This year, three highly respected hoteliers will be retiring pretty much at the same time. Their contribution to the Scottish Hospitality industry has been enormous, no amount of words is enough to praise their achievements and their commitment towards the industry.
Speaking about them, Jeremy Hawkings, CEO of Connoisseurs Scotland said:
“I first met Peter Lederer twenty years ago and was struck by his sense of courtesy, something which he installed in all the members of staff at Gleneagles. We used to travel extensively in America with a group of like minded hoteliers and Peter was affectionately known within the group as ‘The Guvnor’ simply because he was.
He had a novel and very effective way of problem solving, and when faced with a decision that needed to be taken, he would say ‘If we were starting this from scratch, how would we do it?’
My involvement with Gleneagles goes back 40 years and it is interesting to see how it has been transformed from a seasonal operation under British Transport Hotels to what is clearly one of the finest golf resorts in the world.
Patrick was Chairman of Connoisseurs Scotland for many years and was instrumental in guiding the company through a period of growth. Although he had a demanding and very busy job, if you called him when he was out and asked him to call back, he always returned the call the same day.
Hans Rissmann who recently retired from Edinburgh International Conference Centre needs little introduction. During his time at EICC he has created one of the leading conference centres in the world and his quest for higher and higher standards is shown in the last award from The Institute of Hospitality where EICC gained the highest score ever awarded anywhere in the world for service and business excellence.”
We wish them a long and joyous retirement and on behalf of the Scottish Hospitality industry we thank them for their extraordinary contribution to Scotland tourism. They are and will always be an inspiration to many.
Knockinaam Lodge Hotel has been awarded the Editor’s Choice Wedding Hotel from the Good Hotel Guide 2015
The beautiful Knockinaam Lodge Hotel in Portpatrick has been awarded the Editor’s Choice Wedding Hotel from the Good Hotel Guide 2015.
This intimate, secluded country house hotel is considered by journalists, food critics and guests as one of the best hotels in Scotland. Unlike a number of hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants, Knockinaam Lodge Hotel is not always on the news, it is a hidden gem, offering the perfect atmosphere of privacy and exclusivity.
Head Chef Tony Pierce celebrates his 20th Anniversary at Knockinaam Lodge Hotel this year. Because of him and the remarkable team that supports him, the hotel has maintained a Michelin Star for 20 years consecutively. To celebrate this 20 years achievement they have launched a special Gourmet Weekend in November and another one in February where they will be taking a retrospective gourmet journey through Tony’s signature dishes from the past 20 years, accompanied by iconic wines from each era to match each course.
The November Gourmet Celebration is currently fully booked but there is still availability for the 27th and 28th of February 2015, it would make a truly memorable Christmas gift!
Congratulations to David, Tony and the whole team at Knockinaam Lodge Hotel, the awards you receive are a reflection of all your hard work and talent.
Falconry, the ancient art of hunting with birds of prey, is a fascinating pursuit with a long and storied history. Scotland provides a majestic setting in which to experience the magic of flying a bird of prey, and visitors interested in learning about and participating in this ancient sport can get a taste of history at several of Connoisseurs Scotland’s luxury properties, where falconry is still alive and flying high.
Thought by many scholars to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia, the first possible recording of falconry dates back as far as 2000 BC. Though this early history is somewhat contentious, the sport—often called the “sport of kings” because of its association with the ruling class—reached the British Isles around 860 AD and hit its zenith in the 17th century. Though the rise of firearms as a hunting tool almost wiped out this aristocratic pursuit, a revival has been taking hold; nowadays falconry is a pastime practiced most commonly as a field sport. Traditionally, the peregrine falcon was the bird of choice for falconers, but today hawks—particularly the red -tailed and Harris hawk—eagles, and even occasionally owls, are used. Large gloves, also known as gauntlets, are worn by falconers to protect their hands from the birds’ talons, while the bird wears a hood to help keep it calm and focused while training.
Founded by Emma and Steve Ford in 1982, The British School of Falconry at Gleneagles is the first dedicated falconry school in the world and educates more than 4,000 people per a year in this exciting art. Visitors can choose their level of involvement with the sport, from a simple 45-minute introduction class to a multi-level certification course that covers everything from flying birds of prey at game to imping (repairing a bird’s broken tail feathers) to crafting a hood. Family falconry lessons at Gleneagles allow adults and kids to experience the thrill of flying a hawk on the property’s picturesque grounds. Gleneagles can even tailor-make a special program for travelers by booking overnight accommodations along with falconry requirements.
At Cameron House on Loch Lomond in the Scottish Highlands, the “Hawk Walk” program allows guests to experience the thrill of flying a bird of prey along the gorgeous banks of the loch. In addition to learning the basics of bird handling, participants are shown how to correctly call a bird to the glove and how to cast it off. From there it’s out to the grounds of the hotel, where guests experience the thrill of the hawk “following on” and landing on their gloves when called in. Families looking for the falconry experience should check out the Family Fun package, in which they’re shown the correct procedure for holding, flying and calling in a bird of prey. The group is introduced to a selection of owls, hawks, eagles and falcons and each person can hold and fly three different birds. The Family Fun package is appropriate for adults and kids ages 7 and up.
The stunning surroundings of Inverlochy Castle, located in the verdant Western Highlands, and at regal Cromlix in Perthshire, are both ideal for outdoor sports of all kinds. Thanks to a partnership with the award-winning Phoenix Falconry team, guests can learn to fly a hawk without leaving either hotel’s grounds. An introduction to falconry class exposes guests to the history and pageantry of the sport as well as the handling and training of a young hawk before each guest gets to the fly a bird unaided. A family-oriented session allows guests to handle and free-fly several of varieties of hawks, falcons, owls, buzzards and eagles to their fist. Each session ends with a photo session with “Pilgrim,” Phoenix’s huge, friendly bald eagle. Interested travelers should make reservations for falconry experiences in advance of arriving.
Tell us a bit about your journey in this industry until reaching Knockinaam Lodge
Brittania Hotel, Manchester – Commis Chef
Gleneagles – 1st Commis
Mallory Court – Junior Pastry Chef
The Box Tree – Chef de Partie/Pastry
Inverlochy Castle – Pastry Chef
Llangoed Hall – Sous Chef
and finally Knockinaam Lodge
What are the ingredients you enjoy working with the most?
Drummore Lobster, Drummore Turbot, Skye Sea Scallops, Grouse and Speyside Angus Beef
What are the seasonal ingredients you look forward to working with every year?
Wild Garlic, Wet Garlic, Courgette Flowers, Fresh Blackcurrants and Epicure Potatoes all grown in the gardens at Knockinaam – Yummy!!
When it comes to presentation, do you follow a specific rule, base your dishes on other dishes you have seen before or decide as you text them for the first time?
I son’t follow any specific rules and we don’t test dishes before the first time. The five course tasting menu is well balanced and seasonal
Is there an ingredient you simply would prefer never to use?
Yes, Pike, too many bones.
What do you believe to be one of the nicest ingredient combinations for Autumn?
Highland Roe Deer with freshly picked Blackberries
What is your favourite type of food? What do you love eating at home?
It depends on the time of year, in the winter Corned Beef Hash and in the summer any type of Salads and chippy Fish & Chips. All year round – HP Sauce butties!
Do guests dictate what you serve according to what sells the most or do you try to always encourage them to try something new?
Do you keep an eye on the work of other chefs to see what they have been developing?
Not for the last 15 years
Is there a chef (or chefs) that inspires you?
Marco Pierre White in the early 90s, the Roux brothers and Raymond Blanc
What makes a happy professional kitchen?
Encouragement, being a good listener, movie quizzes, football coupons and playing frisbee at lunchtime
From the current menu, what dish is your personal favourite?
Hot Apple Crumble Soufflé with Double Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Is there a particular dish you have developed that you feel most proud of?
Slow Roast Fillet of Speyside Angus Beef with Pomme Pont-Neuf and Two Truffle Sauces
Thank you Tony!
