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Progree Report Number Ten

Posted by Stuart & Susannah Macpherson - 19:23 on 06 January 2014

Progress Report Dec 2013

Well here I am again, late December having to recall the significant events of the last twelve months!?!

2013 marked our tenth year here at Coul House. In many ways I cannot believe ten years have passed, and then I look at my kids and see how much they have grown. I look at the business and see how much it has blossomed, provided a constant source of challenges and achieved many of the goals we set out to achieve. Then I look in the mirror and I see each of the three thousand six hundred and fifty days that have past and think……..has it only been ten years!! This year I’ve had guests taking my father as my brother, Chris as my son and my kids as my grandkids!!?

No one told me it would be easy to own my own business, but it never ceases to amaze me how precarious a journey it is between success and failure! Last year (for some unknown reason) the Highlands had the worst October - February occupancy figures it has ever had. Not only that, but final payment was due for the newly installed biomass boiler (which at the time was not firing on all cylinders). The VAT payment was due and to top it all of the bank was looking to reduce our overdraft! Once again we needed to do some fast talking, belt tightening and the cancelling of maintenance projects to get through the winter on a wing and a prayer.

Salvation came in March with a fantastic review for the restaurant in the Inverness City Advertiser (a free local magazine). Restaurant revenue started flowing in with new guests being introduced to the culinary delights of Coul House. Then the good spring weather got the season off to a great start and the momentum seemed to continue right through to November, which was tremendous. I’m delighted to say that during the spring and summer months we were the #1 hotel in the Scottish Highlands on tripadvisor.com which proved most beneficial; introducing yet more new guests to Coul House. So a big thank you to all those who wrote reviews, recommended us to your friends and indeed for your continued support and repeat visits.

This summer was only marred by the passing of Charlie Cleland our maintenance man. Charlie had 35 years of service here at Coul House; he will be missed for years to come and is never far from our thoughts.

It is times like these that I count my blessings; Aurora is now thirteen, enjoying school and to my delight no boyfriends on the scene yet! Liah is eleven and currently playing tenor drum in two different pipe bands and looking forward to starting academy in August. Susannah, my gorgeous wife and I are both fit and well and thankfully able to work hard. The biomass boiler is finally running well and saving us money, and of course the continued support from the hard working staff.

Unfortunately during the high winds of early December several mature trees were blown over, including an Eastern Hemlock, a few Lawson Cypress, a Yew and a Portuguese Laurel. Two of these were found crushing the old shed at the top of the drive, which we believe had been made from a previous fallen Monkey Puzzle tree many years ago.

So after much reflection I have come to realise that the refurbishment of Coul House is a journey not a destination. Here’s to the next ten years and to the continued challenges that make it so……interesting!

