Braemar's iconic Fife Arms Hotel is in line for a multi-million pound refurbishment with the promise of a range of accommodation to suit different pockets.
Swiss antique dealers Iwan Wirth and Manuela Wirth-Hauser plan to buy the 19th century inn from from East Kilbride-based Hart Hotels in January. They have set up an English limited company, Highlands Hospitality Ltd, to facilitate the venture with the company's registered office being in Salisbury, Wiltshire. They also operate the Hauser and Wirth art dealers which is in Zurich, London (3 galleries including 23 Saville Row), New York (2) and Somerset - of course!
The Telegraph describing Iwan said he is "one of the most powerful modern art dealers in the world, [but is] also charming; not in a perma-tanned, limp-wristed kind of way, but in the manner of a bear." The feature is four years old, but makes an interesting read. And both Iwan and Manuela are regulars in the North-East with both being honourary members of the Braemar Royal Highland Society.
The news was greeted with excitement in Braemar. Local councillor Peter Argyle said: “It’s an iconic building in the middle of the village, a very important building and a very important part of Braemar. The fact that someone’s willing to take it on is good for Aberdeenshire."
The only downside is that the hotel is set to close for more than two years to allow the work to be carried out, and that must be a major blow to the local community. Welcoming the investment Vice chairwoman of Braemar Community Ltd Doreen Wood, said: “Obviously there will be a bit of pain because they will have to shut it, but it’s short time pain for long term gain. The Fife is a major accommodation provider. At the end of the day it will be worth it.”