Top tips to experience the Scottish Highlands this winter

There are endless reasons to book a week’s stay in a holiday cottage in the Scottish Highlands this winter. Firstly, it is guaranteed to warm your soul. (And that’s without topping up the wood-burning stove with a healthy supply of logs.) A country Estate in the heart of the Highlands is the most perfect way to start to make the most of your short break in Scotland’s Loch Ness. It really is the most peaceful and beautiful region. All the more when it comes complete with a private hire castle and four traditional Loch Ness holiday cottages.

We guide you to the best place to visit for a cup of hot chocolate, the finest whisky distilleries and the most bracing walks and breath-taking landscapes. Read on for some of the Highlands’ most favoured highlights in the most renowned locations.

The Isle of Skye - Scottish Highlands

Explore the Isle of Skye

As with any scenic and popular holiday destination, locals are proud of this area of Scotland. So, before sinking into a deep hot bath or curling up on the sofa with Harry Potter, be sure to plan your short break itinerary. Make the most of local knowledge and put your time to good use. In your ‘top five’ places to see we suggest you include the tranquil and mesmerising Isle of Skye.

This remote part of Scotland is a perfect trip to experience the most spectacular views of the Highlands. Skye is easily accessible from the Aldourie holiday cottages, as long as you don’t mind an early morning start. It is widely appreciated for its rugged landscape, historic castles and pretty fishing villages. Tip: jump in the car at day break to make the most of the three hour journey.

Sights to make memories

Once you have arrived in the region, enjoy coastline walks and narrow lochs. Don’t forget to stop occasionally to admire Skye’s dramatic mountainous backdrop and wild, cascading waterfalls. During winter you would expect to come across an abundance of Highland cattle congregated between snow-capped peaks. And on the clearest of days you’d be enchanted by the view out across to the Outer Hebrides.

The Isle of Skye has fantastic colours that you can capture either with a camera and simply in memory. These sights may strike walkers, hikers and cyclists as ethereal and those of you driving may have to get out once in a while to let the air hit you and make you believe it. After embracing the magic of the highest points of Skye why not meander among the pastel-coloured houses of Portree where you can find a handful of traditional pubs full of Scottish character as well as a host of pretty clothes and gift boutiques.

Loch Lomond in Winter Scottish Highlands

Get up close to Loch Lomond

A trip to the Scottish Highlands would not be complete without taking the ‘low road’ to the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. This other famous loch is famed for its folklore, castles and golf – there’s no getting away from it up here. It’s central spot crossing the Highland border is also a pull for water sports, hiking and camping during winter short breaks in Scotland. Colder months showcase snow-capped peaks framing the famous lake which have given Loch Lomond legendary world-wide appeal. Its mysterious forests that weave through and cluster among the mountains have inspired many artists and songwriters over the years.

A must-see is Loch Lomond’s lively city life, which encapsulates a thriving food and drink scene. The famous Scottish landmark also features a variety of creative villages. We recommend a trip to Luss during a snowy winter; a traditional village whose steeple church and bridges would befit the front of a Christmas card.

A wintry setting

During winter, cloudless blue skies illuminate the pristine waters of Loch Lomond. Whether you’re on holiday for the challenging hikes or simply ambling along simple scenic trails there’s a winter walk perfect for you and your family or group of friends. There are a host of walks on the east or southern sides of the loch including Drymen and Balmaha. These have striking views and the promise of summer’s plentiful nature. Listen out for the characteristic call of the winter geese flying overhead in Trossachs National Park. Or take a trip to Stirling and the Forth Valley for its medieval Castle. And, of course, don’t forget to nip into MacGregor’s Market in Killin for a mug of scrumptious hot chocolate.

Luss scotland winter Scottish Highlands

Loch Ness

With such a scenic and adventure-filled itinerary for a cottage holiday in Scotland it may be easy to overlook your holiday location. We must not forget our own home in the Scottish Highlands, and so we invite you to explore the wonder of Loch Ness. Sail its vast open water and search for the legendary Monster. Or get up close and personal to the exclusive use property. Aldourie Castle, on the Loch Ness shoreline.

Its epic size and folklore sea creatures apart, Loch Ness has so much to offer the curious nature-loving tourist during winter. Some of the most famous whisky distilleries are based here – Glen Ord and Tomatin are among some of the best distilleries near Inverness. There are also exhilarating boat tours and picturesque woodland walks on your doorstep. The heart of Scotland’s culture is within serious striking distance. Are you planning to visit the Highlands to relax during January or February? We at Aldourie can suggest an endless array of villages and towns, each accommodating and friendly and worthy of a postcard home. Enter Beatrix Potter-style tearooms, gourmet restaurants and beautiful interior shops all awaiting your visit with service and a smile.

Quaint tourist towns

Beauly means ‘beautiful place’ and that is just what you’ll find only 20 minutes from any of the Scottish holiday cottages on Aldourie Castle Estate. Encounter a real feel of Scotland with a traditional Highland pipe band and quaint row of touristy shops. Take a break from shopping at Corner on the Square for a truly delicious sandwich and slice of homemade cake, then walk it off around the pretty Priory ruins.

