The Spindrift Guest House in Anstruther is changing ownership, as proprietors Ken and Christine Lawson announced the sale of the guest house to new owners Mark and Jeni Carmichael-Green. The handover takes effect on October 1, eighteen years to the day since they took over the ownership of the popular and highly regarded accommodation.
After eighteen years hosting home and international travellers, the Lawsons are planning on “catching our breath and beginning our retirement…” Ken playfully warns that, “Anstruther is not getting rid of us that easily – we’re only moving to Lundin Links!”
Both Ken and Christine are vocal in acknowledging the help and friendships they’ve built up over the years with a variety of people, and both have been active in Anstruther activities and town life. Ken has served on the Anstruther Harbour Festival committees, was a Fife Tourism Board member, and Chair of the East Neuk Tourism Association. He readily gives credit to Christine, as he would not have been able to serve the Community without the help of Christine who had to look after the guests while he attended the various meetings.
In buying The Spindrift, they came from Edinburgh to the guest-house business with no prior experience whatsoever. Ken had owned a taxi business, while Christine was an Operations Manager in the Registrars Department at RBS. Their choice was either taking over a post office business or becoming guest house owners. Having looked at scores of guest houses in a variety of locations, they settled in Anstruther as they were familiar with, and always felt comfortable in, the East Neuk area.
Taking over The Spindrift proved a sharp learning – and spending – curve for them as they redecorated and upgraded all of the eight guest rooms and ensuites. Repainting, double-glazed windows, and updated bathrooms were just the tip of the improvement iceberg.
In re-branding the guest house, higher guest-service standards became the norm as the couple were passionate about offering a guest experience that was superior in every way. All staff received World Host training in guest relations, proper food service, even foreign language basics to welcome guests in their own tongue. Fresh foods and produce, locally sourced, were now incorporated into the breakfasts, and dinner service was being offered to guests as well as “locals”.
The Lawsons formula of hard work and attention to customer detail has built an inter-nationally recognised business with some 3500 guests a year – many of them repeat customers who are now reversing the tables by inviting the Lawsons to be their guests and stay with them!
The Spindrift Guest House has won multiple, repeat, awards from tourism organisations over the years, including four-star Gold awards from Visit Scotland and the AA; a Green Tourism Silver Award for being environmentally friendly; and a Gold Guest House Award from Le Routiers. VisitScotland, the AA, and the NHS (Healthy Living) have awarded the guest house their highest food awards for breakfast, dinner, and healthy cooking using fresh locally produced food products, and food service.
Working closely with the Waid Academy over the years, past and present staff members have been third-year and above students. Many have then progressed into Hospitality & Tourism courses at university. The Lawsons have sponsored The Spindrift Shield, awarded each year to the grade 4 & 5 pupil who has surpassed in their hospitality exam.
In addition to The Spindrift Shield, the Lawsons have sponsored community events and activities such as the Anstruther Harbour Festival, the Anstruther Operatic Society, the Pittenweem Arts Festival, the Crail Festival, RNLI Open Days, Anstruther in Bloom (particularly the floral displays on the Pittenweem Road entry into Anstruther), and for several years, the scorecard at the Anstruther Golf Club. Each year, a coffee afternoon to benefit Children in Need is held, and to date close to £2000 has been raised.
As they prepare to hand over the guest house to the new owners, Mark and Jeni, they are thankful to all the wonderful staff, past and present, who have worked at The Spindrift over the years. They are grateful to the local suppliers of fresh meats, seafood, garden produce and fruits, and artisan breads. They recognise that such locally sourced food products are a component in all the awards they’ve won over the years.
Ken also offers the couple’s thanks to local plumbers, joiners, electricians, painters, and other businesses who “helped keep the house in tip-top order…” and were always available for the rare emergency.
Ken and Christine find it ironic that the new owners, Mark and Jeni, are new to guest-house ownership just as they themselves were eighteen years ago. Ken is confident “that Mark and Jeni will be offered the same support, help, and kindness that were shown to us when we first moved in…” and mentions Sandy Bowman from The Craw’s Nest Hotel, and Pam from The Grange, both welcoming he and Christine and offering any help they may need.
With three weeks temporarily at a friends’ house before moving into their new Lundin Links house, Ken and Christine will be deciding what to do with their newly-found free time. As the parents of a daughter and two grown up grandchildren living in Tenerife, they are looking forward to visiting them more often and also having a summer holiday which was out of the question before.
And as Ken says, “We’ll still be around!”