End Of An Era As The Island Hotel Closes

The Island Hotel

Today marks the end of an era in Scilly tourism.

The Island Hotel on Tresco closes today and, as the guests leave, the builders arrive.

Up to 50 will work the winter, demolishing the hotel to make way for nine single bedroom cottages that guests will be able to rent. There won’t be a guest lounge or bar as the new facilities will be similar to the recently built timeshares, complete with cooking areas.

Wayne Shaw says the changes have been brought about because the market has shifted, with more guests demanding time-share and rental with flexible dining, and less opting to stay in the hotel.

Wayne says many people on Tresco have grown up with the Island Hotel so will be sad to see it go. But he thinks the changes will add a new dimension to Tresco. Cottages can be rented on a nightly basis and will give people flexibility to dine at any of the restaurants on the island. There will be a new restaurant, the Ru Inn, next to the sailing school.

New Tresco restaurant, the Ru Inn

And he says the original guests would have found things very different with service levels changing over the years. When the hotel opened, guests used to dress in eveningwear and were treated to a “grand buffet” complete with dessert trolley. Things are less formal these days.

The new development opens in May, which is quite late in the season, but Wayne doesn’t feel that will adversely affect the recruitment of staff. There’ll be a reduction in staff under the new plan but the season will be extended and they haven’t ruled out all-year opening.

From Radio Scilly

John Nicholls and Maggie Perkovic on the closure of the Island Hotel.

Eddie Birch helped build the hotel in the early 60s. He said all the materials came over loose on the Scillonian with no cranes to unload at Tresco so had to be manhandled from barges.

Eddie said and he enjoyed skippering the Island’s boat, the Black Swan, which used to pick guests up from St Mary’s before the helicopters arrived.

He also worked in the restaurant serving breakfast and said when the hotel was full, they’d get through 20 loaves of toast each morning.

Wayne thinks there could be one or two tears today but on the whole, Tresco workers are looking forward to the future development.