Beauly Priory Scottish Highlands

Some of the best boat cruises on Loch Ness depart from Fort William. This quaint little place is itself an extremely scenic drive away from your base on Aldourie’s Scottish Highland Estate. So do the most bewitching winter walks that lead higher and higher into utter wilderness. You will find your local area around Dores Beach on Aldourie Estate housing a couple of traditional pubs ideally located for holiday cottage guests visiting Loch Ness. There’s no excuse not to pop in for a quick drink in traditional Scottish surroundings. And especially when the walk home looks out over the spectacular Highlands and a moonlit Loch Ness.


Yachting or boating on the Caledonian Canal Scotland

One of the best ways to truly experience the Scottish Highlands is to get out on a boat over the Caledonian Canal. The shimmering waters weave through these majestic hills and there’s so much to see and experience. The Caledonian Canal is 60 miles of fresh water just waiting to take you to sights you’ve only dreamed of. Twenty-two miles of this is a man made wide canal enabling inland sailing crossing the whole of Scotland. Four large lochs make up the remainder, one of which is Loch Ness. This memorable sightseeing ride is there for the taking. And if you already have yourself a yacht (or other means of water transport), so much the better…
boating on caledonian canal

We can give you a few ideas of what to see whilst yachting along the Caledonian Canal. And there is plenty to see and do both on and off the water.

Destination east

“A most enjoyable and life-changing experience during a holiday in Scotland”, according to many of our previous guests, is to take a trip to Moray Firth and visit the dolphins. Are you a yacht owner or have you hired a yacht whilst touring the Scottish Highlands? If so, you can easily head east from Inverness. Take in the striking and ethereal surroundings of the imposing wild hills as you go. Soon enough you will come across the peaceful scenery of Moray Firth. Here you can sail along beside the friendliest fish in the sea and the largest school of dolphins in the UK.

Destination south

If you decide to travel downwards from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands you will pass a host of cultural and scenic spots. These include the must-visit quaint village of Invergarry, home to Invergarry Castle amongst many other beautiful sights. Originally the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry (another Castle – at which you can also enjoy a delightful lunch), the Castle has a fascinating history. Its gothic façade makes even the least interested sight-seers want to roam around its evocative grounds.Golfing Near the Caledonian Canal Scotland

Stop for a spot of food and drink at a deli or brasserie in this charming village. Later, venture forth and sail your yacht further down the Caledonian Canal. Veer off slightly to the west before stopping at the famous Fort William. Known as the gateway to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, this lovely town is full of outdoor sport and beautiful yet challenging walking trails.

Destination north

Dornoch is just one of the championship golf courses in close proximity to Aldourie Castle in Inverness. It provides an opportunity to hone your golfing skills whilst holidaying in Scotland. Maybe you’re an experienced golfer and touring the Scottish Highlands by yacht to break up a golfing holiday. In this case, Royal Dornoch is definitely somewhere you want to stop off – or tee off!

Destination west

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Not until you reach Muir of Ord. This is again just one of many of its kind in Scotland; a whisky distillery with a name of prestigious heritage. Close by, and after a tasting of course, you may stumble upon Beauly. Enter a typical Highlands town complete with abbey ruins, quaint coffee shop-delis and stores with old-fashioned Highland quality and values. One such place is called Campbell’s, an outfitters which combines the tradition and warmth of a local shop with the quality of a high fashion befitting the Scottish gentry. It also offers a bespoke tailoring service – why not get fitted with gear for a shoot on one of the local Highland Estates?
Boatin on the Caledonian Canal Scotland

Take a break from the water

As you can see, there is more to the Scottish Highlands than simply taking – or trekking – the high road. From picture perfect villages with friendly locals to ancient ruins with their own ghosts of the past, a journey by yacht can expertly combine a luxurious five star holiday. Along the way enjoy random adventures at every turn culminating in memories to treasure. Here’s a thought: moor up your yacht at Aldourie’s private marina on Loch Ness and hire out this enchanting Castle for a couple of nights. Then set off to explore more of the famously impressive and innovative Caledonian Canal.


Daily flights from London to Inverness benefit Scottish tourism

This year has seen a tidal wave of new business come to Inverness through both leisure and corporate tourism. Since May 2016 Inverness airport has welcomed travellers from London Heathrow on a daily basis. The direct flight is a great benefit to corporate travellers who wish to commute to Scotland. This applies to travelers from London and from overseas. Aldourie Castle has been host to many American guests as a result of the convenient new flight. Guests see the advantage of a little longer airtime in order to experience the beautiful and wild Scottish Highlands and mesmerising Loch Ness.Looking over Loch Ness towards Aldourie Castle. Scottish Tourism at its Best.

