This week Calum Ross, Proprietor, Loch Melfort Hotel & Chairman of BHA Scotland explains his admiration for one of Scotland’s unassuming yet memorable hospitality experiences.
Calum has been involved in the industry for over 27 years and for the majority of that time he has been employed in food & beverage supply. Starting as a salesman in Scotland, he went on to gain considerable international experience of the foodservice/hospitality industry, the last decade of which was at board level spanning roles from Divisional Director, Managing Director UK (with European Customer Development and Marketing responsibilities) to Chief Operating Officer, Unilever Foodsolutions, Latin America. In September 2008, with his wife Rachel, he fulfilled a long held ambition in returning to Scotland and to become an ‘owner operator’, purchasing the 25 bedroom Loch Melfort Hotel and 2 AA Rosette Asknish Bay Restaurant, near Oban.
Escape to Kilberry
As idyllic as our life, location and business might seem, being owner operators in the current economic climate is extremely challenging. Occasionally we need to escape – kids with Granny, hotel in capable hands of Samantha, our manager, we pack an overnight bag and head an hour south. Our anticipation builds as we turn off the A83 onto the single track road that heads over to the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula. A stunning coastal route, with views of the islands of Jura, Islay and Gigha and of seals lounging on the rocks a few metres from the roadside. A short while later and the familiar sight of the red tin roofed, white washed cottage comes in to view. We’re there – Kilberry Inn.
Co-owner David is on hand to welcome us back in his usual friendly, relaxed style and within minutes we are chilling out, drinks in hand contemplating what culinary delights Clare will have prepared for that evenings dinner. David and Clare aim to offer really tasty, uncomplicated food in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere – they do.
We know from previous experience that we will be choosing from Ormsary Highland beef and lamb, Tiretigan pork, very local seafood from Tarbert not to mention the nice cheeses and naughty puddings that will follow. To enable us and fellow diners to fully relax (and enjoy the wine list) there are 5 comfortable rooms attached to the restaurant – eventually we drag ourselves away in time to freshen up before dinner.
Returning a short while later, David anticipates our pre-dinner drinks and soon we are drooling over that evening’s menu and wine list. After a fantastic meal it’s time for malt whisky, guitar, fiddle and music – another night disappears and turns into an early morning!!
Breakfast the next day is equally good – a great cooked breakfast and lots of home-made preserves and toast. Eventually we have to leave but as we heard north again and back to reality we take away memories of another great night at Kilberry and start to discuss how soon we can make it back again.
(Situated mid way between Lochgilphead and Tarbert in Argyll on the scenic B8024, this unassuming little red tin roofed Inn with roses round the door holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand, is recognised in the Good Hotel Guide, and was voted Scottish Restaurant of the Year 2009. www.kilberryinn.com)