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The Machrie Hotel to Open in Spring This Year

Over the past two years, travellers along the Low Road, or flying into Islay Airport, have watched the slow but steady growth of the new Machrie Hotel, keen to know what the refurbished golf course and completely rebuilt Hotel will have to offer. Well, patience is about to be rewarded with the Hotel scheduled to open for business in the spring, offering facilities for the benefit of islanders as much as for visitors, with job opportunities for as many as 65 people.

Baroness Sue Nye, Owner of Machrie Hotel, pays regular visits to oversee the hotel’s construction and refurbishment

47 Rooms

The 47 room Hotel will boast a superb bar/restaurant; a private 30 seater cinema; function room; two treatment rooms; a sauna and small gym. The open courtyard in the middle of the complex, which will be used for teas and coffees, can be covered with a bespoke covering to create a large function area to be used for large dinners, weddings, whisky or jazz festivals etc. Continue reading....

Golf at The Machrie

Outside, the legendary and extensively-remodelled 18 hole golf course, will be accompanied by a lovely six hole par-3 course ideal for youngsters, those new to the game, as well as people wishing to hone their short games and those with limited time to spare. A fully equipped golf academy and driving range, offering both indoor and outdoor bays, excellent extended practice facilities and a fun putting green, will be heaven sent for those keen to improve.

The 5th at The Machrie - Photo courtesy Dean Muir

Campbell Gray Hotels to Operate the Machrie

“We want to encourage people to come along and spend time at the Machrie,” explained Machrie Owner, Sue Nye, who has been a regular visitor since work began in earnest a couple of years ago. “We have been particularly delighted to appoint Campbell Gray Hotels to operate the Machrie and I know Gordon Campbell Gray is delighted to have added the Machrie to their portfolio of hotels. “He is an outstanding hotelier and proud Scot and this will be the company’s first Scottish hotel. He is, therefore, especially keen that it will showcase all that is best about Scotland. He wants to promote locally sourced produce, which will be wonderful for the Machrie and also wonderful for the island’s commerce.”

The Water Supply

Progress has been slowed by inclement weather and a longstanding issue with securing a mains water supply, but rather than treat that as an irritation a more positive outcome arose as a result. “The water supply was one of our biggest battles and we certainly couldn’t have achieved any of this had we not managed to secure a mains water supply. The delays did buy us the time and space to consider seriously what we wanted to do and our marvellous par-3 course, which our Course Designer, DJ Russell, of RAW Golf Design, and Course Constructor, Eric Samuel, of Edinburgh Landscapes, produced was one of new elements which came out of it. As for the water supply, that is now another box ticked, with a resolution which meets the Machrie’s needs without impacting negatively upon the rest of the island. “We draw off mains water at night and store it in tanks to be used during the day so we’re not impacting on the rest of the island’s water supply.”

A wee bit of History

Sue and her husband, Gavyn Davies, bought the Machrie in 2011, at a time when it was in administration. “Gavyn came to play the Machrie in late 2010 and I came with him although with our youngest son. While Gavyn played we went for a walk and both decided that this was one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. Islay is a magical place.” But it was anything but a purchasing decision made purely from the heart and the Machrie joins a business portfolio already featuring hospitality companies, including the restaurant chain, Leon, and Soho House, the Members’ Club with premises across Europe and North America.

The Machrie before the Purchase in 2008

“We have a background in investing in hospitality so, as well as Machrie being such a fantastic place, and how could you not love it, it makes business sense as well,” explained Sue. She is very keen to praise the entire team who have pulled together to make the project a nearcompleted reality. “Our builders, CorraMore Construction from Northern Ireland, have been superb, as has architect, Anthony Hudson; RAW Golf Design, Edinburgh Landscapes and our own greenkeeping team led by Dean Muir. The man who has pulled it all together, though, and without whom it would never have happened, was Project Manager, Philip Wells of Design Box Architects,” said Sue, for whom one of her lasting memories was watching the timber frames and the steel arrived into Port Ellen by barge from Northern Ireland. “Kate MacAffer is another longstanding member of staff who has been doing sterling work throughout the development.”

Career Opportunities

Recruiting has already begun and a General Manager has been appointed, and she will be arriving on the island next month, while there will be undoubted career opportunities opening for Ilichs. Anne Schaeflein, the newly appointed General Manager, can be contacted on anne.schaeflein@ themachrie.com. “Personally I think hospitality is a great career to go into and I know Gordon Campbell Gray is particularly passionate about and spoke at a recent Argyll and Bute tourism conference. He’s told me that it’s possible to go from porter all the way through to running a hotel there are no limits.” Daniel Falzon, of the Campbell Gray HR team, is, at the behest of Islay High School Head Teacher, Stephen Harrison, going to be giving a talk on hospitality as a career, while there will also be some Career Open Days held on the island.

“In terms of jobs we will have a peak of at least 65 and they will be filled by a mixture of of islanders and those who come to the island. Campbell Gray operates in many different countries so there will be opportunities for people to start at the Machrie and then move on to other Campbell Gray Hotels, but always having the opportunity to come back.

As for the Machrie itself, the traditional look to the road facing side has been retained, but the sea and golf course facing sides have been opened up with huge windows to maximise the views. Thile a number of stone fireplaces will ensure warm welcomes all year round. “Gordon (Campbell Gray) wants to create a relaxed atmosphere where people can come and relax. Fun for visitors and locals alike,” said Sue.

Published with kind permission of the Ileach Fortnightly Newspaper

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