The refurbishment of the Glenuig Inn on Lochaber's stunning coastline has been shaped by two major factors – one safeguarding its historic past and the other creating a shining beacon for the future.
For Steve Macfarlane, Director at the Inn, has created a showcase facility which demonstrates how a traditional building, particularly one with historic connections, can aspire to the very latest in green credentials.
When Steve took over the property in 2007, he immediately had a very clear idea of the potential it offered for local tourism. His plans were ambitious and the scope of the refurbishment was enormous, but it was never an option to demolish and start from scratch. Steve explains why:
“The original stonework of the main building bears the marks of a remarkable history. It still stands from 1746 when the English soldiers chasing Bonnie Prince Charlie, who escaped their pursuit from nearby Loch Nan Uamh, burnt it out, destroying its thatched roof and leaving only its outer shell which has been used through the generations since. It was right that we should preserve its place in local history and we have made a feature of the original stonework inside the Inn.”
While retaining the history of the building Steve has worked with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to develop a facility which will meet the needs of 21st century visitors. The social and economic development agency has worked with the business to create a growth plan and has supported the project with a grant of £180,000.
Steve commented: “We are very excited about the refurbishment as it is all about attracting people to the area and will provide a resource for development of local tourism, boosting the local economy, creating employment, and of course providing an exemplar of sustainability across the whole business.”
State of the art energy saving technology has been incorporated everywhere, slashing the bills and demonstrating that quality and efficiency can be combined in one product. The building is covered in wood fibre insulation and breathable render; it recycles waste heat from cooling equipment, has solar hot water panels, and combined with a wood burning stove these provide year round heating. The lighting is a shining example that incorporating the right energy saving system can effectively deliver flexible and appropriate lighting across the needs of the business. The day light tunnels complement the state of the art technology to provide bright, controllable lighting which could be used in both commercial and residential properties, while using a fraction of the normal energy consumption.
The location of the Glenuig Inn meets the needs of a number of markets. It is close enough to Fort William to attract those exploring the area and looking for a great eating experience within a short drive.
Its position at the sea edge is also perfect for the outdoor activity market. Currently a number of adventure holiday businesses incorporate it into their itineraries, with sea kayaking and diving available right on the doorstep.
The facilities are set up with this in mind – there is flexible en-suite accommodation for couples, families or groups keen to enjoy the outdoors. The business' attention to detail in energy efficiency is matched by its philosophy for customer care, and it is committed to serving natural food and drink produce.
Fergus Watson, HIE's business development manager commented: “HIE works closely with ambitious businesses to look at ways in which they can grow. We are delighted to have supported the refurbishment at the Glenuig Inn. As well as providing an excellent facility for day-trippers and outdoor activity enthusiasts, it is in a prime location to tap into the growing market on the west coast for sea kayakers, divers and yacht owners.”
[Photographs are available to download free to accompany this story at www.scottishviewpoint.info/greenglenuig ]
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HIE's role is to develop sustainable economic growth across the region. To achieve this it creates infrastructure for future investment, assists large and small businesses with growth aspirations and has a unique role strengthening communities, particularly in fragile areas.
HIE supports the growth ambitions of business and social enterprise clients by creating close working relationships in order to accelerate growth in turnover, profitability, wage levels, exports and therefore Gross Value Added (GVA) in the HIE area.
HIE also invests in transformational projects across the region to make the Highlands and Islands a more competitive and attractive place to live, work, study and grow.
The region covered by HIE takes in more than half of Scotland, and is home to around 440,000 people. See www.hie.co.uk for more information.