Connoisseurs Scotland is delighted to announce two new members to its collection of luxury hotels in Scotland.
MacLeod House & Lodge, Donald J. Trump’s historic Scottish property in Aberdeenshire, is set amid mature woodland in the heart of the magnificent Trump International estate. Dating back to the 14th Century, the opulent house hotel offers exquisite superior and grand deluxe guestrooms, intimate bar and dining facilities, providing the ultimate setting for dinner, bed and breakfast, private parties and exclusive use.
Boasting stunning views and bursting with period charm, the accommodation is exceptionally well proportioned and features lavish furnishings, Italian marble en-suites and many signature Trump touches. With its secret stairways, traditional log fires, whisky snug and spectacular grounds, MacLeod House & Lodge guarantees luxury and comfort in a secluded and dramatic location just a short drive from Aberdeen International Airport and the vibrant city centre.
Ideal for visitors, tourists, business travellers and golfers, guests can also benefit from the highly acclaimed, award winning, championship links golf course created for golfers of all levels of ability.
Sarah Malone, Executive Vice President, Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, said: Connoisseurs Scotland is a highly respected elite collection of luxury properties and we are extremely proud to join such a distinguished group. www.trumpgolfscotland.com
Glencoe House, nested above the village of Glencoe, just two hours by car from Glasgow, is the former home of Lord Strathcona and was built in 1896. Designed by Sir Robert Rowland Anderson, it has now been converted into an all suite hotel with seven sumptuous suites of between 80sq. metres and 148 sq. metres. This luxury, 5 star suite accommodation in the heart of the Scottish Highlands is a far cry from a conventional hotel room. The suites comprise a substantial sitting room, which boasts an array of period features together with the luxury of your own open fire. Each suite also contains a ‘maxi-bar’ that is composed of a good selection of wines, beers and whiskies, which are but a step away from your sofa and log fire. Your sitting room gives you the space and privacy to rest and unwind uninterrupted. Each suite benefits from panoramic vistas of loch, lake, garden or spectacular mountain views and also contains a dining table, often in your own private dining room, where breakfast and dinner are served. Glencoe House offers an ideal location for all occasions from a short break to a unique and special wedding venue. The house is set in 10 acres of gardens in addition to extensive Forestry Commission grounds, which are all there to be explored.
Jeremy Hawkings, Chief Executive of Connoisseurs Scotland said: We are delighted to have these two wonderful properties join as members of Connoisseurs Scotland in this, our 22nd year, taking our membership up to 28 luxury properties. We look forward to working with Trump International Golf Links, Scotland to ensure that MacLeod House & Lodge is promoted across the world to the business, golf and leisure markets of Scotland. We are particularly pleased that the property has attracted such praise so soon after opening.
Glencoe House is a very different concept of hotel accommodation, in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and the attention to detail that Roger Niemeyer and his team have shown in the refurbishment of this magnificent building and the beautiful gardens bides well for the future. 2014 was always going to be an important year for Scotland with so much going on and I am delighted to be able to spread this very good news at such an important time, when the eyes of the world are upon Scotland.
The perfect romantic getaway varies greatly depending on the couple taking it, but these trips almost always include a stunning location, a few key indulgences, a bit of adventure, and a healthy dose of rest and relaxation. Scotland, a country famed for its wild, natural beauty, growing culinary scene and laid-back pace, offers all these elements and more to couples looking for a uniquely romantic getaway. When it comes to romantic accommodations, Connoisseurs Scotland member properties are as varied as the guests they attract; properties range from remote to city-centric, modern to historic, and over-the-top to cute and cozy for a match made in heaven.
The magical and wildly romantic Isle of Skye sets a dramatic backdrop for an amorous escape, and the luxurious seaside Kinloch Lodge provides the ideal getaway. Nestled at the foot of Kinloch Hill on the tranquil shoreline of the sea-loch Na Dal, the quaint lodge makes it easy for couples to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday modern life and unwind, relax and recharge with its “Romantic Escape” package. The package includes two nights’ accommodations in a cozy guest room; three meals at the lodge’s acclaimed restaurant, including a special five-course dinner designed by chef Marcello Tully; a spa treatment each or a whisky tasting at Talisker distillery; and a relaxed, couple’s photo shoot in and around the stunning lochside gardens. Additional goodies include a bowl of decadent, Belgian-chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne and oysters delivered to the room.
Culture and style define the city of Glasgow, and One Devonshire Gardens at Hotel du Vin is set in one of its most stylish and romantic locations—a tree-lined terrace on the vibrant West End. This charming historic property occupies five townhouses built in 1886 and retains all its original features, including rich, oak-panelled walls, open fireplaces, sweeping staircases and gorgeous stained glass windows. The house also boasts its own secret terraced garden…the ultimate in romance. Food lovers will be drawn to the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, which serves up dishes that rely heavily on fresh, seasonal, locally sourced and organic produce. Before or after dinner, guests can visit the wine cellar with an incredible selection of 600 bins, and the whisky snug featuring over 300 whiskies. One Devonshire Garden’s Aristocratique Package has romance written all over it, featuring early check-in and late check-out, a three-course dinner, breakfast in bed and of course, champagne.
Couples looking to be pampered while on vacation will want to visit Stobo Castle, Scotland’s only destination health spa and hotel. Here luxury accommodations meet the latest in spa technology. Nested deep in the picturesque Scottish countryside, Stobo Castle offers the ultimate In romantic indulgence with its opulent Cashmere Suite, which features walls dressed in rich, claret-colored cashmere, a handcrafted limestone tub (weighing in at over a ton!), and a well-appointed lounge decked out in more cashmere and original Scottish art. The room also comes with a celebratory bottle of Bollinger champagne and chocolates. Though leaving this room may prove difficult, couples who venture to the spa will find unique treatments such as a massage and chromo energetic hydro-bath ritual or an exotic milk bath paired with an anti-aging facial to help them feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Stobo’s Pure Spa Break includes two night’s accommodations (including the Cashmere Suite) and two spa treatments as well as meals, guided walks and activities.
What brought you to Stobo Castle?
An advertisement in our local paper for a Reservations Assistant, my first “proper” job after leaving university!
Have you had the experience of working at different hotels before?
Waitressing and bar work, in particular in the conference and banqueting department at The Balmoral Hotal in Edinburgh.
What do you find the most challenging aspects of your position?
Staying ahead of the game in terms of technology and social media
What do you look forward to at work every day?
Variety! Something different every day.
What do you love about the property the most?
The location – I have the best commute to work!
Is there a particular area of the hotel you love the most?
The stunning 25m ozone pool with beautiful views of the Scottish Borders countryside.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career in hospitality and is about to start working with marketing for the first time?
Get to know every detail about your products, packages and your target market as soon as possible – it makes them easier to sell.
What hotel booking platforms do you use when you travel yourself?
Usually Google, Tripadvisor and the hotel’s website.
Is there a marketing campaign by another hotel that you have been particularly impressed by? If yes which one?
Not by another hotel, but I think the creatives for the Visitscotland tv commercials are very effective and portray Scotland at its best.
In your experience, what has given you the best results in relation to return on investment: Digital Marketing or offline advertising?
I believe the best results are generated from using a combination of both digital and off-line, but if I had to choose, the more traditional forms of advertising still work well for Stobo.
Any trends or new consumer patterns you think other hotels should watch out for?
Don’t underestimate the power of Tripadvisor – we respond to every review, not just the negative ones, demonstrating high standards of customer care.
Thank you Jenni!
Highland Games are a celebration of Scottish celtic heritage and history. Clans would compete with each other and the winners would be the celebrities of their time. Every summer, for over two thousand years we gather all over Scotland to remember and celebrate our history.
Highland dancers and pipers would be brought to entertain and show off their skills whilst warriors would show off their physical strength and resilience. The most impressive and athletic participants would obviously reflect the strength and success of their clan.
