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Business / Fresh chapter beckons for Scalloway Hotel as new owners take over

The Cross family will run the hotel and will get to work sorting the rooms and bar first, with a hope to reopen the restaurant later next year

The family team that will be running the hotel, from left to right: Dani Clelland, Mitchell Cross, Gwen Cross, Carl Cross. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

THE SCALLOWAY Hotel is set to reopen next year after its new owners received the keys this week.

Carl Cross, a director of local wholesale company Hughson Brothers, has bought the 23-bedroom hotel alongside his boss Robert Boulton.

Speaking to Shetland News, Cross said his family will be running the hotel, which has been shut since closing in 2020.

The plan is to get the building back into shape before opening the bar and rooms in the coming months – with the restaurant set to follow later in 2023.

Whilst the family will be running things, the aim is to employ more staff in the future.

The hotel received great acclaim under previous owners Caroline and Peter McKenzie, winning national awards – particularly for its food – and hosting notable guests like then prime minister David Cameron and actor Bill Nighy.

But their company which operated the hotel went into administration in the spring of 2020, with the immediate loss of 17 jobs as the doors shut.

The downturn in the oil and gas sector, which was a source of room bookings, and increasing overheads were cited as two of the reasons behind the move.

The McKenzies had already put the hotel on the market a year earlier as they looked to step back from the hotel sector.

It started off with an asking price of £900,000, but that had dropped to £475,000.

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

Cross, 54, said the conclusion of the sale has been a long time coming.

There is a hope that the bar and some of the rooms could be open before Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa is held at the end of January.

However, this depends on a premises licence being in place.

“We hope to get heads on beds to begin with and get the bar up and running once the licence has been transferred,” Cross said.

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It may be into the summer before the restaurant is open, with the kitchen said to need a lot of work.

“It is our intention to bring it back to its former glory if you like, if not better,” Cross said about the food, adding that he “doesn’t think people should go away hungry”.

Cross said the rooms are in “not too bad” shape despite the fact that the building has been shut for two and a half years.

He said things were largely left as they were – with biscuits still in the room and ingredients in the kitchen.

Elsewhere in the building a lot of work needed, Cross said.

“We need new tanks, because one of them has been ripped out, and the other one is broken – so we’ve already had to order four new tanks,” he explained.

“We’re also looking at replacing the heating and making it more economical, because of the cost of living and the energy crisis.”

The bar will also be gutted out, with new pipes installed.

Cross said his family has experience in sectors like accommodation, plumbing and catering.

He also said there is a hope that family members may buy into the business in the future.

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

Cross himself has been with Hughsons for more than 25 years, running it for the past nine years, and he still intends to work there alongside overseeing the hotel.

The other hotel shareholder, accountant Robert Boulton, owns Hughsons but lives in England.

Meanwhile the sale of the hotel comes at a time when ambitious proposals have been drawn up to improve the waterfront and centre of Scalloway.

Since the hotel closed in 2020 the Kiln pub on the other side of Main Street has been transformed into the KB under new ownership, offering restaurant food and a revamped bar.

But Cross said he felt the hotel reopening would “benefit the whole community”, as it would stand to draw visitors into the village.

A sight rarely seen over the last two and a half years – lights on in the Scalloway Hotel. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

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