British Airways decided to resume the daily flight to Inverness Airport, which is just outside of Aldourie Castle Estate. The journey originally stopped in 1997. Aldourie, for one, was extremely confident of the benefits to corporate travelers. They would have instant easy access to a location that is both versatile and spectacular; the Scottish Highlands. Ideal for corporate events and important business meetings, the Highlands is home to a few exclusive use country Estates. The benefits of such Estates include peaceful settings, striking backdrops, impressive facades,

Since May this year the direct flight linking London tourism to Scotland has operated as a year-round service. Its first flight of the day departs from Heathrow just before 10am with an afternoon flight from Inverness back to London.

This remains an exciting opportunity for Inverness, the Highlands’ capital, which already has a strong link to economy. The tourism offering in the Highlands can capitalise further from travelers flying in from overseas and London who previously may not have considered travelling up to Scotland before. Now they can hold their multi-generational family holiday, luxury Scottish holiday, annual corporate event or board of directors meeting up here.luxury bedroom Aldourie Loch Ness - Scottish Tourism

This new option available to both the leisure and business tourism markets diversifies the British hospitality scene in general. It also makes a location once considered unusual and possibly logistically complicated, on par with the more conventional locations. Move over popular high end, but predictable, venues in the UK.

What can a country estate offer overseas corporate clients?

Places like Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness can offer guests who have traveled by plane a change in scenery and culture. This, as we already know, can work wonders for holidaymakers. A conducive environment can help guests to relax, focus and put things in perspective. A business would benefit from this type of support from a corporate hospitality location or property.aldourie castle loch ness Scottish Tourism

Aldourie has spent time and effort in enticing London and overseas businesses to take advantage of the direct flight from Heathrow to Inverness. Both to encourage a more affluent hospitality business in the Highlands and a varied approach to luxury corporate travel. Meetings, events and client incentive stays are just some of the ways in which corporate guests can enjoy exclusive use stays in places like Aldourie. We have already seen an increase in interest from corporate clients. They are themselves interested in using the private hire Castle as a multi-functional business venue.


Holiday activities on Loch Ness: Part 2

Part 1; ‘Holiday activities on Loch Ness’ explored the various ways in which to take advantage of the famous stretch of water that makes up part of the captivating view from your luxury home for the holidays,  Aldourie Castle in Scotland. This second instalment continues your peaceful, always scenic and sometimes adventurous journey when you decide, as a group of guests at Aldourie, to utilise the unique and beautiful Scottish natural landscape that is – very literally – on your doorstep.

Work colleagues: unique teambuilding activities spark innovation

When did you last review your teambuilding calendar? Do you go back year on year to the same hotel for your teambuilding experience with your company or work colleagues? Here are two activities you can enjoy with team members on Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, both of which offer a completely unique experience of Loch Ness but let you enter into the spirit of teamwork, competition and fun all at the same time.Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Have you ever zorbed on water? Water zorbing is a (fairly) recent craze to hit the Highlands that involves walking on water (yes, you read correctly) in the safety – and dare we say, comfort – of a huge transparent ball.  Usually performed on flat ground but sometimes on a slope zorbing lets the rider experience the freedom of weightlessness and speed, igniting their confidence and letting them embrace their inner child.

They say do one thing a day that scares you. If the idea of zorbing on Loch Ness gives you more goose bumps then bumping into Nessie would do, the team at Aldourie Castle will be there to encourage and support. If, on the other hand this teambuilding sport in the Scottish Highlands sounds like a lot of fun then please don’t hesitate to book your company activity day at this Scottish Castle Estate – we welcome corporate groups at any time of year.

If the idea of canoeing with colleagues leaves you a little out of your depth then an exclusive stay at the only liveable castle on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland may give you a different perspective. It is during private hire corporate teambuilding stays that groups of colleagues learn how to be a team and enjoy it at the same time rather than feeling as though they’ve been dragged along to another activity day in another location that offers nothing different from the last. Locations like Aldourie Estate in the Scottish Highlands bring corporate teambuilding to a new level. Step into a canoe from our private pier and within moments you’ll be learning a new skill whilst witnessing one of the world’s most captivating areas of natural beauty.Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Individuals – time to yourself is important in a busy world

When you think of activities you can enjoy in Scotland what springs to mind? Walking. Trekking. Cycling. What about swimming? Where there’s a highland hill there’s likely to be a loch down below so swimming should be just as popular as walking, right? Perhaps not in the Scottish Highlands. The weather plays a huge part; walking is a traditional highly enjoyable hobby during every season whereas swimming is mostly partaken in the warmer, summer months.

You’ve dived in at the deep end by booking to stay at a spectacular and unique exclusive use property so this is the ideal opportunity to experience a breath-taking activity that not everybody has tried. Wild swimming lets you explore secret coves, hidden waterfalls and, whilst you’re in the vicinity of Aldourie Castle, majestic lochs. Let go of stress, breathe in that fresh Highland air (it’s good for you, honest) and be at one with nature; all before breakfast.