Today we compete for fun, Highland Games are about bringing the family together for a day out, the competition can be just as hard and difficult but for completely different reasons. There is no politics involved, the challenge is personal.
Different areas of Scotland have different styles of Highland games. In some ways, each Highland Game is a reflection of their very own community.
If you are visiting Scotland this summer, visit a couple of different events in different areas and learn about the clans that influenced that area. A great way to learn about Scotland is learning more about the clans themselves.
To see a list of dates and locations for different Highland Games taking place this busy summer, visit the Scottish Highland Games Association’s website http://www.shga.co.uk
The renowned vessel was completed in 1960, has traveled 1,087,623 nautical miles, calling at 600 ports in 135 countries. It has been used by the Royal family for the last 44 years and it is more than double of the size of the luxurious Royal Yacht Britannia, which is officially Scotland’s best visitor attraction for the last nine years. MV Windsor Castle has very spacious dining rooms and lounges, two outdoor swimming pools, a health spa and a Theatre. At one point it had a fully equipped hospital. It is a truly impressive vessel with enormous historic value.
The “boatique hotel” will be adjacent to Britannia in Leith and it’s meant to arrive in the last week of August.
In terms of high end hospitality, this is one of the most exciting projects taking place in Scotland. MV Windsor Castle will be Scotland’s first “boatique hotel”. Considering that the Royal Yacht Britannia (The Queen’s former floating palace) welcomes around 300,000 visitors every year, we are expecting this figure to double and the area of Leith to benefit even more from this incredible new venue and tourist attraction.
This year keeps getting better and better for Scotland!
We look forward to seeing the results when Scotland’s first floating luxury hotel opens to the public.
This lovely Scottish fish soup, originally from the town of Cullen in Moray on the north-east coast of Scotland, is often served as a starter or as a main meal all over Scotland and its recipe slightly varies depending on the cook’s preference!
Although it’s made with smoked haddock, it’s a wonderfully soft and creamy soup. Even those who tend not to choose fish dishes love it! If you are planning to visit Scotland do make sure to try to it with a nice slice of fresh bread and a bit of butter.
500g undyed smoked haddock, skin on
A bay leaf
Knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, washed and cut into chunks
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
500ml whole milk
Chives, chopped, to serve
1. Put the fish into a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, and cover with about 300ml cold water. Add the bay leaf, and bring gently to the boil. By the time it comes to the boil, the fish should be just cooked – if it’s not, then give it another minute or so. Remove from the pan, and set aside to cool. Take the pan off the heat.
2. Melt the butter in another pan on a medium-low heat, and add the onion and the leek. Cover and allow to sweat, without colouring, for about 10 minutes until softened. Season with black pepper.
3. Add the potato and stir to coat with butter. Pour in the haddock cooking liquor and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is tender.
4. Meanwhile, remove the skin, and any bones from the haddock, and break into flakes.
5. Lift out a generous slotted spoonful of potatoes and leeks, and set aside. Discard the bay leaf. Add the milk, and half the haddock to the pan, and either mash roughly or blend until smoothish.
6. Season to taste, and serve with a generous spoonful of the potato, leek and haddock mixture in each bowl, and a sprinkling of chives.
Enjoy and share!
What is it that you love about the industry?
I love the variety you get in this industry both in terms of the actual work but more importantly the diverse range of guests I meet (or have the opportunity to meet) and interact with. Guests often have the most interesting stories to tell you and what comes across is that everyone’s needs are different and our job at The Airds is to try and satisfy those varying needs.
What brought you to The Airds Hotel?
I initially worked for the hotel just doing ad hoc projects, but then a member of staff left and I was offered a newly created job of reception/office manager which I thought sounded as though it could be interesting. There was no specific job description for the new role and I was a little unclear as to how I would fill the time – how wrong could I have been! The role is so varied and seems to encompass everything in the office and reception that when it is time to go home at the end of each day I hardly know where the time has gone!
Have you worked at other hotels before? If yes which ones?
No this is my first hotel and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else now!
What is it that you like the most about front of house?
I love the absolute variety that comes with front of house. One minute I am taking a reservation over the phone, next I am checking a guest into their room, after that I can be typing confirmation letters or organising a helicopter landing in the garden, or organising for a guest to take a trip on the Jacobite steam train. I always try and make the time to talk to guests as well as they are usually so interesting and I find that most guests also like to talk and find out about the staff at the hotel.
What do you think is the most important personality trait to work at front of house?
Flexibility and the ability to think on your feet! The range of questions and requests you get on a daily basis, even in an eleven bedroom hotel, is vast and therefore you have to have a fast mind and the ability to switch subject matters in your brain – I am usually pretty tired at the end of the day!
Do you have any funny story to tell, something that happened to you whilst working at a hotel that you are able to share?
I am far to discrete to say anything – what I would say however, is that sometimes you have to have a very good sense of humour in the hotel industry!
What do you love about the area?
The absolute beauty of the area with it’s stunning scenery and peace and quiet. We also get the most amazing sunsets, which can often clear the restaurant at night and Chef is never quite sure if the guests are coming back again – they always do of course, as the food is simply divine!
What is your favourite part of Scotland?
Port Appin of course – the best scenery on the West Coast of Scotland. There is no where better then the Scottish Highlands
Amongst Airds Hotel’s dishes which one you personally like the most and recommend?
That is an impossible question to answer as I love them all. Just when I think I have a favourite Chef as the habit of creating an even better dish. They are all fantastic and what is nice is that the staff get to sample every new dish so that should a guest ask we can describe all the dish’s having tried them ourselves – a good perk of the job!
Amongst Airds Hotel’s bedrooms which one is your favourite and why?
It used to be the Master Suite, then room 24 was re-decorated and that became y favourite and then last December room 22 was completely refurbished and that became my favourite – so watch this space!
What is the hardest part of the job?
Whilst I simply love the variety of my job it can sometimes be a little frustrating as it can be difficult to finish a job! However I would not swap it for the world.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career in hospitality and is about to work at reception for the first time?
Learn to be flexible and never be frightened to use your own initiative. You also have to have a basic love of people and if you have a good understanding of people then this will help as well. Always put the guest first because at the end of the day that is why we are all here at The Airds – the guest must always come first and never compromise quality.
What hotel booking platforms do you use when you travel yourself?
I do not tend to use booking platforms when I travel – my husband is my booking channel!
Do you use social media to look for offers for yourself as well? Which platforms you use the most?
Again I do not tend to use social media much. I think that as I work in the hotel industry when it comes to booking a holiday my husband tends to do it all, I just have the final say!
Jimmy Carr, Alan Davies and Jimeoin are amongst some of the entertainers you could see at this outstanding venue during the festival. The EICC is a multi-purpose venue with unique flexible flooring system, cutting-edge lighting gantry and presentation equipment. The 1600m2 Lennox Suite can accommodate up to 2,000 people. This is one of the most exciting and versatile venues in the country and a wonderful addition to Edinburgh Festival’s portfolio of partners.
It is so lovely to see so many positive comments about Scottish hospitality and food during this year’s Commonwealth Games. We decided to share a few recipes this week for those of you who were unable to join us this year but would like to try some of our dishes, treats and desserts at home.
• 60g of oats
• 300g of fresh raspberries, plus more to decorate
• 300ml of double cream
• 6 tablespoons of honey, melted and cooled
• 6 tablespoons of whisky
1. Dry-toast the oats in a frying pan over a medium heat. They are ready when the flakes are just browned and smell toasted, but should not be dark. Leave to cool.
2. In a bowl, lightly crush half the raspberries. Fold in the remaining whole raspberries and crush lightly – there should still be large whole pieces.
3. In another bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of honey with 3 tablespoons of whisky.
4. In another bowl, mix the cream and the rest of the honey and whisky. Whip until the cream thickens but is still soft.
5. To assemble the dessert, add some of the raspberry mixture, then a sprinkling of oats and then some of the cream mixture. Add two more layers in the same order (raspberries, oats, cream, raspberries, oats, cream). Top with a few whole raspberries, and drizzle with the honey-whisky mixture. Serve immediately.
