ASSC Board Members
David Smythe, Chairman
Although his birth certificate says that he was born in Ayr, David has been resident in Perthshire since he was two years old, apart from time at universities in Aberdeen and London (Wye College). His main occupation is farming, but 20 years ago he rescued three dilapidated farm cottages from ruin and converted them for self-catering purposes.
It has been a very interesting 20 years, as standards have risen and markets have changed considerably in the interim. While he does have visitors who have been coming to stay since they opened, and has built up many regular customers over the years, he is always looking for fresh faces. Visitors’ expectations have certainly grown, with ‘something better than their own home’ being what is now required. His feels his challenge is to improve his standards, generate more new customers and one day possibly brush up on his extremely rusty French to help him speak confidently to their growing number of French visitors.
David is married and has two grown up children. Once away from the self-catering, farm, house, garden and dogs, he enjoys theatre, music, opera and more recently, curling – which is a great wintertime activity, and rather like golf, somewhere that you can disappear to for three hours and simply not have time to think about anything else!
Linda owns and operates (with husband Jim) Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges – a self catering park and award winning pub/restaurant just outside Oban – the Seafood Capital of Scotland! They bought the business back in 1998 from Henry Woodman (a founding member of ASSC), having previously owned and operated hotels in Oban, Glasgow and Irvine.
Linda’s business background is marketing and public relations and back in the 80s she was based in London as the European PR officer for Canadian Pacific Ltd with responsibility for the company’s hotels and airline businesses. A few years later I set up a London office for an Edinburgh based Advertising and PR agency and subsequently moved to Edinburgh to take over as managing director of Ash Gupta PR with responsibility for bluechip clients which included Harris Tweed, Morrison Bowmore, Scottish Salmon Growers Association, The Howard Hotel and Shetland Knitwear.
Linda was involved in a campaign to ‘Put Oban Back on the Map’ which eventually led to the creation of Oban and Lorn Tourism Association in the early 90s. OLTA is now a thriving cooperative company and having served on the board for many years she is currently responsible for their marketing. She is also retained by Argyll and the Islands Tourism Cooperative as a development agent.
Linda is a firm believer in the value and quality of Scotland’s tourism industry. As an owner operator of a rural business she also understands the many challenges that we face with increase competition, the growth of the online travel agent, increasing regulation and red tape.
Geraldine was recruited many years ago to the ASSC Committee and still really enjoys the involvement in an aspect of Scottish Tourism that has evolved so much over the years.
Crosswoodhill Farm Holiday Cottages near Edinburgh began life in 1992. Surprisingly for such a naturally untidy person, ‘G’ takes a fastidiously proprietorial pride in her four very different 3 to 5 STAR self-catering properties, which she says boast standards infinitely superior to those in her own home. A regular winner of Thistle Awards, the Crosswoodhill properties are rewarded with great reviews on Trip Advisor. Their unique 5 STAR lodge, Craigengar, which sleeps 12+, and added to the Crosswoodhill property portfolio in 2011, has been a real learning curve, she admits, needing a re-think of her marketing strategy and attracting entirely different “categories” of guests.
Born in Oxford in 1945, educated at Cheltenham and at college in London, ‘G’ subsequently trained as a nurse. She travelled the world with a backpack before settling down in the ’70s with a lovely Scottish farmer at Crosswoodhill on the Pentland Hills. She has hardly budged since and thrives on juggling diverse roles. Still nursing at night in the local hospital’s Regional Plastic Surgery and Maxillo-facial Unit, helping out occasionally on the farm, maintaining an interest in their rapidly expanding waste recycling business 8 miles away and staying up late at night to catch up with cottage email backlogs, she feels she thrives on the diversity. She is currently a Director of VisitWestLothian.
Robert is a self-caterer with a real passion for technology and web marketing. Along with his wife Melinda, he owns and runs Orroland Holiday Cottages – two farm cottages and a large traditional lodge overlooking the Solway Firth, near Kirkcudbright.
Robert’s inside knowledge of the self-catering industry has been key to the success of his and Melinda’s online booking system, SuperControl. SuperControl now manages 25,000+ properties in 40 countries. Implementing new technology has also seen Orroland Holiday Cottages average occupancy grow from an average of 25 weeks to 40 weeks per annum.
