locally, Lee used to have his own restaurant called Café D’Amour. He had loads of experience and ideas, and contacted me to offer his services,” said Blair. “We realised we could actually have a pretty nice restaurant as another strand to the business. To be honest, we were already thinking that our upstairs dining room and lounge were far too nice to use solely as a breakfast room. The Upstairs Restaurant was born. We concentrated on making the B&B aspect work first, and then opened the restaurant in September 2015. Lee is still with us, helping me grow the food side. I’m so glad he took the initiative!”
With it being very apparent in the business that teamwork, and finding the right staff, is key for Blair, he is keen to pay tribute to Craig Jamieson, and David Montgomery, his hotel managers.
“David, or Monty as we call him, has been with me for about four years now. He came on board just before we opened to help with the set up of the hotel, and general running of it once we opened. He is very much our public facing manager who is great with customers.”
Added Blair: “Craig has been with us for about a year and a half now, brought in as we were getting really busy and needed some extra help. He has since taken over some of my responsibilities so i can spend more time on other things. They are both great guys, and I think we all make a very good team.”
“I have twelve members of staff in all, with a Spaniard who joins us in the Summer months,” said Blair. “Pretty much everyone is from the immediate area. A really nice aspect is that virtually all of them walk to walk.”
It’s surely another sign, if it were needed, that the Townhouse is absolutely nailing it, when it comes to presenting a local, “healthy” rural business!
The Townhouse Aberfeldy’s current Winter Accommodation Offer takes the price of a three night stay, in a double room, (with full Scottish Breakfast), from £237 to £177.75, working out at only £59.25 per night.
The two night stay in a double is available for £134.30 or £67.15 per night, normally £158, and also includes breakfast.