Updated: Jul 3
In the next of our series of articles speaking to businesses around Loch Ness, we're only moving a few hundred yards along the road from the Glen Rowan Cafe to the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel in Invermoriston. Sitting in a prime spot overlooking the A82 and the junction with the road to Skye the hotel is a familiar site to any of use who regularly travel between Inverness and Fort William. They are also perfectly situated for anyone hiking the Great Glen Way and are a tempting lunch or overnight stop for anyone walking the route.
Invermoriston itself is a pretty little village and worth exploring if you want to get away from the busier loch-side spots of Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus during the peak season. One of my own go-to places for a quick Sunday walk is the path alongside the River Moriston and the falls. Check out the Glenmoriston Arms own website if you're looking for a few more suggestions for places to go.
So who are the people behind the hotel?
The McInnes family from Fort Augustus have been running the hotel since 2011. Managing partner Ailsa has over 40 years experience in the industry behind her. General Manager (and daughter-in-law) Barbora is a graduate of Hospitality Studies from Czech Republic.
Together they head up a small core team of family and locals, boosted in the busiest months by a handful of seasonal staff. The eleven bed Hotel is open from March to December offering accommodation, bar and restaurant. Head Chef Erik (who also happens to be Barbora’s brother) takes full advantage of the fact that they are lucky enough to live in an area where the best of Scotland’s larder is practically on our doorstep. The evening menu showcases the likes of Highland beef and venison, Hebridean Salmon, hand dived Shetland King Scallops and Pheasant & Partridge from the Glenmoriston Estate.
The original Hotel first built on this site in 1740, was a Drover’s Inn. This pre-dates the Battle of Culloden and amazingly some of this original structure is still in place today.
They say that the big challenge when they first moved in was in applying a fair bit of TLC as sadly, years of obvious neglect had taken its toll. 'We have worked tirelessly to gently nudge this beautiful old building in to the 21st century whilst trying to retain its traditional and unique character.
Our most ambitious project was the installation of a Bio Mass Boiler back in 2012 which environmental consideration aside, has had a positive impact both in practical and financial terms. We were also the first in the area to install an electric car charger in our car park'.
Sustainability is at the core of what we do at Loch Ness Living and it's great to see another Highland business keeping that front and centre of their business practice.
What Inspires You to Work in the Highlands?
Apart from the family roots and the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, we wake up every day to stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, castles, mountains and lochs. How could we not be inspired?This is an area steeped in tradition, haunted with dark history and alive with magical legend! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
Do you have a favourite place to sneak off to on a day off
What’s a day off!? Seriously though, as a seasonal business there is no day off until the winter shut down. That’s when we take time to spend with friends and family. Barbora usually heads for an extended break to her family in Czech Republic and Slovakia and Ailsa does likewise with short breaks to Orkney, London, Glasgow and less often (obviously!) a proper holiday in Australia.
Favourite time of year?
Your Perfect Music Soundtrack?
We love all kinds of music. The perfect choice on any given day depends how you feel!
Are there any business or people that have inspired you along the way?
Ailsa: I have taken inspiration and advice from everywhere I’ve ever worked and always tried to pick out the good bits and take them with me. The best learning curve I had in my career was when I worked through the ranks of various departments in a 435 room Hotel in Melbourne where I lived in the early eighties. Some of the people I learned from there were truly inspirational.
Barbora: During my hospitality training I worked in big Hotel chains all over Czech Republic. I particularly enjoyed the buzz of events & functions and was encouraged by the positive feedback from my teachers and employers. I came to Scotland in my final year to improve my English and was lucky to land a job at Glenmoriston Arms. I fell in love with this wee family run Hotel in the Highlands and was totally in awe of Ailsa. She’s very ‘hands on’ and I have learned so much from her. She always inspires me to be the best I can be.
Finally, it goes without saying that things here are still very uncertain as we move into the next phase of lockdown measures. Scotland isn't open yet but I believe it's of paramount importance that we still shout about Scottish tourism and the businesses that support it. Those of us on the frontline are passionate about Scotland, its people and the environment and I think that shines out in the two articles published so far. Follows, comments and likes on social media might not seem much but they definitely help boost morale and let us know that you'll not remain strangers once 'all this' is done.