Perthshire is home to many luxury tourism providers that have welcomed visitors for decades, if not centuries. In recent years, the county has seen an increase in the number and
As well as bringing a decadent choice of hotel rooms, self-catering options and even the new glamping experience, each one is unique in its own way, with independent operators looking to set themselves apart from the more traditional short-break and holiday accommodation.
Perthshire is the ideal area in which to base a tourism business. It’s well-connected by road, rail and air, it’s famously picturesque in all seasons, and there’s a huge number of activities for visitors, including golf, water sports, hill-walking and mountaineering, shopping, or dining out in “Scotland’s larder”.
These six businesses, all recently launched or redeveloped, demonstrate the breadth of options available and why Perthshire’s the perfect place to run a luxury tourism business.
Silverwood, at Inchcoonans in the Carse of Gowrie, is a luxury lettings, weddings, and investment resort situated on a 20-acre plot. Owned by Adelle and Rod Sim, the resort has been developed over a four-year period and offers 19 luxury bespoke lodges, with a luxury bistro launching imminently.
When the couple had their own wedding at nearby Errol Park, although they had a wonderful experience, they realised that there was a lack of sufficient good-quality accommodation in the area for all of their wedding party. “The idea of a luxury resort offering superb self-catering accommodation for short breaks and exclusive-use weddings formed in our minds,”says Rod.
“Where you stay as a guest is all part of the overall experience. We knew our land enjoyed a beautiful setting here in the Carse of Gowrie; it was tranquil with its own wildlife pond, yet only minutes from both Dundee and Perth,” adds Rod. “It was just too good an opportunity to miss.”
The couple plans to offer additional lodges for investment, to build on their wedding businessand to host larger weddings themselves in a bespoke marquee. “The recent opening of the V&A in Dundee is good for local trade, as there will be a surge in demand for local accommodation. Recent reports suggest that luxury resort parks are very vibrant at the moment, and we agree, with a number of investors waiting to sign missives on lodge sales as managed financial investments with a great return.”
Errichel House & Restaurant, near Aberfeldy, combines luxury accommodation with an award-winning dining experience.
The business is the labour of love of Rebecca and Paul Newman, who met while working at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh. Paul was an executive chef with Hilton; Rebecca worked for the group in HR. After marrying and starting a family, they jumped at the chance to let a property on Rebecca’s parents’ Perthshire farm. “Initially we ran the holiday cottages, but the aim was always to launch an integrated sustainable farming and hospitality business.”
Thyme at Errichel is now a Scottish Food & Drink Award winner 2018, and the business won the tourism category in the inaugural Helping it Happen awards, run by Scottish Land & Estates.
As well as the main house and the restaurant, the business offers holiday cottages, weddings, events, small conferences, private dining, outside catering, cookery school courses, farm walks and a farm shop.
For the Newmans, a combination of factors makes Perthshire appealing. “We’ve been very lucky with staff, with strong local talent. There’s an undoubted appeal in the quality of life here in Perthshire, the local nurseries and schools are excellent, and we’re surrounded by beautiful countryside.”
While the farm looks out over the stunning Perthshire scenery, Edinburgh and Glasgow are both within a 90-minute drive, and many of the guests come from central Scotland.
Perthshire’s enviable reputation as a food and drink producer is also key to their success. “What we don’t produce ourselves, we do our best to source from other local producers,” says Rebecca.
“We want to expand again this year,” Rebecca says, “and give more visitors a chance to find a space in their otherwise hectic lives to reconnect with nature and enjoy the tranquillity.”
Nestling in the dramatic Perthshire landscape, Dunkeld House Hotel is a beautiful Scottish country hotel enjoying stunning views. The hotel, which has a mile-long drive, overlooks the wide and fast-flowing River Tay, renowned for its salmon fishing.
Surrounded with beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and on the banks of the River Tay, Dunkeld House Hotel is perfectly situated to enjoy everything Perthshire has to offer.
Located close to the A9 and with a railway station nearby, Dunkeld is within easy reach of Perth and Dundee, as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports.
Resort General Manager John Shevlin says, “Our four-star country house hotel sits in 280 acres of well-maintained and natural woodland, so our guests can enjoy walks along part of the historic General Wade’s road or fish in the River Tay with Salmon Fishing Scotland. For those who prefer a bit of adrenalin, Dunkeld House Hotel works closely with local companies Land Rover Experience, County Clays and Nae Limits.”
“With several recent awards from the Scottish Hotel Awards under our belt, as Regional Winner for Central and Fife for Spa Hotel, Classic Hotel Bar, Large Conference Hotel, Large Events Hotel and Operations Manager, we are looking forward to the finals this April,” says John.
“Having recently completed a multi-million-pound renovation across the 98-bedroom hotel, health club and spa, we are constantly striving to provide the best service and accommodation. Our seven individual event spaces and dedicated events team make us a desirable location for MICE as well as leisure markets, with many clients returning for the best taste of Scottish hospitality.
