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Story of a West Coast Island Hotel

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith on Feb 12, 2013 8:31:00 PM

As we begin another year- our 40th here at Eriska, we also close one behind us.  

Its time  to get all the data to the accountants, some of this is easily collected by simply pushing buttons, others is collected by sending team members off into dark stores to count bottles or into the fridges to weigh and measure. However the most difficulty and challenging tasks are always left to me it would seem, whether that be counting books, and brochures or explaining anomalies-

1185 Donkey in retirement Argyll  MEDIUM resized 600

One year I was left explaining how we had valued two donkeys at £50 when this was clearly not market value - how the accountant knew any better I am not sure but clearly my father had made a guess -all be it educated- and then this figure had simply never been challenged - over the years we had looked after many donkeys and never really counted them on or off the balance sheet but on this occasion we had an over officious accountant who wanted proof and evidence- evidence was easy pictures and bruises to the golf course accounted for their existence but but evidence of a valuation plucked from the air was more difficult to fabricate so we had them removed from the paperwork- probably at a loss! 

Anyway this week has been spent counting brochures- every time we reprint I always believe that this will be the last edition as the internet takes over and then the panic sets in as we reach the last box and decide we better reprint and off we go again. The hard decision however comes when we do have one box left and the new edition arrives- do we use to less potential guests (insuring they will never be Eriska Guests!)  or throw away the old copies. Hopefully the better we get the less surplus copies will be left and we can simply phase out and phase in!

So with brochures counted the next chore was our eriska book. For many years we were asked and especially my father was asked to write a book about the hotel. Then as I began to notice his stories gaining legs and arms I too started calling for a definitive edition to be written down to stop exaggeration and bad memory lases filing the void. Eventually after much deliberation my father started writing "Eriska - the story of an island". In stead of concentrating on the hotel and his time here he chose to concentrate on the island. The first chapter was to cover the early years and years before we arrived - the second the years under my parents stewardship , the third the years under our joint control and finally a chapter on the flora and fauna.

describe the imageIn dividing the book in such a way he not only turned it into a far more interesting read but also forced us to realise that our time here is only a minimal impact on the islands history. This is especially pertinent as we move to become the family with the longest tenure of the island and indeed leads us to be reminded of my fathers credos -

We do not own the island but simply hold it in trust for others to come after us.  

The book whilst a guideline to keep my fathers stories on track was never seen by him before he passed away in 2005 but it has not only been a conceded reminder of him to us but also a great way of independently explaining to visitors and potential visitors about Eriska. We can stress and tell people that Eriska is more than a hotel or more than an island but when the visit or read the book they start to get the impression that it is simply Eriska a unique place- and for that reason above all whilst we strive to evolve and keep up with modern life we also protect the heart and soul of Eriska every day not for us but for those who will follow on.

 

Topics: History, castle, accomodation