Following a £1.8 million funding boost from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Natural Retreats in partnership with Heritage Great Britain, starts work today on redeveloping the historic hotel and adjacent land in an ambitious plan to rejuvenate John O'Groats as a premium tourist destination.
This event marks the start of the first phase of work for this unique development that includes the creation of a number of luxurious apartments and stand alone holiday residences, using environmentally sustainable construction methods and cutting-edge design.
With the aim of bringing the world-renowned site of John O'Groats back to its former glory, the development will be underpinned by strong sustainable principles including the use of locally sourced materials and trades, green build techniques and Highland contractors, in a highly efficient development programme.
Natural Retreats in its on-going commitment to work with the local community, invited more than 100 key stakeholders to the launch event today, to be both part of this historic day, but also to hear the vision for the development from Natural Retreats Chief Executive Officer, Matt Spence.
Speaking on site today Matt Spence said, "We are delighted to announce the expansion of Natural Retreats on the historic hotel site at John O'Groats. It has been and will continue to be our aim to develop luxury self-catering accommodation in areas of outstanding natural beauty. John O'Groats with its stunning headlands and place in history, make it the perfect location for our next stage of growth in developing and opening our unique accommodation and holiday residences."
Allan Leech, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Great Britain, was also on site to commemorate the opening saying, "This is a remarkable moment in the history of this popular tourist destination and is something that the destination and region as a whole richly deserves. This development will help John O'Groats once again establish itself as a tourism experience with a true sense of place, providing high quality services for the tourist and a superb accommodation experience."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise Chief Executive, Alex Paterson, said of today's launch "HIE took the lead in bringing together the vision of businesses, residents, visitors and the community to create a masterplan for John O'Groats which will unlock its true potential. Less than two years from its publication we are delighted that quality tourism developers, Natural Retreats and Heritage Great Britain (HGB), are starting work.
"HIE has invested £1.8 million into this first phase of development - which will see the John O'Groats House Hotel site brought back to life and will create luxury self catering accommodation. This private public partnership investment will act as a catalyst for a number of projects that together will develop a sustainable tourist destination creating economic growth and local employment."
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Tourism is very important to our national economy and is one of the Scottish Government's key sectors with great potential to grow.
"Scotland's towns and villages draw tourists from across the globe attracted by their beauty, heritage and the wealth of world class visitor experiences on offer. The village of John O'Groats has a very special place on the map of Scotland.
"I hope that the £1.8m investment from HIE and the other partner support provided acts as a catalyst to help kick start the regeneration of the area, boosting tourism and the local economy, and helping secure the areas longer term future."
For more information about Natural Retreats developments visit www.naturalretreats.com, Heritage GB please visit www.heritagegb.co.uk.