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Case Study – The Airds Hotel

Benjamin Andrews purchased boutique hotel, The Airds Hotel & Restaurant in Port Appin, near Oban, in the heart of the Scottish highlands, at the end of November 2021.

Talking about the acquisition, he says;

 “I own other hospitality businesses outside of UK, but I was drawn to this particular property as it is in a very nice location on the West Coast of Scotland. It is such a beautiful location, even when the weather isn’t so great, and that was a big draw for me. Everything was already in place and the hotel has wonderful views, which is always a good thing!

 The fact that it was an existing business made it very appealing. In fact, it had previously been a well- established hotel and an inn since 1800’s! Over the years it has built up a very good name, attracting lots of repeat customers with its positive reputation and supported by high end travel agents.

 I felt immediately that I could make a good success of it as I sensed an affinity with the place as soon as I viewed it.

 In order to make the purchase happen, Benjamin was introduced via a broker to The Cumberland, as it has a long-established hospitality lending team, specialising in niche sectors including hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and holiday lets.

The role of The Cumberland

Stuart McNaughton is one of The Cumberland’s Commercial Relationship Managers. Based in Edinburgh, he works in the team dedicated to hospitality lending in Scotland.

Stuart’s remit is to look after new hospitality customers based in the west of Scotland, so he met with Benjamin to discuss all his requirements prior to purchasing The Airds Hotel.

Stuart says;

 “The Airds is set in a stunning and historic location so I was interested to hear how it was already a very well established business. It was also clear that Benjamin’s previous experience owning and operating similar businesses was a positive factor, so everything stacked up very nicely and the purchase moved very smoothly.

Our dedicated Scottish hospitality team is focused on businesses in Scotland, so we really understand the demands and challenges of the market.

 Benjamin adds;

“I dealt with Stuart from The Cumberland, who’s approach I liked as he offered a real working relationship: he really listened to me and offered sound counsel. It was very convenient that he was able to meet me in Edinburgh and I appreciated the fact that he had a great understanding of the hospitality sector in Scotland unlike some of the larger faceless financial institutions. We had a very good conversation that left me feeling like I was in good hands with The Cumberland.

The Cumberland prides itself on offering a fully relationship managed service to its customers from day one. The Commercial team are dedicated to understanding every customer and their business on an individual basis.

 Commenting on this approach, Benjamin says;

 “I found The Cumberland have been very supportive, not only in providing the finance required. From the start, they were very helpful indeed. I’ve dealt with various banks and building societies through the years and, as with any service providers, some are more helpful than others and some terms and conditions are better than others. However, what I found with The Cumberland is that what they offered me was good on both fronts. They have been very straightforward, easy to deal with and helpful: as a business owner, that’s all you are really looking for.

 Looking towards 2022

Post-pandemic, the staycation market in Scotland is set to be as popular as ever. Looking towards this year, Stuart comments, “The future looks great for Benjamin and The Airds: it’s a well-operated business set in a stunning location with existing relationships and staff. Additionally, the tourism hospitality market in Scotland is set to do well this year.

 Benjamin adds,

“We are looking forward to a very positive 2022, and we have taken lots of bookings from March onwards and hope to have a busy and successful first year.

 I have some plans for updates and improvements, including a possible lunch service for guests and visitors alike which we hope will prove popular as our location attracts people traveling up west coast of Scotland. I’d also like to make the most of the front lawn of the property to make the most of the wonderful view.

 The Commercial team at The Cumberland has recently expanded to include experienced team members across the UK in key areas such as Scotland, North East England, Cumbria and North West England, Devon & Cornwall. This means they are able to deliver on-the-ground support, insight and advice to their customers in the hospitality sector with knowledge of the operating area in which they are located.