Total’s 100-bedroom hotel plan for Brae

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The 100-bedroom hotel proposed for Total gas plant workers and paying guests is to be built at the north end of Brae next year if it gets planning permission.

Hotel development and management company BDL has submitted plans to Shetland Islands Council for the two-and-a-half storey mid-range hotel to go on land owned by the local authority next to the “Toytown” housing estate on the road to Scatsta.

If it gets the go-ahead the hotel’s attractions would include a gym, restaurant and bar – all of which would be open to the public once the hotel opens in mid-late summer 2013. No swim­ming pool is proposed due to the Brae pool being close by.

The hotel would bring the equivalent of about 30 full-time jobs plus potentially up to 10 part-time housekeeping jobs, which might be done by a contractor. If suitable staff prove hard to come by BDL may encourage some of its employees from other hotels to move up for six months or on longer-term contracts.

BDL vice-chairman Stuart McCaffer said this week its first Shetland venture was “an exciting development” and “a unique opportunity” for his company.

“We have a lot of experience of developing new-build hotels but obviously not quite anything with the challenge of Shetland in terms of getting something that is going to be sympathetic to the local environment and also hard-wearing enough.”

Some Shetland firms are among those being included on a tender list to construct the build­ing and local sub-contractors would be used.

No name for the hotel has been decided but Mr McCaffer said it would not carry a brand name, unlike many BDL hotels run for chains like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plazza. A new company, BDL Shetland, has been set up to run the business.

BDL has built 24 new hotels and currently has 45 hotels on its books including The Point in Edinburgh. It works closely with major names in the hotel trade like Best Western and the Wyndham Hotel Group, which has the Ramada chain.

The hotel will be about seven miles from Total’s £500 million gas plant which is currently being built on a hilly site behind the Sullom Voe Terminal.

When a hotel was first mooted there were concerns from other hoteliers in the area about the possible loss of guests for their businesses. These have been allayed somewhat by Total’s agreement to block-book all 100 rooms for the first year and 80 rooms for the following six years.

It remains to be seen what happens after 2020 but Mr McCaffer said Total had the right to extend its contract. However the oil and gas company expects its permanent workers at the gas plant to eventually settle in Shetland rather than continue in hotel accommodation.

When the gas plant was given the go-ahead Total agreed not to block the hundreds of hotel beds which are needed for tourists during the summer season. It has had workers staying for short spells in hotels and guest houses all over Shetland and built a high-quality 800-bed workers’ complex at Sella Ness for its gas plant sub-contractor Petrofac, which opened in July.


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