Renowned best-selling author Lady Claire Macdonald of Kinloch Lodge Hotel in the Isle of Skye has recently published two new cookery books: The Scottish Salmon Bible and The Scottish Food Bible, both illustrated by Edinburgh born Bob Dewar.
The two pocket-sized books are exciting additions to every food lover’s library, they are a celebration of Scottish produce and have unique recipes exploring some of Scotland’s most versatile ingredients.
We all know that Salmon has many health benefits but not all of us know how versatile Salmon can be and how best to cook it. The recipes found in The Scottish Salmon Bible show a number of ways to create special dishes using creative ingredient combinations. Whether you like Salmon warm, cold, smoked, cured, raw or any other way, you will find a few options that will both amaze and delight family and guests.
Scotland attracts so many international visitors and our natural larder is appreciated all over the world. The Scottish Food Bible is a collection of very creative and exciting recipes using many of our best and most well known ingredients. From whisky and Scottish game to oats. The recipes cover starters, mains, desserts as well as side dishes, dressings and treats. This is the perfect item to take home after visiting Scotland or to gift someone who would like to take Scottish cuisine to a new level.
Claire Macdonald is the author of almost twenty best-selling cookery books, including Seasonal Cooking, The Harrods Book of Entertaining, The Claire Macdonald Cookbook and Entertaining Solo. She is Patron of Scottish Food Fortnight and The Association of Scottish Farmers’ Markets. In recognition of her contribution to Scottish food Claire was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 is now open!
The opening ceremony took place last night and generated a lot of social media engagement via Twitter. Despite a number of negative tweets the overall feeling amongst all was that the ceremony was a great representation of Scotland’s culture and humour. The ceremony was not extravagant, it was tongue in cheek and it also expressed Scotland’s generosity with its unique fundraising initiative generating £2.5m for children’s charity Unicef.
For the people of Scotland it expressed what is both liked and disliked about the country’s image, it acknowledge what Scotland is known for and also what locals love most about Scotland. It was a great celebration of Scotland’s diversity and internationalism. The invited artists showcased some of Scotland’s best talents, with artists such as Scottish Classical violinist Nicola Benedetti, Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis who sings primarily in Scottish Gaelic and world famous Susan Boyle.
Some of the most popular highlights were the Scottish terrier dogs (every nation was led into the opening ceremony by a Scottish Terrier), the Red Arrows, Sir Chris Hoy and James McAvoy are on stage as well as Billy Connolly‘s touching message on Nelson Mandela.
It’s an exciting time for Glasgow and a wonderfully exciting year for Scotland. Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels are very busy this season! May the fun begin!
If you would like more information on the Commonwealth Games 2014 please visit: http://www.glasgow2014.com
If you are looking for accommodation during or after the games, visit our website to learn about some of the best luxury hotels in the country.
A strikingly beautiful country filled with a rich sporting history and an abundance of natural resources to explore, Scotland lends itself to outdoor adventures of all types. What better way to celebrate what Visit Scotland, the official tourism office for the country, has coined the “Year of Homecoming” than to get out and experience some of Scotland’s most unique, exhilarating and historic outdoor activities? Whether travelers are looking for relaxed pursuits like golf and road biking or the all-out adrenaline rush that comes with gorge scrambling and off-road driving, Connoisseurs Scotland properties offer a pursuit to fit any guest’s passion.
Located in the Scottish Highlands at the foot of Liathach Mountain and the shores of Upper Loch Torridon, The Torridon hotel is a natural fit for travelers seeking unique outdoor adventures on both water and land. Gorge scrambling—unquestionably one of the most thrilling adventures offered at The Torridon—is a uniquely British pursuit that involves traveling through a steep sided gorge, following the course of the river or lake by various ways and means. This can involve sliding or swimming down rapids, floating down fast-flowing chutes and waves, climbing beside waterfalls and, of course, jumping off adrenalin-pumping ledges into deep pools. A trained gorge guide outfits guests with buoyancy aids, wetsuits, wet socks and helmets. Full- and half- day excursions are available for adults and children over the age of 10.
Opportunities to try traditional Scottish “country pursuits” abound at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. Hunting enthusiasts and dog lovers alike will want to experience Gleneagles’ Gundog School, the first of its kind in the world. Working with the school’s own Labrador retrievers, guests learn how to handle a trained gundog, beginning with basic obedience and simple retrieves. The more advanced “fieldcraft lessons” teach guests to handle a dog over a rustic agility course, with “pheasant flushes,” “rising duck” and “rabbit retrieves” over rustic obstacles and in water. This unique school takes its inspiration from Scotland’s great sporting heritage, where Labradors, spaniels and other breeds have, for many centuries, accompanied sportsmen and women in the field. A variety of packages and lessons is available.
Exploring the wild beauty of the picturesque Southwestern region of Scotland should be at the top of the list for guests at Knockinaam Lodge in Dumfries & Galloway. This region, famed for its stunning landscapes and rugged coastline, lends itself to walking and hiking. More than 1,300 miles of marked trails take visitors along coastal and forest trails, through open moorland or in and around towns. Nearby Galloway Forest Park encapsulates 24 named peaks above 2,000 feet, with ranges such as the Rhins of Kells, the Minnigaff Hills, the Awful Hand and the Dungeon Hills. The Merrick, rising up above Loch Trool, is Dumfries & Galloway’s highest peak at 2,765 feet, and forms the “forefingers” of the Awful Hand range. On a clear day, views from the top of the Merrick include some Highland ranges, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Lake District. Other outdoor activities available at Knockinaam Lodge include clay pigeon shooting, fishing and golf.
Connoisseurs Scotland’s collection of 28 luxury accommodations includes city-center properties; country house hotels; exclusive-use properties; Scotland’s only destination health spa, Stobo Castle; the ultimate luxury train, The Royal Scotsman; and the only cruise ship in the world with a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen, The Hebridean Princess. Seven of the members boast Michelin-starred restaurants, including the only two-starred restaurant in Scotland, which is found at Gleneagles.
The Trump Organization is pleased to announce that its transaction to purchase the legendary and iconic Turnberry Golf Resort in Scotland closed today at 2pm EST. Mr. Trump traveled to Turnberry on July 2nd to host a major press conference concerning his plans for the resort. Turnberry has already been the home of four of the greatest Open Championships of all time, including the 1977 Duel in the Sun where Tom Watson won over Jack Nicklaus. The name of the resort will be changed to Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scotland. Donald J. Trump is one of the foremost real estate developers in the world. Trump Turnberry will be solely owned and managed by The Trump Organization. The hotel will be included in The Luxury Collection brand as part of a franchise agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
“I am honored to own and manage this magnificent property, perhaps the most exciting property there is. We will be spending a great deal of time, effort and money to make it the finest resort of its kind anywhere in the world. I would like to thank Starwood Hotels & Resorts for working with us, in the best interest of property, to bring about this historic acquisition. I would also like to thank all representatives in South Ayrshire for their support and wonderful statements to the media,” stated Donald J. Trump, Chairman & President of The Trump Organization.
A minimum of 100 million pounds sterling will be spent to make the current Turnberry Hotel one of the greatest and most luxurious hotels anywhere in the world. Additionally, upon the recommendation of the R&A, Mr. Trump has retained the services of the highly respected golf architect, Martin Ebert, of the firm of Mackenzie & Ebert. Mr. Ebert attended the press conference on July 2nd.
Hear the words “Scottish cuisine,” and the stereotypical offerings of haggis and oats might come to mind. But that was in previous centuries; today Scotland is a land of memorable dining experiences crafted by talented chefs who use the bounty of the local lands and waters in all they create. Scotland boasts its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, seven of which are located at members of the Connoisseurs Scotland family of luxury hotels. In short, great dining is just one more reason guests visit these properties … and keep coming back. This year, as VisitScotland celebrates the “Year of Homecoming,” is a perfect time to either start or continue a tradition of exploring all that Scotland offers … including phenomenal meals.
