The team behind plans for a £30million luxury resort in Deeside have revealed hopes work could start as early as this year.
Kirkwood Homes and Inchmarlo Farms Ltd revived their plans for a hotel and leisure resort, which were previously been approved in 2011, in February.
The updated plans feature a 45-suite hotel called The Lucullan, which will also have a spa and two restaurants.
To enable the development, 95 homes are also planned for the site at Inchmarlo, near Banchory.
Since the revised plans were submitted, the developers have pulled together a design team of “world-class professionals” to tweak them even further and these are now being considered by Aberdeenshire Council.
Last night Colin Wilson, from Inchmarlo Farms, said they were aiming to deliver “something extraordinary”.
‘We’ve assembled the best of the best’
If approved, the developers expect The Lucullan to create about 80 jobs and boost the local economy by around £62million by bringing “high-rollers” to the region.
As well as the hotel and spa, there will be one fine dining and one general restaurant, a lounge bar and a “whisky library”, as well as an additional structure to provide a luxurious space for a range of events.
However, more than 30 objections have been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council about the proposals, with residents raising concerns about the impact the development would have on the roads, wildlife and the viability of a hotel in the current climate.
They also raised fears that, unless the hotel is built first, the land could become “a large housing estate”.
But Mr Wilson is confident the project will be a boost to the area.
He said: “Alan Forbes, Frank Burnett and I have invested a significant seven-figure sum in this project to date and subject to a positive response to the planning applications, the finance will be in place to allow us to appoint a main contractor and commit to getting the ground broken later this year.
“We have been working closely with the architect 3D Reid and project management team KeyTask to assemble a world-class team which demonstrates our commitment and determination to build this hotel. These are big hitters who have worked on most of the big hotel projects in the UK in recent years.”
North-east entrepreneur and award-winning hotelier Robert Cook – former boss of the Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and Village & De Vere chains – has also shared his expertise.
Gordon Ferrier, from 3D Reid, said the “determination and belief” of the developers had spurred on the team to design a “world-class hotel for Aberdeenshire and Scotland.”
Mark Leonard, from KeyTask, added it was “tremendously exciting” to be involved in a project not only to bring a five-star hotel to the region, but potentially “one of the finest destination hotels in Europe”.
Investment in the economy and community
The homes planned for the site would be a mix of sizes, catering for the demand for family and affordable housing in the north-east.
Mr Wilson also visualises working closely with other local businesses to provide guests with opportunities to take part in activities such as shooting, fishing, horse riding and driving.
“The hotel will bring significant sustainable jobs and many opportunities in the local community and there are other spin-off benefits,” he said.
“We have also had significant interest in our Whisky Library and Spa which are unique features of The Lucullan and we will need specialists from the local area to help us make this a success.”
It is understood third parties have also expressed an interest in investing in the hotel development once the proposals have been approved.
Mr Wilson added: “I’m hoping that in addition to our investment to date, by assembling this team we have shown commitment and resilience in continuing to progress with this project and believe, given the appropriate support from Aberdeenshire and the local community, this will happen.”