Experience fishing on Loch Ness when you stay with family or friends or even entirely on your own at the only castle with bedrooms on this long, wondrous shoreline. If you’ve never taken yourself off to the nearest waterway with a packed lunch, a rucksack of maggots and a rod then there’s no better time to do just that than during an exclusive use stay in a Scottish Castle. Likewise, experienced anglers will not be held back when they have the most picturesque paradise at their fingertips.Fishing - Loch Ness Holiday Activities

Whether you’re holidaying with friends or part of a multigenerational family holiday, escaping the group for a while and taking some “me time” to go fishing on Loch Ness can be rewarding in more ways than you think. Not only can you catch your own dinner (why not ask Aldourie’s chef will gladly make a creative dish out of your day’s catch) but you will soon discover the pleasure of your own company out in the wilderness of the Highlands. Though the Loch Ness shoreline is only minutes from the luxurious and homely Castle the freedom is all-consuming and the air as fresh as the water itself.

Just a canoe and you for complete solitude

Ever had that dream where you’re out on your own in the middle of a calm ocean with nothing but water for miles and miles? How does it make you feel? Alone? Frightened? Free? There’s an activity you can experience on Loch Ness that could definitely be described as dreamlike; canoeing on your own. When there’s no one to chat to then there’s no distraction. Out in the middle of Loch Ness you can hear yourself think and breathe and give attention to the beautiful Highland landscape that, though thoroughly enjoyable with others by your side, becomes majestic in its power to transport you to another world; Scotland’s very own Narnia or a dreamlike state of mind.Canoeing Loch Ness Holiday Activities

It’s fair to say that there is a never-ending list of activities to enjoy on the famous stretch of fresh water that glides passed Aldourie’s drawing room window, any moment of every day. From group fun to secluded soul searching and romantic jaunts, water can make a luxury holiday even more exciting and exclusive. Just think of the special photos you’ll capture and the fresh air in your lungs if you need any more persuading, although after reading these two blog posts we’re sure you won’t require any  further convincing to set sail on your own Loch Ness adventure in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.


Activities on Loch Ness Part 1: From family fun to some alone time

What’s so special about Loch Ness? The lure of water itself, the freedom of its restless current? Or could it be its transient beauty? It’s a place where not one moment will ever be the same. Loch Ness is always on the move ready to embrace its next adventure, yet it retains a stillness that can calm troubled or wandering minds. Holiday on Loch Ness and feel your stresses float away. If you read on you will find out that there are many ways to achieve this other than meditating on a raft. Though, we could definitely arrange that for you.Aldourie Castle estate view over Loch Ness Activities on Loch Ness

You could be part of a family reunion, a multi-generational holiday party, or a group of friends sharing the same interests such as golf, cycling or walking. Or simply wanting to go it alone and hire a Castle on Loch Ness for the inspiration to write your novel, complete your portfolio of landscape paintings or take some time out from a hectic work schedule. Whatever your reasons for coming to stay here in a beautiful Castle on the shoreline of the majestic Loch Ness, the great Scottish outdoors beholds something for everyone.

Take a look; it’s a simple picture and yet the opportunities for fun, experience and adventure are endless. We just advise that you pack your imagination when coming to stay at Aldourie but should there simply not be enough room in your suitcase our creative hospitality team will always be on hand to recommend a host of activities.

Families: ensure your exclusive use holiday includes quality time

There are many reasons why a family would choose to visit the famous Loch Ness with all its diversions and areas of interest, its history and mesmerising beauty. Not to mention the excitement for children visiting the home of folklore celebrity, Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. After a leisurely morning taking breakfast at the Castle during your exclusive use stay with us let Aldourie’s team book you a cruise on Loch Ness that will take you up close to some of the Scottish Highlands most historic, cultural and wondrous landmarks.Jacobite cruises loch ness-1 Activities on Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle is a must-see during your family trip on Loch Ness. Take your boat for up to 12 people from the private Aldourie pier on the exclusive Highlands Estate and spend a couple of hours admiring the views, learning Scotland’s most fascinating history and enjoy a spot of lunch en route.

Venture forth and stop off at the Moray Firth, one of the most important places on the U.K. coast for observing dolphins and whales. Given a nod to its scenic brilliance the coastline has been voted one of the most picturesque by National Geographic. With direct tours available from Inverness just a few miles down the road from Aldourie Castle, don’t miss out on a family experience in Scotland that will leave you speechless and clutching the camera in order to capture the next incredible sighting. The most common species are the Bottlenose Dolphin and the Harbour Porpoise with occasional sightings of Common dolphin and Minke Whale.

