An international property developer has stepped in to rescue a Tayside project which could create 300 jobs.
The man behind the resurrection of the Taymouth Castle hotel development in Perthshire, Robin Barrasford, believes he holds the key to unlocking the potential of one of Scotland’s grandest stately homes where others have failed.
Despite more than £23 million being ploughed into the meticulous restoration of the A-listed castle at Kenmore, attempts to transform Taymouth into a six-star hotel have so far failed to materialise.
Now the previous owners, London-based investment company Meteor Asset Management, have relinquished all interests in the castle to an investment trust.
This leaves Mr Barrasford effectively in charge of the future of Taymouth having leased the entire castle, grounds and golf course from the trust.
He says £3.2m is required to complete the project and the means to fund that is now in place.
Mr Barrasford says his experience in developing similar projects around the world, including two castles in France, will stand him in good stead.Photo gallery: Taymouth CastleHe believes he can deliver the project and a jobs bonanza for the local area while the people who came before had to contend with the global financial crash.
“They had really great motives without the ability to create an end product,” said Mr Barrasford, 44, a former teacher and police inspector based in Devon.
He gave up that career path to spend more time with his family and has been involved in delivering 2500 holiday properties in 10 countries over the past decade.
Mr Barrasford says he has been working away for around a year “behind the scenes” but is now ready to go public about his involvement with Taymouth.
“I have never seen anything like this, without doubt it is the most wonderful opportunity I have seen in hotel/holiday homes,” he said.
Mr Barrasford is keen to move on with the project and he says the golf course should be open by the end of March and the hotel ready for a “soft launch” in six months.
Work begins today on 13 rooms in the main castle, paving the way for the east wing which will have 42 rooms sold on a “fractional” basis.
Mr Barrasford says this is a model which has worked well in America and involves paying £30,000 to own one thirteenth of a room for four weeks a year.
He says he has already had strong interest from people who have already bought from him before, particularly Scottish expats.
“For anyone with Scottish lineage it is a chance to buy a bit of a castle,” he said.
“You end up with hundreds of owners, not one faceless entity.”
Mr Barrasford, who has Scottish roots and family in Dunblane, says locals have been supportive of his plans.
Some previous proposals for the castle have been seen as elitist locally but he is keen to stress that everyone will be welcome to play the golf course, drink in the bar, eat in the restaurant or walk in the grounds under his stewardship.
Mr Barrasford he is also keen that all the staff recruited will be Scottish-based.
His ambitions for what those staff will achieve has no bounds.
“We have a Michelin star at one of the castles in France, that is something we will aim for at Taymouth,” he said.
Information on the company behind the project is available at www.bandbw.com.