Owner of Isle of Mull bar expands Hebridean estate with Islay hotel
THE owner of an Isle of Mull bar is set for further expansion in the Inner Hebrides with the acquisition of a hotel on Islay.
Neil Morrison, who owns Macgochans in Tobermory – SLTN’s Independent Pub of the Year for 2014, is taking on the ten-bedroom Lochside Hotel in Bowmore under a leasehold agreement. The deal, which is expected to be completed next month, marks Neil’s first foray into the accommodation business.
Located near Bowmore Distillery, the hotel has a whisky lounge with more than 300
Islay malts, as well as Duffies bar, a conservatory dining area and a waterside terrace overlooking Loch Indaal and Bowmore pier.
Neil, who also owns the Isle of Mull blended whisky, said he has been looking for a second outlet since he acquired and refurbished Macgochans in 2012, after six years managing the pub. The Lochside is a “good fit” with his existing businesses, he said.
“I had been hunting for the right place and this fits well,” Neil told SLTN.
“This will be my first place with rooms and I’m really looking forward to that.
“I’m hoping to get in mid-March or the start of April ahead of Easter and the Islay Festival [of Music & Malt] which is at the end of May.”
After that, Neil plans to revamp the hotel with the help of Scottish designer Ranald Maccoll, who worked on the five-week refurbishment of Macgochans in 2012 and whose designs Neil reckons would “fit perfectly” at the Lochside Hotel.
“I’ll probably start with the rooms and then move onto the two bars,” said Neil.
“It won’t happen overnight; it will be a work in progress.”
Neil, whose father is from Islay, said he plans to be based at the Lochside for the first month or two and then split his time between there and Macgochans on Mull.
“I’ll aim to do two or three days at each after the first couple of months,” he added.
“I think I’ll need to get a helicopter!”