The Hot Scots Power 40: Ken McCulloch, McCulloch Unique Hotels

21 February 2013
The Hot Scots Power 40: Ken McCulloch, McCulloch Unique Hotels

Rating 7

Ken McCulloch - Snapshot

More recently, his company McCulloch Unique Hotels, has developed the hip-but-affordable Dakota chain, which has hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Ken McCulloch - Career guide

Ken McCulloch's love affair with the hospitality industry started with an apprenticeship at British Transport Hotels in 1964, a company that he says guaranteed good old-fashioned, down-to-earth training.

During the 1970s, he went on to create a number of bars and restaurants, including the Bonne Auberge Bar in Glasgow, and in 1986 he opened Scotland's first boutique hotel, the critically acclaimed One Devonshire Gardens in Edinburgh.

Ever innovative, in 1994, McCulloch opened one of the first new hotel brands in the UK for 30 years, Malmaison. It was a phenomenal success, expanding into a small chain by 1998 when it was sold to the USA's Patriot Group. Reports at the time speculated that it netted McCulloch a sum of about £37.3m.

McCulloch then went on to acquire the Abela Hotel in Monaco in 2000, which he then relaunched as Columbus Monaco.
In 2004, he launched his current venture, Dakota. This chic brand now has hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

More recent projects include the Aviator hotel for TAG Aviation at Farnborough International Private Airport in 2008.
Besides commercial triumphs, there has also been plenty of industry recognition. Awards over the years include being named Scottish Hotelier of the Year at the 2008 Hotels of the Year awards and in 1993 becoming the first Scot to scoop the UK Hotelier of the Year award.

Ken McCulloch - What we think

Ken McCulloch, first and foremost, is an enthusiast - an independent thinker who has a passion for creating hotels with a difference. As an ambassador for Scotland and Scottish talent, he has continually achieved critical acclaim for his meticulous attention to detail, dedication to service and focus on guest indulgence.

He continues to work his magic. Plans are in place to expand the Dakota brand to major cities across the UK, and McCulloch says he is now working on a new, landmark project for Scotland - one that he says will redefine hospitality and put Scotland firmly on the map as a world class destination.
Besides generating personal success, McCulloch has inspired a generation of high-achieving hoteliers. When Andrew Stembridge won Hotelier of the Year 2010 as managing director at Chewton Glen, he acknowledged McCulloch's influence. Referring to his time working for McCulloch at One Devonshire, he says he learnt the importance of attention to detail and ensuring the aesthetics in a hotel are just right.

"Ken would drive past the hotel every night and if the blinds were not lowered to exactly the same level in every window, he would ring us," Stembridge recalls. "If the phone was not answered within three rings, he would want to know why. As a result I can't walk past a cushion today without plumping it up."

Debrah Dhugga, general manager of London's Dukes hotel has also paid tribute to McCulloch, whom she says inspired her during her time at Malmaison: "It was really exciting. I remember when I met Ken McCulloch, I just thought he was fantastic. He had such passion, such flair," she says… She worked for the company for the next nine years.

His new project is awaited with much anticipation and given his previous form, there will be few who would bet against it being ground-breaking once again.

Arcadian deal heralds expansion for Patriot >>McCulloch Unique Hotels >>

Andrew Stembridge: his road to Hotelier of the Year 2010 >>

Debrah Dhugga - My Life in Hospitality >>

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