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New events venture for Beauly still progressing despite coronavirus setback

By Val Sweeney

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The Archdale, which is more than 200 years old, has been renovated for use as an events venue and four self-catering suites.
The Archdale, which is more than 200 years old, has been renovated for use as an events venue and four self-catering suites.

The launch of a new events venture by the former chairman of NHS Highland has been thwarted by the coronavirus restrictions – although he remains optimistic it will soon be back on track.

Garry Coutts had planned to launch a visitor experience sharing his love of Scotland’s food, drink and history last month at the recently-revamped Archdale Hotel in Beauly.

He and his wife, Jane Cumming, bought the building – one of the oldest in the village – a year ago while their youngest daughter Kirsty is set to join the events venture as a chef. They have also created four self-catering apartments upstairs.

Garry Coutts.
Garry Coutts.

It is not the first time the plans have been thwarted.

They previously intended to use part of their home at the Old Station as the venue for hosting events but after a few years of wrestling with planning conditions and building warrants realised it was not going to work and bought the Archdale instead.

Just as the opening was in sight following extensive work, the coronavirus restrictions were imposed.

“It is a real blow after the last 14 months,” Mr Coutts said. “We have spent a lot of time and money on the place getting it up to standard. We don’t know when it will open. There are other businesses around the Highlands in a similar position. But we remain optimistic.

“If the lockdown is over by July, hopefully there will be lots of people who have been cooped up in their houses around the world who will be looking for some sort of escape.”

One of four self-catering suites.
One of four self-catering suites.

They also plan a couple of open days once the restrictions have been lifted and a week of launch events.

“There is a dining room where we will hold various events telling the history of Scotland through food and drink,” Mr Coutts said.

“We will look, for example, at the importance of beer during the agricultural and industrial revolutions, or at the role of claret during the period of the Auld Alliance, or Scottish Enlightment. We will also look at whisky and how it has conquered the world. Wherever you go people know about whisky and that didn’t happen by accident.”

Afternoon teas are also planned where people can learn about the use of chocolate as a drink and tea and coffee.

The building, thought to be more than 200 years old, was originally a coaching inn. At one time, it served as the living quarters for a former owner of the adjoining hardware store before being sold for use as a guesthouse and bar by successive owners.

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