Bookings soar at West Highland hotel group

Crerar Hotels CEO Chris Wayne-Wills outside the Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa.

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A hotel group with properties in Oban, Mull, Glen Coe and Inveraray has seen bookings soar by more than 100 per cent.

Crerar Hotels Group said that bookings in February rose by 106 per cent and March looks like beating that target – despite a lack of certainty around when travel restrictions will be lifted.

Chris Wayne-Wills, chief executive officer, believes choice and freedom to travel again will entice staycationers to breathe new life back into Scotland’s tourism industry.

Crerar has seen enquiries for longer stays of five to seven nights, multiple bookings for families, and plenty of ‘personalised’ requests, it said.

Mr Wayne-Wills said: ‘We received an influx of bookings in February and we’re trending above that for March already.

‘The conversations our teams have been having with potential guests are around taking the chance to celebrate special occasions and moments missed over the course of the pandemic.

‘They want to be able to book in larger groups for a little longer to spend quality time together and personalisation is top of the agenda as people are desperate to start making treasured memories again with the special people in their lives.’

Crerar is investing in its properties, with a £3 million refurbishment under way at the Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa to bring an upgraded four-star hotel to the island and The Glencoe Inn at Ballachullish is also benefitting from a £500,000 programme of works.

Mr Wayne-Wills added: ‘Our ongoing investment in our hotels in the midst of a pandemic is testament to not only wanting to give our guests the best possible experience as and when they can stay with us; but also, to our appetite to breathe life back into the Scottish tourism industry.

‘Once we’re given the word, we will be ready to open our doors and give guests a quintessentially Scottish experience with low-key luxury at its heart – as well as the freedom to enjoy their stay exactly as they want to.’

Mr Wayne-Wills said at the end of last year’s lockdown ‘safety was the new luxury’ wanted by guests but he now expects ‘choice’ to be the theme of 2021.

The group is launching an ‘I Choose’ campaign in preparation for when hospitality businesses are given the go-ahead to open their doors.

He said: ‘The I Choose campaign that we’ve launched in preparation for coming out of lockdown really homes in on those messages – we want to make it clear to guests that, whatever they want, we can make it happen at any of our locations.

‘Whether it’s exclusive use of The Glencoe Inn for some belated family celebrations, private wine tastings at Thainstone House, or boat trips from Oban Bay Hotel and Spa or The Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, to view seals or dolphins on the west coast – or even to catch the freshest Scottish seafood to enjoy back at one of the hotels – nothing is beyond the realms of possibility and our hotels will be geared up to make it happen.’