Construction has begun on the Fife Arms hotel in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, to return the 19th century property to its former glory.
Highlands Hospitality (HHL), set up by renowned art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth of the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Somerset, intends to make use of local materials and introduce contemporary art and design to transform the property into a world-acclaimed luxury hotel. The company acquired the hotel in 2015 and was granted planning permission to restore the hotel in February 2016.
Federica Bertolini has joined the property as general manager from her previous role as manager of the Hotel Tresanton at St Mawes in Cornwall, where she worked for 11 years. Set to open in 2018, the hotel will have around 45 bedrooms and employ at least 50 people.
HHL is working with Scottish architects Moxon and interior designer Russell Sage to revive the building, originally built by the Duke of Fife. Managing the process will be the Edinburgh-based GLM.
The hotel's 19th century façades will be sensitively restored; alongside the demolition of 20th century extensions to the main building, which will be replaced with a series of more "architecturally-sympathetic" structures.
Locally-salvaged granite will be used to match the existing buildings and untreated timber cladding will be adopted, which as it ages will develop a silver grey patina, complementing the stonework. Sustainability of materials has also been taken into account in the restoration.
The Wirths, who are regarded as the most influential individuals in modern art after topping the 2015 Power 100 list compiled by the ArtReview, intend to bring their love of contemporary art and design to the historic interiors of the building, starting with a collaboration with Scottish artist and poet Alec Finlay.
Edward Workman, chief executive of HHL, said: "We have confidence that the transformation of this beautiful and historic hotel will bring huge benefit and opportunity to the local community, attract visitors from all over the world, and safeguard the Grade-B listed building for future generations."
Bertolini added: "Braemar and surrounding areas are bursting with hospitality talent. Scots are warm and welcoming, it is in their genes. I cannot wait to see how the hotel will once again become a focal point in the village and a catalyst for what is already an incredibly active community, full of plans and ideas. It will also offer many young people a real opportunity to live and work in this area."
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