The culinary news from Knockinaam Lodge isn’t “new” at all … it’s been two decades in the making, in fact. Chef Tony Pierce is currently celebrating his 20th anniversary at the property, a small country house hotel located in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland. This year marks the Lodge’s 23rd with a Michelin star – the longest running star in all of Scotland. Pierce, who fell into the restaurant industry when a friend asked him along to a career day at their local university, worked at three other Michelin star restaurants before bringing his culinary gifts to Knockinaam. The Lodge believes that it’s never too early to learn how to appreciate a great meal and, in that spirit, welcomes children. The culinary team is happy to arrange family dining for guests ages 8 and older at a special early seating; alternatively, guests 12 and under can partake in high tea while their parents enjoy a meal on their own.
In Edinburgh, the Connoisseurs Scotland property billed as a “restaurant with rooms,” 21212, has some news of its own. Award-winning chef Paul Kitching, who leads a culinary team of seven working in an open kitchen in the 38-seat restaurant, was recently named an official “food and drink ambassador” for Scotland. In this role, he’s part of a national campaign aimed at showcasing the country’s culinary contributions to the world’s food scene. The restaurant is named “21212” because when it opened in 2009, it featured a five-course gourmet menu that offered two starter choices, one soup, two entrée options, one cheese course and two dessert selections. Now during dinner service there’s a choice of three starters, entrées and desserts … but the restaurant confirms that the name isn’t changing to “31313” anytime soon. The lunch menu will continue to follow the “21212” formula, and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings dinner guests can choose three, four or five courses; on weekends dinner will continue to be five courses.
At Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, the favorite number is two – which is the quantity of Michelin stars that chef Andrew Fairlie’s eponymous restaurant has earned, making the establishment the only dining venue in Scotland to bear that distinction. A new development at this restaurant is the acquisition of a magnificent Victorian walled garden that includes its original glasshouses and several mature fruit trees. The garden will provide 155 varieties of herbs, edible flowers, micro-cresses, specialty leaves, heritage vegetables, and an array of fruits and berries for Fairlie and his team. The (literal) fruits of this labor are just now ready for guests to sample, making it the perfect time to book the resort’s “Michelin Star Magic” package, which includes a complimentary room upgrade (subject to terms and availability), full use of The Club facilities, a complimentary glass of champagne at the start of dinner, the six-course “du Marche” tasting menu at Fairlie’s restaurant, and the legendary Gleneagles breakfast the following morning. This package is available year-round; from now through September 19, rates start at £505 per room per night.
What are you waiting for? Experience the best Connoisseurs Scotland hotels have to offer!
Scottish wedding traditions such as bagpipe music, tartan clothing, kilts and Celtic rings have become popular additions to wedding ceremonies all over the world. As Visit Scotland celebrates the “Year of Homecoming,” it’s an ideal time for couples wishing to visit the birthplace of these traditions and incorporate authentic versions into their celebrations should consider Scotland as a wedding destination. Famed for its unspoiled beauty, distinctive culture and warm hospitality, Scotland is also the ideal romantic destination in which to tie the knot. From small, countryside inns to luxurious, historic manor houses, Connoisseurs Scotland offers an array of perfect locales for that special day. All properties can be booked for exclusive use, making it a true getaway for the whole wedding party.
Intimate country-house weddings are the specialty at the quaint Airds Hotel, located in the Scottish Highlands in Port Appin. The small hotel, once a ferry inn, has just 11 guest rooms and a private, two-bedroom cottage, making it ideal for the most personal of wedding celebrations. The Airds’ award-winning cuisine (the restaurant has earned three AA Rosettes and a Gold Award with Eat Scotland) featuring fresh local seafood and produce is modern and beautifully presented, earning it an international reputation as one of the best restaurants in Scotland. Staff at the Airds can help arrange every detail of the big day, a relief for couples doing their planning from abroad. The Airds allows for exclusive use of the property for “larger” weddings—up to 38 guests—and smaller events— eight guests or fewer—can be held without exclusive use of the hotel.
An authentic Scottish seaside wedding at the Crinan Hotel, set at the end of the famous Crinan Canal, offers a breathtaking setting with views of the islands of Jura, Scarba and Mull. The family-owned and run hotel, which features 20 double bedrooms, is just minutes away from a quaint church for couples who wish to be wed in one, or the ceremony can be performed in the hotel garden. The friendly staff at the Crinan is at the ready to help organize dancers, harpists, singers, bagpipers or a Ceilidh band—all elements of a traditional Scottish wedding. After the ceremony, the happy couple and their guests can embark on a boat trip to look for wildlife and visit the imposing Corryvreckan, the third largest whirlpool in the world. The Crinan can be booked for exclusive use for events with up to 40 guests.
Couples seeking the romance of the Scottish countryside may wish to get married at the luxurious Greywalls Hotel, located at the edge of the Muirfield championship golf course, close to Edinburgh. This Edwardian home, built in 1901, retains the charm and character for which it was renowned and creates an impressive backdrop for celebrations. The spectacular walled garden makes a lovely setting for a ceremony or simply for photos. Golf enthusiasts will love that there are 10 golf courses located within five miles of the hotel; the staff at Greywalls can even help to arrange Mini-Highland Games in the garden. Chex Roux, the restaurant at Greywalls, was named 2011 Restaurant of the Year by the Scottish Hotel Awards and offers upscale catering menus. Exclusive use of Greywalls is available for up to 50 guests.
Connoisseurs Scotland’s collection of 28 luxury accommodations also includes city-center properties; country house hotels; exclusive-use properties; Scotland’s only destination health spa, Stobo Castle; the ultimate luxury train, The Royal Scotsman; and the only cruise ship in the world with a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen, The Hebridean Princess. Seven of the members boast Michelin-starred restaurants, including the only two-starred restaurant in Scotland, which is found at Gleneagles.
Information on Connoisseurs Scotland, its member resorts, partners and special offers can be found at www.luxuryscotland.co.uk. In addition travelers can download the Luxury Scotland app, which provides news and offers from members, onto their iPhones or Androids.
Today is a very special day for us. Gleneagles Hotel celebrates its 90th anniversary!
The hotel was open on the 6th of June 1924, after Donald Matheson, general manager of the former Caledonian Railway Company spent 14 years working on his vision of creating a large country house hotel which would provide leisure and golf facilities to those traveling around and through Scotland. At the time of opening the hotel was described as ‘a Riviera in the Highlands’ and ‘the eighth wonder of the world‘.
Today, Gleneagles is owned by Diageo plc, custodians of iconic brands such as Johnnie Walker, Guinness, and Tanqueray gin and is considered by industry peers, the general public and the Media as one of the best resorts in the world.
Gleneagles had an important part in establishing Connoisseurs Scotland. In July 1994 it was one of the seven guarantors and members to create Connoisseurs Scotland, our relationship has been a long and fruitful one all these years.
In celebration to its 90th anniversary, some of Gleneagles’ staff channeled the glamour of the Roaring Twenties in a fun photoshoot. The result were the beautiful images below, as you can see, elegance is timeless.
They also gathered photographs and memorabilia shared by guests who have stayed at Gleneagles in the past, some recently, others many years ago. Ask the staff to see some of this when you visit the resort next.
Congratulations Gleneagles for bringing so much joy to so many people for the last 90 years and for thank you for your support from the very beginning.
Today Paul Kitching’s 21212 Restaurant with rooms celebrate their second anniversary.
The restaurant was opened two years ago and has experienced tremendous success since then, including a Michelin Star in 2010 (which makes them one of only five Michelin star restaurants in Edinburgh and the only one with rooms), four AA rosettes and been named Catering in Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year. Paul was also awarded the Prince Philip medal for services to the catering industry. So many achievements in five years.
