The Maryfield House Hotel in Bressay is to be given a new lease of life when it changes hands at the end of July.
The new owners have lived in Shetland just a few months, but are filled with enthusiasm for the place and its potential.
Patrick and Morgan Blanch are from Canada, and together have around 28 years experience in hospitality and the food and drinks industry. Patrick has previously owned and operated Irish pubs, hotels and nightclubs, and the chance to run a “boutique hotel” together seems to be a dream come true.
The couple came to the UK last year, with the long-term goal of finding a property to run as a business. They found themselves in Shetland almost by accident however – arriving in the islands for a short holiday in March and never leaving. While visiting Bressay they saw the Maryfield and knew almost immediately they had found what they were looking for.
It was, first of all, the “aesthetic draw” of the building that hooked them, as well as “the fact that there is so much history within those bricks and mortar”; but quickly the idea of staying in Shetland – of living in a community and bringing up a family here – convinced them that this was the right place.
The couple have ambitious plans for the hotel, including upgrading it to a five star rating, and eventually extending the building to offer ten new bedrooms in addition to the six already in existence. However, guests and visitors are likely to see a few changes almost immediately, with refurbished bedrooms, bicycles and kayaks for hire, and an improved off-sales service, with a good selection of wine available. There will also be a new restaurant menu, planned by a Michelin star winning chef, which will include as much local produce as possible.
Although Patrick and Morgan have already been approached by both BP and Petrofac, who wish to book rooms for executives on a long-term basis, the pair intend to keep space available for “normal” visitors. They see the hotel as a “tremendous opportunity” for them, but they also recognise the “responsibility” they have “towards the community”.
Since arriving, they said, they have received a great deal of support and encouragement, not just from the current proprietors of the Maryfield, but also from the owners of the Sumburgh and Scalloway hotels. They are extremely grateful for the help, and looking forward to the challenge ahead.