When we catch up with Glenegedale House owners Graeme and Emma Clark they are still “doing the happy dance” having won the title of “Most Hospitable Guest House” in the HITA2019 - Highlands and Islands tourism awards last month. This is just the latest accolade in a long list of awards and industry recognition including; Five Star Gold Award by Visit Scotland (each year, 2013 to present), Five Star Gold Award by AA (each year, 2015 to present), AA Breakfast Award (each year, 2015 to present) and Visit Scotland’s Taste our Best Award (each year, 2013 to present). In November 2018 Emma was appointed the Director of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative for Islay and included in the inaugural “Top 100 women in Tourism for 2018”.
Originally from Islay, the couple returned to the island in 2013 with their young family. “It’s a different way of life and an amazing quality of life here on the island. No-one leaves here without noticing that their shoulders are lower and their breathing is deeper and more relaxed!”
Since taking over the property back in February 2013 Emma and Graeme have moved the business from number 56 on TripAdvisor to No 1 and have stayed at this top spot, each year winning their “Certificate of Excellence” Award. This year marks an important milestone for the couple as they finally bought the property earlier in 2019 having leased it for the last 7 years. They have invested heavily in renovating Glenegedale House from top to bottom – to the tune of around £200K - upscaling the property to a luxury guest house. “We offer all of the comfort of a B&B but with the 24-hour service of a hotel” says Emma.
They have been using freetobook as their online booking engine since they started, adding on channel connections to bookingdotcom and Expedia. “It’s working well for us - we love how easy it is to integrate this with the extra services like the payment system Stripe.” The guesthouse welcomes visitors from all over and has a high number of repeat bookings – around 60%.
Both Graeme and Emma completed their degrees in Hospitality Management with Graeme working his way up in the management ladder through Thistle hotels, MoatHouse and then finally the Marriott International for several years while Emma focused on Sales and brand Marketing within the Pharmaceutical industry. Their passion for tourism and hospitality together with over thirty years’ experience in the industry clearly makes this husband and wife team a winning combination!