The Gun Lodge Hotel is a most substantial and attractive hotel, within a coastal setting in the village of Ardersier close to the Highland capital of Inverness. The property dates from 1769 being completed after the construction of Fort George which was designed to stop further potential uprisings after the Battle of Culloden. The building was developed into a hospitality business in the 1960s and since then it has become a strong and continuous part of the locally economy providing a wide range of services for locals and visitors to the region. The business benefits from a tranquil trading location and a truly charming setting. The 10 letting bedrooms and attractive public areas are well-presented and offer a range of service options. The comfortable and cosy lounge bar benefits from a homely solid fuel fire.
An appealing aspect of this sale is the spacious owner’s accommodation. New owners may well choose to bring some of this accommodation back into use as trading accommodation, thereby increasing turnover and profitability further. The current owner’s accommodation provides adequate space for an extended family or even a partnership situation. The vendor during her tenure has undertaken a range of infrastructure upgrades to include improvements to the roof, kitchen, new boiler house and boiler, new bedroom furniture as well as new en-suites in many rooms etc. to name a few improvements. The trading aspects and the owner’s accommodation blend well to form a desirable business and home within a lovely village setting.
REASON FOR SALE
The current owner purchased the hotel in 2008 and since then commenced a series of intelligent upgrades developing the property further and providing an excellent home and income lifestyle business. During her tenure she has maintained trade to a good standard. However, it is due to a desire to retire from the hospitality sector and relocate closer to family that now brings this attractive proposition to the market.
The business is ideally situated to take advantage of the many walkers, golfers, cyclists and general tourists who visit the many attractions in the surrounding area. The Gun Lodge is also popular with business to business activity providing both accommodation and catering and benefits from a strong local clientele. During the main season, a high level of tourist trade occurs with the peak operating period being from Easter to September. The hotel currently has an external contract to provide hot food on a daily basis year-round which provides a continuous level of income. Many guests pre-book their accommodation via a number of portal websites, however, there remains an element of passing trade. The hotel has potentially 13 letting bedrooms, of which 3 have not been used by the current operator for letting purposes in recent years which allow for further business growth should these be used for income generation by new owners. The bars sell an array of whisky and has real ale on tap and the current owner focuses on quality cuisine. The lounge bar has a juke box, a gaming machine and a darts lane.
The current proprietor, who is a sole trader, operates the hotel throughout the year with a small team of staff supplemented by student employees in the summer. The business has a strong track record but the vendor believes that new owners could raise the business to the next level building upon the recent property improvements. There is scope to develop trade further through the provision of an extended service in the off-season months. However, an attractive feature of running a hotel in this locality is that the rural nature of the business draws in a high level of trade in the summer months. Income is generated from the three traditional streams; food, wet sales and accommodation. The hotel has a responsive website allowing guests to book accommodation online with minimum fuss.
The pleasant former fishing village of Ardersier boasts a strong history and has a population of around 970. The village sits on the Moray Firth with its strong association with Fort George. The Moray Firth is home to a very special dolphin population as they are the most northerly resident bottlenose dolphins in the world with over 130 animals currently recorded in the area which can be regularly seen in the Moray Firth. Ardersier has a pebble beach which is popular for short walks. Fort George attracts IRO 60,000 visitors per year and the vast majority of these pass the Gun Lodge Inn. The village benefits from being close to Inverness Airport, Castle Stuart Golf Course and within a short drive of Inverness itself.
The area is ever popular with a wide range of visitors whether golfing, fishing or enjoying the many places of interest within the local area including Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle, Loch Ness, Inverness etc. Golf is a great attraction in the area and there is a great choice of courses locally; Castle Stuart GC being the closest to the hotel and which was used for the Scottish Open on numerous occasions. Ornithologists and naturalists are not short of interests here including bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth and the scenic north Highlands has always been a popular tourist destination whether as a convenient base to explore numerous distilleries or to visit archaeological sites and historic castles.
Ardersier has excellent local facilities including shops, post office, medical centre, primary schooling etc. A full range of services and social facilities are available in Inverness (The Highlands capital) only 12 miles away. Inverness Airport is only a few miles away, making the Gun Lodge an ideal base for those requiring an overnight stop either before flying or after a long day travelling.
The hotel is arranged over two floors with the original building dating back to 1769. The building is of stone construction under a double-pitched, mainly slate, roof. The property is generally in good order and is presented in walk-in condition. The hotel has been extensively upgraded in recent years, with a few works yet to be finalised but these are in hand.
