On Wednesday 1 February the Hamilton Grand was crowned with its new dome, the latest stage in its multi-million pound restoration.
The dome replaced a fibreglass replica of the original Victorian dome which was destroyed by fire in 1976. The new one is a lead-clad timber frame, weighing 3.5 tonnes, in keeping with the original structure.
The Hamilton Grand was launched in 1895 as ‘The Grand Hotel’, and set the bar for luxury, being the first building in Scotland to have a lift as well as hot and cold running water throughout.
During the Second World War the Air Ministry requisitioned the hotel, and it became a training HQ for the RAF.
Following this, it became ‘Hamilton Hall’ in 1949, a student residence and feature of the university’s property portfolio for over fifty years. The University sold the Hall to Wasserman Real Estate Capital in 2004 for an estimated £22m, the American company borrowing the money from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
In 2006, planning permission was granted to convert the Hall into twenty-plus luxury apartments, at a rumoured price of £80m. However, other than being stripped out, no construction work was undertaken on the hotel for several years. David Middleton, of the preservation trust, voiced concerns over its “dilapidated” appearance which made it an eyesore next to the pristine 18th green.
After years of rumours and serious delays, the plans to restore and refurbish the building were mothballed completely on account of the collapsed housing market. This prompted the Royal Bank of Scotland to “call up” the debt on the Hall in 2009, giving the reason that the borrower had ‘breached the conditions of lending.’
The building then passed into the ownership of Jones Lang LaSalle estate agents, who managed its sale later in that year for £11.5m to The Kohler Company, owners of the five red stars Old Course Hotel.
The Kohler Company plans to restore the Hamilton, resurrecting the luxurious nature of its original purpose by transforming it into twenty-six luxury apartments, along with a resident’s lounge, and a stylish restaurant and bar. The apartments will have views out over the 18th green and fairway of the Old Course, as well as West Sands.
These apartments will be marketed worldwide and are estimated to be in the price range of $1.3m to $3.3m.
Debbie Taylor, president of the hospitality and retail group of the Kohler Company, says, “Hamilton Grand is a unique real estate opportunity for those who want to own a home in the birthplace of golf… We are looking forward to restoring the building using our restoration expertise, and returning a piece of Scottish history to its landmark status.”