21212 has four, beautifully appointed, bedrooms, all very large and each with a dedicated lounge area. It offers a unique experience to Edinburgh visitors, outstanding food as well and gorgeous accommodation.
Well done Paul, Katie and team for the fantastic work you have done so far and for what is yet to come!
Whisky is liquid sunshine.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Today is World Whisky Day. The event was created by Blair Bowman, a 21 years old University of Aberdeen student in 2012, it is expected that 200,000 people fro forty different countries will take part of the celebrations today.
A number of Connoisseurs Scotland properties have prepared special offers and events to celebrate this date, keep an eye on your Twitter, facebook and Google+ newsfeed for many posts, images and messages celebrating one of Scotland’s most successful and fascinating products.
The final farewell parade from RAF Leuchars took place in St Andrews today. It was a very emotional day to many who attended, guests staying at The Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa had the chance to see a historic event, a celebration of 100 years of historic ties to the area of Fife.
With their ‘bayonets fixed, colours flying and bands playing’, over 250 Royal Air Force personnel marched through cheering crowds as a Typhoon aircraft from Number 6 Squadron delivered a thundering salute from the air.
Air Officer Scotland and Station Commander RAF Leuchars, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew said:
“It was a tremendous honour to exercise our Freedom of St Andrews for the last time today in front of such a large audience. The support shown to the Station by the people of Fife and Tayside, in recent times and throughout our long history, has been truly humbling. I speak for all Royal Air Force Leuchars personnel, past and present, when I say we are profoundly grateful to the community we have been proud to serve, and proud to call home, for nearly a century.”
Provost of Fife, Councillor Jim Leishman, who gave a poignant address to the personnel on parade, said:
“I speak for all Fifers when I say we have been very proud to support the RAF at Leuchars. Today has been a real celebration of a long history in Fife and I’m extremely honoured to have played a part in the final parade. I’d like to wish all RAF personnel the very best for the future, whether they are remaining in Fife, or moving on to new challenges.”
One period in history ends, a new one begins!
On the 27th of April 2014 the Scottish Hotel Awards took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh.
Congratulations to the nominated Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels for the awards received!
The top awards went to Cromlix (awarded Hotel of the year 2014 and luxury hotel of the year), Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa (awarded Business Hotel of the year and Service Excellence Hotel of the Year) and The Glasshouse Hotel (awarded Style Hotel of the year).
Members of staff from different Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels were also awarded, we were delighted to see their hard work recognised! Well done to all!
The Kelpies tower a colossal 30 metres sculpture above the Forth & Clyde canal is a source of amazement and delight to locals and visitors to Scotland.
Each of The Kelpies weighs over 300 tonnes. The materials of the sculptures are deliberately those of Scotland’s former industrial heartland, steel construction on an architectural scale. This stainless steel skin reflects the light of the day, and the night, and makes for an amazing sight in all weather.
Horses are the embodiment of the industrial history of Scotland and the Falkirk / Grangemouth area. Heavy horses would once have been the powerhouse of the area, working in the foundries, the fields, farms and of course the canal itself, pulling boats along the Forth & Clyde from coast to coast.
The sculptures are a testament to the achievements of the past, a paean to artisanship and engineering and a declaration of intent for the future of Scotland.
If you have not had the chance to see them, you must go, they are truly magnificent and pictures do not do them justice!
Stewart Spence started his career in hospitality more than 50 years ago with a job as a trainee chef at the Station Hotel. He has been a respected member of the industry, responsible for the creation of one of the most loved and successful hotels in Scotland: The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa in Aberdeen which will close later this year following his retirement.
Last week, he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards for his contribution to the tourism industry. The award is richly deserved.
We have been working with Mr Spence and The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa for many years now and are so proud to have the property as a member. The Marcliffe Hotel will be missed when it closes, it has brought so much joy to so many all these years, we thank Mr Spence, his family and team for giving us all the opportunity to enjoy this outstanding property and experience such high quality of service.
The award reflects a lifetime devoted to hospitality and is a small token of appreciation considering all that Mr Spence brought to the area and to the industry.
Well done Stewart Spence, we could not be happier for you.
We are delighted to announce that Connoisseurs Scotland has a new member: Tennents Whisky Beer. This high-end product developed by Tennent Caledonian at the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow is produced using whisky-flavoured woodchips.
The product targets a discerning audience and is a celebration of over 125 years of history and heritage.
Watch the video “The making of a legend” to learn more about this very special product and keep an eye on our newsfeed for more news ahead! http://ow.ly/uHZJD
The Glasshouse has been awarded their Visit Scotland 5 star status again for 2014, in recognition of an exceptional standard of facilities and services.
Well done to the team behind this outstanding hotel located in the heart of Edinburgh and right next to the Playhouse theatre. The property has Edinburgh’s only rooftop garden offering unparalleled views over the City and is one of the most popular venues for weddings in the capital.
If you haven’t been to the Glasshouse recently, drop by to see the result of their work and celebrate their achievement!
We are very excited about Cromlix‘s opening on April 1st 2014. The property owned by tennis player Andy Murray is managed by Inverlochy Castle Management International and is one of the most anticipated luxury hotel opening of the year.
The property which is already fully booked for the Ryder cup, has gone through a £2 million makeover last year and is expected to bring a lot of international tourists to the area.
It has 10-bedrooms and five suites, each of which will be named after famous Scots such as Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Robert Burns, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Chris Hoy.
Several of the suites will feature hand-painted freestanding gold, silver and copper baths and the rooms’ 32in televisions screens are disguised as mirrors.
We are proud to have Cromlix as a member of Connoisseurs Scotland and can’t wait to see the results of the renovation when it opens.
Exciting news for Kinloch Lodge Hotel: New Torabhaig whisky distillery will open in the Isle of Skye
A new malt distillery is going to open in the Isle of Skye. Only the second in the Island!
Construction work is supposed to begin this summer, with whisky set to be produced by the end of 2015.
Now Kinloch Lodge Hotel guests will have yet another reason to visit the area, news about the new distillery has caused great excitement in the food & drinks industry considering this is a traditional distillery that will greatly benefit the area.
There could not be a better time for the project, there has been a 60% increase in whisky exports since 2000, the whisky industry has never grown faster.
We look forward to visiting the distillery when it’s open!
This May, Connoisseurs Scotland properties will toast Scotland’s national drink in a month-long, countrywide celebration deemed “Whisky Month.” As part of this initiative of Visit Scotland’s “Homecoming Scotland 2014,” hundreds of events will be held across the country; Connoisseurs Scotland members will proudly showcase their unique whisky offerings as well as their luxury accommodations.
Kicking off the celebration a few days early, The Royal Scotsman train is offering a five-day, four-night Classic Whisky Journey that departs on April 28. In association with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the United Kingdom’s only luxury sleeper train will take 36 guests on a Scotch whisky adventure across Scotland. Roundtrip from Edinburgh Waverly Station, passengers will experience private distillery tours and whisky tastings at both Glen Ord and Tullibardine distilleries. They’ll also visit Glenlivet Distillery, home of the iconic malt that inspired the Speyside region (home to the most distilleries in the country). A special component of this trip is entry to the vaults at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith. Rates for this journey start at $6,530 per person.
Whisky aficionados around the globe flock to the Road Hole Bar at The Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews. Boasting a selection of more than 300 whiskies representing every operational distillery in Scotland, the hotel even has its own label malt, “The Old Course Malt Tullibardine Oak Aged.” Bordering the 17th “Road Hole” of the world’s most famous golf course, the 144-bedroom luxury resort also features a tasting room, which plays host to private whisky tastings. As a special touch in the evenings, “whisky turndown” service is available, with a miniature Old Course Hotel whisky, shortbread and chocolate.