The hotel’s main and secondary entrances are to the side of the subjects and accessed from the car park. The main entrance leads to a reception hallway where there are stairs leading to the first floor and some of the letting bedrooms. A door leads to the dining room where immediately the grandeur and character of this 250-year-old property is evident. The abundance of wood fixtures adds a feeling of splendour and is replicated throughout the public areas within this magnificent property. The dining room has free-standing tables and chairs being set to c32 covers, offering a lovely and cosy experience. Off the dining room is the lounge bar which is also set to a mix of dining tables and soft furnishings. The lounge bar has a juke box, gaming machine and a darts board. The dining room and lounge bar feature open fires which make for a relaxing ambience. There are ladies and gents washrooms off the dining room and a gents WC in the lounge bar; a further ladies WC in the lounge bar which is currently used as a general storage area. All public areas are presented in good condition and exude a lovely character and charm.
Access to the letting bedrooms is from the front door which also leads to the dining room and the main hallway. The hotel has 13 potentially comfortable letting bedrooms of which rooms 11 to 14 are situated on the ground floor and the remainder set on the first floor. Room 14 is configured for disabled use and rooms 11 and 12 are ideal for guests with minor mobility issues as they too are on the ground floor. Five rooms benefit from fridges and 3 have ironing facilities; there are general ironing facilities available. Most rooms have chairs and a number also include high quality sofa beds (5, 6, 11 and 12), this allows the owner to offer family rooms as and when required. All 10 in-use letting bedrooms have modern en-suite facilities.
The letting rooms are configured as follows:
Room 1 - Double room with en-suite shower plus second private bathroom opposite
Room 2 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite shower room
Room 3 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite shower room
Room 4 - Double room with en-suite shower
Room 5 - Twin or Super-king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite shower room
Room 6 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite shower room
Room 7 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite shower room
Room 8 - Double room with en-suite shower (currently being modernised and not in use)
Rooms 9 & 10 - Used as owners’ rooms for extended family with shared private bathroom
Room 11 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite bathroom
Room 12 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite bathroom
Room 14 - Twin or Super king-size Double (Zip and Link beds) with en-suite wet room
All in-use letting rooms are attractively furnished and well-appointed with TVs, modern lights, hospitality trays and ample storage. The bedrooms are centrally heated.
The hotel has a well-appointed kitchen with a full commercial catering capability and new vented extractor system. Many of the appliances and facilities have been newly acquired and the kitchen is well-located to support food service to the lounge bar and dining room. There is a spacious suite of storage rooms just off the kitchen. The hotel has ample storage areas throughout including linen store, chilled beer cellar and dry goods store. There is a spacious office adjacent to the bar and kitchen areas.
There are two distinct areas within the building that offer potential owners’ accommodation and are being used for that purpose at this time. The main private space is set to the annex which benefits from a ground floor location and private access. This spacious accommodation provides a flexible living area with a lounge /dining / utility area with basic kitchen facilities, very large room currently being used as a bedroom plus a further double bedroom. The accommodation has a private bathroom plus a further family bathroom off the initial lounge area thus potentially making this a further bedroom either for owners use or as a further letting bedroom. This living space would be adequate for a couple or a small family. In addition, Rooms 9 and 10 on the first floor of the main building have a private door and inner corridor providing two rooms which are currently configured to a private lounge and a double bedroom. There is a private bathroom with shower over. These rooms could be used for extended family or brought back into use as a letting accommodation.
The subjects are located within the village of Ardersier on the main road benefitting from excellent signage. There is spacious car parking to the front of the hotel which can accommodate about 20 standard vehicles. There is an outdoor seating area situated to the front of the property and a bespoke smoking area to the rear with an additional seating area. There are a number of external buildings which are used for general storage and a laundry which may offer some development potential subject to consents. There is an enclosed grassed children’s play area with external seating. The owners have some private areas to the rear of the Hotel with two ponds.
The subjects benefit from mains electricity, water and drainage. There is oil-fired central heating. LPG gas is provided for cooking. The building is partially double glazed.
The current operation presents new owners with scope to increase trade and develop the business further. The current owner operates the business herself as a sole trader. Where new owners were a trading partnership, the business would operate to an improved level. The current owner has taken on the responsibility of developing the business and though there are undoubted areas of further improvement, she has managed this task as well as the trading elements on her own.
There are business development aspects which could add additional value to the business which have not yet been brought to bear on the business but these could be summarised as:
1. Bedrooms 8, 9 and 10 are either still being developed or used as owner’s accommodation.
2. There is extant planning permission to build a conservatory to the front of the hotel.
3. There is an en-suite bedroom in the owner’s accommodation which could be used for letting purposes.
4. The external storage buildings could be developed subject to consents.
The present business operation operates with the owner taking on the lead kitchen role. A mix of 1 full-time and 4 part-time staff are used to cover house-keeping duties and bar work. During the summer months part-time casual staff are employed to cover peak trading periods.