The Borrowdale Valley’s Glaramara House is about to celebrate 20 years in business, having grown from a shabby hostel into a picturesque retreat for Lake District explorers.
The hotel, run by Managing Director David Oglethorpe and a few family members and friends, now employs 28 people and has allowed him to become his own boss.
After a successful career in manufacturing as a management accountant, David, 51, made the decision to move into the hospitality industry.
He saw potential in Glaramara House, and has been able to grow and diversify it since originally purchasing it in 1999 and moving to Keswick from Scotland.
It has undergone a significant renovation, transforming from a hostel and outdoor activity base, to a hotel and activity centre enjoyed by hundreds of lake district visitors, businesses, and wedding guests, every year.
A high street bank originally declined David’s commercial lending application, before The Cumberland stepped in with its flexibility and industry knowledge.
Our commercial lending team have been happy to support Glaramara House’s gradual improvements, forming a strong working relationship in the process.
David’s perseverance in developing the business has paid off, with growing occupancy levels, and a broad range of guests coming to stay each year.
Schools, youth clubs, and other groups still visit and enjoy the activity centre, but the high quality accommodation, food offering, and picturesque location have proved a strong draw for walkers, couples and families.
Corporate clients and wedding parties are also now making the most of the Glaramara House, which is now a great asset for the Lake District.
How do you feel about the business now?
“It’s a good business and running it is a great feeling, especially when we get good feedback from guests, and staff. I wanted to be my own boss, as working in contract manufacturing can be very stressful, and job security was a concern.
“There are highs and lows, but I would never go back. We have had a good year this year and will look to grow and improve the business further in future.
"We have built a strong management and hired some brilliant staff over the years which has been crucial to the success of the business."
How did The Cumberland help?
“The Cumberland has helped finance the purchase and growth of the business since 1999. Initially my high street bank declined my lending application, but The Cumberland stepped in and said yes.
“They had good industry knowledge, and came out to visit the business, which I appreciate. From day one it has been very easy to get in touch with and work with them, and I would recommend others looking into getting into the industry to get in touch.”
What’s your advice to others?
“If you work out what customers want, get the product right, and persevere, you’ll get there. Don’t be put off if a high street bank can’t help you out, there are specialists like The Cumberland that can help with finance.
“I think there is probably a bit more red tape now for businesses, with things like GDPR, and my advice would be to look to outsource some services early on, allowing you to focus on your vision.”
A word from us…
Linda Slinger, Business Lending Manager at The Cumberland, has helped facilitate the commercial lending for Glaramara House.
Linda said: “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing businesses grow, diversify, and really add something to the hospitality scene.
“This is quite often as a result of our willingness to go the extra mile and work with people to understand their business plans and goals.
“David and the team have done a terrific job with Glaramara House, and it’s nice to see that it has retained its activity centre roots, whilst attracting a variety of people looking to explore the picturesque Borrowdale Valley.”
To get in touch with Linda, or The Cumberland’s commercial lending team, give us a call on 01228 403350.