I visited the Baltasound Hotel on my last trip to Unst and I always wanted to find out how challenging it is to run the northern-most Hotel in the UK. The hotel is only a few hundred yards from Baltasound Pier and Marina and makes an excellent base to explore Unst and the northern isles of Shetland. I managed to catch up with Steve, the manager at the Hotel and ask him 10 questions.
1 What brought you to Unst originally?
Having looked at various hotels to purchase throughout the country, the outstanding location of the hotel just a few hundred yards from the sea swung it for us. And the genuine willingness to help in any way they could by the people we met on our buying research visits.
2 How is the Hotel integrated into the local community on Unst?
With Unst being a very tight knit community most of the parties and celebrations are held in one of the community halls because of the numbers invited. For smaller groups we are very much the place everyone uses. Last year we were a finalist in The Highlands and Islands Restaurant of the Year so we are definitely the go to place for any special family meals. There is a winter darts competitions with visiting teams from other islands. It is also used for most of the club presentation nights.
3 What is unique about the Baltasound Hotel?
We are Britain’s Most Northerly Hotel. No other hotel can say that.
4 What is your favourite place on Unst and why?
The area around Burrafirth and Scotland. You have the Loch of Cliff on your left and as the name suggests Burrafirth on your right hand side. I have not found a spot to compete with it.
5 What are the best and worst things about living on a remote island?
They are one and the same. Being away from it all with the peace and tranquility. And being away from it all and not being able to pop into KFC or grab a game of poker at the casino.
6 Have you visited any other islands around Shetland or Scotland? If so, which was your favourite and why?
As a child with my school I visited Rothesay on Bute. Arran and Millport on Cumbrae. I cannot remember much about them to say but here in Shetland, my favourite island is Bressay. It has lots of rolling green hillside compared to most of the rest of the Shetland Isles which are filled with rocks or peat bogs.
7 How do you see the next 5-10 years for yourselves and your business on the island?
Its the challenge that drives us. We only came here with a 5 year plan to turn around a failing hotel. We have done that and had intended to have moved on by now but have actually bought other businesses locally so I guess that plan is out he window and we might very well be around for the next 10.
8 When is the best time to visit Unst?
It depends on what you are looking for. The summertime brings you beautiful landscapes with teeming wildlife and migratory birds. And winter brings you the chance to see the even more beautiful Northern Lights. And in fact, Unst is being billed as one of the best places to see the total eclipse in middle March 2015.
9 Has there been an increase in tourism as a result of recent TV programmes about Shetland and books such as Between Weathers?
Other people on Unst believe so, but it is hard for us to gauge as we have done a massive marketing campaign with a whole range of tour groups from different countries around the world. We have seen a healthy increase in bookings but how much of it is a result of our hard work and how much is down to the current Shetland television and book hype we just don’t know. Other business around us tell us that they have seen an increase, so I suppose it has definitely helped.
10 Where can I find out more information about the Baltasound Hotel?
On our website www.baltasoundhotel.co.uk or read our reviews on Trip Advisor