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New chapter for five-star Aberdeen hotel and spa set to change hands

Left to Right: Sir Jim Milne (Balmoral Group) with The Marcliffe MD, Ross Spencer

THE five-star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa has been bought by one of the North-east’s most prominent businessmen.

Sir Jim Milne, founder of Aberdeen-based engineering group Balmoral, will take control of the luxury premises from the end of June, with Edinburgh-based Effective Hospitality Management (EHM) running it on their behalf.

The Marcliffe is currently owned and operated by the Spence family, with Ross Spence holding the Managing Director position since his father, Stewart Spence’s, retirement in 2021, but the deal with Balmoral will see the Spence family sever ties with the Aberdeen institution.

The original Marcliffe Hotel was acquired by Stewart Spence in 1979, relocating to its current home in 1993 where he continued to operate it. Son James Spence took over around four years ago. No other changes are planned to staffing levels.

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Balmoral Group does not plan to adjust existing staffing to ensure the quality of service the hotel is known for and there will be no change to current event, wedding and hotel bookings.

Sir Jim Milne shared his excitement at the potential acquisition, saying: “The Marcliffe is an Aberdeen institution, and is an establishment very close to my heart. I’ve known the Spence family for a long time, and it feels like a natural progression for Balmoral Group. Stewart is recognised as one of the best hoteliers in Scotland, and it’s through his work that we have strong foundations to continue his legacy.”

Balmoral Group will continue the ongoing refurbishment programme at the hotel and has plans to inject a substantial initial investment into modernising the hotel’s systems, processes and suites to offer an elevated customer experience and quality.

Sir Jim added: “Maintaining the quality and standards that the Marcliffe is known for, while also retaining jobs, is of the utmost importance to us. We are completely committed to the Aberdeen community through our backing of Friends of ANCHOR and other charitable foundations, and we want The Marcliffe to prosper through our ownership.”

Ross Spence, Managing Director and the son of Stewart Spence, said: “While it’s bittersweet to think we may soon be handing over the keys to The Marcliffe, we know that Balmoral are the perfect fit to continue its legacy. As long-time custodians of The Marcliffe brand, our family has cherished and nurtured it with love and dedication. So much of our lives have been spent here and the staff and regular customers have become family over the years – Sir Jim is part of that. We are confident that Balmoral will honour The Marcliffe’s heritage and care for it with the same passion and commitment that has been at the heart of our family so that the hotel will thrive for decades more.”

Bill Main, Deputy Managing Director at Balmoral Group, commented: “We are looking forward to welcoming The Marcliffe team into Balmoral Group, with the help of EHM we are confident we can make it a seamless transition.”

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