Wow! Visiting the latest addition to our hotel portfolio last week, I could not help it but to notice I was truly impressed by the dedication of its owners to deliver excellent guest service. They have true hoteliers blood running through their veins. Let me share this inspiring story of genuine Scottish Hospitality with you.
The Ednam House Hotel, located in Kelso, Scotland, contacted us a few weeks ago, requesting our help on their online distribution and pricing strategies. As with all leads, I qualify them by doing some research online. Going on their TripAdvisor profile (see here) I directly noticed we were dealing with hoteliers that truly cared about what their guests had to say. Every review was carefully answered, addressing all the feedback remarks positive and negative in a constructive and positive manner.
After several conversations I was certain this was a hotel I would be proud of to add to our portfolio. And I was extremely pleased to learn that in return they were also putting their trust in Xotels to implement revenue management for their hotel. A site visit was planned so we could gain a better understanding of the uniqueness of the Ednam House. And little did I know before this road trip that the word unique could be completely underrated. I can honestly say that this 2 day adventure is without a doubt amongst the ones I have enjoyed the most since we launched Xotels back in 2006.
Following a late flight from Barcelona on one of my least favorite and very client unfriendly low cost airlines (which name I will not mention in order not promote their name in any way), we arrived in Edinburgh where we would stay the night. We were warmly welcomed at the EasyHotel in Edinburgh, another client of ours, where we were given rooms with breathtaking views of the Castle of Edinburgh. We enjoyed a comfortable night sleep and picked up the rental car, a cool Fiat 500, following a morning strategy meeting. The road trip was about to begin.
We drove out of the city, down the Scottish motorways into the country side. The landscape was beautiful with mountains, rivers, and fields with cows, sheep and little lambs running and playing. The change of scenery really made an impression on us, but little did we know there was so much more to come. After about a one hour driving adventure we arrived in the town of Kelso, located in the Scottish Borders region on the River Tweed. We drove around the village to get our bearings and a general impression. It surely hit us as a beautiful and charming historic town, perfect to spend a long weekend or relaxing break.
Arriving at the hotel a non-stop volley ‘awe’ impressions started. The Ednam House is located in a gorgeous Georgian Mansion sitting in 3 acres of gardens overlooking the famous River Tweed. Driving up the entrance courtyard, you cannot help it by being overwhelmed by the stunning setting. We were immediately welcomed by Ralph and Anne, the fourth generation of the Brooks family, who have owned and ran the hotel since 1928. We were immediately invited to join them for lunch, ad treated on wonderful stories of their family and history of the hotel. I could tell they had true hospitality blood running through their veins. And actually the hotel was just one of the businesses they were running. They truly live for their business and understand what it means to create a story.
Anne gave us the grand tour of the property, literally taking us back in time. Whilst the original building has been updated and extended through the years, it has retained its historical character and oozes charm; the original woodwork, plaster ceilings & marble fireplaces are truly magnificent. The lounges with grand red velvet sofas, armchairs, landscape paintings, porcelain vases, are breathtaking. The entrance lobby with fishing rods subtly tucked away in the corner with a few wind-coats hanging from a peg, shows you this is not simply a concept, it’s an original! You truly feel yourself in another, and actually you are. Moreover the informal friendliness of our hosts is just unwinding and simply sincere. Everything about this place is real …
Throughout the tour Anne explains us all the nicknames of the rooms, like the blue lounge, which is no longer blue as the original blue wall paper was covered with red many years ago. But also the beautiful traditionally decorated bedrooms have been named based on the wallpaper, and include curiosity instigating names like ‘the naughty monkeys’, ‘blue birds’, ‘William Morris’, ‘Chinese room’, Tulips room’. She tells us that repeating guests request specific rooms, as they like the setting and decoration. They even prefer not to be upgraded to a larger room, but simply want to stay in their room, where they have always slept.
Sitting in the lounge in the evening night catching up on emails, I overheard some of the other guests, mostly fishermen whom have been coming to the hotel for many years, talking amongst each other. One thing stroke me, they all knew Ralph and the barman George by name. Ralph sat with them discussing what the day had brought them. There was no barrier between host and guest, no everyone was simply at home!
Ralph and Anne take their passion for hospitality and catering further than simply exploiting the hotel. They take their dedication of providing service to their guests to an unparalleled level. Actually besides using local fresh ingredients in the kitchen by Ralph, who has been head chef since the days his farther used to run Ednam House, I was intrigued to learn that they also smoke their own salmon, have bee hives and produce honey for your breakfast, raise free range pork, bake fresh bread, and have their own Whisky brand.
They also exploit a modern Deli, ‘Pharlanne’, located at the entrance of the hotel, where you can buy these fresh ingredients and products to take home with you. They put together hampers as presents to bring back as a souvenir or gift for the holidays. And the wine served in the restaurant and sold in the Deli is produced by Anne’s family back in France.
Now this is a story about genuine Scottish hospitality to share, I thought …
Isn’t that what a hotel should be all about? A story worth sharing … An experience you would want to talk about on your FaceBook, Twitter, Google+ and personal Blog … Such a unique experience cannot be replaced by any social media marketing strategy!
What an authentic adventure! I feel extremely fortunate that we can count the Ednam House Hotel amongst the hotel clients of Xotels.
Hope you enjoyed this article!
Patrick Landman @ Xotels