Friends: do something different for years of reminiscing

When groups of friends come to stay at Aldourie in the stunning Scottish Highland landscape they not only marvel at the views from their luxurious bedrooms and get swept away by the fresh air taking tea on the terrace. Friends holidaying in Scotland want to get involved in their surroundings and experience something together that will make for lasting memories. The Nessie Hunter is definitely a trip on Loch Ness we highly recommend to any group stay at the private Scottish Castle. Be led astray by the expert hunters on your personal speed boat and follow the lure of the waves to try to catch a glimpse of the iconic Monster. Be part of Aldourie’s fairytale and let your imagination take you into the heart of Loch Ness.The Deborah Leah Cruise Activities on Loch Ness

If during the week your group is hoping for something a little more relaxed, you can take a rowing boat from the Aldourie marina (the hospitality team at the Castle will be happy to arrange this for you) and wade out in smaller groups from the private pier on the Highland Estate. Experience Loch Ness and its many scenes from the comfort and joy or your own personal space and take in the hilly surroundings in your own good time.

We’ll let all this information on Loch Ness sink in whilst you take time to plan your next family holiday or group stay with friends in the Scottish Highlands until Aldourie’s next blog post. This second instalment will feature even more fun activities to experience on the most famous stretch of water in the world.


Part 2: Why does Loch Ness appeal to celebrities from around the world?

In our last blog post we looked at how the infinite and mystical Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands brought in interest from around the world. Celebrities visit simply to take in its beauty and let the natural aura of Loch Ness enchant and inspire them for their short break or luxury holiday in the great Scottish Highlands.

Read the PART 1: Why does Loch Ness appeal to celebrities from around the world? Then continue to adventure through the calming, majestic waters that float past the beautiful Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness.

The late Robin Williams was said to have been a fan of Loch Ness and its ethereal appeal. He would glide across the waters with pal, Billy Connolly, on occasions, finding the beauty and wildness of the place completely freeing. It is wonderful to think that this exhilarating and captivating paradise on earth brought this great actor some small comfort in the years and days before his sad passing.lochness-aldourie-castle-boatride

A place in history

The largest loch by volume in the Highlands and holding more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, idyllic Scotland destination Loch Ness has gone down in history for more than just its monster or mysterious storybook setting. It has always been an important site for military, political and commercial reasons with settles gathering at Loch Ness as far back as 2000BC.

Recent history makes Loch Ness just as captivating as a tourist hotspot in mystical Scotland. Playing host to colourful characters of the past such as the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, Loch Ness is said to have housed black magic ceremonies and secret tunnels during the early C20th.  It was the crash landing place of a Wellington bomber during WWII that was 40 years later brought up to the surface with barely a mark on it and today can be seen at the Brooklands Motorsport and Aviation Museum. It was also the chosen location for John Cobb’s fatal water speed record attempt in 1952; the memorial for which stands at the edge of the Loch in commemoration of his achievement.

You can visit Drumnadrochit’s Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition for a more in-depth detail of the natural history of the famous lake that features the only habitable Castle on its blissful shoreline.
Airview of Loch Ness and Aldourie Estate

Big fish of the Scottish Highlands

Despite the ice cold Highland air cooling its wild current and frost bitten hills flanking its shorelines during winter, relentless Loch Ness never freezes making it a big allure to fishing enthusiasts all year round. Whether local or tourists, fishermen flock here owing to the lake’s large variety of fish species. From Northern Pike to Atlantic Salmon and Brown Trout, Loch Ness is a sea of life waiting to be caught.

Anglers of all ages can partake in the fishing experience available in this part of the Scottish Highlands and the mesmerising scenery tops off any days’ conquests making it a truly memorable (and refreshing) day out or even holiday. Book a week’s stay at one of Aldourie’s Cottages on Loch Ness for your annual fishing trip or holiday with friends and indulge in one of Scotland’s most treasured pastimes.

In time for the salmon fishing season look out for our March blog article ’10 reasons to go fishing on Loch Ness’.

From Brad Pitt and Gwen Stefani to Oprah Winfrey and President Obama, the list of celebrities who love to go fishing, whether on their own or with a friend or family members, seem happy to let this be known and pose for photographs. Is fishing becoming more popular and could this be another reason to attract them to holiday on Loch Ness? We think so.Fishing Holidays at loch Ness

And, with our unique Castle providing group accommodation for the luxury travel market and idyllic cottages on the secret shores of Loch Ness perfect for celebrity hideaway holidays, we think they’ll soon be swarming here along with all the envious fish who want to be seen at the destination hot spot of the century.

 


The importance of a show round at an exclusive use property

When you choose an exclusive use venue or property, whether for an intimate or large scale event, it is important that you have viewed the property at least once for numerous reasons. A show round of a private hire property in Scotland will confirm that it is as spectacular in the flesh as in the photos you have seen or the testimonials you have read, not merely because Scotland is such a beautiful and mesmerising country. A personal viewing of your preferred celebration or holiday property will also serve to convince you whether or not it is suitable to host your family, friends or party of guests.

Confidence in the hospitality team

It is of the utmost importance when planning an event of celebration that the host can find a common ground or even a rapport with the hospitality manager and their team. The main reason for this is so that they feel comfortable asking as many questions as they wish for peace of mind and are confident stating what they would and wouldn’t like out of the booking experience and later the actual occasion or celebration.

