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Jerome Smail 14 November 2014

Andrew Dykes, The Cruose HotelAndrew Dykes, owner of the Crusoe Hotel in Fife, gives us an insight into the challenges of growing a hotel business and obtaining funding in a tough economic climate

Tell us the story of the hotel
The Crusoe Hotel is a family-run hotel in the fantastic seaside village of Largo in Fife. The village of Largo was home to Alexander Selkirk, the real-life character on whom the story of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was based!

The hotel is built right on the water’s edge of the beach at Largo Bay overlooking Edinburgh. Most rooms boast fantastic views of the Forth or Largo harbour. Only a 15-minute drive to the world-famous home of golf, St Andrews, the hotel is the perfect location for a golf holiday, a business trip or a relaxing Scottish break.

We used the Crusoe theme throughout the hotel and introduced the Castaway Restaurant and the Crusoe Bar.

The hotel has an a la carte menu in its Castaway Restaurant where local ingredients are used in a daily changing menu. Freshly caught Lobsters and prime Perthshire beef lead the menu choice.

The on-sight Crusoe Bar is open to both residents and non-residents and is the perfect place to relax with a selection of real ales and whiskies, wines and beers.

What challenges have you faced since opening?
The last five years have proved to be a difficult time for the Crusoe Hotel – and, in fact, all of us in the hospitality sector. Banks have dramatically reduced funding to the sector and this has really hit us hard.

In the hotel business the motto is “you must grow, otherwise you stand still or go backwards”. It has been a real challenge to find suitable funding and raise capital in the current economic climate in order to progress and grow.

We contacted Boost Capital, an alternative lender, and they gave us quick access to finance so we could grow. We weren’t particularly hopeful when we applied due to the economic climate but the loan application was simple and straightforward and there was a dedicated business adviser at the other end of the telephone for all of our questions as this was new territory for us.

Where are you spending the majority of your budget?
The funding has allowed us to give the hotel some much need attention, TLC and renovation. We have been able replace windows, repaint the entire building and to renovate rooms and public areas. We now welcome more guests than ever through our doors.

What are your plans for the future?
As the motto states, “you must grow, otherwise you stand still or go backwards”. Through the funding and the improvements we hope to grow our business to 100% capacity and maintain this all year round.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
In my younger days I was in the engineering business and at that point in life the last thing I ever thought I would be was a hotelier. The hotel business is such a different one from the engineering world but I feel I have made the right choice and have loved running the business as a family.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Entrepreneur, innovative, flexible.

If you weren’t a hotelier what would you be doing?
I would probably be sailing the Mediterranean!

Average room rate: £85
Average food spend per head: £20
Average weekly occupancy: 92-95%
Staff members: 15