Resort MD Converts Family Home To Satisfy Staycation Demand

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Scotland’s oldest trading Company has filed its 142nd set of annual accounts. And Crieff Hydro shows no sign of abandoning the trends of growth and sustainability set by its 1868 founders. With turnover and profit both up by nearly 5%, the business now brings nearly £17M of revenue through the gates of its 900 acre Perthshire estate.

“More and more Scots are holidaying at home and demand is rising thanks to uncertainty over air travel and the hidden costs of travelling abroad.” Stephen Leckie

Scotland’s oldest trading Company has filed its 142nd set of annual accounts. And Crieff Hydro shows no sign of abandoning the trends of growth and sustainability set by its 1868 founders. With turnover and profit both up by nearly 5%, the business now brings nearly £17M of revenue through the gates of its 900 acre Perthshire estate.

The Company’s accounts report almost £3m spent on upgrades including a stylish, modern lobby designed to serve the 1000 visitors who can use it each day. MD Stephen Leckie has even given the nod to a refit of his former family home to help cope with staycation demand. “We are seeing the trend reported by Visitscotland,” says Leckie. “More and more Scots are holidaying at home and demand is rising thanks to uncertainty over air travel and the hidden costs of travelling abroad.”

Overlooking the Strathearn valley, the Victorian family house is in the Crieff Hydro campus but now offers eight boutique-style bedrooms popular with couples alongside two 5* self-catering apartments to match. As Leckie shows off the building, he recalls that it once housed his own forebears and was the very place he was looked after when he was a hotelier-babe-in-arms.

Although he is a proud descendant of the Hydro’s founding family, the current boss is not one to rest on his laurels. Recently chosen by Enterprise Minister Jim Mather to head up the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership Group, Leckie is well-known in the industry for a relentless focus on investment and innovation: an approach which has transformed the resort into a major player in both the family and conference markets. The unique offer of six hours free childcare per day to visiting families has been a winning formula, whilst businesses revel in the central location and access to the latest onsite outdoor activities including woodland Laser Quest and off road Segways.

Crieff Hydro is Scotland’s leading leisure resort, with over 200 4* hotel bedrooms, and over 50 self- catering units (of which a majority are 5*), set on the stunning 900 acre Perthshire estate. There are four food outlets and over 40 indoor and outdoor activities on site from high-ropes to horses; quads to laserquest and tennis to a relaxing spa and beauty treatments. The business welcomes up to 1000 customers a day, employs 500 people and has a turnover of nearly £17M.

Stephen Leckie is the fifth generation of his family to run Crieff Hydro since the doors opened on Scotland’s maiden hydropathic establishment in 1868, the company is now the oldest registered company currently trading in Scotland (No. SC000268). Since taking the helm in 1994, he has marshalled more than £40M of investment to transform the property into a true leisure resort which can compete on the international stage. Stephen has held various industry posts including chair of the British Hospitality Association (Scotland). In 2010 he was invited by Enterprise, Energy & Tourism Minister Jim Mather MSP to chair the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership Group. He is also the incoming President of the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and a Director of the Scottish Tourism Forum.

According to Leckie, the resort is renowned amongst parents for its inclusive breaks including entertainments and free daily registered childcare. Going by the name of BIG Country, the purpose built facility is much more than a ball pit. It features structured play and learning and is the largest registered venue of its type in the country.

“This combination of contemporary accommodation, free childcare and lively activities means that Crieff Hydro has started taking on global brands like Centreparcs,” says Leckie, describing how staycationing families take advantage of his “unique resort” on the doorstep of Scotland’s central belt.

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Geoff Morrison
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