What could he do with 400 properties, the majority of which were in Aberdeen's city centre and west end? In the 1970s the oil boom was generating opportunities for many local business people and Charles Skene was no exception.
He saw the hundreds of individuals and families moving into the area to take advantage of jobs involved directly and indirectly in oil exploration, support and service. Charles was aware of the fact that for people to “feel at home” they need to have a “home from home” environment. He was not alone in recognising this fact, and the oil executives responsible for relocating vast numbers of people to Aberdeen embraced the “serviced apartment” concept. While this concept was new to the UK, it was a recognised sector in America from where many of the oil personnel were relocating – and for many years Skene House was full!
Skene House started off in the fishing “village” of Torry which was conveniently located for the new industrial estates and business parks of Tullos and Altens. Charles then began a programme of refurbishment of more and more of the flats he had originally purchased to keep up with the demand. Over time, as the needs of guests and corporate bookers developed, Charles converted the non-residential areas of the properties to include front- and back-of-house service areas for reception, concierge, housekeeping, property services.
What was serendipitous about Charles’s original property portfolio purchase was the fact that the majority included complete tenement buildings and most of them in blocks. He had bought whole blocks of tenements from one corner of the block to the other, and in some areas into the side streets also. This meant that it was possible for Charles, who also owned the gardens belonging to each tenement to convert them into free car parks for his Skene House guests – a rare luxury for city centre dwellers and visitors alike!