Passion Points: Family
Many a traveler has dreamed of renting a private castle in Scotland, snagging a tee time on St. Andrew’s or touring the Highlands with an historian who can bring the country’s past to life (and will even don the appropriate attire). An equal amount believe that only celebrities like Stella McCartney (who, like Madonna, wed her husband at a Scottish castle) can access the country’s most memorable locations and experiences.
Recently, an Indagare member learned that with the right help, all this and more can be done. The New York-city based family wanted to tour Scotland with their two children, making the most of the great outdoors while building on the boys’ school studies of Medieval history. We connected them with our favorite Edinburgh-based travel company, and they created a wonderful itinerary that included falconry lessons, a private boat trip on Loch Ness and guided tours of fabled castles and battle sites. We asked them to share some other tips on how to plan the ultimate Scottish adventure.
What drew you to travel planning? There seemed to be such a lack of imagination from most travel companies. My wife, Holly, and I have travelled extensively, and the most memorable trips didn’t come straight out of a brochure. We spent hours and days researching how to construct our trips – from simple weekends away to our six-week honeymoon to the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and California. It’s rarely about the most expensive hotels and resorts. We spend most of our time creating unique and authentic experiences using our knowledge, contacts and, most of all, lots of imagination.
What should no traveler to Scotland miss? To really get a sense of Scotland, you have to immerse yourself in the scenery. Get off the main roads and head into the highlands for awe-inspiring landscapes. Be sure you bring your camera, too, since it’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture on the right day (or let us arrange a professional photographer to join you). Another world class experience is a day spent on a boat around the western Isles, where the draw is white sandy beaches, endless wildlife, remote golf courses and, of course, the famous Whiskey distilleries. For one client, we actually sourced a rare bottle of 1947 whiskey from the region as a 60th birthday gift.
What are your top recommendations for families? Most people will be aware of Gleneagles and its ability to provide a fantastic stay for the whole family. I would always recommend this as part of a family’s first trip to Scotland. With the right advice, however, you can afford to be more adventurous and perhaps take an exclusive castle for a few days or a week (we recently arranged a stay at Forter Castle in Angus). You’ll have the whole castle to yourself, a private chef and an itinerary to suit everyone; we’ve even run three separate itineraries for clients in the past to make sure dad, mom and the kids all get the best from their time in Scotland.
What makes Scotland wonderful for traveling with children? It’s possible to arrange relaxed or really busy itineraries to suit families with kids. Everyday you can be doing something different; possibilities include a fishing expedition, a day walking with the hawks in the hills, exploring castle ruins, experiencing the isolation of the small islands, a train ride on the famous Harry Potter viaduct – the list is endless, and that’s without any of the great attractions in Edinburgh. An important point to note is that travelling around Scotland by air, rail, sea or road is as exciting a part of the trip as the places you’ll stay and activities you experience. The key is planning each day to include excitement, surprise and great memories.
Which property would you suggest for the most luxurious experience? We value service over the star-rating of a property. It’s important for us that our clients are looked after by attentive and service-focused establishments. In terms of a traditional Scottish castle hotel I would recommend either Inverlochy Castle in Fort William or Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire. If you are looking at a private castle, you should consider Invercauld Castle in Aberdeenshire for a large group or Forter Castle in Angus for a smaller group.
What are some examples of the most interesting/unique requests you’ve been able to fulfill? We’ve had many interesting briefs for which we’ve developed many unique solutions. We once flew a group of twenty two people into Glamis Castle for a private tour and a dinner hosted by the Countess of Strathmore. An art lover took a private after-hours tour of the National Gallery in Edinburgh, followed by a five-course meal in one of the Impressionist rooms, hosted by the Director of the National Gallery Complex. For a group of food lovers, we planned a private cooking demonstration at a renowned restaurant followed by an eight-course tasting menu with matching wines at a secluded private estate lodge in the Highlands.
Read about visiting museums in Paris with children
Read about great sights for kids in London
Read about a family itinerary in Paris
For tailored family advice, to be connected with one of our preferred British specialists or to learn about special trips or preferred rates at hotels, contact our booking department by calling 212-988-2611 or by sending an inquiry
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