Jim and Jo Sutherland bought Carfraemill in January 1997. By this time the business and the building were in need of total refurbishment. The hotel was closed for 5 months while most of the work was carried out before reopening in July.
Carfraemill is a family business in which Jim and Jo are partners. Jim is Financial Director of the hotel, responsible for maintenance and he takes close personal interest in every aspect of the business. Jo is involved in the day to day management of the hotel. They are supported by a loyal and hardworking team lead by Susan Thorburn, Manager, Olive Richardson, Purchase Manager, Mary Shaw, Head Chef, Denise Barclay, Head Housekeeper and Tony Kearns, Relief Manager
You may have heard about Jim’s involvement with “Beef on the Bone”. In December 1997 as a result of the BSE crisis in Britain, it became law to ban the serving of Beef on the Bone. Many regulations had already been put in place to make our Beef the safest in the world and Jim felt very strongly that this extra restriction was a “bridge too far”, that the risk of eating Beef on the Bone was very small indeed and that we should have the freedom of choice. With the support of the local farming community he decided to defy the ban and serve Beef on the Bone to a gathering of 180 guests to prove the point. This resulted in Jim being charged with contravening the Beef on the Bone regulations and making several appearances in court over two years to plead his case before the ban was finally lifted in November 1999 and the case was dropped. The public and media too a huge interest in the whole episode and Carfraemill became famous for its “Beef on the Bone”.
Jim;s family has farmed in Lauderdale since 1933. Jim’s parents were well known for their excellent hospitality and Jim’s mum was famous for her huge ribs of beef (long before the beef scandal!), her Aga baked meringues and Christmas puddings. Carfraemill was always a part of Sutherland family life – a great meeting place for the farming community in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. It was famous for high teas, weddings, family parties and farmers balls. In the 1970s Jim and his two brothers, Sandy and Andy all had their 21st birthday parties at Carfraemill.
Jo was brought up in the Highlands of Scotland. Her parents and their parents before them have opened up their homes to countless numbers of people over many years. Granny from Halkirk (Caithness) entertained troops of soldiers during the war to delicious food in her tiny two roomed cottage and would visit the poor, the sick and the elderly with homemade broth and tasty morsels – long before the days of meals on wheels!
Jo’s other grandparents in Inverness loved to hold large family gatherings and early memories are of wonderful tables et for 30-40 friends and relatives laden with the best of good food for everyone to enjoy. Jo’s parents still enjoy entertaining and the warmth of their hospitality and generosity is appreciated by not only those they know and care about but strangers from all over the world. Jo is a fully trained Home Economist and enjoyed teaching in both Inverness and Edinburgh.
It was from this background that Jim and Jo would Carfraemill to be a very special and unique hotel which is open all day, providing guests with a warm and friendly welcome, exceptional attention to detail, great comfort, really good Scottish Country Food and excellent value for money. Each guest should leave this home from feeling that they have had a very special experience enjoying the best of Scottish hospitality!
Alan MacKenzie, interior designer and close friend of the family worked closely with Jim and Jo to help them create the very special ambience you see today.