Community throws weight behind £11m Glencoe hotel plan

The planned £11m rejuvenation of the Kings House Hotel to create approximately 40 jobs and provide a facilities for tourists, walkers, skiers and climbers in Glencoe has been given an encouraging response.

The project team has been hugely encouraged by the response to its public information forum which was held last Saturday in St Mary’s Church Hall in Glencoe.

Over 50 people attended the open event which was organised to provide local residents, businesses and organisations, community councillors and the local authority with the opportunity to see for themselves what the plans entail.

It was also a chance for attendees to speak with project managers Bidwells, architects Covell Matthews, hotelier Crieff Hydro and owner Diane de Spoelberch.

An artist’s impression of the £11m rejuvenation of the Kings House Hotel

In her address to the gathering, Ms de Spoelberch said that her father had fallen in love with the area more than 55 years ago, when he first bought an estate in Glencoe. The family had spent many happy times as residents of the Kings House Hotel before the family bought Black Corries Estate next door.

She said: ‘When the Kings House suddenly came up for sale in 2014 we didn’t want somebody buying it to create a large development on the site or build something which wasn’t in-keeping with the environment and so we bought it to develop a sustainable project which makes sense for the community.

‘We try and invest money from our family business in things we like and understand such as the Drymnin whisky distillery on the Morvern Peninsula. This hotel needs money and care and it should be a place for people who enjoy sport and the outdoors.

‘Although my brother Rodolphe de Spoelberch and myself consider this project as an impact investment, which is close to us and the things we love, we have to ensure that what we are proposing is economically viable.

‘However, we are responsible investors and don’t want to do anything that would displease the community. It must be clearly understood that we will not proceed with something that is not supported, even if this means no hotel at all.’

Some of the attendees of Saturday’s public forum who showed their support for the Kings House Hotel planning application are (from back left): Finlay Clark, Bidwells’ managing partner; Graeme Ferguson, Bidwells’ partner; Doris Elliott, Glencoe’s oldest resident; Alistair Sutherland, chair of the community council; Diane de Spoelberch, co- owner of the Kings House Hotel; Jessie Cattanach, Kings House Hotel manager; Ian Nicholson, former owner of the Kings House Hotel; Walter Elliott, lifelong Glencoe resident; Paulette Weir, Glencoe resident; (from front left) Stephen Leckie, CEO Crieff Hydro, James Allan, Bidwells’ surveyor and Peter Weir, former Glencoe ski centre manager and Glencoe resident.

Commenting on the proposed plans, lifelong and oldest resident of Glencoe Doris Elliott said: ‘Who turns down an £11 million investment in the community? It will bring more people to the area and keep the economy going. The Kings House is still there and the new extension will eventually blend in nicely.’

Alistair Sutherland, chair of Glencoe and Glen Etive Community Council was equally as keen, adding: ‘The community council is supportive of the plans as the redevelopment should provide some scope for young people who might otherwise leave this area.

‘There are no facilities for functions anywhere close by and I like the design with the original droving inn being retained.’