North-east entrepreneur Robert Cook was last night unveiled as the new commercial director of Macdonald Hotels, the UK’s largest independent hotel group.
Mr Cook, who until April 2014 was chief executive of De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts and was previously boss of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chains, said it was good to be back with his “ain folk” after joining Bathgate, West Lothian-based Macdonald.
He added: “The chemistry was right. They have a dynamic approach to where they want to take the business.
“This is a company with a phenomenal estate, which will continue to develop.
“The business has enormous potential for future growth, thanks not only to its superb assets but also to the enthusiasm and ambition of the many, many talented people I’ve encountered at all levels of the company.”
Reporting to group chairman and chief executive Donald Macdonald, Mr Cook will work alongside deputy chairman and finance director Gordon Fraser and deputy chief executive Ruaridh Macdonald.
Donald Macdonald said: “Like everyone in our industry, I’ve been hugely impressed with Robert’s record of success over many years and we spoke soon after he became available last year.
“He has been working in our business as a consultant since January and it’s clear he shares the board’s excitement and ambition about our future plans. Our discussions to bring him on board permanently were very straightforward and his appointment is a significant coup for us.
“He has quickly established very strong relationships with our senior management team and his insight, vision and experience are already paying dividends as we focus on an ambitious programme of future growth.”
Launched in 1990, Macdonald Hotels currently operates more than 50 properties in the UK, Spain and Portugal and employs in excess of 4,000 people.
Its portfolio includes Pittodrie House Hotel, near Inverurie, Norwood Hall Hotel in Aberdeen, New Drumossie Hotel at Inverness and Aviemore Highland Resort.
Mr Cook, 49, was born at Torphins in Aberdeenshire and spent his childhood in various hotels his parents ran in the north-east, including the Palace Hotel in Peterhead.
He was a pupil at Peterhead Academy and went on to study at the former Robert Gordon Institute of Technology (RGIT), now Robert Gordon University (RGU).
The Malmaison/Hotel du Vin chain he joined in 1997 opened a hotel in Aberdeen just over 10 years later and he also played a key role more recently in bringing one of the De Vere Group’s Village Urban resorts – now under private-equity ownership – to the Granite City.
Under Mr Cook’s leadership, Hotel Du Vin was named best small hotel group in the world by a business travel magazine five years in a row.
In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from RGU for his services to the hotel and catering industry.