Pamela and Rui Fernandes, owners of multi award winning Garvock House Hotel in Dunfermline, have shared the story of their business success, taking what was once a retirement home for elderly ladies, and creating a stunning four star hotel.
The Georgian Mansion House, set in an attractive garden, was bought by the couple in 1995. “Our own hotel was our always our dream,” said Pamela. “We used to sit and chat about all aspects of the business, what our hotel would be like, what type of service we would have, what the decor would be like, what sort of food we would serve.”
The couple initially planned to make Garvock House – originally known as Transy House, a property once owned by a wealthy family forming the centrepiece to a huge estate that ran northwards across Dunfermline – into “just a very small hotel”. It would really be a restaurant effectively within a small hotel, with just four bedrooms. The couple would ‘live above the shop’.
“We staggered the opening with the ground floor of the house as a restaurant and planned for the bedrooms to follow at a later date,” said Pamela.
“However, when the authorities became involved with the bedrooms it was soon apparent that it would not be viable with only four bedrooms. So taking the plunge, we borrowed and started development on a ten bedroom extension.”
The restaurant opened in October 1996. “Our aim then, as it is now, was quality, value and service in all that we do,” said Pamela. “Great food with an emphasis on fresh food cooked, where possible, to order. Well presented, but ensuring the food is hot when it arrives at the table, served in relaxed, elegant surroundings with good service, but not stuffy and at a reasonable cost. All these years later, our focus remains the customer,” she said.
Back in 1986 the ten bedroom extension took eighteen months to complete, with the Garvock House Hotel successfully opening in June 1998.
Shortly after, the Hotel was inspected by the STB and AA, achieving 4 stars with the STB, and 3 stars with the AA.
Rui takes up the story: “Over the next few years, we built up our private dining trade and in 2001, due to a demand from clients looking to book larger weddings and functions, we added our banqueting suite, The Rosemalen Suite, which caters for private parties up to 150 guests. Then in 2005/6, we worked towards a further fourteen bedroom extension which was successfully completed in June 2006. Later that year, we gained recognition from the AA as a 4 star hotel, a wonderful achievement for the whole team.”
Now, having refurbished the popular Rosemalen Suite a few years ago, the couple are “still constantly looking to improve our product, service, surroundings and to train and develop members of the team to meet their own and customer expectations.”
In 2018 the Hotel was the Regional Winner in the Scottish Wedding Awards, going on to win Outstanding Wedding Venue of the Year, a fantastic accolade for the business. More was to follow, when just this year, Garvock House secured Best Wedding Hotel in the East in the Prestige Hotel Awards.
Rui continued : “Our aim is to maintain a customer focused organisation which combines the delivery of a high quality produce with the provision of excellent customer service at a value for money cost. There has to be quality, value and service in all that we do, whether it is serving a gin & tonic in the bar to presenting a gourmet dinner, checking a client in, or organising a surprise birthday party in the Rosemalen Suite! We want customers to come to expect each experience and visit to be as good, if not better than the one before.”
“And, of course, when it comes to weddings, what can we say, it simply is the most important day of your life, so everything has to be perfect from start to finish. Our wedding awards have given everyone a huge boost,” added Rui.
Along with much credit for its weddings, the hotel has picked up many other accolades, including excellent tripadvisor reviews. It enjoys consistent engagement with the community, with many business networking and other local groups regularly choosing to meet and do business at the Garvock House Hotel.