Roxburghe Hotel sale falls flat

Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, Heiton.
Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course, Heiton.

Plans to sell one of the Borders’ best-known hotels have fallen through.

A deal had been struck for the takeover of the Roxburghe Hotel at Heiton, near Kelso, by Bespoke Hotels, but those negotiations have now collapsed.

That means the landmark property, built around 1810 as Sunlaws House and largely rebuilt after being left badly damaged by a fire in 1885, will remain in the hands of the 10th Duke of Roxburghe, Guy Innes-Ker.

The 62-year-old had announced plans to sell off the 22-bedroom hotel and golf course in June for an undisclosed amount to Bespoke, the UK’s largest independent hotel group, and that sale was due to be completed at the end of last month.

The collapse of the sale is said to have been due to a major investor pulling out shortly before the scheduled completion date.

Roxburghe Estates signed a 15-year management contract with Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) and Albert Roux three years ago to run the hotel, but that agreement was in line to be terminated once Bespoke took over.

Roddy Jackson, chief executive of Roxburghe Estates, told the Southern: “I can confirm that the sale of the Roxburghe Hotel and golf course to Bespoke Hotels will not be proceeding.

“It is disappointing given the extensive preparatory work and due diligence undertaken, and we were informed by Bespoke that a key investor had withdrawn unexpectedly at a very late stage.

“The hotel and golf course has been withdrawn from the market while we review the situation.

“It is therefore business as usual, with ICMI and Albert Roux continuing their management agreement.”

The Roxburghe Hotel opened in 1982, having previously been used as an estate office, then expanded with the development of the region’s first championship golf course in 1995.

At the time the sale was announced, Roxburghe Estates reassured the hotel and golf course’s 47 staff that they would retain their jobs despite the change of management, and further jobs were expected to follow as Bespoke was planning to build holiday lodges nearby.

In 2010, planning consent was granted for 60 holiday lodges, a new clubhouse and conversion of the existing clubhouse to a 10-bedroom dormy house, and that was said to be a key factor in Bespoke’s now-defunct move to buy the business.

Announcing the handover in mid-June, the duke said at the time: “I am delighted that we have reached agreement with Bespoke, knowing that they have exciting plans for the future and will invest significantly in the business.

“We look forward seeing the Roxburghe grow in the years ahead under new ownership and achieving our long-term vision of a high-quality resort destination.

“We strongly believe the Roxburghe has a secure and successful future under Bespoke Hotels’ management.”