A SCOTS-born hotelier has returned to his homeland to develop a portfolio of boutique venues around the country.

Gordon Campbell Gray has taken a step back from his international hotel management business, which includes venues include Jordan, Beirut, Lebanon and Bahrain, to focus on the venture.

The first venue to trade under The Wee Hotel Company has been revealed as The Pierhouse Hotel and Seafood Restaurant in the Argyll village of Port Appin, which Mr Campbell Gray acquired without fanfare in October.

And the operator, who has a home in Port Appin but originally comes from Renfrewshire, said other acquisitions are imminent.

The Pierhouse, named recently as one of the best places in the UK to live, is situated on the shores of Loch Linnhe, offering views of the islands of Lismore and Mull.

Mr Campbell Gray, who spent his twenties running projects for Save the Children in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua, dined there regularly and was approached about buying the hotel by its previous owners, Nick and Nikki Horne. Asked what appealed to him about The Pierhouse, he said: “First of all, it was my local, and I used to go there all the time. I love langoustine and I used to go and have langoustine every week, if not twice a week, and the setting looking over Lismore is stunning.

“One day the owners just said to me: “we are thinking maybe it is time after 12 years to spend more time with our kids in the south. Do you know anyone who might interested?”

“I said: “maybe me”. And they said: “that is what we hoped you’d say,” and I just bought it. It was that simple. I bought it because it is very authentic. It has all the best of Scottish tourism – people coming in bikes and kayaks, walking and climbing and coming in on boats. It is a really Scottish hotel with locals and I just love it. It is very honest.”

Mr Campbell Gray decided not to publicise the purchase until he had overseen the launch of The Merchant House in Bahrain and The Machrie on Islay, for Campbell Gray Hotels, the hotel management business he founded, last year.

He pledged that The Wee Hotel Company would invest to make “gentle” changes to improve facilities for guests at The Pierhouse this year, building subtly on the reputation it already enjoys.

And he signalled that the hotel will be joined by further acquisitions soon. Asked how quickly deals will be done, Mr Campbell Gray replied: “Very soon - in capital letters.”

The hotelier said no specific targets have been set in terms of the size of portfolio he is looking to build. He said the aim is to develop a “collection of individual places which have their own DNA”, though common to all will be a celebration of locally-sourced food and drink. Expansion will be privately financed.

Mr Campbell Gray said: “There is no rush. We only want to find exactly the right thing, and we are not under any pressure to do so. When the right thing comes along, we will be interested. We do not have a target which must be achieved. I have reached a stage in life where I can be relaxed, which is lovely.”

Mr Campbell Gray, who began his career working in large hotels in London and abroad, added: “I have been lucky enough to live and work in many countries across the world, but I really feel that few can rival the sheer magnificence of Scotland when it comes to scenery, food and drink, and I’m now ready to come home.

“I live in Argyll and realised one day that I always had that going back to school feeling when I was leaving to head off on more travels, so I finally said to myself – then why am I leaving?

“For several years I’ve wanted to come home to Scotland. The Wee Hotel Company is the result of this ambition and the start of an exciting new chapter in my life.”