Isle of Skye hotelier Ken Gunn dies

Ken Gunn, co-owner of the Sonas Hotels group on the Isle of Skye has died at the age of 67.

Gunn was well known as the captain of the luxury cruise ship the Hebridean Princess, which sailed around the UK, Ireland and Norway, before opening his first hotel, Toravaig House, on the southern peninsula of Sleat on Skye in 2003.

The Hebridean Princess, which was twice chartered by the Queen Elizabeth including a trip to celebrate her 80th birthday, was the model for the three-silver-AA-star, nine-bedroom Toravaig.

The Gunns described the hotel as “a luxury ship ashore”. They went on to buy and develop two further hotels on Skye: the four-AA-star, 18-bedroom Duisdale House and the 18-bedroom Skeabost House, the latter which has recently completed a major refurbishment.

In the islands’ section of the 2018 Scottish Hotel Awards, the three hotels won six different categories among them.

Born and brought up in Oban as the son of a sea captain, Gunn was educated at Oban High School, Lewis College in Stornaway and Leith Nautical College.

His first job was a cadet officer with Benline Shipping and he made the first of many round-the-world voyages at the age of 17. In 1974 he joined Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) as second mate on the MV Columba , a vessel he would later captain as the re-designed Hebridean Princess. At the age of 28 he became the youngest master of the CalMac fleet and sailed Scotland’s West coast for more than two decades.

The Sonas Hotels group provided a 36ft luxury yacht for guests, with many weddings being hosted on board with Ken as skipper and Anne, his wife, as first mate.

Anne said: “Ken was a perfect gentleman and at one with the sea. From a young age he was regularly on the sea in various forms of craft. His contributions to the success of Sonas Hotels were immense. He had a firm focus on attention to detail and insisted on the highest standards.”

Ken Gunn is survived by Anne, a son and daughter, and his stepfamily at Skeabost.

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