Scientist’s new venture is a hit with Mull tourists

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A research scientist who renovated a former manse and turned it into self-catering accommodation is celebrating a successful first tourist season.

Matthew Oliver purchased Achaban House on the Ross of Mull in November last year and began upgrading the premises to create a contemporary, relaxing and high-quality environment for guests to the area.

With support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, Matthew opened in time for this year’s summer season, offering en suite private bedrooms with a guest kitchen for up to 14 guests in six rooms.

Achaban House was at full occupancy from May until the end of August, with September and October also very busy – proving a hit with customers.

Matthew said: ‘I worked as a research scientist with Aberdeen University and other Scottish organisations on projects related to population biology, genetics and wildlife management. But I was looking for an opportunity to run a lifestyle business in an unspoiled part of the West Coast with a
rich habitat for wildlife.

‘Achaban House had exactly the right layout and location to provide bedrooms with a guest kitchen so I could offer something different from a traditional guest house.

‘After the upgrade, I opened in spring this year and we had full occupancy until the end of August, which was fantastic. We’ve had very positive feedback from our guests, in particular about the style and comfort of the interior and the guest kitchen.’

Achaban House will be open all year round with Matthew looking to develop the off-season occupancy by attracting outdoor enthusiasts who are interested in wildlife and various activities.

He added: ‘I’ve had support from Business Gateway on the key issues when starting up a business, which has been a massive help. I also attended workshops that Business Gateway host which arm you with the knowledge needed to successfully set up and run a venture.

‘I’m interested in providing walks, kayaking and rock climbing, as well as offering add-on activities related to the local environment. I am also hoping to market the house as an ideal venue for family gatherings and special interest groups.’

Angela Vernel, an adviser for Business Gateway, said: ‘We’ve assisted Matthew in his career change by giving him advice and support to help successfully launch Achaban House as a top visitor destination. Through our one-to-one advice and workshop programme, he’s well equipped with the essential skills and knowledge you need to run a business in our region.’

For more information visit www.achabanhouse.co.uk

To find out more about Business Gateway  call 01546 808363 or visit www.bgateway.com/argyll-and-bute.