Herb Kohler, Chairman and CEO of Kohler Co., announced that the company, through its subsidiary, The Old Course Limited, has purchased Hamilton Hall of St Andrews, Scotland, one of the most photographed buildings in the world of golf. Kohler Co. emerged as the accepted party from a competitive bidding process for the property conducted by Jones Lang La Salle and the Bank of Scotland. The Old Course Limited now owns and operates the 5 AA Red Star Old Course Hotel, the Kohler Waters Spa and The Duke’s golf course, all of which will play a role in the future of Hamilton Hall.
Hamilton Hall, which opened as a hotel in its own right in 1895, remains a stately 4-story building of 45,000 square feet that overlooks the 18th green and fairway of the Old Course, the world’s most famous golf course, looks down The West Sands beach and out to the North Sea and sits adjacent to the 255 year old Royal & Ancient Golf Club. Unfortunately, its interior is little more than rubble. Nevertheless, when Hamilton Hall became available for purchase, Herb Kohler felt that it was restorable and a good fit with the Kohler resort properties.
Hamilton Hall was originally opened as the Grand Hotel in 1895 to capitalize on the rapid expansion of St Andrews as a popular tourist destination for golf and sea bathing. Founder Thomas Hamilton is said to have commissioned the construction immediately after his application for membership had been rejected by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. In an attempt to draw attention away from the Royal & Ancient, Hamilton constructed the much larger and more extravagant building adjacent to it.
During World War II, the hotel was requisitioned by the armed forces and never reopened as a hotel. Shortly after the end of the War, the hotel was acquired by the University of St Andrews and was opened as a hall of residence in 1949 under the name Hamilton Hall. In 2005, the University announced that it had sold the Hall as the result of an unsolicited bid and consequently the university session 2005-06 would be the last year Hamilton Hall would be open as a hall of residence. The building is one of the most famous in St Andrews as it was featured in the film Chariots of Fire and in global television coverage of the many golf tournaments played on the Old Course.
Kohler Co. intends to conduct a “public consultation process” over the next few months toward creating a unique and economically viable product that will enhance St Andrews offering as the world’s premier golf destination. Herb Kohler suggested that “individuals who may one day occupy Hamilton Hall would be afforded a number of hospitality amenities including public and private dining at the Old Course Hotel, concierge and valet service, Kohler Waters Spa membership and Duke’s Golf Club membership, as well as a week at our very special private club called Riverbend in Kohler, Wisconsin U.S.A.”
Among Kohler’s high-profile renovations include The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, which opened in 1918 as a dormitory for immigrant factory workers. The property was restored and reopened as a resort hotel in 1981, and today stands as the Midwest’s only AAA Five Diamond Resort Hotel, a recognition it has earned for 25 consecutive years. The American Club is included on a list of Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
More recently, the company restored Riverbend, an estate home constructed in 1923 by Walter J. Kohler, then Governor of Wisconsin and President of Kohler Co. It was considered one of the 40 great mansions of North America. In 2001, Kohler Co. refurbished the estate and re-opened it with 31 rooms and its own spa as an exclusive private membership club.