Thursday 2 May 2019

Marking 35 Years of the Daynes family at Clachaig

Way back when, in 1984, May bank holiday weekend saw the arrival of the Daynes family at Clachaig. 35 years on and we're still here, still very much with the finger on the pulse of a thriving and still growing business.

Some time circa 1984

An often asked question is where are you from? At first, it's a bit of a puzzler. After three and a half decades in Glencoe there is only one answer. Well, we live here. It takes a few moments to register that there's a hint that the accent doesn't quite have that west coast lilt, and so therefore there's must be more of a history.

Until the mid 80s we lived in York. Like so many, the lure of working for yourself in the Highland glens carried some appeal. The fact that Peter Daynes was a civil engineer and had no experience of hospitality other than doing a few nights B&B didn't really come into it. One day the house was sold, the bags were packed and the move north to a new career and a new home was really happening. 

The early days were  a challenge. Very hands on. Very long hours. So much knowledge to acquire. So many stresses and pressures to deal with. The learning curve was indeed steep. The seasons were short. The financial pressure to succeed was considerable.

Clachaig was very different in those early days. And running Clachaig was very different too. It's really hard to describe just how different. The evolution from small hands on Highland hostelry to multi-million pound modern business has been gradual, but consistent.

We've changed a little too. We're a little shy when it comes to getting in front of the camera. Here's one of Ed & Guy back in December 1985. It's not deliberately in soft focus, really. It's just that the phone in those days was more bakerlite than it was 16 mega pixel integrated camera. 

Ed & Guy - do you recognise the location?

It took a while for Guy & Ed to catch up with full time life at Clachaig. After completing a degree at Leeds Uni Guy was destined to become a chemical engineer. Meanwhile Ed was finishing off school, heading off the Newcastle for a degree and then a training contract with accountants, Price Waterhouse (now PwC), including a while spent in the Singapore office.

But the lure of Glencoe gets you in the end. Careers were dropped and the move north made. Guy in 1989, and Ed in 1991. Peter & Eileen took a step back from the front line in 1992 to concentrate on Strathlachlan Guest House (now Riverbank  Holiday Cottages). Ambition ran high and we opened The Grog & Gruel in Fort William in 1994. In 1998 Guy & Ed took full control of Clachaig. 

Peter and Eileen still live locally, and still look after several of the properties in the Clachaig Holidays portfolio, this despite them being in their 80s now. And eyes are now on the 3rd generation of the Glencoe Daynes'. You'll see them pouring pints, making beds and getting to grips with the hands on elements of the business from time to time, school holidays depending. However, the question is less about whether they'll follow on the family footsteps at Clachaig and more whether Guy & Ed are prepared to step aside and let them. Yet, at least!

Clachaig is many things to many people. We see some of our regular customers every month or so. Others visit once a year; an annual pilgrimage of sorts. Some of our regulars have been visiting for decades, and have been a part of Clachaig for a lot longer than we have. Such is the nature of the place. We get to meet some amazing people. We quite often get to work with some amazing people. It's an amazing place to live and work.

So that's a potted history of the last 35 years. What else is there to say, other than bring on the next 35 years. We're more than ready and the passion still runs as strong as it did on the very first day. The "customer promise; the strap line that you'll see on our web site and elsewhere is no accident. Real people, real hospitality, real craic. That's it. No further explanation required. 

Oh, and the commute to and from work can be quite nice too.


Unknown said...

Dear Dayne's Family

I first visited the Clachaig in the early 70`s when it was not more then a climbers haunt. I was bilited nearby in what was called the para lodge, now something to do with squirrels. Since then I have visited on many occasions over the years and enjoyed watching the Clag grow and grow. Well done and keep on doing what your doing.

Andy Webb said...

Hi great story , we have enjoyed your hospitality on I think at least 8 occasions over the last few years and also stayed with you in Chamonix on a couple of occasions too. It’s great to learn how it all started. We have had some fantastic times at the Clachaig, it’s a firm favourite with our family . Good luck for the future. Andy Webb