Blair Atholl’s independently owned five- star boutique hotel Old Manse of Blair has doubled its occupancy to capitalise on staycation demand by unveiling a new Stables development and Railway Cottage. Plans have also been secured for a further eight suites next year with another two now in planning, marking a total £400,000 investment.
These will be built around an orchard within a walled garden as part of the next phase with work commencing late 2020, opening in April 2021.The expansion project commenced in January and was due for completion in late March and despite COVID-imposed closure, the build project finally completed in early July.
Said estate owner Anne Macdonald, “There’s clear nervousness around travelling abroad so more people are wanting to holiday closer to home, quarantines are also a constant reminder of the uncertainly facing foreign travel.The accommodation expansion was committed prior to the pandemic so we had to navigate a perfect storm. Our business was forced to close reopening in July. During that time, we were resilient, we slowly and carefully project managed completion of the renovation works, doubled our capacity and came back fighting.
“We’ve had a great start and whilst we adjust to the new normal our team have been incredible in adapting. The new rooms have exceeded our expectations and are a welcome addition to the estate.
“This has helped our business to continue operating.The investment in creating more rooms for guests wanting a luxury break in Scotland has been sensible, albeit often challenging during times of uncertainty. However, we are in a positive position to meet the demand for staycations by investing for growth and adapting our business model.”
In addition to the Railway Cottage conversion with two rooms, a former stable block has been converted into five rooms with en-suite facilities, including one fully accessible suite designed for the less mobile.
Anne has collaborated with artist and designer Iona Crawford of Glasgow-based Iona Crawford Atelier to create interiors that take inspiration from the history and heritage of the estate buildings and their equestrian and railway connections. An earlier report by the University of Edinburgh Business School, also recommended that Scottish tourism businesses should aim their marketing at UK and German visitors as they are most likely to visit and spend money in the immediate future.