Stepping into the New Year and hoping for a more reliable 2022, we take a moment to look back at the exciting opportunities and challenges the Loch Melfort Hotel team encountered in 2021. Despite another year affected by Covid, my goodness, did we have some real stand out moments!
1. Restaurant & decking expansions
In January, the wall between our Restaurant and Bino lounge came down to make room for the expansion of the Restaurant. We felt it was time to give the building a new lease of life and the new developments aimed to change the character and atmosphere of the main house, offering an updated (much bigger) space that’s already being well-received by guests and the team alike.
With our interiors getting a full make-over, it only seemed right to give some attention to our outdoor spaces too. Our expanded deck area stretches from the Restaurant all the way to the end of our new gift shop. This provides our guests with far more space to relax outdoors and allowed us to add more tables from which to enjoy the views (our regular Facebook fans may have already spotted a magical sunset photo from the upgraded deck).
And we didn’t forget about the bedrooms either! Towards the end of April, each of our Sea-View (ground-floor) Lodge rooms received a terrace re-design. Rooms were upgraded to feature their own partitioned deck area, providing guests with double the outdoor space and a greater guarantee of social distancing. They also gained wonderful new half whisky barrel tables: a fitting place to rest your dram as you watch the sun go down across the Inner Hebrides. Meanwhile, our Sea-View Room 9 (located in the main house) had its standard window replaced with a new patio-door that leads to a new balcony area. It now shares the same outdoor island views as the others.
Finally, we believe Loch Melfort Hotel should be accessible to everyone. We had always provided rooms with wheelchair access, but we wanted to use our time before re-opening to make them even better. With that in mind, we added an accessibility ramp to our Sea View Lodge, Room 23.
2. Biomass boiler & a new hot water system
It was all hands on deck in February as work on our new biomass boiler began and we installed hot water tanks and new radiators. The boiler saw 18 tonnes of wood pellets delivered to the hotel in preparation and we now benefit from monthly Eco-reports so that we can feed information around our environmental impact and carbon savings back to guests. Green tourism has always been a key focus for the hotel and so switching away from oil was an important step in significantly reducing our carbon footprint.
3. The Telegraph raved about Loch Melfort Hotel
In April, we were delighted to receive top scores from The Telegraph’s Travel Writer Robin McKelvie. Covering multiple factors, including location, food & drink, and value for money, the review called our country house hotel the “ideal Argyll escape”.
Read the full article here: www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations//argyll/hotels/loch-melfort-hotel/
4. Foodie features
Our menus attracted a lot of attention in 2021!
As travel across Scotland boomed and staycationers chose to explore parts of the country they’d never experienced, Wild About Argyll developed a new ‘Taste of Place Trails’ digital platform. The new tool allowed Argyll’s visitors the opportunity to explore food and drink offerings in the area (across 5 different themed trails). It highlights the best places experience the food that this part of Scotland is famous for, including Loch Melfort Hotel!
And that’s not all!
With interest in plant-based delicacies on the rise, Argyll & the Isles Tourism Cooperative launched the UK’s first Vegan Food Trail. The newest addition to their foodie trails highlighted the area’s plant-based producers and hospitality offerings. We were delighted to see our seasonal skewer dish featured as the lead image in the article, ‘What a carnivore discovered on the UK’s first ‘vegan trail’
Our Chefs are always working to make sure our menus are exciting and tempting and we received lots of wonderful feedback about our vegan menu:
“I just wanted to say how fantastic the vegan menu is. We had dinner with you on Friday evening and the food was excellent. It really is so great to find a restaurant that has a full vegan menu, with such variety and quality. The food was excellent, the setting is stunning, and the team who work there were so very nice.” – Lesley, Hotel Guest
5. Colourful new hauls from our Kitchen Garden
As part of our green commitment, we decided to make better use of the old hen enclosure and began working on a new veggie plot. The result? A brand-new Kitchen Garden that has already been used to seasonally enhance our specials and vegetarian dishes.
6. It was a year for outdoor weddings
Dreamy island view weddings were a popular choice for couples looking to tie the knot in a safe environment across 2021. In August, talented wedding photographer Martin Venherm captured the wedding of Rachel and Liam just beautifully, the rocks down near our boat house making for the perfect Scottish wedding backdrop. Don’t you think?
7. New employee opportunities supported by HIE
We were delighted to welcome Caitlin Leiper to Loch Melfort Hotel as our new Graduate Trainee Manager.
Part-funded by HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise). The role is an exciting one, formed to help nurture leadership in the hospitality industry. Caitlin will have the opportunity to learn and train in every department of the hotel, from housekeeping to front of house, preparing her for Duty Manager responsibilities in the future.
8. Improving our service with the Customer Feedback Cloud
Improving customer service with customer feedback is really important to us and, so, (a number of years ago) we introduced feedback cards to our bedrooms. In that time, we’ve been sure to read every comment and suggestion, and this has enabled better training and feedback for the team.
However, we wanted to take the comments from our guests a step further. In response, we created a cloud that allows us to gather our guests’ thoughts in one, easy-to-review space. This new tool delivers key words around what visitors love (and would like to see more of), so that we can make more informed decisions around customer care. So far, we’ve been delighted to see the team feature heavily, as it’s the people who make the hotel what it is. We’ve been celebrating (and feel encouraged) by the frequent positivity around our top key words: Food, Friendly, and Staff, and continue to use the cloud to review all recommendations.
9. Visitors learned the stories of some of our most popular team members
Everyone LOVES the animals at Loch Melfort Hotel and we’re always being asked about their names and the stories behind them. It was time to tell their tales! Our November blog gave everyone a bit of background behind some of our furry team members, from Spanish rescue sites to Scottish clan references.
Read about the Animals of Loch Melfort Hotel
10. Take a piece of Argyll home with you
What’s a holiday destination without a gift shop? You needn’t look for the answer here, as we built one in 2021 (and we’ve filled it full of things people will love and want to take home). Visitors that fall in love with our hairy coo, Dougal, can now take home a mini stuffed version of him, and we now stock a diverse selection of homeware and Highland mementos. We also added lots of new, local art to the walls of the expanded spaces, which visitors can purchase with the help of our reception team.
Looking to explore Argyll and the Highlands in 2022? We provide plenty of information on things to see and do, along with free Wi-Fi so that you can plan your trip as you go! Take a look at our bedroom options and start planning your trip today.