Former hotel is sold as reclusive Russians leave

THEY came, they saw, and...they went away again. The reclusive Russian family who bought the former Corsemalzie House Hotel have moved on, to destination unknown.

The family's brief sojourn in Galloway lasted a little over two years, after they bought the former Corsemalzie House Hotel from local well-known hotelier Peter McDougall on 30th August, 2002.

Many local people bemoaned the loss of such a fine establishment at the time.

Now Boris, wife Elena, son Gregorii and Elena's mother Mrs Homatova have left in the expensive cars - including a red Ferrari - which they accumulated while they were here.

The property is believed to have changed hands for upwards of 1,000,000, well above the 550,000 that was paid for the former hotel.

But locals believe the family made a loss on the quick-fire sale after spending vast amounts of cash on modifications to the building and grandiose schemes outside.

The terrain round Corsemalzie was substantially altered - trees were cut down, a new road with security gates at the entrance was erected and security fencing was constructed round the property.

Joiners, plumbers, painters and decorators, even dry-stane dykers were just some of the tradesmen to benefit from the Russians' largesse. Hand-crafted walls line the roadside border of the property.

There was even talk of a heli-pad being built to allow well-off pals to be whisked straight to Corsemalzie once they had jetted into Prestwick from London, but that scheme never came to pass.

The house, complete with its entire contents are believed to have been bought by Lancashire couple Mr and Mrs Armstrong, who are understood to have property elsewhere.

Their intentions regarding Corsemalzie are unknown, as are the whereabouts of the elusive Russians.

According to some sources, the family have moved to Cumbria to do up a property there, but others say they are in London, where Elena feels more at home.

The Russians' departure is not the end of Galloway's Slavic connections. Russian women are happily settled in Gatehouse and East European workers are currently employed harvesting Christmas trees at Garrochar farm, Creetown.

“Boris sold the whole thing to Mr Armstong, along with the contents,” said former owner Peter McDougall.

The family are generally regarded to have been excellent payers, sometimes even rewarding professional and timeous workmanship with a bonus.

One local fisherman had been left out of pocket, but he's not concerned.

“Boris owes me 180 for lobsters, but I'm quite sure I'll get the money,” he said.