Home   News   Article

New Marriott hotel for Highland capital could attract a different type of tourist to the Highland capital

By Calum MacLeod

Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our digital subscription packages!

A new 175-bedroom hotel currently under construction on the banks of the River Ness will bring something fresh to the Inverness hospitality offering.

Gerben de Wit, project manager for Amsterdam-based Vastint Hospitality’s Glebe Street development, believes the AC by Marriott Hotel can help attract new customers to the Highlands.

“It has spacious rooms, with high-quality beds, air conditioning and connectivity for the nowadays traveller,” Mr de Wit said.

“It is the full modern hotel room and has the feel of luxury, yet it is affordable.

“It is something that Inverness can really do with. There is a strong demand for bringing that four-star quality.”

Mr de Wit added that he had heard about concerns from smaller guest house owners in the city that the new hotel could impact on their trade, but he believes that the internationally known name will attract a different clientèle.

“This type of hotel more attracts groups of people travelling for golf or whisky tasting or organised tours. It will bring a lot of Americans who prefer to go to a Marriott hotel because they want something familiar. We see it as an add-on rather than taking away,” he said.

“It’s not a 100 per cent different clientèle, but it just gives a different option to choose from.”

Vastint, which builds hotels across Europe, works with Marriott brands and selects the one it believes would be the best fit for the location, which in the case of Inverness is AC by Marriott.

This will be one of the first AC Hotels in Scotland.

Mr de Wit revealed that Vastint, which is also building two hotels in Glasgow, had wanted to come to Inverness for some time.

“It was always a place we wanted to come,” he said.

“It is the capital of the Highlands. It is a very small city, but if you go to the Highlands, you go to Inverness.

“It is an attractive city, it’s alive and kicking and vibrant – perhaps not as vibrant as London, but it doesn’t need that, it has its own flair. Inverness is a fantastic city to come to.”

Vastint was also delighted to have secured such a high-profile location overlooking the Ness.

“Being right on the river is just a one-off opportunity in the UK,” he said.

“There were a few options for us to look into in Inverness and this was the most appealing by far.

“The site is incredibly distinctive. The planners describe the city as a bookcase and this is one end of the bookcase with the castle at the other, and we are also next to Douglas Row, which is a fantastic street.”

The proximity to historic Douglas Row also meant that the developer had to think carefully about the design, although the initial plan was rejected by Highland Council’s south planning applications committee, who criticised the initial proposal as “hideous”.

It was replaced by a revised design, which reduced the height by one floor.

“You can’t do pastiche of a traditional design – pastiche doesn’t work,” Mr de Wit said.

“You have to do something modern, but it is in keeping with what you are next to, and you are next to Douglas Row, so it is a challenge. But I think we have got it. I think the building will look good and will bring life to this part of the city centre.”

The hotel is expected to open later in 2022 thanks to good progress from contractor ACREO, favourable weather over the summer and a modular construction system which will allow construction to be completed in around a year.

It also makes use of a cross-laminated timber construction technique which is environmentally friendly and sustainable in comparison with steel-based techniques.

The hotel is also bringing back into use a site which has lain vacant since the demolition of the 1930s Inverness swimming pool and baths in 1999, but the construction process has turned up plenty of evidence of the site’s former occupant, especially in the blue tiles used extensively at the pool – Mr de Wit revealed he had even taken one home to his family in the Netherlands.

However, the site’s new incarnation will see it being used as a place for exercise once again, even if this time it will not be catering for swimmers.

Mr de Wit added: “This hotel will have a gym as well – unfortunately no swimming pool, but we
are bringing back a reference to the former swimming pool in the art used in the hotel to respect the site’s history.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More