Life as an Island Hotelier – Interview with Scott Fisher, General Manager of The Karma Hotel

NIGEL HEATH caught up with Irish born Scott Fisher, the General Manager of The Karma St Martins Hotel, to talk all things Island life...

When a small party of guests visited the hotel where Irish born Scott Fisher, is General Manager, they requested caviar which was understandable in the circumstances because they’d flown in to the UK from Russia.

But laying his hands on the famous delicacy was a little easier said than done because The Karma St Martins Hotel is on the small island of St Martins, which is part of the Isles of Scilly archipelago some twenty- eight miles beyond Land’s End.

“It was clear they were missing their caviar so there was nothing for it but to have some flown in from the mainland and I had to do the same with another party of guests who had their hearts set on oysters,” said Scott.

“We serve the most wonderful seafood freshly caught for us every day, unless the sea is too rough, but sadly we have no oyster beds on Scilly,” he added.

But that was all a far cry from the current season which saw the hotel’s opening delayed until May 17 because of the earlier Corona Virus lockdown situation.

“We all had to get our skates on pretty rapidly to prepare and be up and running with all the required safety measures in place,” said Scott, who flew in from the historic Karma Salford Hall in the Vale of Evesham Warwickshire.

“But all went relatively smoothly and we were fully booked from the start with guests, who just could not wait to get over here and were completely understanding when it came to following the new house rules,” he said.

“If we had a doorman, he’d spend most of his days just a few short steps from the hotel because we’re literally just above the jetty where most of our guests arrive by launch, unless we collect them from Higher Town Quay at the other and of the Island,” he said.

“We are unique in that the Karma St Martins is the only hotel on the island which also has a relatively small number of bed and breakfasts as well as some self- catering accommodation together with a camp site.

And our guests enjoy the best of both worlds because while they have some fabulous sandy and most often deserted beaches just a stroll around the coastal paths garlanded with wild flowers, they can also hop onboard a launch and visit the other four inhabited isles of Scilly, he said. Scott spent the first five years of his life growing up in Ballinasloe , Galway, until the family moved to Bristol where his mother Bridie took over the former Seeley’s Hotel and he went on to help out in the restaurant and later reception from the age of fifteen.

“She redeveloped the hotel in 2004 and moved back to Ireland where I was born and I went off and did other things but catering and hotel keeping was in my blood so after a while I decided to return to it,” he said.

That was back in 2010 when he first came out to Scilly to manage holiday homes on the nearby island of Tresco.

Here he got to grips with all the logistics of holidaymakers flying into the main island of St Marys or arriving on the Penzance based passenger and supply ship MV Scillonian and then being transported by launch to the island.

But Scott was still hankering after a full return to the hotel business so when the Karma Group acquired and reopened the hotel on St Martins, which had been built some years earlier, he jumped at the chance of becoming its prospective General Manager in Training.

“Karma Group were new to the islands so with my logistical experience it was an ideal arrangement,” he said.

That was back in 2015 and since then Scott has immersed himself in the group, flying off to their hotels on Australia’s west coast, Gili Meno, Bavaria and Normandy as GM holiday relief because The Karma St Martins closes between the end of October and Easter.

“It’s great to go off, but to tell you the truth, it’s always wonderful to be back on St Martins because I now regard the Isles of Scilly as my home,” he said.