The incoming owners of the Alyth Hotel want its reopening to put the heart back into the Perthshire town.
The Courier can reveal that Hazel and Alasdair Lightbody are set to take over the business, which has been closed since May.
The couple have experience in the hospitality industry, running Butt Lodge in Lochranza on the Isle of Arran until January 2020.
In five years they transformed the run-down Victorian shooting lodge into a luxurious guesthouse ranked Arran’s top bed and breakfast by Tripadvisor.
Now they aim to have an even greater impact in Alyth by turning the empty building into a hub for the community.
Alyth Hotel set to have new owners
The Lightbodys are in the process of buying the business and hope to receive the keys by the middle of October.
They will undertake a complete renovation of the interior to include all 12 bedrooms, bathrooms, restaurant and bar.
Externally they want to restore the worn 18th-century building by replacing the cement render with lime mortar.
Weather-permitting, the hotel will reopen for business by late February to early March.
Co-owner spent childhood holidays in area
In March 2020 the couple had an offer accepted on a hotel in the Cairngorms village of Carrbridge but pulled out when the Covid lockdown was announced three days later.
“Since then we have been keeping ourselves busy, waiting for the right opportunity to come up,” said interior designer Hazel, 38.
“And the Alyth Hotel ticks all the boxes.”
Nostalgia was one of its attractions.
Hazel, who grew up in Edinburgh, was regularly taken on childhood holidays by her parents to a farm cottage in the countryside close to Alyth.
When the couple viewed the hotel in the summer she hadn’t been to the village for 30 years.
“It was a lovely sunny Wednesday evening during the school holidays yet it was really quiet,” Hazel said.
“You got the impression that, without a thriving ‘local’, something was missing from the heart of the town.”
Plan to ‘put the heart back into the town’
Reversing this is an integral part of a plan that Hazel shares with Ayrshire-raised Alasdair, 47.
In their three-and-a-half-year hiatus since selling their Arran guest house, Alasdair has returned to a previous role as a consultant for the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
“It was definitely not what I’d planned when we left Arran,” he said.
“But I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love.”
Hazel continued: “We want it to be a place where people can enjoy a nice Sunday lunch, gather with family and friends, even pop in for cake and coffee when they have been out walking the dog – and, of course, an excellent pint!
“Other people who were interested in the hotel wanted to turn it into an apart-hotel venture while leasing the restaurant and bar.
“But that doesn’t put the heart the back into the town.
“We aim to create a warm, welcoming, stylish country inn.”
With good food, hotel hopes to be hub of community
The Alyth Hotel has a lounge, restaurant and separate bar, which will give the new owners plenty of options.
“We are hoping to reopen some of the open fires there,” Hazel added.
“We will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while also welcoming hotel guests in the newly transformed bedrooms.
“We hope the bar will be a hub for the local community, and we’d love to explore live music, pub quizzes and game nights, which would be great fun.
“But the focus will definitely be on the food side, and bringing in a really good chef to get this spot on.
“From here, everything else can follow.”