The Invercarse Hotel in Dundee has just benefitted from a £1.7m investment by owners Gordon and Martina Whiting. The hotel, which comes under the Redwood Leisure Group banner, is a sister hotel to the Woodlands in Broughty Ferry and both are paying members to the Best Western Brand.
The substantial investment by Redwood Leisure has seen a brand new wing built and the re-design of the hotel’s restaurant as well as the refurbishment of its existing bedrooms, the expanding of the hotel’s car parking facilities and the Banqueting Suite refreshed.
Libby Reynolds, the hotel’s Sales Manager, told Hotel Scotland, “The decision was taken by Gordon and Martina to invest in the group’s hotels following the announcement that the Victoria and Albert Museum of Design (V&A) was to be built in Dundee.” At the time Mike Galloway who was involved in the economic development for Dundee said that when it opened the city would need more hotel rooms. So Gordon and Martina decided to do their bit, and started with the Woodlands which they spent £1.5m on in 2015. They added 24 rooms bringing the Woodlands total to 65. It was a bit of a risk, because obviously V&A wasn’t opened, and in fact it will not open until September this year. But they thought, “Let’s expand.” Certainly the Woodlands has been trading very well since the extension, which is one of the reasons that they decided to invest in The Invercarse.
The hotel’s existing forty four rooms were refurbished before the extension was started and the restaurant was transformed to cater for the additional guests that the extra 24-bedrooms in the new wing would accommodate. Today the hotel has 68 bedrooms in total.
Says Libby, local contractors were used when the Woodlands was extended and pretty much the same local companies have been used at Invercarse which means the money goes directly into the local economy and wider surrounds. For example, Arktx architects designed the building and suggested schemes for decoration, George Martin did the build, CM Sturrock Electricians provided the electrical services, Dovetail supplied all the furniture, and we also used local decorators and carpet fitters”
She continues, “Work started last January and the first thing that had to be done was expand the carpark. New hotels in Dundee in the city centre don’t need to supply additional parking, but planning required that Invercarse did. So, another 24 car parking spaces have been created – which means the Hotel now has parking for 100 cars. The ramp to the car park was moved over to the right and reclaim some waste ground at the back in order to increase the car park space. This means that we can easily cater for coach parties, and even if the hotel is full there is still enough parking for people coming to dine, additionally, there are six new charging points for electric cars.”
The conservatory restaurant now has more covers following its re-design. Libby comments, “It has been reconfigured so that we have more flexibility when it comes to maximising the space available. The restaurant was previously on two levels with hard fixed bench-style seating, which was quite restrictive. The main restaurant is now on one level, and opens out on to decking. There is also a semi-private dining area in that part of the conservatory which can sit up to 18 people.”
There is another area to the right which can also be used for private events and this is on a lower level, and leads directly out to the garden, with its grand Redwood trees, which is why Redwood Leisure was so named. This space also boasts a large wall mural of the Tay Bridge painted by a local painter. But really the most stunning visage of all is the view from the restaurant across the River Tay.
The new wing which has a curved glass brick feature, which houses a fine carpeted fire escape. It might win an award for the finest fire escape in Scotland! Part of the design includes solar panels on the roof that will generate enough electricity to serve the whole extension and possibly a bit more. Libby comments, “That will go towards our green credentials and sustainability of it. The way the building was designed also means that the corridors do not require much lighting, a long corridor with elevated roof lets light flood through.
The new wing has two disabled rooms, twelve family rooms which also have sofa beds and interconnecting rooms, as well as a celebration room. Explains, Libby, “We call it a Celebration room instead of a bridal suite, because people book the room for all sorts of celebrations.”
The rooms are stylish and contemporary and are split into two palates – 12 rooms feature a mauve and pink feature wall, and the other 12 shades of green feature wall. The walnut furniture is the same in all the rooms – with each featuring a desk/dressing table, bed surround, and open wardrobe. All the beds are zip and link and all the bedrooms feature 55” plasma TV’s and also have media hubs. The new bathrooms all have walk in showers and are tiled.
Dovetail manufactured and supplied all the furniture and soft furnishing. Ann Jamieson, Sales and Marketing Manager of Dovetail comments, “We have a long-standing relationship with Redwood Leisure which has been built on a mutual understanding of our individual businesses. As a client, they have a clear idea of what they want but are receptive to our ideas and that is why the relationship delivers.”
She added, “We also enjoyed the project because we had the opportunity to supply everything in the room, so we could really pull it all together. We worked with the architect and the client to ensure the best possible finish.”
Libby concludes, “We are already fully booked for the Open, and I think we will also attract more families now that we have the new rooms and obviously we are aiming to attract people coming to Dundee to see V&A. It’s anticipated visitors will come to Dundee to see V&A, however, it is up to us and other local businesses to create a viable tourism product. We have to create a product that makes it worthwhile for folk to not just come for the day, but to stay too. Therefore Dundee needs to be offering a wider tourism product. Both Invercarse Hotel and Woodlands Hotel are members of DAVAA, the Dundee and Angus Visitor Accommodation Association, which is an organisation that provides a voice for accommodation providers and allows us to share information and work together. Accommodation providers are all doing their bit and familiarising themselves with what the area has to offer, this way we hope to not only attract visitors to our accommodation, but get them to stay a little a longer, and most importantly, return with friends!
One of the attractions at the Invercarse this year will be a Maggie’s Penguin. Explains Libby, “Gordon and Martina, sponsored a Maggie’s Penguin to support Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre, the 80 penguins will be on parade around the city this summer and one will be sponsored by the Invercarse. There will be an app for families to download and find all the Penguins. Once the app is downloaded and you unlock the penguins offers will be given from each sponsor, we thought it fitting to offer a discount from our new family rooms. The Oor Wullie trail last year was hugely successful and Redwood Leisure bid for an won an Oor Wullie, people loved getting their pictures taken with it. We hope the Penguin will be as popular.”
Certainly, if the Penguin looks as good as the new look Invercarse Hotel, I’m sure it will.