“With exciting plans ahead, Dunkeld House Hotel and the award-winning team are looking forward to continuing our success.”
The Old Manse of Blair is a boutique hotel and restaurant in the heart of Highland Perthshire that combines traditional elegance with modern luxury. Recently refurbished by its new owners, the beautiful listed mansion is also available on an exclusive-use basis, making it a popular venue for a wedding or corporate event.
Owner Anne Macdonald says, “This venue is perfect for bringing everyone together for celebrations, spending time with family, corporate events or for visitors from overseas looking for an authentic luxury travel experience.” The new restaurant, The Orangery, launched on 31st March and is under the leadership of Jonathan Greer, formally of The Gleneagles Hotel and Ballathie House.
The Old Manse is perfectly located in Highland Perthshire between two five-star visitor attractions: historic Blair Castle and shopping/dining destination House of Bruar. It is the perfect place to try the region’s outdoor activities, including golf, Munro-bagging, 4×4 off-roading, canyoning or quad-biking. Blair Atholl is an excellent base for winter sports in the Cairngorm National Park, making it a perfect year-round destination.
“Blair Atholl Station is a stop for the Caledonian Sleeper, and visitors love the fact they can board the train in London at 9pm, and wake in the Highlands for breakfast and a full day of adventure,” adds Anne.
Perthshire is home to many high-quality local suppliers and Anne always uses other local businesses where possible. “We work with a local company for our catering, and all the flowers are supplied by a local florist,” she says.
“We set out to find somewhere to raise our family in a rural location, where we could also establish a successful business,” says Anne. “Highland Perthshire has proved to be the answer to both requirements.”
The Old Manse has already featured in Vogue, and Anne is now working closely with TayScreen to explore other options as a location or a film/TV set. The redevelopment of their new Orangery has also added more space for events, including special parties or intimate weddings.
In September 2013, Chris and Rachel Rowley were balancing the running of Edinburgh’s first at-home supper club with their busy careers. Following the club’s success, Chris left his job to cook with The Gardener’s Cottage. From there, he attended the Leith School of Food and Wine, then worked in London as a private chef.
When Chris and Rachel started a family, they decided to leave London and establish their own restaurant in order to explore the best in food, wine and hospitality. So Ballintaggart was born, offering: two guest bedrooms with stunning local views, a “library” that can seat ten for dinner, and a kitchen garden. They also offer outside catering for local businesses and private bookings.
“We saw Ballintaggart Farm advertised and came straight up for a viewing. It – and Perthshire – captured our hearts and imagination at first sight,” explains Chris. “Highland Perthshire has always been part of the real attraction. The quality of life here is fantastic, especially for kids, and there are lots of families like us, with young children and their own businesses. It’s also great for connectivity. Attracting chefs is easier when they discover Edinburgh and Glasgow are less than an hour by road.”
Around one-third of guests to Ballintaggart journey from London. “Many travel up on the sleeper from Euston. We can meet them off the train at Pitlochry and transfer them to the Farm. They are here in time for breakfast and can then enjoy a day on the hills before dinner.
“In our kitchen garden we grow about a quarter of our salad and vegetables. We are alsoincredibly fortunate with the local larder here, and source all our meat, fish and poultry from local farms. Everything we serve is local, seasonal and fresh.”
Another nearby cottage was converted in summer 2018, and when Grandtully Hotel came on the market last year, Chris and Rachel bought and transformed it with Chris’ brother, who will run it and who has worked in hospitality for many years.
Chris says, “It’s always been about building a long-term home here, and a reputation for a high-quality product that is backed by personal attention to detail and standards that are maintained day after day.”
Taymouth Marina is a luxury resort situated on Loch Tay, one of Perthshire’s most popular and beautiful stretches of water. The development comprises seven one-bedroom apartments, three two-bedroom apartments and 11 terraced townhouses. Taymouth Marina also boasts Scotland’s first award-winning lochside sauna (complete with a slide into the loch!) and the Scottish Crannog Centre.
Taymouth Marina’s general manager, Angus Mackay, explains: ‘’Perthshire is such a beautiful location and the people we get visiting us here often tell us that they never want to leave. Well, now you have a chance to own your view. The properties are ideal for people wanting that holiday home to escape from the city. We get families, couples and regular holiday-makers visiting us.”
There is a £15-million development plan underway that began in 2017 and includes the addition of a 40-bedroom hotel. ‘’We are thrilled that the latest stage of our overall development has finished,” says Angus. “Now we want to share [the properties] with people who love Perthshire as much as we do. They are an ideal investment opportunity. We fully manage the properties, so the option of buying it and renting out is one to be considered.’’
Future plans at Taymouth Marina also include adding an activities centre to the current array of water sports, helping make it a resort in its own right.