Budget hotel chain Travelodge is stepping up its plans to expand into the Borders.
The Oxfordshire-based company has just opened its 44th Scottish hotel, in Stirling city centre, and is now planning to follow that up with 20 more this side of the border.
It is hoping one of those proposed new hotels will be in the Borders and is eyeing up Galashiels as a prospective location. If it proves viable, it would be the town’s first branded hotel and would be expected to create 15 jobs.
This week’s announcement reaffirms a similar ambition mooted in April last year following the opening of a new Travelodge in Peterhead, but it is being backed up this time by an approach to Scottish Borders Council for help to identify a suitable site.
Two potential locations are the Burgh Yard, east of Abbotsford Court, and to the east of the town near Tweedbank railway station.
The Burgh Yard site was in line to host a hotel, plus a retail park and residential properties, but its future is currently uncertain following the collapse of a deal the council had agreed with Stirling firm Ramoyle Developments.
Plans are now further advanced for the Border Gateway site at Tweedbank following proposals for a 60-bed budget hotel there, plus a supermarket and BP fuel station, being unveiled by Edinburgh-based New Land Assets in February.
Both Travelodge and Premier Inn have been suggested as possible takers for the planned hotel building.
Both firms, the two biggest of their kind in the UK, were also linked with the Burgh Yard site back in 2014, prompting Travelodge to issue a statement saying it could guarantee “100%” that it had no interest in moving into Galashiels, a stance it has since reversed.
The company has written to the council proposing a joint development partnership possibly involving funding from the UK Government’s Public Works Loan Board or third-party backers.
Upon completion of construction, the council would be offered the choice of retaining ownership and being paid rent or selling the hotel to a developer with Travelodge as its incumbent operator.
Travelodge chairman Brian Wallace said: “Many local authorities are in possession of large amounts of property and assets that are not being utilised.
“Investing in a low-cost hotel like Travelodge is an increasingly attractive choice as it draws visitors, creates jobs and helps boost the local economy.
“We operate 44 hotels across Scotland. However, the country is growing at pace and attracting visitors from all corners of the globe, but there still remains a huge shortage of good-quality and great-value hotels.
“To fill this gap, we want to extend our Scottish network with a further 20 hotels, and this includes our first hotel in Galashiels.
To help us achieve this, we are writing to Scottish Borders Council, to invite them to consider how Travelodge can act as a catalyst to drive their local development agenda.”
A council spokesperson welcomed that approach, saying: “The council would welcome discussions with accommodation providers interested in creating a hotel in Galashiels or other areas of the Scottish Borders.
“The Galashiels masterplan supports the local development plan in encouraging the regeneration of Galashiels town centre.
“Providing an international hotel offer for visitors is one of the key strands of the vision document, which has reviewed a series of potential hotel sites in the town to meet the demand for accommodation in the central Borders, particularly when major events take place.”
Travelodge’s closest hotels to the Borders at present are in and around Edinburgh and in Berwick.