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Senior appointments reinforce growth ambitions for Macdonald Aviemore Resort


Macdonald Aviemore Resort has strengthened its reputation as a world-class business and leisure destination by unveiling a highly experienced leadership team.

The award-winning Highland resort has made a raft of appointments and promotions to its senior management team to help oversee strategic operations and achieve further growth across all key service lines, including leisure, conferences and events, and food and drink.

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Managing director Kenny McMillan recently returned to Aviemore, where he first trained as a sous chef between 2004 and 2007, with a wealth of experience gained across Macdonald Hotels & Resorts including roles as group executive chef and, most recently, general manager of the nearby Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.

He has now been joined by a diverse leadership team which will provide important strategic support and share responsibility for key aspects of day-to-day operations across the resort.

Sales director Clare Armstrong has rejoined the group following seven years working for Inverness Chamber of Commerce where she was head of membership. She was previously sales and events manager at Drumossie Hotel for eight years. Clare has a reputation for delivering the Highlands’ most prestigious events and is looking forward to developing relationships with existing clients and promoting Macdonald Aviemore Resort as the leading event and conference destination in Scotland.

Marketing director Gaelle Delagrave is an experienced marketer with over 20 years’ experience in digital media, specialising in customer growth strategies and key account management for leading brands globally. After relocating to the Highlands with her family, she contributed to the success of award-winning brands in tourism, food and drink, and education including Gordonstoun School and the North Coast 500.

Finance director, Lynne Hadden, is a chartered certified accountant with a master’s degree in business administration. Previously finance manager at Springfield Properties of Elgin, where she worked for 20 years, Lynne is passionate about providing quality financial and management reporting through robust controls and processes with strong commercial awareness.

Having first joined Macdonald Hotels & Resorts as an apprentice more than 20 years ago, Edwin Blackhall has returned to Aviemore as group executive chef. Ed’s career has been built on celebrating the finest, locally-sourced produce. He was previously executive chef at Pittodrie House Hotel in Aberdeenshire and honed his skills in the kitchens of Bath Spa Hotel and Drumossie Hotel, among others.

Food and beverage operations director Jakub Golebiowski has spent the past 17 years in F&B management at Macdonald Aviemore Resort. Since joining as a restaurant assistant manager, Jakub progressed to F&B operations manager and most recently director of operations in recognition of his dedication to training staff and delivering exceptional customer service.

Golf director Jonny Chaisty brings over 15 years’ industry experience and has worked in golf management for 10 years. At Spey Valley Golf Course, Jonny’s primary responsibility is to ensure the course operates profitably and to provide a first-class Highland experience for both members and visitors alike.

Retail director Caron Black has been involved in numerous projects at Macdonald Aviemore Resort from both retail and hospitality perspectives, promoting a positive working culture and environment. Over the past decade, Caron has expertly led her team to deliver a first-class shopping experience to everyone who visits Spey Valley Shopping.

Welcoming the new appointments, managing director Kenny McMillan said: “I’m pleased that the senior management team has been finalised and look forward to working with my colleagues to develop and deliver the strategic vision for the business as the resort continues to go from strength to strength.

“The leadership team has certainly added fresh impetus and their combined strengths and talents, complemented by our existing workforce, will be important assets over the coming years. This gives me great confidence as we drive the business forward whilst continuously improving our working practices and service delivery.

“There is tremendous potential to further enhance the positive work we’re doing at the resort, both on-site and across the local community. We continue to benefit from our ability to deliver unforgettable experiences for our business and leisure guests and have experienced an encouraging start to the year in terms of bookings for rooms, conferences and family breaks.”

Macdonald Aviemore Resort, which dates back more than 50 years, was named Resort Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hospitality Awards 2019. It is a collection of four hotels, 19 luxury woodland lodges, a conference centre, the Macdonald Spey Valley Championship Golf Course and luxury shopping.

In recent years, a new clubhouse has been built for the Spey Valley golf course while the popular Giovanni’s Italian Ristorante has been refurbished to sit alongside the resort’s signature restaurant, Aspects. Significant improvements have also been made to lift the Macdonald Morlich and Macdonald Aviemore hotels from three to four-star status as part of a multi-million pound investment.

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