Ken McCulloch

12 May 2005
Ken McCulloch

Overall ranking: 64

Hoteliers ranking: 19


Career guide

Born in 1948, McCulloch left school at 16 to become a management trainee with British Transport Hotels and Stakis Hotels and, by 22, he was taking general manager roles in Kirkcaldy and Falkirk. By the time he was 30, he owned three restaurant/cocktail bar businesses in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In July 1986, he opened the ground-breaking One Devonshire Gardens hotel in Edinburgh, which was subsequently sold to Residence International in 2000 and to Citrus Hotels in 2002.

He launched the first Malmaison in Edinburgh in 1994, forging a joint venture with Robert Breare's Arcadian Hotels to develop the chain now owned by property developer Marylebone Warwick Balfour.

His current company, McCulloch Hotel Management, opened its first Columbus hotel in Monaco in April 2001 and its first Dakota in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, in June 2004.

What we think

McCulloch's individualistic approach has consistently confounded the number-crunchers who believed none of his projects would work. One Devonshire Gardens, hailed as one of the first boutique town house hotels, broke all the rules by opening away from the city centre with just eight bedrooms. But its affordable, design-led format won McCulloch the Caterer & Hotelkeeper Hotelier of the Year award in 1993 and the Egon Ronay Hotel of the Year award the following year.

McCulloch's idea of putting CD players in the bedrooms of his next venture, Malmaison, also raised eyebrows. But the hotels, which offered five-star style at three-star prices, were an overnight success. The first Malmaison, in Edinburgh, scooped the Caterer & Hotelkeeper Catey Group Hotel of the Year award in 1997, and Malmaison was voted the Best Hotel in the World Under £100 by Tatler magazine in 1998

He now looks set to repeat his past successes with the new Columbus and Dakota brands. The luxury Columbus hotel that opened in Monaco in 2001 - the first of a planned international four-star brand of at least six hotels - was voted the 2003 Best Independent in Europe and, in 2002, scooped the Outstanding Achievement award in the European Design Awards. 2005 will see the concept rolled out to Paris, Lisbon and London.

Dakota represents something of a departure for McCulloch, who describes it as a "boutique-style super-budget" concept. From just £79 a night, guests will get air-conditioned rooms with plasma TVs, broadband and workstations. Unlike previous hotels, these will be new-builds that can be sited in areas unsuited to Columbus, such as business and retail parks, airports and off motorways. McCulloch has four new sites in the pipeline, of which Edinburgh will open in 2006.

McCulloch has been a Master Innholder since 1994.

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