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Progress Report Number Five

Posted by Stuart and Susannah Macpherson - 16:42 on 22 December 2008

Five years done, fifteen or more to go. Maybe by then I will be satisfied with all we have achieved but, perhaps, one is never truly satisfied? Maybe this is what keeps us motivated? However, looking back, much has been accomplished, just not as much as we’d dreamt of when we first crossed the threshold. When we looked to the future our dreams then were untainted by the shackles of cash flow and the unforeseen challenges that lay ahead.

As it wasn’t possible for us to view the hotel prior to purchasing, we were unable to ascertain the amount of investment that was needed to both maintain the old house or the amount of upgrading that was necessary. Buying it sight unseen may seem foolish (or, if you are being kind, courageous!), but we have no regrets. There are some advantages to buying blind: it meant that our decision was based purely on the ability of the business to pay the debt and not tainted by the physical condition of the house and the late 70’s décor, like the shag pile carpet, dusty old dried flowers and painted plate collection that covered many of the walls on the ground floor.

With the help of a local interior designer Graham Grant we have now taken the ground floor back to a more Georgian feel. Graham worked with Brinton’s Carpets to design the unique carpet that now dominates the lower floor and stairwell. This set the tone for the Farrow and Ball vintage paint colours and the subsequent fabrics that we’ve re-upholstered all the furniture with.

Continuing on from last year’s good work, this year we managed to refurbish the bar and Regency lounge with new carpet, curtains and paint. We reinstated the original fireplace into the Regency lounge and Dougal Black, our local carpenter, made some authentic bookcases that, we feel, finish off the room beautifully. We also purchased forty new restaurant chairs and some swanky table skirts to give the restaurant an air of sophistication.

This year Charlie (our overworked handyman) celebrated his sixtieth birthday and, coincidentally, his thirtieth year of working here, at Coul House. To mark the occasion we hosted a little BBQ lunch with all the staff. Rather than buy Charlie the conventional gold watch we asked what he might like. Much to our surprise, he wanted a rowing machine. Now, Charlie has never been one for recreational exercise so I assumed this would be quickly relegated to the darkest corner of his house to gather dust or taken to the local car boot sale, however, to his credit, he continues to use it nightly and, combined with his new eating habits, has lost over three stone (48 lbs or 22 kilograms) in the last six months and is looking healthier than I have ever seen him.

Our annual family holiday (oh, I love how that sounds), thanks to having great staff that has made this possible two years on the trot, was to sunny Florida. This gave the girls a chance to meet Mickey Mouse and to test their new swimming skills without freezing their toes off in our local loch. Eighteen days away... and I felt like a new man.

So here’s to another successful year. A special thanks goes to you, the reader, guest and friend of Coul.
Onwards and upwards, in 2009 we will aim to refurbish as many of the bathrooms as we can.

Yours sincerely,

Proud owners
 

Coul House Hotel, Contin, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland IV14 9ES E: T: +44 (0)1997 421487