Tenders won for new Glentress centre

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THE local hotel and a Scottish bike chain have won the tender to set up in the new £9million centre at Glentress near Peebles.

Glentress Hotel – situated at the entrance to the world class mountain biking venue – will run the new cafe at the Glentress Peel Centre, set to open in the spring.

And Edinburgh-based Alpine Bikes will run the new bike shop.

Forestry Commission Scotland’s (FCS) Borders manager Bill Meadows said: “We’ve undertaken a very thorough, open and fair tender for commercial opportunities and I’m very pleased that the process has produced two companies which have many years of experience in the mountain bike and outdoor leisure market.”

FCS is in discussion with the companies over the next few weeks to work out suitable contracts. And more details are expected soon on what the companies plan for the shop and cafe.

Mr Meadows said: “Both have shown a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and innovation in their tenders and demonstrated they are keen supporters in making Glentress a top-class visitor attraction.”

Alpine Bikes director Bryan Shedden said: “I am thrilled we’ve been offered the tender. Through our shop at Innerleithen we already have sponsorship relationships with local events and clubs and expect to build on this commitment throughout the Tweed Valley.”

Glentress Hotel owners Claire and Olivier Bony have set up GT Restaurants to run the new cafe.

Mrs Bony said the couple were delighted, adding: “We are very much looking forward to working with Forestry Commission Scotland and the other site partners to create a five-star visitor attraction, which can only be of benefit to the many users of the forest park and to our local community.”

Currently Tracy Brunger and Emma Guy run The Hub café and bike shop at Glentress and have a lease with FCS for the café until next spring. They were told in December they were out of the tendering process.

Yesterday, Ms Guy said: “It’s irrelevant to us who got the tenders because it doesn’t change our situation.”

She disputes the Forestry Commission Scotland figures which suggest there are nearly 300,000 people visiting the attraction, saying instead it is nearer 100,000.

“Our tender was based on the facts of how many people are coming to the forest and how customers we see through our business. For us to have put in a higher bid would have been financial suicide. If there were 300,000 people there, we would have bid at least three times the rent we did, but there are not.”

Her figures are based on government numbers, car park numbers and revenue and their café business.

“We have been there pretty much every day for the last 10 years: we keep records of how many cars come in, how many toasties we sell, how many cups of coffee,” she added.

“We can’t compete against other businesses that believe there are 300,000 people coming. I just hope they have deep pockets because they are going to need them.”

She and Ms Brunger are looking at other projects, some in the Borders.

An FCS spokesperson said: “The commission is committed to working with The Hub for the remainder of the agreements. The Hub’s bike shop permission runs out end of February and the café lease in February 2012.”