As 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.
These 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.
With the wealth and level of experience Alasdair and Barbara both have, it is no wonder that they have had such success in the creation of the very high quality “Saint Louis experience”.