Hospitality puts Paddy on the crest of a wave

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Spending a day on a boat with people sure gives you an insight into what makes them tick.

Paddy Crerar, centre, with Oban Bay staff Liam Wann, Rachael MacDonald, Carmen Tamba, Denise Prosser.

With this in mind I donned my lifejacket and oilskins on an extremely ‘changeable’ day earlier this month to join one of the country’s leading hoteliers and some of his staff for a trip on the west coast waters.

So, the Oban-born Crerar Hotel Group chairman Paddy Crerar has an exclusive portfolio of seven top quality establishments, owns land on Sanna which his brothers, who live on adjacent properties, won’t let him build on for fear of what he will put there, is an extremely skilled sailor, farms at his home in East Lothian and doesn’t do beans for breakfast.

Captain Crerar intends to run regular day trips on his RIB, Texa, from his Isle of Mull Hotel.

One of the main things that came across however is that Paddy Crerar’s love of the hotel industry is equalled only to that he has for his family …….. and his high speed RIB Texa.

Oban Bay Hotel workers Liam Wann (restaurant supervisor), Rachael MacDonald (assistant manager), Denise Prosser (head housekeeper) and Carmen Tamba (bar supervisor) just love their work.

‘I’ve been there for over 17 years so they must be doing something right,’ said Denise, who started cleaning at the Oban Bay in March 2004 and is the longest serving member of staff there.

‘It’s a great team,’ said Rachael, who had just been promoted days earlier.

‘Their is no hierarchy as such. Everyone knows what they should be doing and we all just muck in and work together. Yes, the hours can sometimes be a pain but when you are happy at your work that doesn’t seem to matter.’

Paddy shows of his exemplary cooking skills on Sanna beach.

In the teamwork department Paddy leads by example, his cooking skills at our beach barbecue during the day trip were exemplary.

His involvement in the Scottish hospitality industry for more than 30 years has stood him in good stead.

Principally a hotelier, his first major role was as MD of British Trust Hotels which he led to successful sale in 2005 after seven years of growth. The Crerar Hotel Group with Paddy as CEO was formed the same year.

The Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa is just one of seven Crerar establishments to benefit from a £5M upgrade.

Following an in-depth review of the prospects for Scottish hospitality and the Scottish visitor economy in 2019, the company committed itself to investing £5m into upgrading its remaining portfolio: Loch Fyne Hotel, Inveraray; Golf View, Nairn; Thainstone House, Inverurie; Oban Bay; Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa; Deeside Inn; and Glencoe Inn.

In reality the figure will be close to double that but Paddy is confident he has made the right move.

‘We recognise that the debacle of Brexit is a threat both to how others see our country, by association, and also who will or can join our workforce,’ he said.

‘No-one can afford to ignore the negative impact that loss of freedom of movement will place on business and communities, particularly those in rural locations.

‘That’s another reason why investing in our business is so important – with an inevitable shortage of labour, skilled and unskilled, we have to be the employer of choice.

Crerar go above and beyond when it comes to looking after its staff.

‘We have to be more attractive as an employer than anyone else, hospitality people need more than good wages – they want and need to believe in the business they join. We are confident that with the best hotels in the best location we will attract and retain the best.’

In March 2020 Paddy stood down as CEO of the company and took on the role of chairman.

He became a patron of Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland in 2020 and is a director of VisitScotland, Thistle Award steering group.

He is also judge and chairman of The Crerar Trust, a charity set up to distribute funds to good causes connected to the communities Crerar hotels operate within.

He, his wife Sheila and their three children live in East Lothian where they farm deer, pedigree cattle, lamb and cereals.

Anyone looking for career information for Crerar Hotels Crerar should contact academy co-ordinator Michelle Robertson at micheller@crerarhotels.com or telephone 07884 44 1 920.