Yours sincerely,

stuart and susanah

Proud owners

Your Comments

Comment by Linda Bain at 09:41 on 08 January 2014.
Kenneth and I wish you and Susannah continued success. Coul House is indeed a special place... magical ... somewhere you can truly relax. Here's hoping we can visit again at some point in 2014 as we've enjoyed our previous stays a great deal - and we've spread the word! Linda
Comment by Liz & Dennis Woods at 10:22 on 08 January 2014.
We stayed for 3 nights in nov13 and enjoyed our stay very much. Our two spaniels were in heaven chasing rabbits across the lawn, we did have rain but did not stop us getting out and about. We are planning another break in Nov this year and hope your winter rates apply!! Food really enjoyable only comment our third night we had to eat in the town as a wedding was taking place.
Comment by Geoff & Emma at 14:15 on 08 January 2014.
Dear Both You are doing a splendid job. Looking forward to seeing you in the Spring.
Comment by Bernd Nabe at 17:19 on 08 January 2014.
Dear Macphersons, thank you for the newsletter. We still remember our stay in 2009 very well and we hope coming soon to visit Scotland and your beautiful hotel. Happy New Year from Berlin Renate und Bernd
Comment by John Scott at 12:52 on 09 January 2014.
We enjoy your trials and tribulations, Stuart, so go on with the good work and keep fit and well. Wendy and I failed to get to you in 2013 which we regret. We will not allow that to happen again. Best Wishes to you and Susannah.
Comment by George & Charlotte Lindsay at 16:00 on 09 January 2014.
Congratulations, Stuart and Susannah, on reaching your 10 year anniversary of ownership of Coul House Hotel. Each time we visit the improvements you are making are noticeable and appreciated - as you say, it's a journey as opposed to a destination. However, you have made a huge difference since 2003. We won't comment on Stuart's aging process but we do note that Susannah appears younger every visit! We are looking forward to our next visit and a few days of pampering.
Comment by Derek Tucker at 21:29 on 10 January 2014.
Christine and myself will be staying with you once again in May with Mike Kirk's classic car touring group. As always our stay with you and Susannah will be the highlight of our holiday!!!!!! This will be our third visit and we only wish it could be for longer. See you all in May Derek & Christine.
Comment by Roger and Marie Marriott at 14:59 on 01 February 2014.
We stayed with you during the car tour (Orknies) party organised by Mike Kirk. We were so impressed by the whole experience and hoped to return this year with Mike`s Skye High Tour. We understand that this is not now possible but we hope that Mike will organise a future stay at Coul House. Wishing you a happy and successful year and good health to all at Coul House.
Comment by Charles Stewart at 10:34 on 05 February 2014.
Tom and Dorothy LLoyd kindly sent me your most recent review which is most interesting . I wish you all every success in 2014 . I still have wonderful memories of the MAGNIFICENT hare soup I had when three all called for coffee but I shall never regret opting for the soup !!!! My only hope is that you will have been able to make more when I next call with the Lloyds . We'll give you notice !!!
Comment by Susan McConnell at 23:47 on 17 February 2014.
We have not yet stayed at Coul House but are so looking forward to visiting this year, having stayed in several hotels in Scotland. There have health scares, business problems, miserable weather etc. so you see how much we need your recuperative help. Soft bed, fab views, wonderful food, open the doors April 8.,is our 25th. Wedding anniversary so we hope to be there to celebrate it with you !
Comment by Teri Forest at 12:43 on 03 April 2014.
Greetings from the United States and the great state of Wisconsin! We so enjoyed your email update and we're very happy to hear that you are doing well. Our stay at your lovely home in 2012 was a highlight of our many travels, and your email recalled fond memories of a wonderful adventure in Scotland and amazing stay at Coul House. We hope to return one day, and wish youmuch joy and success in the interim. Blessings from afar. Scott, Teri, and Kyla Rose Forest
Comment by Heather Duncan at 23:25 on 25 April 2014.
Can't believe it's been 10 years! Glad to see you are still surviving the ups and downs and so glad to hear you're all well. Was sad to hear about Charlie though. Can't quite believe that little Aurora is 13! Still have Esther's gorgeous painting of the Coul House driveway (before resurfacing) hanging above the fireplace. You probably don't remember me - the inexperienced hotel receptionist from the early days in 2003. Anyway just wanted to say 'Hi' and glad to see things going so well.
Comment by Julia Broxholm at 15:18 on 09 June 2014.
It is so wonderful to hear how things are flourishing at Coul House. My husband and I had a most enjoyable stay there in the summer of 2007 with the University of Kansas Choir, which was touring Great Britain at the time. We hope to come back soon!
Comment by Helen Fountain at 08:24 on 16 July 2014.
Good Morning, it was very interesting reading about your life in Coul House over the past year and the many setbacks that can arise, along with all the good things. We had the most memorable evening at Coul House last year when we were en route to Inverness. The meal - ambience - and atmosphere of your lovely home was wonderful, so much so that we promised we would return for a proper stay. So I will be looking at your availability for 13 - 14 September when we hope to return. Many thanks. Helen Fountain
Comment by Andrew & Morag Jarvis at 10:16 on 29 September 2014.
Having been guests at Coul for many years , and just returned from a short break , it never fails to impress . Stuart , Susannah , Chris , Garry and the team do a wonderful job . We always feel so welcome and thoroughly enjoy our stays .
Comment by angela rieck at 16:37 on 15 December 2014.
Hello Stuart. It has been a wonderful stay for me at Coul House in March and I am very happy to hear you had such a good season after the slow months were over. I love travelling to Scotland and I look so much forward to another stay in your cosy hotel. Great staff, great food and peace and quiet are what your guests look for and find in Coul House. Good luck on the next decade !!!! And dont worry... I think we all got our share of grey hair and wrinkles over the years :-) :-) Kind regards Angela
Comment by Debbie Collingwood at 13:35 on 14 January 2015.
I hope 2014 was good to you and your family. I have recently become interested in the history of Coul House as I have discovered a plan of the original House among some old family papers. Please write if you would like to know more.

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Coul House Hotel, Contin, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland IV14 9ES E: T: +44 (0)1997 421487