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Natural Retreats begin development work to transform and revitalise John O'Groats

08 September 2011

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, Heritage GB please visit


  • Natural Retreats offers luxurious, sustainable self-catering and short break holidays in areas of breath-taking natural beauty. With five stunning UK locations in the Yorkshire Dales, Fistral Beach, Cornwall, West Highlands in Scotland and Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, Natural Retreats offers unrivalled experiences in areas of idyllic views, rugged coastline and magnificent seascapes. With a further four properties in Ireland including County Cork, County Kerry and County Limerick, Natural Retreats also offers a number of luxury self catering experiences in some of Irelands most beautiful locations.

    Visitors to a Natural Retreat can take advantage of a wealth of local activities from sandy beaches, local family attractions, sports and outdoor adventure and amazing culinary experiences. Backed by an unrivalled personal concierge service, the first in the UK market, a team of dedicated travel professionals can personalise each holiday experience, providing advice, expertise and experience to ensure each holiday is tailored to every guest.

    From the development of its first site in the UK that opened in 2006 in the Yorkshire Dales, the location development has received numerous accolades including Travel Bulletin's Green Initiatives award and Natural Retreats continues to expand across Europe and the US.
  • Heritage Great Britain PLC is the name behind some of the United Kingdom's most outstanding and beautiful landmark destinations and its most popular visitor attractions and is committed to maintaining and developing the country's heritage sensitively and responsibly for the benefit of all, and providing exciting and stimulating days out for our customers.
    For more information about Heritage GB please visit
  • You can also follow HIE's news on facebook at or on twitter at
  • For further press information on Natural Retreats please contact Grifco on 020 7385 7090 or email EJ Flynn, Kathryn Peel & Claire Griffin
  • Futher information and background to the John O'Groats Masterplan can be found on our projects page.


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