Issue Iss2 2008
Take a break
McKever Hotels is Scotland’s fastest growing independent hotel chain
Headquartered in Glasgow, McKever Hotels is part of the McKever Hotel Group, offering hotels and luxury serviced apartments across Scotland and the north of England. Offering a range of short break packages, McKever prides itself on its superior hospitality, which encompasses comfortable facilities, quality food and welcoming service. Its portfolio of hotels range from the Gordon and Richmond Hotels in Tomintoul, Scotland’s highest village, to the new serviced apartment development on the trendy Newcastle Quayside.
Despite its extensive estate, McKever is a close-knit business with a firm focus on ensuring guests enjoy a friendly reception. “We were established in 1990 by Ally McKever, a former welder turned property developer,” reveals operations director Colin Perkins. “The company has 25 hotels, leisure properties and City Apartments across Scotland and the North of England. Our style is high-end, three-star properties from Aberdeenshire to Newcastle and we’re very much a family business. Although we’ve grown considerably in the last few years, our ethos remains focused on being family-run rather than a big corporate entity and we always want to retain that ‘family feel’ for our guests and staff.“
The hotel group has grown rapidly in recent years and its assertive growth strategy, set to continue over the coming years, has incorporated both acquisitions and refurbishment of existing properties, as Colin outlines: “In the last three years we have effectively doubled in size because we’ve grown so quickly. Of our current acquisitions, a £2 million investment is due very soon in Gretna, which is a wedding oriented hotel, with 30 bedrooms, function rooms, restaurant and bar. The hotels we look to acquire must have a minimum of 30 bedrooms and either be at the top end of the industry or have the potential to develop to that standard.
“We’re also looking at new site developments in Scotland and northern England, although we may expand further south because there’s no definitive number that we’re aiming for in terms of properties. Besides actively seeking additions to our portfolio, we’re in the process of redeveloping our properties. We’ve recently completely refurbished two hotels in Scotland – Rosslea Hall Hotel in Helensburgh and the City Hotel in Glasgow. Both have been completely revamped in the last 12 months at a cost of £2.2 million and we have another £1.5 million refurbishment plan pencilled in for this year at various locations and a £6.5 million redevelopment scheme on the banks of Loch Lomond.”
McKever’s hotel locations affect the type of cuisine each serves as the company strives to provide locally produced dishes, created by talented chefs. Sourcing is undertaken locally and suppliers are selected using criteria that examine quality, price, and health and safety. “We have a number of nominated suppliers and use a local supply chain as well so, generally speaking, we use Scottish ingredients,” explains Colin. “Although we’re one company, our hotels are independent properties with their own menu and style. Each venue is individually suited to the local community and its customer base – it’s important that our chefs are allowed a free rein to be inventive in their kitchens.
“Our major suppliers provide a fair amount of food produce whilst the rest comes from local fish or vegetable merchants and butchers. Our executive head chef and purchasing manager monitor our suppliers regularly – though we try not to change them too often – by looking at the price and quality of produce. In order to concentrate on health, safety and quality they visit the production units, factories and shops that our goods originate from.”
McKever’s executive head chef, Graham Headland also has the responsibility of exploring and developing new concepts for the food side of the business. “We’re looking closely at the healthy option market in terms of our menus, and Graham is currently working on that,” explains Colin. “He’s sourcing healthier products and developing menus with our chefs so that we can offer a wide range of healthy options for our guests, which is important given the latest trend towards healthy eating.”
Besides keeping up-to-date with new developments in the market, Colin believes in training staff in order to overcome the ever-present challenge of maintaining an effective workforce: “As an industry, recruiting and retaining good personnel is difficult so we offer incentives and bonus schemes. We regularly train our team as we feel it’s vitally important to maintain quality with regards to both senior managers and junior staff.”
McKever’s strength in the market allows it to positively address these challenges and Colin believes that the company’s upcoming ventures will reinforce McKever’s impressive property portfolio: “The hotel business in Scotland has undergone a transition period but, from our perspective, the industry is buoyant and this summer is looking very good for us with regards to trading. Our forecast is extremely healthy for 2008 thanks to our chairman seeking, and seizing, great opportunities. Over the next two years we’re aiming to acquire in the region of a dozen properties as well as developing our existing estate, both in terms of quality and the levels of business we service.”