An historic seafront guesthouse in Oban is undergoing a major renovation in advance of it reopening in spring with a new name.
Previously Wellpark House, on Corran Esplanade, the building is poised for a new lease of life as a luxury boutique hotel – No. 17 on the Promenade.
Owned by the Dickison family for three generations, the property dates back around 120 years.
It was built by a Glasgow-based shipping company during the days of the British Empire as a private home for ship owners
In 1939 the building was requisitioned by the Royal Navy.
It was then used as a Women’s Royal Naval Service hospital for the duration of the war.
A toilet on every floor
The property reverted to private ownership in 1945, and was purchased by the Dickisons and turned into a guesthouse in 1958.
According to its website, Wellpark House was considered to be of “the very highest quality” during its early years, thanks to its toilet on every floor, central heating, and hot and cold running water in every room.
It was later enlarged and refurbished, with private facilities added to all guest rooms.
Since last year it has been owned by local businessman Paul Sloan.
Mr Sloan has worked in the hospitality industry for many years, owning and running restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Oban.
His latest venture, No. 17 on the Promenade, with 23 bedrooms, is due to open in April.
“One year ago I felt extremely unsure about my future in the hospitality industry,” Mr Sloan said.
He added: “Now I am set to open another luxury spot in Oban, one that guests will enjoy for years to come.”
The renovation project includes a new plumbing system, rewiring, the installation of air conditioning and more.
Some existing features are being retained, such as a Jacobean-style ceiling in one of the living areas.
One year ago I felt extremely unsure about my future in the hospitality industry. Now I am set to open another luxury spot in Oban.”
Paul Sloan, hospitality entrepreneur.
The project is supported by The Cumberland Building Society, which described its six-figure “investment” in the hotel as a statement of intent” amid the challenges of Covid-19.
Based in Carlisle, The Cumberland is the UK’s 10th largest building society.
The group specialises in hospitality lending including hotels, holiday lets, buy-to-let, guesthouses and B&Bs.
It has around 180,000 customers in Cumbria, south-west Scotland, North Lancashire and Northumberland, all served via digital channels, a call centre and 34 branches.
60%plus mortgage deal for new hotel
The building society recently introduced a new managed service for its tailored hospitality sector mortgages, with each customer given a single point of contact.
It said it had financed more than 60% of Mr Sloan’s purchase of Wellpark House.
And it revealed it had also supported Mr Sloan’s refinancing of Oban restaurant No. 26 by the Sea, as well as his acquisition of staff accommodation.
Scott McKerracher, head of commercial, The Cumberland, said: “No 17 on the Promenade is set to deliver an exquisite level of luxury and promises to bring something extremely special to Oban.
“We’re expecting to see more challenges in the hospitality industry in the next year, including staff shortages and inflationary pressures, adding to the sense of instability.
“However, many businesses have still been able to snap up great opportunities to invest in hospitality – Paul’s project being a fitting example of this.
“Despite the obvious challenges, it’s a really exciting time for the future of hospitality.”
Mr McKerracher added: “We have seen a 600% increase in the pipeline in hospitality lending for hotels and holiday lets, and look forward to supporting many of these opportunities.
“We also want to give those who are now facing layers of debt the opportunity to be guided through the difficult period.”