Robert enjoys contributing to the ASSC committee as a representative of Dumfries and Galloway.
Nick first got involved with the tourism sector and Scotland’s great outdoors in his teens and both have become a big part of his life. Graduating in Hotel Management, he managed holiday businesses in the Alps and the Mediterranean for several years, and the local family hotel between seasons. Returning to Scotland, he built a career in finance, never losing the tourism bug, owning and developing self-catering establishments across the Highlands. He is passionate about our natural environment and also about well-run businesses.
Together with his wife, he now owns and runs Heath Cottage in Boat of Garten, Shore Cottage in Tarbert and Kiltarlity Lodges – a small chalet park outside Beauly.
Nick became an executive committee member of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) in 2013 and a director of the Cairngorm Business Partnership in 2014.
Lynn was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Lynn was actively involved in the Scottish Society of Charleston, and was awarded a Life membership for her contribution. Lynn was a licensed Customs Broker for 22 years before moving to Scotland in 2006 with her husband and daughter.
In 2006, Lynn purchased a small cottage in Gardenstown, and converted it into a self-catering business. This is when she was introduced to ASSC, and the benefits of owning her own business. Lynn and her husband decided to expand this business, and in 2010, bought a derelict 18th century mill and cottage on the Moray Firth. It took two years to renovate the properties into four luxury self-catering holiday apartments. Their business is called Mill of Nethermill Holidays which is located by the village of Pennan.
Lynn is also involved with local tourism groups, and sits on the committee of the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership. In her spare time, Lynn is a potter and has a shop called Millshore Pottery and Collectables. She specializes in hand-thrown stoneware pottery with an emphasis on crystal glazes.
Les, born in Inverness, has lived and worked in and around the city for most of his life. After 20 years in the motor trade he started Gael Property Care in 2007 from his home in Culbokie on the Black Isle. Originally a holiday rental property management company, as the business developed it evolved into Gael Holiday Homes to act as a booking agent as well as continuing with the property management side of the business.
Les and his wife Sheila, who also works in the business, continue to work hard for self-catering and tourism for the Highlands loving every minute of it. They also own and run a self-catering apartment in Inverness and a holiday home on the Black Isle.
Growing up in Portrush, on the famous Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, it’s perhaps no surprise that Tara embarked on a career in Tourism. First obtaining a BTEC National Diploma in Travel & Tourism in 1991, she then moved to Edinburgh and completed a BA from Napier University in Hospitality (Tourism) Management. In her career to date she has undertaken a variety of exciting roles, from opening crew at Euro Disney in Paris (now Disneyland Paris), to aircraft dispatcher at both Edinburgh and Newcastle Airports where she managed the turnaround of flights (from the point of landing to push back), through to Managing Director of a 5-star Country Estate with holiday cottages, golf course, riding stables, delicatessen and bar / restaurant.
In 2004, Tara and her husband Paul bought an apartment in the centre of Edinburgh to run as a holiday let. It was a success and led to Tara seeing a gap in the market for a holiday rental agency that offered a tailored, flexible and friendly solution for property owners so she embarked in setting up TS Properties in 2005, now TS Holiday Lets Ltd. The business is growing and currently markets around 100 properties across Scotland and Ireland on behalf of their owners.
Settled in Perth with her husband and 3 scotties, Tara is very passionate about the sector with a particular focus to attracting visitors to Scotland and setting standards.
After an early career teaching in special education, Christine and her husband moved to Scotland in 1979. They bought a run down 12 bedroom hotel in Dornoch and spent five years building up a guest base of golfers, introducing ‘inclusive golf packages’ which were very unusual in the 1980s. Their next project was a 52 bedroom hotel, again with golfing connections, in Dunbar. From there they bought 3 pubs in Edinburgh, Falkirk and their own village of Allanton in the Borders, with function rooms, accommodation and restaurant and bars with cask conditioned ales. The pub in Edinburgh, The Halfway House, went on to be awarded best pub in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2005/6, by CAMRA, for their real ale and hospitality. They won Edinburgh Pub of the year again in 2009. Throughout this, they also ran a self catering unit attached to their home in Duns.
Now semi retired, she and her husband own Border Holiday Homes – two Four Star Gold apartments on the English side of the Border and two Four Star cottages in the Scottish Borders. This gives her a unique perspective on cross borders tourism.