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North Highland Hotel Celebrates 65 Years As A Family Business

One of the north Highlands’ most iconic hotels is celebrating 65 years as an independent family business this September.

Mackays Hotel on Union Street in Wick has been a leading accommodation provider and a cornerstone of local community life in Caithness for over six decades since being purchased by the first family member in 1955, Murray Lamont’s maternal grandmother.

The hotel is now owned and operated by third generation of Lamonts, Murray and Ellie, along with their 34-year-old daughter, Jennifer, supporting 25 local jobs and welcoming around 54,000 global visitors to the North Highlands each year.

Murray and Ellie took over the management of Mackays Hotel in 1983 and went on to purchase the property from the rest of the family in the 1990’s.

Since then, the hotel has gone from strength to strength winning a number of industry awards and accolades, including ‘Caithness Business of the Year’ in the Highland Business Awards 2016, overall winner of the ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ category at the Highland Business Awards 2017, an AA Rosette for No.1 Bistro at Mackays Hotel in 2014, and a Gold Tourism Award as part of The Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Murray Lamont’s first job was working with his father as cellar boy at Mackays Hotel when he was just eight-years-old. Even when he was away studying as a student in Dundee, Murray travelled home every weekend to work in the hotel. After graduating, Murray worked in the central belt of Scotland before returning to Wick in 1982, where he has worked in the hotel for a total of 42 years.

The family-run hotel continues to go the extra mile to support those in need around the region. During the recent lockdown, the Lamont family worked with Legion Scotland project to provide Caithness veterans and pensioners with regular hot meals and companionship whilst self-isolating at home, as well as a meals on wheels home delivery service for people in and around Wick. Accommodation was also let out to key workers shielding from their families.

Murray Lamont, owner of Mackays Hotel, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have reached this significant milestone for our family-run hotel and as an integral part of local community life here in Caithness. We pride ourselves on our warm Highland welcome to guests from across the world every single year and look forward to continuing that tradition for many years to come.”

Mackays Hotel has been supported by the North Highland Initiative (NHI) over the last 10 years. Commenting on Mackays 65th anniversary, David Whiteford, Chair of NHI, said: “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the Lamonts for a number of years so it’s great to see the family and their hotel continue to succeed under their leadership in these challenging times for the hospitality sector.

“Murray and Ellie are both a huge part of the Caithness community, supporting many charities in the region including The Legion and RNLI, as well as contributing to a variety of local initiatives like Venture North, and of course NHI. I’m sure all of Caithness and their many guests from all over the world will join me in wishing them every success for the future.”

NHI was established in 2005 as a direct result of His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay’s involvement in bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry to address the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland. The NHI also works to build and develop a regional identity for the area.

As part of the overall objective of the charity, NHI operates across the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty to assist in making this amazing part of the UK a place where businesses and communities are sustainable. The three key areas of activity for the NHI are food and farming, tourism, and community support and leadership.

More information about Mackays Hotel in Wick please visit www.mackayshotel.co.uk

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