Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Pub For One

Ever thought have owning your own island complete with a pub, just for yourself? Well a Swiss business man has gone one better than that.

A Swiss businessman is thought to have paid about £2.5m for a small group of islands off the west coast of Scotland.

The deal includes the island of Sanda, which has its own pub but only one resident, as well as the neighboring Sheep Island and Glunimore Insland.

I must admit the "Island of Sanda" sounds very like the location where Thomas the Tank engine and his friends shunt their stuff, which is the "Island of Sodor". Perhaps he's going to turn it into a train theme island??

The three islands lie off the tip of the Mull of Kintyre, 13 miles south of Campbeltown.

The sale was confirmed by Dick Gannon, who had owned the three islands for the past 20 years with his wife Meg.

The buyer was named locally as Michi Meier, who is originally from Switzerland but now lives in Sweden.

Mr Gannon, 59, said: "The island is sold, close to the asking price, to a customer sent over by Hamburg-based selling agents Vladi Private islands, but I can't say any more about the sale than that.

"The new owner is taking over at the end of April. It's a bit of a mystery what he is going to do but I am hoping it will go on as it is now, as a business, as a tourist destination."

I think it is a bargain. Sanda is a beautiful island, you can farm there and you have also got six self catering cottages and an award winning pub
Dick Gannon
Previous owner

Sanda had been on sale since August 2008. It was originally priced at £3.2m but dropped to offers around £2.5m.

Mr Gannon said: "I think it is a bargain. Sanda is a beautiful island, you can farm there and you have also got six self catering cottages and an award winning pub."

Mrs Gannon has always lived at the family home in Campbeltown while her husband was the island's only listed resident.

Although they have three sons and a daughter, none of their family was interested in taking over Sanda.

Mr Gannon said: "20 years we have had Sanda and it's been the experience of a lifetime really but it's a bit like hiding away and I now want to visit a few places and do a few things. There is a life outside Sanda."

Mr Meier could not be contacted, but has been speaking to a number of business people in Kintyre about services for the island in recent weeks.

Terry Smith, who owns farm land at Southend, near the Mull of Kintyre - the nearest mainland point to the 314 acre isle of Sanda - said Mr Meier had visited him last week.

Tourism destination

He said it was his understanding the new owner intended to run Sanda for his family's private use.

Kintyre Councillor Donald Kelly said: "I would sincerely hope that Sanda will stay as a tourism venue and that the community will be able to work constructively with the new owner to the benefit of Kintyre."

Sanda was home to only a few derelict buildings when the Gannons bought the three-isle chain for £250,000 in 1990.

Mr Gannon spent years building the island into a unique tourism destination, renovating the buildings into the award winning Byron Darnton tavern and six self catering cottages.

The Gannons, who marketed Sanda as "a piece of paradise", are selling up because of their decision to separate.

The island's 350 breeding ewes are included in the sale, along with chickens which produce free range eggs and enjoy such a good reputation that customers, including Princess Anne, have sailed in specially to buy them.

The other two islands in the chain are uninhabited apart from a flock of 60 Soay sheep on Sheep Island.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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