Not only does Cameron House on Loch Lomond feature a whisky bar, the Great Scots Bar, but the luxury property also boasts its own whisky ambassador, whose sole job it is to raise appreciation for the malt. The bar has a selection of more than 270 whiskies, including 17 limited editions and one made especially for Cameron House. For a personal touch, visitors may purchase a “whisky locker” at Cameron House, customized with their name. A key to the locker will await guests at check-in so their preferred whisky can be enjoyed as they settle in to their accommodations. Several of the luxury suites at Cameron House are themed after particular Scottish malt whiskies, each bearing the name of a whisky as well as artwork associated with the malt.
Boath House, located in the heart of the Malt Whisky Trail, offers easy access to a selection of some of
the finest whisky-producing distilleries in the world. More than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries are located throughout the picturesque Speyside region, making Boath House a central luxury accommodation for visitors. In addition to 20 acres of gardens and Michelin-star dining, the mansion features an intimate area in the library where overnight guests are invited to sample a selection of fine and rare malt whiskies. Boath House and two other Connoisseurs Scotland properties – Rocpool Reserve Hotel & Chez Roux and The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa – are located within an easy drive of Glenmorangie Distillery, which offers tours as well as private tastings with an expert guide.
One of the best – and safest – ways to enjoy a whisky adventure in Scotland is via chauffeur-driven car. With a fleet of the latest luxury vehicles driven by full-time, experienced chauffeurs, Connoisseurs Scotland partner Little’s Chauffeur Drive offers a whisky tour itinerary that covers the five main regions renowned for whisky-making: the Highlands, Speyside, the Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown. A personal chauffeur will handle all the driving, leaving guests free to indulge and sample the very best that Scotland has to offer. Little’s can also assist in making hotel reservations and other details during the planning stages of a trip to the country.
A holiday agency has conducted the biggest ever survey of the UK’s travel journalists to find their favourite cities, countries, beach resorts and airlines. The result did not surprise us!
The Hebrides was listed No 3 favourite UK travel destination and if the cities were removed, the Hebrides would be the favourite!
With white sand beaches, rugged moors and jagged peaks, the Hebrides are indeed very special, not only for its scenery but also for its friendly people and rich history.
If you haven’t had the chance to see the BBC documentary series Hebrides: Islands on the Edge we recommend you to watch it to see a little bit of the Islands’ varied wildlife and natural beauty. It’s an inspiring location for photographers and fine artists who come from all over the world to capture the best the Islands have to offer.
If you’re a book lover the annual Hebridean Book Festival, the Faclan is a must. The festival brings together readers and world-class authors in an inspiring Hebridean setting.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh has launched an interesting new campaign to attract wine, beer and gin lovers visiting the capital.
The campaign is called “Social Hour” and offers guests a selection of award-winning wines, premium beers such as St. Mungo’s from WEST Brewery in Glasgow and Innis & Gunn beers which feature a variety of finishes and a range of Scottish gins including Caoruun, Hendrick’s, The Botanist and Darnley’s View.
It’s a great opportunity for enjoy the lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere of One Square whilst trying a few special drinks, a number of them produced in Scotland.
Sheraton Social Hour tastings take place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 6pm and 8pm.
Some of our recommendations:
- Have a look at the canal when it freezes over, it’s a stunning sight and great opportunity for some quality photos.
- Enjoy drinking mulled wine and the festive atmosphere of Edinburgh’s Christimas market.
- Visit Inverleith Park and the old town for some pretty special pictures of Edinburgh’s blue skies during winter.
- Go to the ballet.
- Take the opportunity to spend a whole evening at one of Edinburgh’s Michelin-starred restaurants, there is nothing like a memorable dining experience when it’s cold outside.
- Go to the shops not to shop but to enjoy the buzz and check what the designer shops have prepared for the festive season. Some of the stores are look gorgeous this time of the year.
And above all, enjoy Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels and the events and activities they have prepared for you during winter!
We always get excited when Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels are recognised by the industry through awards. The last few months have been very important because a number of Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels have received some of the top awards in the industry. Amongst their competition were some of the very best hotels in the UK and in some cases, the world.
As well as awards, Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels have been in the list of recommended hotels by a number of well-known international publications as well. More and more both the Industry and Media professionals are recognising Scotland as an important international destination and luxury hotels in Scotland as examples of quality in high end hospitality.
To mention a few:
One of the latest awards was received by Inverlochy Castle Hotel at the Annual Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence. Inverlochy Castle has been awarded Best Destination Hotel, along renowned luxury hotels such as Coworth Park a member of the Dorchester Collection and Limewood Hotel, both in England.
Stobo Castle Health Spa has been awarded ‘Readers’ spa of the year: Scotland’ by The Good Spa Guide, competing with the best spas in Scotland such as The Carrick Spa at Cameron House Hotel, The Spa at Turnberry Resort and Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel. They were also amongst the nominated to the national award competing with renowned luxury hotels such as Armathwaite Hall in Cumbria and Lucknam Park Hotel in Wiltshire.
Gleneagles Hotel has received enormous amount of recognition this year. ‘Best Golf Resort in the World’ at the prestigious 2013 Daily Telegraph Ultra Travel Awards for the second year running, Best UK Luxury Resort Spa at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2013, Best of the Best Family Programme at Virtuoso 2013 which took place in the USA, Best British Fixer at the Conde Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2013, amongst others.
Kinloch Lodge has deservedly received enormous attention from both the industry and the Media, featured by the Sunday Times as one of Britain’s best remote hotels, number 1 of The Independent‘s 10 Best Autumn activity breaks, recommended by The Guardian as one of their Top 10 hotel restaurants in the UK and by The Telegraph, it also retained its Michelin star and Brazilian chef Marcello Tully has been invited to do wonderful charity work overseas which was also covered by The Herald Scotland.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa was awarded Scotland’s Leading Hotel in the World Travel Awards 2013. The Atholl in Edinburgh was in Conde Nast’s HOT LIST 2013, as one of the best in the world, amongst some of the most luxurious venues in the planet. The Torridon Hotel was nominated Hotel of the Year at the respected Cateys Award 2013, again, competing with two fantastic English venues: Gravetye Manor in Sussex and The Pig in Hampshire.
The Airds Hotel and Restaurant was awarded three new AArosettes this year as well and as if all this recognition wasn´t enough, as many of you know, Lonely Planet has listed Scotland as the 3rd best country to visit and Edinburgh Castle was awarded top UK Heritage Attraction for the second year in a row, at the British Travel Awards 2013.
Well done to all hotels and staff, we look forward to even more celebrations and recognition to the hotels next year.
Although around 5 million people live in Scotland, it is estimated that over 50 million people all over the world can claim Scottish ancestry. 19% of ancestral tourists in Scotland come from the US, 15% come from Canada and 13% come from Australia, we welcome a large number of visitors to Scotland who have a strong connection to Scottish culture and heritage.
Luxury Scotland has once again partnered with Visit Scotland in a global celebration of Scotland’s heritage and ancestry. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is the ideal opportunity for people from all over the world to learn about their family roots. Genealogy activities will play a big part in tourist expenditure, local hotels, businesses and travel operators must be ready to inform visitors.
In 2014 Scotland will also be the host of two important international sporting events – the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup. Special events celebrating all things Scottish will take place all over Scotland, from food and drink festivals to art exhibitions and walks. Once again we are preparing ourselves not only to a great boost in the country’s economy but a significant positive impact in the local economy as well.If 2013 has been a positive one so far, 2014 will be even better!
Connoisseurs Scotland Hotels will be welcoming tourists all over the world preparing unique activities and packages to encourage visitors to explore the best of Scotland whilst learning more about their ancestors and family’s history.
If Scotland runs through your veins, this is the time for you to make special plans to return to your ancestral home and enrich your life with knowledge and experiences to pass on to generations to come.
Visit our website to see some of the special itineraries we have created for visitors to experience the best of Scotland according to their interests.
We look forward to seeing you all!
We often write about current themes, events and unique experiences one can have in Scotland. But we don’t always share with you our very own personal experiences as regular guests traveling around Scotland.
