Golf centre ‘reservations’ a threat to Open plans?

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As discussion of the controversial golf centre plans rumble on, a major supporter of the development has come out and said it has reservations.

The CEO of Bespoke Hotels, which owns Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa, has written to Independent Carnoustie Councillor Brian Boyd regarding plans to enhance the existing golf centre with a multi-million pound expansion.

The Gazette has had sight of the letter, in which Bespoke CEO Haydn Fentum states: “As we have previously stated, we will be supportive of any development aimed at attracting additional visitors to Carnoustie and encouraging those visitors to linger longer, improving the visitor experience of Carnoustie and ensuring the retention of Carnoustie as an Open venue.

“The planned growth of the visitor facilities will be a welcome addition to the area, however, I do have some reservations as to how much this area will be used. I know from experience that, in the darker colder months, generating sales that support a full F&B offering are difficult, and this might prove to be the case also at the Visitor Centre.”

Mr Fentum also mentions that Bespoke has shown its confidence in Carnoustie’s tourist sector by investing £1 million on refurbishing the hotel, saying the town has a bright future and that it will support that.

Councillor Boyd said: “This is the crux of the whole thing if the hotel is nervous.

“We all know the only reason we got the Open back is because of the hotel, and yet the trustees are putting forward a business threat to it.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to seriously question anything that threatens the hotel and the High Street. If this development threatens the survival of that hotel then we can kiss goodbye to any Open thereafter.

“The hotel has serious reservations about this.”

Asked for a comment on the news, Graeme Duncan, general manager of Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee responded: “Carnoustie Golf Links has an excellent working relationship with the Golf Hotel and are delighted to see the extensive refurbishment taking place under the management of Bespoke Hotels. Bespoke have been supportive throughout this project and we are pleased they have once again indicated their support for investment in Carnoustie.

“We looked closely at year round opening when we prepared our Business Justification Case. We have considerable experience in operating a seasonal business and understand what is required to deal with the challenges of the winter months.”