A CANADIAN hospitality giant has underlined its commitment to invest further in Scotland as it launched its first hotel in Glasgow, revealing it has acquired a site for a debut venture in Edinburgh.

Sandman Hotel Group (United Kingdom & Ireland) officially opened its Signature hotel on the city’s West George Street yesterday, following the multi-million-pound development of the former Pegasus House building.

The hotel, which is the group’s fourth in the UK, employs around 160 people and has 179 rooms over nine floors. Food is available in the Chop Grill & Bar, a steak-focused concept which has been rolled out in other Signature hotels.

Mitch Gaglardi, director of Sandman’s UK and Ireland operation, expressed his satisfaction at finally opening the hotel following the challenges of developing the building during the pandemic. The company acquired the property, which was formerly utilised by the police, in 2018.

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Mr Gaglardi, who describes Sandman Glasgow as “luxury without pretension”, told The Herald: “I am very involved in these projects, I do the development arm of the business. We are developers, owners, operators, so we build the buildings and operate them after the fact, so I always have a lot of affinity with the places that we build.

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“It is exceedingly satisfying to see it come together but it’s more how people receive it. Everyone is really liking the product. Making a good success of it is tremendously satisfying.”

Asked to sum up early demand in Glasgow, Mr Gaglardi said the company has been in a “soft opening” phase and until now has not been marketing the hotel on the front foot. “Now we are really going to start to push the place and let people know we have arrived, and we are here,” he said.

He acknowledged, however, that trading conditions in the hospitality industry are “tough”.

Mr Gaglardi said: “Not to sugar coat it, these are tough times. Utility costs have been a real factor in making a success of our properties. Costs are too high, rates aren’t helping.

“The consumer is getting a bit more clench-fisted with their disposable income, but people still want to want to travel, they still want to enjoy the experience, they want to have the memories. I don’t think that will ever die. The consumer is always getting more discerning and it is something we are aware of and understand, so we just try and give them the best experience.”

Asked whether it had been difficult to recruit staff for the hotel, Mr Gaglardi said: “It was less challenging than I would have thought. There is a lot of really great people in Glasgow who are hospitality-focused and really love the market and the industry. It took a long time, but we have had more challenges in other markets than we did here. I know that our general manager here did a tremendous job creating the team. I do need to credit her on that.”

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Mr Gaglardi belongs to the family which owns the Sandman Hotel Group, which has properties across its native Canada, the US, UK, and Ireland. While Glasgow hotel is just its second in Scotland, his own connection to the country stretches back for nearly a decade. He initially came to the UK to study for an MBA 18 years ago, and moved to Scotland in 2014 to launch the group’s hotel in Aberdeen. He stayed in the Granite City for five years, before a two-year stint in Glasgow from 2019.

He speaks very highly of Scotland and regards the country as a great place to do business.

And he said the firm is keen to keep growing in Scotland, revealing that a site has been acquired to develop a hotel at Edinburgh Airport.

Mr Gaglardi said: “We have a property by Edinburgh Airport [and] we are going to go in for planning in the next couple of months, so we are going to build a hotel out there. We are certainly not done with Scotland. I think that Scotland is a great market. It has real welcoming people, it is a fantastic county, people want to come here. They want to stay here. It has all the ingredients that we need.”

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He added: “We have been trying to crack Edinburgh for a long time, so we are really pleased about our property there. We looked at this place [Glasgow] a long time ago and for it to finally come to fruition is really gratifying. A city centre Glasgow location really puts us on the map.”

In addition to its presence in Scotland, Sandman has hotels in Newcastle, where the UK operation is headquartered, London Gatwick, Sheffield (The Quays Hotel) and Dublin (Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links).