In 2009 HIE commissioned the development of a masterplan for John O’Groats which would lead to the revitalisation of the iconic location.
HIE’s vision for the masterplan is to deliver a vibrant social and business community, which has a design to reflect the natural beauty of the location, and which will release economic potential for the whole area.
The benefits of this development are clear and together HIE, residents, businesses and tourists have created a plan which reflects future needs of the area.
The plan includes four phases of development. As well as accommodation provision, there are proposals within the first phase to develop the public areas as well as revamping the LastHouseMuseum and shop and the expansion and upgrading of the Journey’s End Café and a number of arts projects. Later phases will deliver additional commercial space and visitor facilities.
In February 2010 two prominent UK tourism businesses, Natural Retreats and Heritage GB, joined forces and created a new joint venture that was to see the masterplan begin to become a reality.
In March 2011, HIE invested £1.8 million to support Natural Retreats and Heritage GB with their £6 million project to redevelop and extend the derelict John O’Groats Hotel.
Work started on redeveloping the hotel and adjacent land in September 2011. The development was underpinned by strong sustainable principles including the use of locally sourced materials and trades, green build techniques and Highland contractors.
Originally built in 1875, the historic former hotel was carefully restored over the next two years and had a new Norse style extension added to provide a splash of colour against the coastal landscape.
The John O’Groats Inn opened in September 2013. It includes bespoke self-catering apartments with one, two or four bedrooms, each offering its own individual character and with all of the high quality facilities and luxuries you would expect from Natural Retreats.
The huge investment made by Natural Retreats, Heritage GB and HIE has also seen the creation of 23 eco lodges.