Dean Park revamp: ‘We want to be the best hotel in Fife’

A long-standing Kirkcaldy hotel is undergoing a bold revamp, with plans to make it a destination for nights out as well as functions.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 11:17 am
Picture: Fife Photo Agency
Picture: Fife Photo Agency

The Dean Park Hotel was bought by Colin and Margaret Smart in August, and in the months since he has quickly set to work refurbishing the hotel, having already completed work on a number of key areas.

The restaurant has been modernised in more ways that one.

While in appearance the room is clearly more bright and modern, every aspect of the business – right down to the menus, drinks, and type of service – has been the focus of improvement.

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Picture: Fife Photo Agency

“We want to make it the best hotel in Fife,” says deputy manager Ryan Wallace.

“Ahem,” interrupts Colin with a smile, before adding: “Scotland. But we’ll take Fife first.”

The changes at the Dean Park, are all part of plans which Colin and Margaret have had in mind for quite some time.

They took over the hotel in August, after negotiating with the previous owners, the Melvilles – but it still very much remains a family business.

Picture: Fife Photo Agency

Ryan is Margaret and Colin’s grandson, and Ryan’s sister Carlie is the events co-ordinator.

Colin’s two daughters are also involved, with Shirley sourcing new staff uniforms and Julie helping with refurbishment and decorations. Both are licenced to work behind the bar.

Margaret has been the driving force behind the design of the interior and has helped shape the new look to the restaurant and wider hotel.

And in taking over, they have retained the existing experienced team lead by general manager, Chris Dickson.

Picture: Fife Photo Agency

This is just the start of the journey for the Dean Park Hotel,” says Colin.

“We’d been planning this for about a year, so we had all our building warrants and planning permission in place before we started, so we were able to hit the ground running.

“We’ve known the hotel for years, having come up here for dinner on a Saturday night for 25 or 30 years so we’ve no hesitation to go for it.

“About 25 per cent of the work has already been achieved on the hotel.”

Picture: Fife Photo Agency

Ryan is keen to highlight the changes in service offered at the Dean Park – they’re not looking to rush people out the door just to free up another table at the restaurant.

“You could easily spend the whole night here,” he says.

“We had a group of ladies here from 2.30pm until midnight on Saturday, because they had everything that they needed.

“They had the service they were looking for and didn’t really need to go down the High Street.

“The idea with this cocktail bar is that even if we don’t have it on our menu, we’ll have the ingredients and we’ll make it for you.

“The bar is absolutely packed with premium gins and spirits, and flavoured vodkas.

Picture: Fife Photo Agency

“The After Eight cocktail is staying after Christmas because it’s so popular.

“We’ve got lots of theatre behind the cocktails, like the Santa Claus-mopolitan where I spray glitter on the glasses at the table and we’ve got a machine that puts bubbles over the cocktail glass.

“We’ll also have the flambe station in the new year.”

Colin and the team are keen to make Kirkcaldy a destination, giving people a reason to stay in the town.

They want to stop people going to the city for a night out, and instead bring the Edinburgh experience to Kirkcaldy, with fine dining and cocktails.

“The Dean Park has traditionally been seen as just a function venue and that needs to change,” says Colin. “We aim for it to be more than a function venue with the reestablishment of the restaurant.

“Whilst we’ve transformed our function suites so we remain the destination of choice for events, we are investing heavily in our new restaurant which will be the focal point of the hotel, creating a fine dining experience to attract customers from across Fife and beyond.

“But there will also be a new wedding experience, with a new honeymoon suite.”

So the family are quite prepared for the different needs customers might have.

“We even have a tractor,” says Colin. “All the roads round here – what happens when it snows?

“The tractor has a snow plough on the front, and a gritter on the trailer. How many hotels can say they have a tractor?”

But looking to the future there are yet more changes in the pipeline.

There will be work done on the bedrooms, while the bar area and the kitchen are also set for an overhaul, with work set to be completed next Spring.

In addition, there are also additional plans brewing for a further extension which will compliment the hotel further as a destination for relaxation, though Colin is tight-lipped on the details for now.

In the meantime, the Dean Park is open for business, and keen to invite old customers back to see how much things have changed already.

Picture: Fife Photo Agency