Borders hotel going it alone after ending French connection

A Borders hotel is going it alone after cutting its ties with multinational brand Mercure.

Tuesday, 8th May 2018, 4:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th May 2018, 5:00 pm

Eddleston’s Barony Castle Hotel is now an independent business again after its owners decided to end a franchise agreement with the French firm, part of the Accor Hotels chain, dating back to 2012.

Since buying the hotel in 2012, co-owners Richard Spanner, Scott Weatherby, Vytautas Syvys and his father Raimundas have invested £1.4m in upgrading its facilities, and they are currently drawing up plans to expand its operations further.

Mr Spanner said: “Withdrawing from the franchise wasn’t an easy decision to make as Mercure is a phenomenally-successful global brand.

“However, we believe the Barony is such a unique hotel that being an independent will actually provide an opportunity to further enhance its reputation based on its own outstanding merits.

“The Barony is a beautiful 16th century castle surrounded by 25 acres of outstanding grounds. It is a jewel in the crown for the Borders.

“Becoming independent provides the hotel’s management team and staff with an opportunity to build on those unique historical roots and attract even more visitors to the area looking to experience the authentic Scottish Borders.”

The building of 26 two-bed luxury lodges in the hotel’s grounds and the renovation of a former Scottish Ambulance Service block to provide staff accommodation is due to begin in July, and those works are expected to be complete dby January 2019.

With help from Business Gateway Scottish Borders and Resource Efficient Scotland, the hotel, a category-B listed building, is looking to reduce its carbon footprint and hopes to secure finance to install a ground-source heat pump and solar panels.

Mr Spanner said: “When we first thought of building new accommodation within our grounds, we turned to Business Gateway for advice.

“Subsequent support with our business plan, digital marketing strategy, HR and modern apprenticeship scheme has been invaluable, not only strengthening our local team but also helping us attract new visitors through our doors.

“Moving forward, we want to make Barony as environmentally-friendly as possible, and thanks to our adviser connecting us with Resource Efficient Scotland, we now have an action plan that will help us achieve that goal.”

Business gateway adviser Annie Watt added: “Over the past few years, the hotel owners have accessed our support to help make the hotel more efficient and strengthen its offering.

“They have ambitious plans to build on the reputation Barony already has, and we will continue to offer support to help them achieve their goals.”

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Originally named Darnhall, Barony Castle, also known as Black Barony, was built in 1536 as a baronial-style stately home on the site of a 15th century pele tower and revamped in the early 18th century and given its French chateau-like frontage.

It was turned into a hotel early last century but later converted into a Polish military school, that phase of its history being reflected by the Great Polish Map of Scotland nearby.