Q&A with Peter Walker, Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa General Manager

We caught up with Peter Walker, the General Manager of Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa to find out more about this iconic hotel’s history, what you can get up to during your stay and just how far the team will go to deliver a special experience for guests. 

Peter, can you tell us a bit about yourself and when your interest in hospitality began?

I’m 43 years old and was born in Aberdeenshire.  When I was in secondary school and preparing for work experience, I was unsure what I wanted to do. My business studies teacher, Mrs Allan, suggested that I might be good in hotels and suggested I look at hotel management – and the rest, as they say, is history. That was at the age of 15.

Can you tell us about the history of Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa?

The castle was built on the Port-na-Craig Estate in 1892 by Lieutenant Colonel George Glas Sandeman. George Glas Sandeman was from the Sandeman family, the firm of George G Sandeman Sons and Company Limited, wine merchants. 

During World War One, the castle was used as a British Red Cross auxiliary hospital, where from 1915 to 1918, 926 patients were cared for. The castle was again used during World War Two to house evacuated children.

Fonab Castle remained in private ownership until 1946 when it was sold to North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.

A new chapter began for Fonab Castle in 2022, when it was acquired by new owners. Now, it’s part of the Crerar Hotels collection, with a view to enhancing and develop the castle’s positioning as one of the finest luxury hotels in Scotland. 

What do you think makes Fonab so special and unique?

Fonab Castle is one of Pitlochry’s most beloved five-star hotels. The location by Loch Faskally, the stunning scenery surrounding us and the iconic building really make for a special place. Combined with a revitalising spa, a three AA Rosette-awarded restaurant and our wonderful team, we have all the ingredients for the perfect luxury getaway

What are your plans for the property?

We have some very exciting plans for Fonab Castle. We are committed to continued investment to elevate our accommodation and experiences while also repositioning our dining offering to showcase the wonderful produce we have with being in the heart of Scotland.

Additionally, we plan to focus heavily on team development, as our people are at the heart of everything we do. Launching our new Crerar Hotels Early Careers Development Programme will see future talent join us to be trained to our luxury five-star standards and embark on a career in hospitality. 

What do you enjoy most about living and working in Scotland?

It is home. We are so lucky to have such natural assets in this country that we often tend to take for granted.  We are famed the world over for our hospitality, history and tradition, and we must stay true to our roots and believe in this but be able to put our own style and personalisation on it as well. 

Can you describe to us what a typical day might involve in your role?

It sounds like a cliché, but every day is different. I like to be on the floor by 8 am to speak to the team, see where I can help and check in with them to see how our guests are. After that, I go to the office and, depending on the day's schedule, catch up on some calls and emails.  

I like to be present and visible within the business, so it's important to me that I am about when lunch and afternoon tea are being served; that time may vary depending on how busy we are, and then I try to plan meetings, etc, in the afternoon. 

Again, I like to be about when it's check-in time for our guests to welcome them, as well as early evening so that I can support the team, talk to guests, etc.  All too often, we can lose sight of the fact that we are a people business – so whether that’s my team or guests, they are the most important thing on a day-to-day basis. 

What are some of the favourite activities guests staying at Fonab Castle typically enjoy?

Walking around the loch, visiting local distilleries like Blair Athol and Aberfeldy, going to see historical sites like the Hermitage and Killiecrankie, but also 4x4 off-road driving, fishing and clay pigeon shooting. And if it’s a spot of shopping, then we are only a short drive from the House of Bruar. There is something for everyone at Fonab Castle.

Can you share any examples of the team going above and beyond to deliver great customer experience?

Whether it is meeting someone off the train with a dram served on a silver tray or organising a helicopter tour across the countryside, we are on hand to create unforgettable moments for our guests. The team and I are passionate about hospitality and providing these extra special experiences, so much so that the extraordinary is very familiar to us. Visit the website