A major proposal for restoration of the former Rodel Hotel in southernmost Harris is being put forward to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The sale in 2016 of the property led to much speculation as to its future which was understandable given how interwoven the place has been with so many lives over several centuries.
With its historical importance, not least its intrinsic connection to the medieval St Clement’s church and to the MacLeods of Dunvegan and Harris, Rodel is a treasure unique in the Outer Hebrides.
With this in mind the new owners, Anderson ‘Burr’ Bakewell and his wife Francine Stone, believe that the site deserves sensitive development through a well-conceived design that offers continued enjoyment by the Harris community, visitors to the island and the owners themselves in equal measure. Mr Bakewell is also the owner of Scarp and founder of the Isle of Harris Distillery.
It is proposed that the Rodel site will be reconfigured, first to reinstate the pre-eminence of the house built by Captain Alexander MacLeod in about 1782, and second to reconstruct the house’s satellite structures in a manner sympathetic to its original character. These would include the Sail Loft, as well as the parallel building and the magnificent harbour as illustrated in William Daniell’s famous print of 1819.
The restored complex will serve both residential and commercial use. Rodel House and its associated buildings will be made available for fully-catered and serviced guest lettings, providing the opportunity of not only exceptionally comfortable retreats and group stays in an unsurpassed setting, but sporting, boating and guided touring as well.
The Sail Loft will operate as a much-needed venue for public/community events such as cèilidhs, recitals, wedding receptions and gatherings of every description.
It is planned that the walled kitchen garden will be brought back into production as a market garden, providing fresh fruits and vegetable to the island. The harbour will also be given attention, with seawalls and piers repaired as required.