Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Former Dubai residents to star on 'The Great Hotel Escape' with their B&B in a renovated luxury castle

The couple has restored a 500-year-old castle on Scotland's rugged west coast

Stef Burgon and Simon Mark Hunt left Dubai to run a picture-perfect luxury B&B at Kilmartin Castle, Scotland. Courtesy Stef Burgon 
Stef Burgon and Simon Mark Hunt left Dubai to run a picture-perfect luxury B&B at Kilmartin Castle, Scotland. Courtesy Stef Burgon 

After a road trip around Scotland in January 2014, ex-Dubai residents Stef Burgon and Simon Mark Hunt decided to buy a castle in the west of Scotland.

Now, five years later, they are running Kilmartin Castle as a luxury B&B, having restored and renovated the 16th-century building. This week, their story will be featured on British TV show, The Great Hotel Escape.

Presented by ex-hoteliers and Gogglebox stars, Steph and Dom Parker, the Channel 4 series "goes behind the scenes to follow families who have risked everything to turn dreams of running a hotel into reality".

Hunt and Burgon (centre), with The Great Hotel Escape presenters Steph (left) and Dom (right):

The show will chart the seven months of hands-on renovations the couple took on, along with a team of tradespeople, to create their luxury five-room B&B.

Interestingly, the couple were contacted by producers when updating their mortgage, which led to them starring on the show.

"We changed our mortgage to a hotel business loan, and the program researchers for The Great Hotel Escape had contacted the broker who was working that out for us. We were also contacted by Netflix researchers who were putting a concept together about the recent trend of young people buying European castles," Burgon told The National.

"Online communities like Airbnb and Instagram are changing travel; people want to experience the stories of smaller, more intimate places and are moving away from large hotel chains and resorts. This movement is encouraging younger people to buy these castles, once considered 'money pits', as viable business opportunities."

The couple described themselves as "as hands on as [they] could be" with castle renovations. Courtesy Kilmartin Castle
The couple described themselves as 'as hands-on as [they] could be' with castle renovations. Courtesy Kilmartin Castle

Of their TV experience, the couple added on Instagram: "We haven’t seen it yet, and it’s going to be so weird to relive the pain. Cameras followed us for six months capturing our castle journey."

In Dubai, Burgon, who is originally from the north-east of England, was a radio presenter, working on Dubai 92 before moving to present The Ticket on Dubai Eye, while Hunt, who hails from Australia, is a former creative director. They lived in the UAE for 12 years, but were ready for "spontaneous local discovery", which prompted their move to Scotland.

Kilmartin Castle will be featured on The Great Hotel Escape on Channel 4 on Monday, August 26, www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-hotel-escape. More information on Kilmartin Castle is available at kilmartincastle.com

Updated: August 26, 2019 09:24 AM

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