French Hotel Barge SAINT LOUIS
Cruising Southwest France: Canal de Garonne in Gascony
THE CREW: Meet your hosts
About Barbara and Alasdair Wyllie
owners of the Saint Louis, Barbara and Alasdair are very conscious of
the importance of a business such as a luxury hotel barge being “owner
operated” – they are always at hand to take personal attention to all
of those million little details that make each cruising week a success.
They both feel that their lifetimes’ experiences have thoroughly
prepared each of them for all aspects of the way that they run the ship.
two people met over forty years ago in Gloucestershire, England, where
Alasdair was studying agricultural science at the Royal Agricultural
College, and where Barbara was studying at a secretarial college. Each
of them came from interesting backgrounds, which in many ways shaped
their lives to today’s date. Alasdair’s family descended from the
renowned marine artist W L Wyllie ARA, and they have a long tradition
as a seafaring family, and as a family with great knowledge of working
barges and the customs of carrying freight on the seas and waterways of
Europe. Barbara’s mother was a professional cook whose father had one
of the most interesting jobs in the country – as a young Lt. Col. of
the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the dashing Alexander Cattanach
had the task of looking after the young Princesses Elizabeth and
Margaret whenever they were at Balmoral Castle.
During his working life, Alasdair led a number of agricultural and development projects, both in his native Scotland and overseas, and he worked directly for a number of Heads of State. He concentrated increasingly on applied engineering, and his last 15 years living in Scotland were spent running his own rural engineering company, with water engineering a speciality. As well as obtaining a mid-career engineering qualification, Alasdair also obtained the coveted Yachtmaster Offshore (Commercial) certificate, a reflection of his lifelong interest in sailing and all things marine.
Barbara’s early working life was based in agriculture, secretarial work, and the film industry, and she was a member of the team that developed and produced the astronomically well-known R2D2 of StarWars fame. She later became Service Manager for a major Fiat dealership, in which she exercised her talent for keeping 35 balls in the air while ensuring the highest of standards - and a sense of humour! Throughout her life Barbara always developed her passion for creating good food, which no doubt was passed on from her mother.
While living in Argyll in Scotland, Barbara and Alasdair
built an extension to their house in which for several years they ran a
very up-market B&B business. Their hospitality experience continued
when they left for Europe; in the Channel Islands, in Belgium and
finally in France they together managed private estates. Barbara was at
last able to release her passion for good food, as she catered for the
owners and their guests.
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