HIGHLANDS hospitality group Shawfern, owner of the long-established Dowans Hotel at Aberlour, is expanding after acquiring a second property in the area.

Shawfern Group has purchased the Archiestown Hotel, in the nearby village of the same name, with support from Royal Bank of Scotland.

Extensive renovations are under way with the Archiestown set to reopen in the second quarter of 2019. The relaunch will bring 30 jobs to the area and boost local tourism by offering boutique-style accommodation to some of the thousands of visitors who visit Speyside each year.

Headed by director Michael Murray, his wife Marie, and daughters Steph and Lauren, the independent, family-owned Shawfern Group has ambitious plans for the Archiestown, having grown the Dowans sixfold since taking the reins in 2012.

The new-look hotel will provide 11 rooms, a cocktail bar, restaurant and private dining room among other amenities. It will also provide versatile venue hire opportunities for weddings and corporate events.

Mr Murray said: “Aberlour has long been a region rich in tourism, thanks to the 56 distilleries in the area, coupled with castles, beautiful countryside and of course, the River Spey – popular with salmon fishing.

“We want the Archiestown to add to the reasons people visit the area, by creating a unique experience and opportunity for guests to stay in a beautiful hotel set in an equally breath-taking landscape.”

Tom Garner, relationship manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The Murray family have done a fantastic job in realising their vision for the Dowans Hotel, and have an equally exciting plan for the Archiestown.

“The customer demand certainly exists, driven by homegrown businesses and Moray’s large and growing tourist economy.”