As the extension of the Rusacks Hotel nears completion, General Manager Seamus Coen sat down with us to discuss the exciting times ahead for the iconic golfing accommodation in St Andrews.
What's happening at Rusacks?
Plans for the most contentious commercial building project in St Andrews for many years were dissected and debated, but finally and most importantly - approved. The architectural renderings have made way for bricks and mortar and we now see a hotel extension well on it's way to completion. But why the opposition? And what have we lost? Some would argue the old view from the 18th tee looking up towards the final green is gone forever. They would say the two strips of Victorian buildings separated by the imposing hotel logo was an intrinsic part of the overall St Andrews experience. This after all was the stereotypical image when thinking of golf in Scotland. There had been some minor design changes and residential modifications along 'The Links' but nothing of this scale or surrounded by this level of controversy.
And with the new addition to one of the famous golfing hotels in the world - what have we gained?
Seamus Coen, GM Rusacks Hotel
Connoisseur Golf - Seamus, always a man with a smile on his face. You must be excited for the future of Rusacks?
Seamus Coen - If you worked where I work every single day then I’m sure you’d have a smile on your face too - I look out onto the Home of Golf and it’s a truly magical sight! The Rusacks is steeped in golfing history and we have been given a wonderful opportunity to provide something special for our guests. As a key brand property in the fantastic new Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts portfolio of unique golf experience hotels, the design of the new Rusacks is inspiring, creative and will fill the heart of every visiting golfer with joy. Our target is simply to provide the greatest golfing hotel experience for our guests. We will make every effort to turn this into reality and for sure I’m excited by both the challenge in front of us but also for the future of The Rusacks.
CG - Everything looks to be moving at a very fast pace. What's the expected completion date?
SC - It is all very exciting and I see amazing changes every day. We are so looking forward to opening the new property, especially our new rooftop bar and grill overlooking the 18th Fairway. It truly will be something special. It’s a huge team effort though and a massive undertaking but we are currently on schedule and look forward to being fully up and running by the second half of the year.
CG - We prefer not to rank the hotels in St Andrews because every one has a different offering. But what do you think the new Rusacks Hotel will bring to the market?
SC - The hotel has always been a major part of the St Andrews golfing landscape. The new Rusacks will be front row centre stage at the greatest theatre of world golf with a stunning property, fabulous decor and a superb quality of service that befits our iconic location. Not only is Rusacks centre stage in terms of location, its uniqueness is its remarkable history too. Having been a hotel since 1887, it’s a key landmark in our town. With a combination of the character and charm of this iconic property alongside our amazing team of people, we will deliver something truly special!
CG - Is the original part of the hotel being refurbished also?
SC - Absolutely. The original hotel is also receiving a spectacular full renovation with some fantastic design ideas through both public areas and bedrooms. I am sure the new Rusacks will have a complete WOW factor for our guests from all over the world. We already have an iconic reputation – the new Rusacks will simply add to the mystique.
Exciting times ahead
CG - For the past few years it's felt a little quiet in the evenings down around the 1st and 18th holes. Do you think there is a shift happening where the social side of St Andrews is slowly making its way back from the town centre towards the Old Course? What has Rusacks got planned to tempt our clients by way of après golf?
SC - I certainly hope so! There is nothing better than an evening watching the sun come down over the Old Course and across to the West Sands. It’s magical. We truly appreciate what we’ve got on our doorstep and without doubts we’ll be making every effort to attract valued visitors all year. With the introduction of 3 different food and beverage outlets in the new hotel right next to the 18th fairway - our One Under Pub, our Ground floor restaurant and our spectacular new rooftop bar and restaurant we firmly believe we can cater for everyone whatever the palate.
With a combination of the character and charm of this iconic property alongside our amazing team of people, we will deliver something truly special!
CG - You've been at the heart of golf tourism in Scotland for many years. Have you seen a shift of what the modern golfing client expects from the leading accommodation providers?
SC - As our industry recovers from the impact of the last 12 months it is more important now more than ever for us to ensure we meet the changing needs & expectations of all our guests including the golfer. We are living in a different world now and sports like golf are increasing in popularity which is fantastic for Scotland as a whole. We must react to the market and provide our guests with an experience they will treasure forever and then tell their friends. The simple message is if you are a golfer coming to St Andrews and you want to soak in the true magic of the Home of Golf then you really must stay at The Rusacks.
CG - Although the golf tourism industry can't wait to see you open your doors, many were opposed to the building of this extension. What would you say to those that doubted the project, and what benefits will the new hotel bring to St Andrews and the surrounding area?
SC - I can appreciate the good people of St Andrews guard the proud history of the town closely. Why not? It’s something special and well worth looking after but I am confident the new Rusacks will certainly add to the amazing amphitheatre of the most iconic view of golf. With the addition of 53 bedrooms and 3 Food and Beverage Outlets overlooking the most famous image in world golf we are excited that this will have a massively positive impact on the local tourism sector.
CG - Seamus we cannot thank you enough for allowing us a look around and telling us more about the exciting times ahead for Rusacks. We wish you every success and look forward to placing Connoisseur Golf clients back in your safe hands.