Stewart Spence MBE is a well known hotelier in Aberdeen. His reputation for five-star service is legendary in the north-east. He has taken the flavours of the Aberdonian countryside and transferred them into an art form of culinary excellence in his restaurants. His hotels have an enviable reputation in the hospitality industry and the name Spence immediately makes one think of quality.
Stewart Spence was educated at Ashley Road Primary School and Robert Gordon’s College. After leaving school in 1962 at the age of 15 he began work as a waiter and a trainee chef in the Station Hotel in Aberdeen. Then in 1965 he spent 2 years in Paris at Foquets as a barman and waiter. In 1967 he then worked in London at the Great Northern, serving in the bar and in the office. Moving back to his home town in Aberdeen in 1968 as assistant manager at the Treetops then in 1970 at the Commodore Hotel, Stonehaven as General Manager.
In 1972 after ten years as an employee in some great hotels, learning his craft and learning it well, Stewart and his family decided they’d buy their first hotel – The Atholl Hotel on kings gate, Aberdeen. He owned a further 7 hotels in Aberdeen over the next two decades.
1972-89 Atholl Hotel, Aberdeen
1974-78 Capitol Restaurant, Aberdeen
1973-83 Queens Hotel, Aberdeen
1979-83 Marcliffe, Queens Terrace, Aberdeen
1982-90 Belvidere Hotel, Aberdeen
1983-93 New Marcliffe, Aberdeen
1987-93 Invery House, Banchory
It was in 1993 Stewart created the iconic ‘Marcliffe Hotel and Spa’, on the site of a large 8 acre property boasting a large house, the site originally part of the Wood of Pitfodels, the house dating from 1852. The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa was officially opened in 1993 by former Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev. It remains Aberdeen’s only five-star hotel.
Among Stewart’s honours and achievements are:
Master Inn holder and Freeman of City of London 2007
CIS Lifetime Achievement Award 2008
Honorary Doctorate, Aberdeen University 2009
Honorary Doctorate Robert Gordon University 2010
Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2012
Board member Prestige Hotels and Small Luxury Hotels of the World 1988-96
Board member Grampian Enterprise 2000-2008
Board member ACSEF 2008-2012
Chairman, Hospitality Training 2001-2015
Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality (UK)
Royal Aberdeen Club Champion 1989
Honorary Life Member of Trump International Scotland 2009
Grampian Awards for Business Excellence, Lifetime Achievement Award 2014
Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association, Lifetime Achievement Award 2014