The Heugh Hotel in Stonehaven could be on the brink of reverting back to a residential home.
An offer has been made on the Baronial Mansion however the sale is dependent on the buyer attaining planning permission to change the use of the building from business to residential.
Current owner, Wilhelm Hermanns, explained that there had been other interested parties who wished to continue running the building as a licensed premises.
He said: “We had inquiries about it (as a hotel) but they were all dependent on people selling their own licensed premises. We have got a firm offer from somebody who is interested in it as a private house, it is dependent on planning permission being given for use as a private house.”
Wilhelm wanted to emphasise that in the meantime the Heugh Hotel is still running as a hotel.
He said: “We are still fully operational and will continue to be fully operational until there is a change of ownership.”
Wilhelm and his wife Joy, who have owned the hotel for 27 years, placed the Heugh Hotel on the market in August so they can retire.
If the Heugh ceases to function as a hotel, this could have repercussions for Stonehaven.
If the hotel does resort back to being a private home, this will cause problems for the large number of Stonehaven Clubs who use it as a meeting place.
These include the Rotary Club, The Lions Club, and the Angling Club, who will all be forced to find a new meeting place. It could also have repercussions for Stonehaven tourism.
Tourism expert, Elma McMenemy, explained the effect the loss of the Heugh would have on the Town.
She said: “At present, the town has around 70 hotel rooms and many might feel that losing the six at the Heugh is a drop in the ocean. However, if you set this against the background of the number of hotel rooms lost to the town over the past decade or so, it is much more serious. The closure of the Commodore, the Crown, the County and the St Leonards have all left their mark on the town, reducing not only the number of hotel rooms available for overnight visitors, but also the availability of meeting and function rooms for business and other events.
“While many new B&Bs have opened, they cannot hope to fill the gap. Despite what happens with the Heugh, Stonehaven is already a town with no accommodation for groups, few facilities for business meetings or small conferences and little choice of venues for functions. Should the Heugh close as a hotel, it will reduce the hotel bedstock by around a further 10% and also remove other small meeting/function rooms from the very short list of options available.
“From a tourism point of view, Stonehaven is becoming more and more a day trip destination as a result of its poor accommodation base which can only accommodate a few individuals, couples and families in the remaining hotels and in the B&Bs. There are opportunities for neither business tourism nor group tours and the town consistently under-performs as a tourism destination. Without its outstanding attractions of Dunnottar Castle and the Heated Open Air Pool with its limited season, Stonehaven would become a tourism backwater, not even attracting day visitors.
“With improved accommodation availability, it could certainly attract more people to stay longer, and I hope that the exciting plans for the caravan park may be the first step in the town’s tourism recovery. The closure of the Heugh would be a significant setback.”