Andy Murray now adds Hotelier to his list of achievements as the tennis ace opens Cromlix today, a luxury Five Star hotel near his home town of Dunblane in Scotland. Formerly a grand but rundown Victorian mansion, the property has been lovingly restored and refurbished. Amongst its many attractions are a beautiful loch, a private chapel and a total of ten bedrooms and five suites. Needless to say there are tennis courts in the 2,000 acres of grounds. Jamie Murray, the Wimbledon doubles champion and Andy’s brother, had got married there in 2010.
Andy Murray has always retained a great loyalty to his town of birth, and he has invested in Cromlix as a means of giving something back to his beloved community and creating both employment opportunity and a boost to local tourism. On the hotel’s website, Murray also notes that Cromlix will help to support other local businesses. Forty new jobs have already been created.
As a child, Murray and his brother Jamie were amongst the children terrorized in the Dunblane Massacre. He was 8 years old when the gunman opened fire in Dunblane primary school in March 1996. Seventeen were shot dead. Murray rarely ever talks about the horror of that day because it is “just too hard” and some have put his notorious unsmiling countenance down to that hidden trauma.
He has said he prefers not to dwell on events of the past and to concentrate instead on how the town has recovered from that day and rebuilt. It is symbolic of that attitude that he has taken on the Cromlix venture. Seeing how Dunblane is today, he has said “fills me with massive pride.”
After winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics Andy Murray had a homecoming parade in Dunblane where hundreds turned out to cheer their local hero. He had left as a teenager to go and train in Barcelona.
Gourmands will be among those drawn to the hotel for the restaurant Chez Roux, headed up by Michelin-starred chef Albert Roux. The venture has also been a family affair, with Murray’s girlfriend Kim Sears helping with interior design and mum Judy hands-on in quality control. She may need to brush up on her guest-patter, allegedly answering one enquiry as to what could be caught in the loch, with the answer, “A cold, I should imagine.”
The chairman of VisitScotland, Mike Cantly, said he was delighted that one of Scotland’s greatest ever sportsmen had entered into the hotel trade, and he is sure he will be a “terrific ambassador” just as he is for tennis. He thinks Cromlix will generate the same sort of excitement for visitors as Andy Murray creates for spectators on the court.
Cantly said, as a “local boy” himself he found the redevelopment of the old mansion to be “truly inspirational” and expects to see it booked out with occupants from all over the world. It is already fully booked for the Ryder Cup which will take place at nearby Gleneagles. It is also featured in VisitScotland’s Bond themed tour.
The new hotel has not come about without some upset though. Locals who were living on the estate when Murray bought it for £2 million in 2013 were shocked when they were asked to evict to make way for hotel staff quarters. They received the notices from Cromlix’s former owners, Henry and Edward Eden. They rented cottages only 100 yards away from the front of the now hotel. The tenants had been expecting that Murray would become their new landlord. The Eden brothers later issued a statement that the short-term tenancy agreements prohibited these locals from staying put and that they had been made aware of the situation six months prior.
Conservationists also raised objections when they found out that Murray’s team were moving an historic sundial from its original site and also moving some gate posts. Historic Scotland asked for a stone conservator’s report before withdrawing their opposition to the planning permission.
Today’s opening party should please the local schoolchildren though. They have been invited along to have a game of tennis with Judy Murray and a cooking lesson with Monsieur Roux. They won’t see the Men’s Wimbledon Champion however, Andy Murray is not expected to be at Cromlix until later in the month.
By Kate Henderson