Image Credit: Visit Britain
It’s time to see your Scottish sales grow, says Joanna Booth
Whether you were fiercely pro-independence, or thought we were all better together, there’s one thing we can all agree on – there are plenty of reasons to head north of the border on holiday.
The referendum wasn’t the only thing that drew the world’s attention to Scotland this year. The Commonwealth Games showcased the charms of host city Glasgow and the Ryder Cup gave golfers a renewed reason to tee off at Gleneagles. So seize the moment and use Scotland’s time in the sunshine to grow your bookings there.
See a City
Once criminally underrated, Glasgow is currently enjoying the afterglow of the Commonwealth Games – see page 65 for our 48-hour guide to making the most of the city as a weekend break destination.With its grand Georgian streets overlooked by a gothic castle, Edinburgh has an established reputation with tourists based on its good looks and cultural heritage.
SuperBreak features 230 hotels in Scotland – 70 of which are in Edinburgh – that can be packaged with attractions or excursions, train travel or theatre tickets – Wicked will hit the Edinburgh Playhouse from November 19 until January 10. Two nights at the three-star Piries Hotel with breakfast and return rail tickets from London starts from £115.
Osprey Holidays offers three-night weekend breaks including flights – options include the three-star Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront, Leith, from £180 with flights from Gatwick, or the five-star Balmoral Hotel, from £450 with flights from Stansted. The operator is based in the city, and marketing executive Sarah Black recommends getting off the beaten track and enjoying the boutiques and bars of Stockbridge, and heading to the beach – Cramond, Gullane and Yellowcraigs get her vote.
Scotland’s cities are fascinating, but it’s the awe-inspiring country landscapes that get the gasps when it comes to views.Amazing Venues offers truly aristocratic properties where clients can imagine they’re lairds and ladies.
The 500-year-old granite walls of Ackergill Tower stand in a 3,000-acre private estate near Wick, with a beach – think Rib rides or bonfires with whisky – and a loch for trout fishing.
Kinnettles Castle is easier to access – just 20 minutes from Dundee, and sits in landscaped gardens and parkland where clients can try falconry and clay-pigeon shooting. Stays per night including breakfast for two start from £245 and £175 respectively.
If budgets won’t stretch to castles, there’s still plenty of choice – and there’s little more romantic than holing up in a cottage in the country. There seems to be magic at work at Snookies Cottage – the first guests who stayed there got engaged.
Little wonder – this 300-year-old, white-washed, one-bedroom hideaway is set in a small glen next to a stream on the outskirts of Drumnadrochit, a Highland village on the western shore of Loch Ness. It’s just one of Cottages4You’s 2,000 options in Scotland, and starts from £295 for seven nights in November.
Hoseasons’ luxury Autograph range is well-suited to relaxing stays. Contemporary-styled cottages at Kessock Highland Lodges come with hot tubs and outdoor decking, and lead in at £383 for a three-night weekend or four-night weekday break.
SuperBreak has a range of country hotels, from former coaching inns near the Cairngorms to loch-side properties with spa facilities, such as the Loch Fyne Hotel in Inverary. A two-night Pamper Yourself break here starts from £193, including three treatments and use of the spa facilities.
With more than 550 courses Scotland has a strong claim to the ‘home of golf’ title. Those inspired by Europe’s Ryder Cup glory can follow in their footsteps and play the PGA Centenary Course – just one of three at the Gleneagles Hotel set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside.
Clients who want to try a few courses in high style can book next year’s four-night Classic Golf Tour, travelling on the UK’s only luxury sleeper train, Belmond Royal Scotsman. Departing Edinburgh on September 24 and playing three courses, as well as visiting castles and whisky distilleries, fully-inclusive prices start from £5,350.
For those who think of golf as a good walk spoiled, Scotland’s landscapes provide ample opportunity to stretch the legs, from short walks – Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh – to challenging, remote terrain.
Wilderness Walking can tailor-make options for all abilities – a six-night trip with a combination of hill, glen and coastal walks in the northwest Highlands staying in a four-star guest house in Ullapool starts from £895.
Hoseasons has four of its Go Active parks in Scotland, where clients can have a go at activities ranging from archery to zorbing.
At Piperdam, which sits in 500 acres of Angus countryside outside Dundee, options range from the novel – Seascooters, raft-building, crossbows, 4×4 safaris – to the classic, including a heated pool, tennis, and a golf course and driving range.
Haven has two Scottish parks; Seton Sands, 20 minutes outside Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth, and Craig Tara. This Ayrshire park’s indoor pool complex has just undergone extensive refurbishment, with a new toddlers’ pool, multi-lane slide, flume rides and water jets. Plus, there’s a nine-hole golf course, and an indoor sports complex.
Take a Tour
With so many highlights to choose from, it’s little wonder many take a tour. Grand UK, the over-55s specialist, has new trips going high and low – two eight-day trips visit the north (Scottish Highland Explorer, from £579, and Orkneys & John O’Groats, from £599), plus Scottish Borders Inclusive, which visits Edinburgh, Ayrshire and Loch Lomond over a week, from £439.
Shearings is introducing two itineraries for 2015: Aberdeen and Ballindalloch Castle, which includes the chance to learn the art of whisky cask making at Speyside Cooperage (five days, from £249), and Fort William, Sky and Eilean Donan Castle, which visits Broadford, the home of Drambuie, and the Ben Nevis Distillery (eight days, from £464).
Scotland’s railways are iconic and inspiring. A trip on the Kyle Line, which snakes down the west coast with views of the Isle of Skye, 35 years ago was enough to make the owner of Railtrail set up as an operator.
Scotland is still a key destination, with a range of trips, including the entry-level four-day Highland Rail Voyager, which includes a journey on the Kyle Line. The holiday also includes three nights at the Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness and two rail excursions and starts from £295.
Great Rail Journeys also has a wide portfolio in Scotland, with some tours pairing train rides with cruises, both up to Orkney, Shetland, the Faroes and Lewis, and around the rugged west coast and on the Caledonian canal.
Don’t believe the deep-fried Mars bar myth – Scotland has some of the finest and freshest ingredients in the world, and you can find cuisine that makes the most of it. New from Rabbie’s Small Group Tours is a Foodies Tour of Scotland (three nights, from £535), which takes clients to a Highland Cattle breeder, for oysters at Loch Fyne, and to the Cairngorm Brewery. The operator has also introduced a Discover Malt Whisky day tour (£28), which leaves from Edinburgh and visits three distilleries. Slainte!
Join the Party
Choose an event to suit, and your client has the perfect excuse for a holiday.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual event running throughout August where military bands and display teams from all over the world perform on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. Leger offers a five-day trip that combines a visit to the Tattoo with time enjoying Stirling and the beautiful scenery of the Trossachs, from £469.
Going away can take the stress out of the festive period, and SuperBreak has a range of seasonal packages. Clients could hide out at Skeabost Hotel on the Isle of Skye, a former hunting lodge with a trout-fishing river, a billiard room and a wide selection of malts (from £210 per person for a three-night Christmas package), or take the whole family to Academy Hotel in Aviemore.
The three-night package starts from £384.50 per person, and includes trips to a water park and activity centre, a pantomime, and a visit from Santa and a real reindeer on Christmas Day. Bedrooms sleep up to four.
Younger clients who want to experience Edinburgh’s legendary New Year’s Eve can book a four-day Hogmanay in Scotland trip with G Adventures, from £519, which includes hostel accommodation and entrance to the street party
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