Gleneagles Hotel: a Highland hotspot

Since it opened in 1924, Gleneagles has perfectly married opulent luxury with traditional Scottish warmth and produce

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The PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel Golf Resort. The institution is one of Scotland's best places to say

The splendour of Gleneagles Hotel makes it arguably Scotland’s finest attraction, outdone only by the sweeping beauty of the 850 acres that encompass its vast setting. The Perthshire moors provide an enchanting backdrop to the hotel’s grand lobby, which gives visitors an insight into what they can expect from their stay – tradition entwined with modernity, elegance interweaved with warmth. “I think that what really sets us apart is our history and heritage. This is a place where momentous things have happened, where international treaties have been signed, where major sporting events have taken place. Our staff is hugely passionate about what they do and empowered to go that extra mile to make sure that guests feel genuinely welcomed as part of the Gleneagles family”, says Stuart Smith, Director of Events and Leisure.

The Perthshire moors provide an enchanting backdrop to the hotel, which gives visitors an insight into what they can expect

The arena
Recognising the growing need for a large-scale events space, Gleneagles has transformed one of its former equestrian centres into an area known as the Arena, offering the ideal setting for an array of different occasions. “Over the past few years, we have seen an increased demand for an event space that would allow for complete flexibility and the ability to be innovative when designing your event”, says Smith. “The fact that we can offer somewhere big enough to accommodate larger groups, with the reassurance of Gleneagles’s reputation for world-class service, made it a very easy decision.”

Launched in May, the Arena has a capacity of 2,250 and offers complimentary parking for 500 visitors, along with the use of the hotel’s valet team. The versatile event space is designed to cater for conferences, trade shows, exhibitions and product launches.

Along with hiring the space, clients can benefit from a dedicated events manager, as well as other useful perks, such as a manned reception desk and carpeting services. Every organisational need is met, with features including loading bay access doors, LED lighting, over sixty hanging points, and various connectivity outlets. “You have the space – 2,500 square metres – to be creative, to build exactly what you want, but also the knowledge that you have a five-star hotel and a host of activities, restaurants and additional meeting spaces on your doorstep”, Smith explains.

Located just one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh by train or road, the hotel is easily accessible for guests attending events at the Arena. A five-hour direct rail line also connects visitors from London. The venue really opens up new opportunities for Scotland to play host to historic events, as more and more promoters are charmed by the extravagance of Gleneagles and its magical setting.

A sporting chance
The hotel offers a variety of rural activities, such as archery, falconry and riding, adding to the appeal of a countryside escape that is refreshing for urban dwellers and unparalleled for those more familiar with pastoral pursuits. Gleneagles is renowned for its shooting and fishing grounds, which come staffed by a panel of expert instructors, giving guests a rare opportunity to learn from the best. Off-road driving lessons are available for adrenaline junkies, while the Gundog School celebrates the country’s sporting heritage with a variety of classes.

Golf at Gleneagles has received the most attention of late, the hotel having been granted the privilege of hosting the Ryder Cup last year. Gleneagles offers golf days for groups wishing to relive the glory of the tournament, which include prizes and a drinks reception; perfect for those visiting on business and as a relationship-building exercise.

Four acrylic-surfaced tennis courts are also being introduced to the Gleneagles site this spring, with local tennis professionals available to provide lessons to guests. “Every five years or so, the hotel redefines itself. It’s about continual improvement to best satisfy the needs of our customers”, says Watson Bell, Head of Events.

Food for thought
One of Gleneagles’ traditional strengths is the food on offer at the hotel’s five restaurants, one of which is Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only eatery boasting two Michelin stars. The highly acclaimed establishment operates separately to the hotel and gives guests the opportunity to experience the cuisine of one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs.

Accompanying this is the Strathearn, a large formal dining area with art deco styling, matching seamlessly with the elegant service on offer. Methods such as carving smoked salmon and performing flambé in front of charmed guests are still employed on a daily basis. The menu is a combination of traditional and contemporary. “It’s a nice mix, and we lean on the best of Scotland’s larder”, says Alan Gibb, Executive Chef. The hotel also boasts a Mediterranean bistro, Deseo, which has a lively and informal atmosphere. Deseo also features a food emporium, a Harrods-style food hall that gives guests the opportunity to take home their favourite ingredients from their stay. Located on the golf course, the recently refurbished Clubhouse has the best views on site, while the Bar offers a popular afternoon tea service; “we probably do around 70 to 80 a day”, says Gibb.

What makes the food so special at Gleneagles is its superior quality; this emanates from the supply partnerships that have been established. Gibb is on a first-name basis with local producers, having visited their sites on numerous occasions in order to ensure the utmost quality. “We’ve got some very passionate people working with us – they have really great products and we are really trying to champion these things. Our butcher is only five miles away; they do cured bacon that is a hand-processed product, which we use in our breakfasts”, says Gibb.

The Ryder Cup trophy arriving at Gleneagles Hotel
The Ryder Cup trophy arriving at Gleneagles Hotel

Scotland’s finest
The sheer variety available at Gleneagles is visible throughout every aspect of the business and throughout each guest’s stay. The hotel’s ability to host events on the world stage was demonstrated by the perfectly orchestrated Ryder Cup tournament. The new venue, the Arena, is simply another feature that will lure businesses and luxury-seeking crowds from all over the globe.

The hotel chose London as one of the sites to promote the Arena, aware of the appeal that Gleneagles has for the high-end business and finance worlds. “The London event was just one piece of the puzzle. Clearly, it’s a really important market for us, and it’s where many of our clients are based”, Smith notes. The event gave Londoners the opportunity to see Gibb in action and savour the delectable, handcrafted food and drink that the hotel has to offer. For those present who had not yet been fortunate enough to visit Gleneagles, it was abundantly clear how the hotel has gained the reputation that it enjoys. Gleneagles screams luxury and the best of everything on offer, but, unlike other establishments that claim such qualities, it has two others that are unique: the splendour of the Perthshire countryside and warm Scottish hospitality.