For Gordon Campbell Gray, founder of The Wee Hotel Company, his strategy for his two boutique venues – The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant at Port Appin in Argyll and The Three Chimneys at Colbost on the Isle of Skye – is really quite simple.

“I want my staff to be happy – and I want my guests to be happy,” says the Scots-born international hotelier who himself is happiest these days when he’s at home in Scotland with his dogs, Finlay and Flora.

The affable businessman, who has run hotels around the world – his first luxury hotel under his Campbell Gray Hotel operation was the famous One Aldwych in London with others including Le Gray in Beirut, Carlisle Bay in Antigua, and The Merchant House in Bahrain later joining the portfolio – is now enjoying life at a slightly slower pace.

A regular customer enjoying fresh langoustine at The Pierhouse once or twice a week when he lived in Port Appin, he got to know the previous owners well and decided to buy the business when they asked if he knew anyone who might be interested in the buying it. “That’s how The Wee Hotel Company was born,” he explains.

“That was four years ago and I did nothing to it for three months because I didn’t want the place to lose its spirit or what I loved about it.”

The 12 bedrooms have since been upgraded and there have been some other “gentle” improvements but the atmosphere of the place remains the same. “It’s such an idyllic spot here – I feel it’s a very honest place, a very special place – and we have the nicest guests and wonderful staff.”

Gordon recalls seeing a family arrive in kayaks last summer. “It was a beautiful, sunny day and this family of four sat outside in their wetsuits enjoying lunch, the kids tucking into fresh seafood,” he smiles. “Then they got back in their kayaks and continued on their journey. It was just lovely.

“That’s the atmosphere I want to create here – somewhere that anybody can come, relax, enjoy what’s in season … simple, honest, locally-sourced food that’s cooked perfectly. People arrive on bikes, on foot – it’s great to see people really getting behind tourism in Scotland again. And we offer them a taste of Scotland at its very best.”

Chatting in The Pierhouse’s restaurant on a February afternoon that nowhere near resembles that day last summer, Gordon waves over to staff from The Three Chimneys who have arrived from Skye to join their colleagues at The Pierhouse for a “brainstorming” session the next day.

The Wee Hotel Company acquired The Three Chimneys in 2019 and it continues to flourish under the stewardship of teams led by head chef Scott Davies and general manager Krzysztof Dudkowski, who moved from The Fife Arms in Braemar last autumn. Meanwhile, head chef Michael Leathley, general manager Fiona McLean and their teams take care of business at The Pierhouse.

While there are plans to expand The Wee Hotel Company’s portfolio, there is no rush and no specific targets. The only stipulation is that any additions are “individually special” with a strong focus on locally-sourced food and drink – places like The Pierhouse and The Three Chimneys.

Does he miss the busy jet-setting life he has left behind? “Well, I started to feel it was quite a thought to have to go away and leave my home behind so I asked myself if this is how I’m feeling, then perhaps I shouldn’t go,” says Gordon. “That’s how I reached my decision to make the change.

Originally from Renfrewshire and now living in another village not far from Port Appin, Gordon ran projects for Save the Children in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua before setting up his international hotel management firm. He is a former president of the charity and continues to support it and several other charities.