AS Scotland’s travel and hospitality businesses tackle the fall out from the bad weather caused by the Beast from the East, an entrepreneur based in rural Perthshire says ministers must ease the VAT burden on young firms.


Rebecca Newman.



What is your business called?

Errichel House and Cottages and Thyme at Errichel Restaurant.

Where is it based?

Aberfeldy, Perthshire.

What services does it offer?

We are a family-run hospitality business based on our own working hill farm. We breed native rare breed livestock and offer a true ‘field to fork’ dining experience within our restaurant and rooms. In addition to the guest rooms at Errichel House we have three holiday cottages and offer weddings, events, private dining, outside catering, cookery school courses, farm walks and a small farm shop.

To whom does it sell?

The majority of our guests are leisure visitors. Around 80 per cent of our accommodation guests are from the UK, with the balance coming from all over the globe. We operate within a number of market segments – our cottages mainly cater for families looking to get away to a rural countryside setting. Errichel House caters for couples, groups of friends and foodies looking for a relaxing luxury short break. We have a good local customer base for our Thyme restaurant. We also offer private dining, off-site catering services and wholesale produce to local businesses.

What is its turnover?

Approximately £330,000.

How many employees?


When was it formed?

We have been trading in our current form since August 2014.

Why did you take the plunge?

My husband Paul and I met whilst we were working at the Caledonian Hilton in Edinburgh. Paul had been an Executive Chef in a number of five star hotels around the world and we both shared a love for great hospitality, food and the outdoors. We had been living and working down south, but when the opportunity to rent a property on my family farm presented itself, we decided it was the right time to relocate – particularly because our children were getting to schooling age. While our accommodation was sorted Paul continued to work in London as Executive Chef for Hilton Hotels whilst I settled in Aberfeldy.

Time moved on and we decided to develop a business based on the farm. We had the hospitality skills between us and the desire to create a unique business where our setting and accommodation were inextricably linked. We also wanted to break away from buying into factory-farm produce and follow an alternative way of rearing livestock which we have done - the produce is now showcased in our restaurant alongside the best of Scotland’s natural larder.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I spent two years learning about livestock. After some research I bought a couple of Shetland cattle as well as some hens and goats which taught me a great deal! We are still learning all the time when it comes to running the farm. I was a full-time mother, but I took on responsibility for managing the cottages on the farm and converted them into holiday lets.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We were fortunate to be able to set up our business using the family farm. However, we had significant outlays to refurbish the main farmhouse and include a professional kitchen and four ensuite guest rooms. To do that I sold my apartment in Edinburgh, raising capital to invest into the farm and carry out the work.

What was your biggest break?

Winning the Scottish Land and Estates Helping it Happen Award for Tourism in 2017 was a pivotal moment for us. It was the first major recognition we had received for the business we had created and it gave us the drive to keep moving forward. There were some fantastic estates represented – all doing great things to develop sustainable land-based businesses, offering rural jobs, developing the local economy and protecting the environment.

What was your worst moment?

Trying to balance running a farm and luxury hospitality is a tricky business and things like floods,

snow, overflowing baths, medical emergencies (both human and livestock) are all par for the course!

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

We both enjoy the variety in our work and treasure being able to share our love for great hospitality, rural life and the countryside with guests.

What do you least enjoy?

The weather – particularly during this last winter.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To secure the future of the family farm and hospitality business by creating a sustainable operation, founded on a strong ethical policy of care to our environment, to our animals, to our guests and to our team.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Value Added Tax at 20 per cent is crippling. Trying to keep our prices fair and maintain permanent employees with increasing input costs and staff costs is a real challenge. A business start-up VAT tax relief system, with relief reducing over the five years to help prepare businesses for the full tax costs could enable businesses to become strong and resilient.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

To identify and understand your market and make strategic decisions with that knowledge at the fore. It is not enough to take the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. You really need to know who ‘they’ are, how you will reach ‘them’, what ‘they’ want and be able to communicate what you offer.