Running a nine bedroom hotel in Selkirk for the past 12 years wasn’t enough for Will Hegeland and Trond Dalby, who expanded their business soon after the Borders Railway opened in September 2015.
One year on, and the pair has seen a marked increase in both footfall and profit across their hotel and their newly opened bar and restaurant.
Will and Trond had already been running the County Hotel in Selkirk for 12 years when the new railway between Scotland’s capital city and the Scottish Borders launched.
As members of several local tourism groups, the businessmen were well aware of the benefits that the Borders Railway was expected to bring to the local area and they were keen to make the most of the anticipated additional visitors to the region.
It was clear to both Will and Trond that there was definitely scope to launch something new along the route. They wanted to make the most of the additional day visitors travelling from Edinburgh to Galashiels to enjoy local attractions, as well as target locals regularly using the service to commute to the city.
They decided to open Grapevine Galashiels in direct response to launch of the new train line. Offering coffee for busy commuters, lunch for day trippers and dinner and drinks for those living in or visiting the town, the setup of the restaurant was an easy decision to make.
Will explains more: “A tourism audit identified a need for new and innovative places to eat and drink in the Galashiels area so we decided to seize the opportunity to grow in the region. It’s not often that something like a new railway line opens and it has really helped connect the region to Edinburgh, helping us make the most of the large visitor numbers that the city attracts.
“While Galashiels did see some benefit from big events such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe previously, the railway makes it much more convenient for guests to access the city and combine the best of the capital’s big events with the beautiful countryside and attractions of the Scottish Borders.
“Grapevine now employs more than 15 people, which means that our decision to grow has brought new job opportunities to the community and offered another reason for visitors to stay longer in the region.
“It is still early days but we believe that the introduction of the line has had a very positive impact on our business. We can clearly see guests coming by train from Edinburgh for cocktails and dinner, as well as locals, who would previously have gone to Edinburgh to meet friends now arranging their evenings at the other end of the line.
“Sales are harder to quantify, especially at this stage, but during August we had several rooms booked in the hotel by people here to visit the Festival, and for the restaurant I would think that at the moment around 15% of our revenue is directly related to the railway. The railway has had an impact on both our businesses and we can only expect the visitor numbers to grow as the railway becomes better known by visitors and locals.”
For more information on Grapevine Galashiels visit: http://www.countyhotelselkirk.co.uk/grapevine/