RING OUT THE OLD
With the ceremony of the keys imminent the incumbent managers, Anthony Chick and Philip Wain were invited by the administrators to dispose of all remaining stocks of wines, spirits and golfing accessories. To this end all local members of Islay Golf Club, with other guests were invited to an Auction and Ceilidh Night at Machrie on 11 November 1995. Some eighty invitations were sent to local members and their partners and on the night approximately a hundred patrons arrived to a 'Buck's Fizz' welcome. The hotel hadn't been as busy since Cross Week and the atmosphere was as yesteryear.
The auction was conducted expertly by Philip who successfully disposed of seventy lots each containing a sample of the goods mentioned.
Visitors were thereafter free to enjoy the remnants of the gantry for a measly sum or stretch their legs in the Golf Bar in time to Murray Omand's beat. Most, actively participating in the former, later actively participated in the latter.
Peter the chef did us all proudly as his 'swan song' was spread before us on the snooker table. The only 'cue' in sight was the queue round the table and the only 'pots' on display were the ones about to be filled. (Speak for yourself TD)
The Golf Bar was cleared except seating round the floor - ample room for two sets in an eightsome reel as is only demonstrated on Islay... and not one casualty!
A very successful evening for many reasons and one that shows what the future might hold.
RING IN THE NEW
Friday 17 November 1995 is another historical date for Machrie Hotel and Golf Course. The date when Malcolm King said he had branched into the leisure business. Informal meetings have already been held with the Club and all augers well for the future, not only for the club, but Islay in general. Mr King is a keen golfer and intends joining the club. Regular meetings will be held to discuss golfing and social functions and with the support of all concerned a bright future is forecast. As an early indication Mr King wishes that all young people on the Island under the age of sixteen be allowed free access to the course. The club will administrate the new members in the new season.
Anthony Chick has been reappointed under the new ownership. Mary is back in the bar and Gavin and Ewen continue to maintain the course.
Mr King's intentions are best summed up in the Press Release he supplied to the 'Ileach'
"Eversleigh Investment & Property Co. Ltd are pleased to announce the purchase of the Machrie Hotel and Golf Course. Eversleigh is a wholly family owned property company founded in 1954 which until now has always been involved in industrial and commercial market. However they see the leisure market as an expending one that offers significant opportunities.
Malcolm King, Managing Director of Eversleigh was introduced to the Machrie two years ago by the late Peter Halsall and appreciated the challenge of the golf course and the ideal setting of the hotel and course. When it came on to the market, it seemed the perfect opportunity to add to the company's portfolio while combining his own interest in the development of the complex.
Malcolm King says " I appreciate that the quality of the project has slipped somewhat over the last few years and it is our intention to return it to its former glory. We realise the importance of the Machrie to the island and would like it to become one of the focal points of the community.
Our aim is to ensure a high quality of service combined with a friendly and efficient approach to both locals and visitors alike and somewhere of which visitors and employers can be proud".
Mr King goes on to relate the plans for refurbishing three chalets and hotel rooms ready for next season with its obvious spinoff to the community in general. He also says "We are also pleased to be associated with Islay Golf Club who have a long tradition at Machrie and would wish to continue this and work together to achieve a centre of excellence within the golfing world".
Eversleigh's offices are based in Hatfield in Hertfordshire, but frequent visits will be made by its directors.
Malcolm King who is 50, is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.
Anthony is arranging the first of the social events planned for the winter season. On Thursday 21 December, 1995, he is inviting teams from the island to participate in a Quiz Night. Teams of three (hopefully several from the golf club) will compete for prizes, probably wrapped in glass. Entry will be free and a raffle will be held. If you are not competing, you can come along and support your team. A buffet will be available and a fully stocked bar. Start the festive season with the right spirit and support the new activities.
Plans are also being laid to have a Burns Night in January and guest speakers are being sought. Volunteers or nominations to Anthony Chick.
It is hoped that the Club might add to the calendar with Race Nights, Bingo, darts, ceilidhs or the like.
SEASONS GREETINGS FROM THE CAPTAIN
As 1995 draws to a close the anticipated change of ownership at Machrie Hotel has taken effect. Mr Malcolm King and associates have taken over the running of the complex. First contact with the new owner indicates that changes will be gradual and that a close working relationship with Islay Golf Club will be welcomed. All the signs are encouraging for the Hotel and the Golf Club for 1996.
Local winter golf is at a high level with two leagues of 20 players competing for the winter four balls Grouse Trophy. Norrie Mackinnon and I are partners and our distinct lack of success in 'fresh winds' (60 mph?) would indicate that apart from a handicap allowance we would now need an age allowance
To all our friends, new and old, our best wishes from Mary and me for Christmas and the New Year. I look forward to seeing you all in 1996.
Ralph Middleton, Captain.