David checks out after 40-year career

David Welch joined the George Hotel in 2005. Picture: Norbert Holy
David Welch joined the George Hotel in 2005. Picture: Norbert Holy
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The general manager of the George Hotel, David Welch, has retired after 40 years in the hospitality industry.

David joined the George Street hotel in 2005, shortly after it had been taken over by operator Principal Hayley Hotels, and went on to manage a major £20 million refurbishment programme.

Since then, he has taken the hotel from strength to strength, winning prestigious accolades including Edinburgh Hotel of the Year and positioning the George as one of the Capital’s finest residences.

David, 58, who lives in Inverleith, was introduced to the hotel industry at the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester when he was just 15 years old before starting in the business in 1970 as a kitchen assistant in the larder at what was then the five-star Hotel Piccadilly in Manchester.

He spent a short time in Switzerland and studied in Manchester before embarking on a management career, moving to Edinburgh where he managed the Mount Royal on Princes Street in 1985.

David, who is widowed with two daughters, said: “I moved to the George Hotel in Edinburgh in June 2005 after spending six years managing the Crowne Plaza on the Royal Mile, now the Radisson Blu.

“It was a hugely challenging time because we stayed open throughout the refurbishment – one thing I clearly remember is having a mummified cat fall out of the ceiling.

“But it was very rewarding and the George has been incredibly dear to me.

“One of the things that drew me to the hotel trade was the variety – no two days are ever the same.

“I’ve had a fantastic career and have loved my time here at the George, however I’m looking forward to having time to relax and spend more time with my family.”

David, who plans to spend some time travelling, will continue to work with Principal Hayley Hotels in a consultancy capacity after passing over the torch at the George to Graeme Barclay.

He said: “I’m delighted to be handing the George over to a very safe pair of hands. He has a great background and I know that he will take the hotel onwards and upwards.”

Graeme, 46, originally from Glasgow, has been general manager at the five-star celebrity hot spot St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff, also part of the Principal Hayley Hotels group, for the past two years.

With more than 30 years in the industry, Graeme knows the business inside out and is looking forward to heading up the team at the George.

Graeme, who lives in Comely Bank, said: “After a few years away it’s great to be moving back to Scotland to take on the role of general manager at the George.

“It’s a wonderful hotel and I’m looking forward to working closely with the team here to continue delivering a first-class experience for guests on each and every stay.”