Tycoon vows to woo ‘elite’ to Royal High School hotel

A HOTEL industry tycoon has vowed to bring the world’s “elite” leisure travellers to Edinburgh if the city seizes a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to convert one of its most celebrated landmarks.

Friday, 4th December 2015, 12:00 am
The Royal High School in Edinburgh. Picture: Contributed
The Royal High School in Edinburgh. Picture: Contributed

Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels, has launched a charm offensive to try to persuade councillors to back the creation of an “ultra-luxury” hotel at the former Royal High School.

He said the company’s global database of potential guests from the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Europe would also help bring the “highest level” of government and corporate business to the city.

Hong Kong-base Rosewood, which boasts 18 hotels around the world, has pledged to create 260 jobs if its planned 147-room hotel, which is pencilled in for a 2018 opening date, gets the green light.

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David and Victoria Beckham have stayed at Rosewood hotels elsewhere in the world. Picture: Getty

The fate of the £75 million hotel hangs in the balance over huge opposition to the six-storey extensions planned for either side of the A-listed building which its developers insist are necessary to meet the demands of a “world-class” hotel operator.

Celebrities including Mick Jagger, David Beckham, Samuel L Jackson and Lewis Hamilton are among those to have stayed at Rosewood’s hotels in London and New York.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also visited The Carlyle, Rosewood’s hotel in New York, where Scottish actor Alan Cumming regularly performs.

Rosewood Edinburgh, which is being designed by the Glasgow architect Gareth Hoskins, would be the company’s first foray into Scotland and only its fourth hotel in Europe. At least 260 jobs are expected to be created if Rosewood wins permission for its planned 147-room hotel, which is pencilled in for a 2018 opening date.

Mr Arora said the proposed hotel would be “a place of which all Scots will be genuinely proud”. He has also pledged to make its bars and restaurants “among the most exciting places to eat and drink in Edinburgh”.

Mr Arora’s personal letter to the council raises the stakes over the controversial development, which critics fear will see the Capital stripped of its World Heritage status.

Developers won a contest to find a new use for the building, which dates back to 1829, five years ago. But it has been embroiled in controversy since images showing the impact of the extensions – which have been compared to “Mickey Mouse ears” – were released earlier this year.

Many experts believe the project will be called in by the Scottish Government if it is given the go-ahead by the city council this month due to concerns raised by experts at two of its agencies – Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

In his letter to the council, Mr Arora said: “Located within a city world famous for its culture, heritage and history, Rosewood Edinburgh will become an iconic symbol of Scottish style and hospitality that will delight future generations of residents and visitors alike.

“It will be a place of which all Scots will be genuinely proud and which they will view as their retreat, their local eatery and their guest house.

“Rosewood has a strong and established presence in the Americas, the Middle East and Europe in addition to deep roots within Asia. This immediate access to a substantial database of potential guests for Rosewood Edinburgh.

“With an innate understanding of the needs and expectations of today’s travellers, we will target elite leisure guests in addition to the highest level of corporate, government and smaller group business. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity such as this deserves a worthy operator that has time and time again been involved in creating and managing iconic landmarks.”