If you as a company intend to make a corporate booking you may have certain expectations of your hospitality manager, the chef and waiting staff, if the success of your event depends upon your own client’s experience for example if you are booking a property as an incentive stay in Scotland. Show rounds help you to better visualise your potential event or experience.Aldourie Castle Loch Ness The Library - exclusive use property

The atmosphere of the property

The moment you step foot inside the door of an exclusive hire property or venue for a show round, you instantly get a feel of the place and its personality. This is primarily down to its atmosphere which can be generated through a number of reasons – its decoration, comfort, cosiness and character being just a few. The atmosphere of a distinguished or luxury property has to impress, first and foremost, because you are paying a significant amount to make an impression on your guests. Sometimes, the very fact that a private hire property is exclusive to one particular party of guests is enough to make the desired impact, but more often than not atmosphere plays a large part in the decision to make a definite booking.

You will generally get a sense of the private hire property’s warmth by how welcome and at home you feel being shown around the place whether it be a castle, a mansion house or a traditional cottage.

Decoration of bedrooms and public rooms

As you wander from room to room is the general decoration of the walls, floors and furnishings to your liking? If you are choosing a property to hold a very special occasion where photographs will serve as treasured memories, for example a wedding or anniversary, it might be wise to consider whether the decoration or design is in tune with your own style. Does it reflect your personality in some way? It may make you feel more comfortable if it does. It is important to have a show round of a property you think you really like on screen or in photographs to make sure it suits you on both a personal and a practical level.Fraser bedroom Aldourie Castle Loch Ness exclusive use property

As you are being shown around the bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas of the exclusive use venue or property consider if it is accurate to the description and the photographs you have seen online or in the brochure. Are they how you envisaged them and do they give you the feeling you imagined they would? Do they evoke happiness or a sense of nostalgia that made you interested to see the property in the first place?

The setting and location

Ideally, an historic private hire property, especially somewhere as majestic as the Scottish Highlands or as entrancing as the shores of Loch Ness, should be able to equal its own external setting within in order to appear synonymous with its environment. If the property is surrounded by lush countryside and pretty gardens the interior and aesthetics of the building have to ‘fit’ with the overall picture and therefore have a sense of nostalgia, romance or peacefulness so it doesn’t look or feel out of place or time. The most elite of private hire properties will undoubtedly have all three.

The location is key – you will realise how accessible, remote or quiet the property is as you journey into its vicinity or travel from the airport or main road. A map and directions to the venue given on a website can be misleading so if location is paramount to your decision to book an exclusive use property such as a castle, be aware of the distance you are travelling, the ease of the journey and anything else you think is important to be aware of. This route vetting can apply to any kind of booking be that for an important board of directors’ meeting or a multi-generation family reunion where guests are travelling from around the country or even the world.AldourieCastleLochNess

Whether for business meeting purposes or as a luxury holiday destination, seeing a property you wish to hire out on an exclusive basis up front is a vital part of the booking process from a practical perspective but also from an emotional point of view. So, look at it as a necessary day out to be savoured and enjoyed – especially if you have booked a food tasting as well!


Castle’s promotional film captures the heart of guests

When you are searching the Internet for a five star hospitality venue or exclusive use property what do you look for? An amazing website that is easy to use and informative as well as attractive and interactive? Of course, that goes without saying nowadays. Maybe you look for a fully up to date Google Plus or Business page as well as current and engaging social media pages. Perhaps a selection of images in Google that portray the property to its highest standard, each well labelled so you know what room, person or previous event you are looking at.

Every year it seems there is more to expect from the online world and therefore more to expect from the businesses that represent themselves online. Forever keeping up with the growing exclusive use market, Aldourie Castle is committed to delivering you – our client and customer – the best online experience you can have. That is why we have invested time and energy into producing the next ‘big thing’ expected from every meeting or wedding venue and private hire property.

Less work for the customer

Step forward the promotional film or show reel, call it what you will. The importance of a short film to showcase our unique private hire property in Scotland is paramount in today’s market. Whether it’s for people from down south comparing short breaks in Loch Ness or families from overseas searching a luxury holiday rental in the Scottish Highlands, we need to be able to visually showcase our impressive product and all its capabilities quickly and to as much effect as possible in order to save people valuable time and hard work.

Not only is a promotional film more helpful than simply reading descriptive text from a website, scrolling through previous client testimonials (we all know how time consuming that game is; Trip Advisor is an evening’s worth of work for the thorough traveller) and gazing at images; it is designed to capture your imagination as well as your heart. Discover how Aldourie has managed to do just that with its latest marketing endeavour.

Aldourie Castle Loch Ness The LibraryExperiencing an exclusive use property is crucial

After shortlisting their search, potential guests who book a show round at a beautiful property, such as our exclusive hire Castle which looks out onto the majestic Loch Ness, are always captivated and sometimes emotionally charged by what greets them. The impressive drive down to the luxury property and the peacefulness of the private Estate. The warm welcome from the house staff or hospitality team- as if they were coming home. The cosy ambience created by roaring fires and intimate lamps in every room – each one lit just for them. The immaculate presentation of each room – as if just waiting for them and their private group of guests to arrive and call the Castle “home” for the duration of their stay. The list is endless; the experience is crucial.

