Guy Crawford is a former chief executive and board member of Jumeirah Hospitality Group in Dubai, Managing director of Forte Heritage Hotels and managing director of Le Meridien Africa, Caribbean and Indian Ocean. He will join Highland Coast Hotels as its chief executive from April 6, when he will begin leading the business into the next phase of its development and expansion.
Created in April 2021, Highland Coast Hotels aims to bring innovative, sustainable and community-led hospitality to the coastlines of the north Highlands. Last year saw the relaunch of the Royal Marine Brora while 2023 will see the introduction of two newly refurbished properties to the collection. The Tongue Hotel and Plockton Inn are set to re-open to visitors in April following extensive renovations.
For Crawford, the appointment represents a return to his roots. His grandparents and parents were hotel owners and managers in the Scottish Highlands, including venues in Forres, Nairn, Grantown-on-Spey, Aviemore and Craigellachie. His wife Elizabeth is originally from Barra in the Western Isles.
Crawford, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career developing and running some of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels, said: “The Scottish Highlands is not only one of the most beautiful corners of the earth, but the region holds so many personal family connections and memories for me. I’m passionate about enhancing local community life and sustainable tourism. As Scotland’s newest luxury boutique hotel collection, Highlands Coast Hotels is already establishing its reputation for showcasing world-class Highland food and drink, supporting local businesses and outstanding hospitality.”
As part of the leadership changes on April 6, current chief executive Roddy Watt will step back from involvement in day-to-day operations and focus on development of the business through investment and acquisition. Chairman David Whiteford added: “We’re incredibly fortunate to be welcoming Guy to Highland Coast Hotels. Over the last four decades, he’s gained a global reputation as one of the hospitality industry’s most respected leaders.”
Meanwhile, tourism businesses in Caithness and Sutherland have been given a boost this autumn and winter as part of a nationwide marketing campaign led by Venture North. The destination management organisation has teamed up with more than 250 tourism businesses, local community groups and industry partners across the region to help extend the season and bring business to local visitor economies over the quieter autumn and winter months.
The campaign has been geared towards promoting reasons to visit and explore the region from October to March, showcasing areas that are less impacted by over-tourism and can accommodate visitors in the quieter season. As part of the campaign, Venture North devised a series of 14 suggested themed itineraries to help visitors explore Caithness and Sutherland and launched a series of five short films to showcase the region to visitors across the UK, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Campaign themes included health and wellbeing, heritage, wildlife and culture.