Saturday, 24 July 2021

The Machrie Golf Links and Hotel Programme of Works

DesignBox is delighted to announce the completion of a programme of works at the Machrie Golf Links and Hotel, with our appointment as Project Manager. 

The Machrie Hotel set behind the 18th hole on the Links
Photograph: Alan Williams

The Machrie sits on the edge of the Laggan Bay, on the Isle of Islay.  Know as ‘the Queen of the Hebrides’, Islay is the southern most island of the Inner Hebrides.  Islay is famous for its whiskey, its environment, wildlife, and of course golf and hospitality.

The 18 holes of the Machrie Golf links with the Hotel's construction site 
in late 2017

The Machrie includes an 18 hole championship links course set into the pristine dunes next to a SSSI beach. There’s also a ‘Wee Course’ for beginners or golfers looking for a warm up. The four star luxury Hotel managed by Campbell Gray Hotels includes 47 guest rooms, a bar, restaurant and function room, three lounges, a 30 seat cinema, gym, spa, golf shop and an indoor driving range with technical suites and golf lounge. The links course has been thoroughly upgraded by DJ Russell and Edinburgh Landscaping to reclaim the charm of the original Willie Campbell course of 1891.  To support the upkeep and maintenance of the links, the green keeping team now have two maintenance sheds and a series of annexed plant facilities. 

Walking the route for the water mains with Scottish Water 
through peat bog

DesignBox was appointed as project manager in May 2013 to assist with securing consent to connect to the mains water supply from Scottish Water.  Up until this point the Machrie had operated without mains water which was a key factor to the hotel’s closure in 2011 under previous ownership. Consent was granted in 2014 with agreement for a pipe line to connect the hotel to the nearest water mains, 2.9km away.   The work involved easements across four adjacent landowners farms and was critical to unlocking the business viability of the hotel’s business case. 
Simultaneously, DesignBox was also appointed to project manage the construction of a new green keepers shed in 2013.  The original had been destroyed in a storm some time earlier. In developing the project, DesignBox ensured that all service infrastructures were upgraded to future-proof the Machrie for the programme of works to follow.  This included redirecting the overhead mains power supply to the new shed to make space for a new first fairway, upgrading the pole-mounted transformer and power supply to enable the green keeping team to manage their vehicles and plant. A series of buried ducts were installed to enable BT and water connections to the shed and a new HV mains connection to the hotel.  Circulation tracks were managed to make the route to the green keeping facilities as inconspicuous as possible, whilst maximising space for golf play at the same time.  

The Machrie Golf Links Green Keepers Shed

The Client’s vision was to create a world-class Championship Links Course connected to a newly redeveloped four-star hotel, for the enjoyment of local, national and international visitors.  DesignBox was appointed project manager for the hotel redevelopment project in 2015.  This began with a series of enabling works which took place in quick succession to facilitate the hotel’s design and procurement programme, and start on site date.  Enabling works included the removal of asbestos, partial demolition of the existing hotel and temporary refurbishment of 14 existing holiday cottages for use as site workers accommodation during the build.   

The Machrie Hotel at the beginning of construction

DesignBox project managed the design development of the hotel project working for the Client with Hudson Architects (Architects), Peter Young Design(Interior Designers), Morham & Brotchie (Oban) (Quantity Surveyors), David Narro Associates (Glasgow) (Structural Engineers), Hulley & Kirkwood (Glasgow) (MEP Services Engineers), Victoria Jerram (Lighting Designer) and a series of specialist suppliers.   We started on site in September 2016 with Corramore Construction as the main contractor, and reached Practical Completion in September 2018.  With Islay being a west coast Scottish island, logistics, lead in times, availability of specialist trades, working weather windows and accommodation were key challenges we worked on as a team to ensure progress, in addition to the normal challenges of project management.  We were a robustly positive team and always maintained progress. 
In addition to the main contract of the Hotel’s construction, DesignBox project managed the logistics to bring all the FF&E and OS&E to the Machrie, new phone connections to the hotel, a new BT data fibre connection from Port Ellen 6.5km away, and the demolition of 10 of the remaining cottages after they were vacated by the site team.  

Inspecting the contents of the trailers

Because Islay is a relatively remote location, anything required off the Island can take time to arrive.  The Machrie sought to overcome this by equipping themselves with all the key machinery, facilities, plant and skilled people required to make them self sufficient.

Vehicle work at the Machrie maintenance shed

Following the opening of the newly redeveloped hotel, DesignBox was appointed to project manage a new vehicle shed for the green keeping team which completed in 2020 and the resurfacing of their 1.3km approach road to the Hotel which completed in 2021, staged either side of lockdown.  

The new vehicle shed tucked behind the maintenance shed

The Machrie Golf Links and Hotel is a very special destination and these projects occupy a very special place in the DesignBox portfolio. The regeneration of the Machrie’s Hotel and Golf Links marks a most incredible transformation which is all to the credit of the Client’s vision and attention to detail.  I am sure the Machrie will have a wonderful summer season this year and I hope there might be another opportunity to work for the Machrie again in the future. 

Evening at the newly redeveloped Machrie Hotel
Photograph - Alan Williams


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