Every so often one of us working behind the scenes of Connoisseurs Scotland will open the book of our personal experiences and share with you a little chapter. To help you weave a tartan of imagery and feelings brought by this beautiful country we live in and the wonderful places available for us all to visit.
My Luxury Scotland begins at One Devonshire Gardens Hotel in Glasgow, at the Balfour room with memories of a special Christmas lunch almost one month before Christmas. Staff were like no other, bringing a Christmas tree to the bedroom and preparing a Christmas menu so I could celebrate it before spending Christmas overseas. The journey then develops into a sunny day and a beautiful scenic drive from Glasgow to Inverness via Loch Ness, arriving at Rocpool Reserve Hotel & Chez Roux to have spa treatments in my bedroom followed by a relaxing bath in an outdoor private jacuzzi, ending with my first encounter with Chef Albert Roux’s Souffle Suisesse: Still my favourite dish of all times.
My Luxury Scotland is a mid-week break at the Boath House during Spring, listening to the owner herself and staff preparing the breakfast table in a bright private sitting room just outside the room and leaving a stunning breakfast ready to be enjoyed. One of the most romantic scenes any guest can experience. It was also a long 5 hour drive to the Pool House in Poolewe, going through some of the most beautiful and dramatic vistas in Europe, arriving at a hotel that made me feel like reaching home and being surrounded by family, staying at a glorious and lavish bedroom full of antiques (where Brad Pitt had stayed a short time before!), waking up with the sound of otters and seals by the window and making new friends while having superb wine and food in the company of unassuming ultra-wealthy strangers.
My Luxury Scotland is driving to Inverlochy Castle and stopping the car on the driveway, dumbfounded , just to admire its beauty before finally being greeted by the friendliest and most welcoming staff. It’s staying in the bedroom Queen Victoria stayed and for a moment imagining what it would have been like, years back when past was present. It’s finding the best friend of a cousin I never met as one of the waiters and learning about past guests that visited the hotel every year for over 15 years until they unfortunately passed due to old age.
My Luxury Scotland is seeing and being amazed at the size of a Russian Red King crab at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa in Aberdeen. It’s having a sports massage that took me all the way to the shores of Thailand and reaching my car 3 steps away from a private door to my bedroom. It’s also watching a seaplane land on Loch Lomond after watching golfers play golf from a breathtaking rooftop outdoor jacuzzi at the Carrick Spa at Cameron House on Loch Lomond. It’s tasting Martin Wishart’s art in the form of dishes and being followed by ducks on my way to a bedroom so big that it took me 8 steps to reach the bathroom.
My Luxury Scotland is also the habit of stopping by The House of Bruar every time I drive by it to stock up on Swiss chocolate that usually finishes before I reach home. It’s to be amazed at the quality and variety of local products and spending more than I should on them.
These are just chapters of a thick book of luxury Scotland memories and experiences made all the more precious by the hotels we work with and their staff.
Luxury is personal to all of us and it comes in different forms, sometimes they are moments sometimes they are experiences, this is a glimpse of what luxury scotland means to one of us.
Last weekend most of the country stopped to watch Wimbledon’s men final. Facebook reported more than 20 million posts, comments and “likes” relating to the competition and once again for a short while, Scotland and its people became the subject of conversations all over the world.
So what does Andy’s victory mean to Scotland and tourism?
Andy Murray is more than one of the world’s best tennis players (according to Ivan Lendl, he really is the best tennis player in the world now), he is a reflection of Scotland’s culture and national identity. From his background in Dunblane and overcoming adversity to the closeness to his mother Judy, Andy is the every day Scot who’s made it big with sheer determination (and a little bit of help from luck, what happens when “preparation meets opportunity”).
Andy’s victory means a lot to Scotland, on a historic level and on an emotional level as well, numerous tweets and facebook posts expressed the public opinion, “a Scotsman lent to England for one of Wimbledon’s most historic matches”, “he is British now, he will go back to being Scottish after the win”. Timing is a very important factor, a time when Scotland is more than ever working towards independence, the Year of Natural Scotland when we celebrate all that is Scottish: the culture, the history, the wildlife, the art, the scenery, the people who made and make history.
Andy’s victory is the cherry on the cake for The Year of Natural Scotland. It’s a representation of all that we are proud about Scotland and what we want the international community to remember us by: A country of great actors (represented by the focus the Media has given to Gerard Butler at the final), of great inventors as well as great sportsmen. Andy being the latest and currently most important one.
We also need to remember that Andy now has a luxury hotel in Scotland, Cromlix, opening in April 2014. It’s the perfect circle, Wimbledon has given international recognition to Scotland’s athletes as well as Scottish hospitality. The hotel was being mentioned again in articles all over the globe, bringing attention to Scotland as a destination, now more than just beautiful, we dare to say fashionable.
Wimbledon’s result means a lot to Scotland’s tourism sector and to the next generation of sports talents. We are proud of Andy and we congratulate him for his well deserved achievement, but we also congratulate Scotland as a nation for believing in itself and for being delighted to share its best fruits with the global audience.
We can’t wait for Cromlix to open and we hope the excitement brought by Wimbledon lasts for years to come!
Have you ever fallen in love with a building?
Buildings carry the history and heritage of the location where they are built. They interact with the landscape and when they become part of our life, we develop a relationship with them. Buildings are the background of memories, they give us both protection from the weather and privacy but they also give us great inspiration. Our home is a reflection of who we are. A country’s buildings are the reflection of its culture.
Scotland is mostly known for so many things. Our heritage, our history, our scenery, our larder, our inventors and people. The great majority of visitors don’t come to Scotland in search of buildings like so many do when visiting Prague or Rome. But once in Scotland, very soon visitors realise what a rich architectural history we have. So many different styles of buildings share the same space, each representing a different era and our different needs and influences throughout history.
Scottish castles were built to protect, Palladian mansions were built to boast wealth and entertain whilst urban housing narrate the story of Scotland’s middle and working classes. Edinburgh Georgian terraces, tower-blocks, Glasgow tenement flats, urban gardens, churches and kirks, each and every building has a story to tell. They reflect our rich history and our ability to preserve and interact with the past by adding layers to old buildings and bringing them to the present.
For the architecture lover, we recommended buildings such as Glasgow School of Art, The House for an Art Lover, Hill House, The Burrell Collection, The Lighthouse in Glasgow, Glasgow city chambers, Bute House, The Scottish Parliament, Duff House, Haddo House, The Scottish National Gallery, Clyde Auditorium, McManus Galleries, Glamis Castle, Culzean Castle and Hopetoun House amongst many. There are some incredibly beautiful modern buildings in Scotland, many of them have won international awards, take your time to discover hidden gems as well as famous buildings.
Learn about their history and you will learn more about us!
It seems that nature and wildlife have decided to encourage our appreciation for ‘The year of natural Scotland’ by providing us with a few unique opportunities!
A couple of weeks ago a walrus has turned up on the shoreline of North Ronaldsay in Orkney, experts say this is a very special and unique occasion since they don’t usually appear that far south of the North Pole and Arctic Ocean.
Locals used to seeing whales and seals were ecstatic to see the healthy new visitor and a number of tourists have traveled to the area to have the chance to see Mr Walrus.
A higher number of barnacle geese has been spotted in many of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s 120 reserves around Scotland (a number of them close to Connoisseurs Scotland hotels), and more and more images of thriving Scottish wildlife have popped up all over social media platforms this winter.
The Year of Natural Scotland is in full swing!
If you have had the chance to capture a special image of Scottish wildlife this winter, remember that entries for this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards are now open! The BWPA is open to all photographers practising in the UK, amateur or professional.
If you are on facebook yourself and enjoy seeing freshly taken images of Scotland’s scenery and wildlife in your newsfeed, we recommend you to check these pages:
There are very few things that feel more special than actually seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, get out there with or without camera and make these special memories happen!