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HOTELS Scottish castle to become hotel

Russian princess and for- mer model Olga Roh has revealed plans to con- vert Aberdeenshire’s Inchdrewer castle into a luxury boutique hotel. Te 46-year-old descen-

dent of Tsar Nicholas II bought the property with her husband last year, for a fee reported to be in the region of £400,000, which led to Roh also inherit- ing the title of Baroness of Inchdrewer. Roh plans to restore the

Grassroots campaigns should not be underestimated

UFI IBRANHIM is chief executive officer of the British Hospitality Association

W Te 16th-century tower house is classified as a category A listed building

castle in order to create a family home, alongside an eight-room hotel. “I think if you asked many Russians in

London about Scotland, most of them wouldn’t have a clue,” said Roh. “But I come from a much more traditional

Russian family and know about history and the links between our two countries over the centuries. “I really hope that the people of Banff will

welcome us and not just see us as some crazy outsiders and oddballs who try to fit in.” Te 16th-century tower house – which is classified as a category A listed building and

offers a commanding view over Banff Bay – was in a “mainly ruinous state” when Count Mirrlees bought the fortress in the early 1900s but it was partially restored and made wind and watertight by 1971. No work has been carried out since then and

the buildings at risk register states: “Te castle is restored, though the interior is leſt uncom- pleted and the project is abandoned. External inspection finds the semi-restored building has deteriorated and is now on the cusp of ruination.” Details:

Theme park replaced with resort expansion

An abandoned Wild West theme park in Cornwall, UK is to be replaced by a £50m expansion to a holiday resort to come later this year. On the site of the Spirit of

the West theme park – which closed in 2009 – the invest- ment will see the area turned into a luxury holiday spot by Retallack Resort and Spa. The development, which

has been granted planning consent by Cornwall Council, will cover 81 acres and include a tourism training academy, 325 luxury rental properties and an indoor leisure village with a swimming pool, gym, function space, gym, restaurant, café and office space. The plans include an academy to train

Retallack Resort & Spa will add 325 rental properties as part of the plans Construction consultant Edmon Shipway

is part of the development team along with Hunter Page Planning. Te Retallack Resort currently has a number of

budding tourism professionals in all facets of the self-catering tourist industry, in which Cornwall leads the way in the UK. Te proposed training facilities will be among

the best in the south west and will develop young talent looking for a career in tourism.


leisure facilities including a health club, spa, kids club and a simulated wave surface surfing wave. Retallack also opened its newest restaurant,

Te Green Room, in February this year with MasterChef winner James Nathan working as executive chef. Details:

Twitter: @leisureopps

hile the monumental weather pattern has been dominat- ing hospitality and tourism headlines over the past

few weeks we should not allow a large and unending raincloud to distract us from other important matters. Indeed 11 February 2014 saw a ray of sunshine – at least in political terms – as the House of Commons hosted the first ever debate on tourism and VAT. Te result of tireless lobbying and cam-

paigning from all corners of hospitality and tourism, including the BHA and its mem- bers, the case for a VAT reduction in hotel & accommodation, restaurants & catering and visitor attractions are strong. Our sec- tor makes a convincing case that British hospitality and tourism businesses should compete on a level playing field with our European competitors. Indeed, research shows that a cut from 20 down to 5 per cent would create 80,000 jobs and create a £2.6bn surplus for the Treasury over ten years from extra income and other taxes. What marks the House of Commons

debate out is the level of grass roots engage- ment, not least from BHA members who have invested time, energy and passion into lobbying their MPs and encouraging them to join the Commons debate. Te first ever parliamentary debate on

tourism VAT in the Commons saw an excellent turnout of 28 MPs, with all sides of the political spectrum coming together to put pressure on Treasury minister David Gauke to reconsider the government’s reluctance to reduce VAT. What is particularly compelling about this

campaign is the power of grassroots cam- paigning, not least social media. In this case even the smallest hospitality business had a voice, empowered with the opportunity to engage with their local MP and educate them on the Cut Tourism VAT campaign. Tere is still much work to be done but

our collective voice is starting to be heard. Trough communication, and most notably social media, small shoots of recognition are growing and our collective grassroots campaigning is, and will continue to, make an impression on the decision makers.

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