Those people running the most luxurious and unique exclusive hire properties in Scotland know what their clients want out of their booking and therefore attempt to bridge that gap between shortlist and show round which we at Aldourie believe comes at the ‘virtually there’ stage. By this we mean showcasing what the client will see and experience as the next best thing to actually being there and experiencing it first-hand: the promotional film. Laced with creative detail, rich in colour and atmosphere, directed to perfection and backed by a piece of beautiful music that you could imagine yourself listening to whilst reading a book on a chaise longue and gazing out onto Loch Ness sipping a glass of the finest Pinot Noir, our new show reel ticks all the boxes and truly captures the heart of Aldourie.

And this all happens in under two minutes, leaving you time to get back to your day – and leave the virtual world behind. After all, you are choosing to live in a historic castle for your luxury holiday.


New website creates best client experience

What’s so special about our new website?

Aldourie Castle has recently launched its brand new all-singling all-dancing website. We are proud to present to you a more modern-working online tool than we had before in the hope of enabling a better user experience from start to finish in terms of both efficiency and enjoyment. New features include a Cottage Availability Calendar for checking dates available at all four of the Aldourie holiday cottages on Loch Ness, a beautifully-presented blog complete with all the trimmings as well as stunning new photography on large sliding web banners and a host of new photo galleries applicable to each section of the website.

Aldourie has also had a promotional film directed and produced at the Castle which showcases the beautiful interiors as well as the 500 acre grounds. This can be viewed from various pages on the website as well as the homepage.

Cottage calendar checker

There are numerous benefits of having a date availability checker on your website – it saves time, is easy to do and is helpful for potential guests to compare dates for each of the Aldourie holiday cottages before they decide which one they would prefer to stay at.

Our cottage availability calendar works alongside the existing holiday cottage web pages of the Aldourie site. This great as it means that users benefit from having all the relevant information to hand and easily accessible. For instance, Garden Cottage is a similar size of cottage to Pier therefore some prospective guests may be deliberating over which cottage would suit them and their family or group best. By begin able to check availability of each and dip in and out of the dedicated web pages for each of Garden and Pier Cottages, they are making decisions all through their user experience because the website is providing them with immediate answers.

The four Highland holiday cottages on Loch Ness underwent a refurb – both inside and out – over summer 2015. The new detailed specification PDFs available to download from the new Aldourie Castle website help to provide enquirers with all the information that helps them decide whether or not to book a stay at Aldourie.

Huge American style fridge freezers and other utilities were installed in each to make short breaks and family holidays as self-contained and comfortable as possible. We enabled more space in the larger cottages for bike storage making them even more appealing to groups and families looking for cycling stays on Loch Ness. A complimentary shuttle to Dores Inn and back, open wood burning stoves and wood stock all ready for winter also helps to now keep your peaceful self-catered stay convenient and efficient so that you can concentrate on having a fantastic holiday.

Brand new blog

What is the importance of a good blog? It not only helps your website looks as interactive and interesting as possible it also helps tell Google  that the website it belongs to is an active mover and shaker in the online world; all good for drawing attention to the said website and encouraging more clicks. Now the technical lecture is over with here’s why Aldourie likes to maintain an impressive, current blog…

We chose a new design layout for our blog that complements the existing look and feel of the brand; that which is fresh, attractive, informal and welcoming. We decided on the main Aldourie corporate colours of purple and gold but made sure that this was interspersed with lots of white space so as to keep the look of the blog light, fun and easy to navigate through. Social media links, search facilities and sharing icons were also incorporated to encourage interaction between social media users and Aldourie’s website.

The Castle and Estate is a unique exclusive location for any type of event or private stay in Scotland whilst the holiday cottages are appealing to anyone who wishes to visit Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands at any time of year. We know therefore, that Aldourie appeals to a large section of the online market in some way or another. Social media links helps us to share the beauty and potential of this enchanting location with everyone who uses social media.

Finally, we used larger image templates to really capture the heart and soul of the property and its scenic countryside as well as promoting new longer blog articles to incorporate more images throughout and provide readers with more information. Recent examples include Have yourself a corporate little Christmas and How to make the most of the Scottish Highlands this winter that really delve into the product offerings of Aldourie Castle Estate, the five-star hospitality services both the Castle and cottages can provide guests and the inside knowledge of the staff who know Inverness and Loch Ness as well as any expert.

New photographs of summer refurb

A website should reflect the present so we are working hard to keep everything as current as possible for our users. New photos of the Castle, holiday cottages and parkland taken by the exceptional Margaret Soraya Photography really help to showcase the recently re-styled holiday cottages and revamped gardens to their utmost as well as show the richness of colour and space inside Aldourie Castle.

