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Why is hospitality in Highlands not seen as first-class and a solid career path?

By Emma Harrison

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Caitlin Evans.
Caitlin Evans.

The world of hospitality is very appealing to be involved in for many countries, and individuals train for years to become chefs or work hard to become the best hoteliers they can be. It is a respected occupation, and the young strive to succeed in it.

In the UK, though respected, the hospitality industry can quickly be described as having a seasonal place only, which is one of the reasons why we see so many staff turnovers. The Highlands can be even more difficult, with its small population but huge demand from visitors, especially in the peak months. So why is hospitality not seen as first-class and a solid career path?

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We see many inspirational stories across the world, it is with hope that the lust for wanting to work in this sector will grow. Highlighting what success looks like felt easy after speaking with numerous hotel managers in the area with so many good news stories about how they best support their local staff in staying in the hospitality sector and growing in their careers.

The Drumossie Hotel team is no exception. Euan Walker joined the Drumossie team at the age of 17 as commis chef and progressed his position as a sous chef. After leaving to gain experience elsewhere in the sector, Euan returned to the Drumossie and is now the executive chef and the proof is absolutely in their excellence of puddings, and savoury for that matter. The Glen Mhor offers hospitality training for those with additional needs, ensuring the opportunities in the industry are inclusive.

Another highlight is the Lovat, the only four-star hotel in Fort Augustus on the Great Glen Way. A family business since 2005, it is now owned by husband-and-wife team Caroline Gregory and Sean Kelly. The Lovat is also home to the AA awarded 3 Rosette restaurant, Station Road.

The Lovat.
The Lovat.

As an employer, the Lovat works closely with each staff member and engages with them throughout their journey at the hotel and restaurant. They offer learning journeys, stages, and masterclasses on and off-site as well as qualification training and development. One of their staff members, Caitlin Evans has recently won awards for her work, and I wanted to hear more about her aspirations.

Caitlin said: “Finding a career at the Lovat was an unexpected yet wonderful change in direction that I will always be thankful for. It was here at The Lovat that my involvement and fascination with the world of wine first began.

“I have indeed been captivated! I now aspire to continue growing my current knowledge of wine through specific programmes. I would like to greatly enhance guests’ culinary experiences by sharing my learnt wine knowledge whilst they dine. The industry is ever-changing – it is all very exciting, and I love that I get to play a small part in it.”

On the versatility of the nature of a career in the field, she said: “Hospitality offers a unique experience that makes patrons feel special, people never forget those feelings. Simple gestures and warmth go a long way. It is an industry that so clearly defines your goals, we want to make people feel special. Hospitality is so incredibly versatile and the opportunities available are limitless. Each day I work, I feel so enriched and so challenged. It leaves you wanting more, you never truly do know what the next day is going to bring.”

It is with hope the young workforce sees hospitality as something more than extra pocket money. The industry demonstrates empowerment and passion which in turn drives a successful career, and there are plenty of those for the taking in the Highlands.

Sponsored by Visit Inverness Loch Ness.

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