Our first January blog post will be all about the new Aldourie Corporate Film so keep your eyes peeled for a preview of Aldourie in motion against a beautiful classical soundtrack.


Why Scotland is a beautiful holiday location in all seasons

We’d like to introduce you to the wonder of Aldourie through the seasons, to help you decide when best to stay in a holiday cottage or have a luxury family house party in the Scottish Highlands. The look and atmosphere of the Castle changes throughout the year and each season brings more wonder than the last. Welcome to a year in colours and scents at Loch Ness’ most enchanting castle and estate…

Aldourie-Castle beautiful holiday locationSpring

The joys of springtime on the Aldourie Castle Estate really do set guests and staff up for the year ahead. The colours in the arboretum start to appear; green foliage creeps out of bare branches and brambles and the buds show their heads in the garden and woodland. On the Estate, private holiday guests can look forward to fresh fragrant walks in the mornings and afternoons coming across daffodils and daisies aplenty that spill out over the acres of parkland.

The delightful sound of spring in the air comes from the eclectic birdsong in the woods and bushes. Families who use the Estate to its full advantage during their exclusive stay at the Castle will notice the wildlife awakening from their homes – red squirrel, pine martins and roe deer are just a few animals to be found in the Scottish Highlands. Springtime calls for a game of archery in the park for early risers and midday picnics sitting amongst the bluebells.

In Aldourie Castle, we gather up some wild flowers and daffodils from the grounds and arrange them into vases throughout the bedrooms for guests to enjoy.

34.-Aldourie-Estate-Red-Squirrel beautiful holiday locationSummer

When the weather is high…and even when it’s low, summertime at Aldourie is a sight to behold. Cottage guests can wander the Estate into the evening, enjoying the light nights along Dores Beach, walking the dog through shadowed trails and gazing over Loch Ness from the Estate’s private pier. The boats bobbing on the marina are symbolic of the summer season at Aldourie; backed by the majestic Highland hills they accentuate the calmness of Scotland’s beautiful nature and distinctive wildlife.

The Castle gardens start to bloom with bright colours in every shade from rose arches to rhododendron walks and wild cascading flowers. The tree house and campfire spots are popular pastimes among summer guests with their promise of adventures and warmer nights. BBQs on the terrace overlooking the loch make for an enjoyable afternoon in the sun and into the evening when guests can wander the grounds with a glass of the Castle’s finest cellar wine.

Chef brings in seasonal herbs and fruits to bring dishes to life; from summer favourites including forest fruit cheesecakes and gateaux to new fish and chicken pies and salads.

 

19.-Aldourie-Estate-Parkland beautiful holiday locationAutumn

The trees start to turn in September usually but it does depend on the climate. A sea of golds, burnt oranges and crimson reds sweeps across the Scottish Highland hills and woodland floor, cocooning Aldourie Castle in an autumnal coloured rainbow. For cottage and Castle guests that stay during October and November the atmospheric Loch Ness and old family graveyard are among their favourite haunts, from Halloween strolls through clusters of parkland trees to peaceful boat rides in the nostalgically scented afternoon.

Afternoon Tea is often served in the Red Drawing Room where guests can recline on chaise longues and look out at the golden peaks and the forests swaying in the autumn breeze. Throughout the Castle, open fires flame with a gentle roar and cosy furnishings provide the perfect luxury base. Outside, because it’s always more fun to be there, the children can pick apples and various other fruits from the mini orchard near the greenhouses. The season brings plenty of pine cones and conkers for them to collect on chilly mornings.

Pumpkin pie is an Aldourie Castle chef staple, enjoyed best with friends and a fresh pot of coffee in the Laird’s Room. After cooking up an autumnal feast in the country kitchens of the holiday cottages, guests succumb to the temptation of the wood burning stove after crunching some leaves underfoot during a satisfying woodland walk.

Margaret-Soraya-Photography-Aldourie-24 beautiful holiday locationWinter

Colour slowly fades on the Estate and a silence falls as the Highland wildlife returns to shelter. Blue, cloudless skies and low sun heats up the wintry mornings; guests love a brisk walk before breakfast then watching the children race back to the Castle for a full Scottish fry up! Afternoons are made up on speedboat rides on Loch Ness wrapped up in winter woollies feeling the crisp wind against your face and dewy winter wonderland strolls looking up onto snow-capped peaks over crystal clear waters.

Back inside the Castle, hot cider and mulled wine flows and candles with festive scents fill the staterooms with smells of Christmas. Chef can be found cooking hot casseroles and Sunday roasts using the finest local game, poultry and winter veg accompanied at their best with a soul-warming bottle of merlot from the Castle cellar at the traditional dining table.

If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the Aldourie Estate when the snow falls one of the most magical sights is seeing the Castle from the Dores side of the Loch, backed by evergreen forests and fronted with snow-capped hedges and a calming glistening lake. Snow drops and snow bells pepper the formal gardens and arboretum – fill up a vase for the bedroom to bring in the exciting smells of winter to your cottage retreat.