The end of January is not the time most people are thinking of travelling in Scotland but off I went to visit the home of golf exited about the opportunity to tour the Ayrshire Region (think Turnberry and Troon) and then spend a few days in St Andrews at the Fairmont meeting with key suppliers and the trip was well worth the time and effort (and the airports even worked pretty well for me).
Rather than detail everything I saw, I thought I would highlight some of the key themes / finds I made on the trip.
A great trip and if I boil all the notes below into 2 quick bites they are:
- Scotland is open for business and bounced back strong after the pandemic with improved golf, accommodation and off course activities.
- BOOK EARLY – 2024 booking are already open (or opening soon) and filling up quick, especially during peak months.
For just a bit more detail....
From my pre-conference trip:
- Ayrshire is an area that needs to be explored by more of our clients. Most people think St Andrews, or maybe the Highlands, when they think golf in Scotland but Ayrshire has so much to offer it needs to be on your must visit list. Great golf at Open Championship courses like Royal Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick, “hidden gems” like Dundonald, Western Gailes and Barrassie make it a golfer paradise. The accommodations are world class. I was particularly impressed with the newly renovated Marine Troon (they did an amazing job upgrading this iconic property) and the new lodges at Dundonald (the perfect base for groups looking for luxe cottage style accommodations) and the list of to do’s outside of golf are endless.
- The Gleneagles Resort remains one of the great 5 star properties you will ever visit with a wide list of accommodation options, 3 courses, a large list of restaurant options and too many off course activity options to mention (and you are still withing an hour of St Andrews!)
At the conference:
- I was once again reminded of the hospitality and quality of the Scottish tourism industry. There are so many high quality accommodation, golf, transport and off course options to discover that you can spend a lifetime going over to visit and never get bored.
- Many of the courses are offering unique experiences to add on to your day of golf (hickory shaft golf anyone!). One of many examples is Dumbarnie as they offer an option for a “links 101” type lessons for groups prior to teeing off. This is not a traditional lesson but a quick how to play links golf session with the head pro to get you all the strategy and tactics you need to conquer links golf. Brilliant for first time links players and a good refresher for all of us!
- Hotels are very much upping their games as renovations are delivering amazing new dining, spa and room options to make your visits even more special.
- Many of the properties are also recognizing the desire for more apartment / cottage / villa style lodging so the variety of accommodations available with our partners is rapidly expanding.
- Booking windows are opening earlier and earlier every year. Most of the top courses are either already taking pre-bookings for 2024 or will be in April at the latest. 2023 is all but sold out at the premier properties so they have all decided to begin booking 2024 meaning you need to start making your plans ASAP to get the best possible trips in place for you and your group.
- The love of the Scottish national treasure, scotch whisky, has never been stronger as existing distilleries are expanding offerings, new distilleries are popping up (I learned of a new one in Brora I need to visit when I am there in May) and they were more than happy to offer a few samples at the meeting!!!!
Overall, Scottish Golf Tourism is stronger than ever and must be on everyone’s bucket list of golf experiences.
- I spent a day in Edinburgh and have the chance to stay in the Malmaison Edinburgh City (great location, very modern property) and visit a long time favourite in the Intercontinental George (their new restaurant will be amazing when the renovations are done), plus the new Gleneagles Edinburgh Hotel (stunning 5* property, right in St Andrews Square), The Cheval Hotel (for those looking for mare apartment style accommodations) and The Scotsman (a beautiful 4* property a short walk from Edinburgh Caste). There are so many great properties in Edinburgh and the city is something everyone should add on for a couple of days at the end of the trip – it is a waste to fly home without a quick visit at least!
Be sure to add Scotland to your list of “must plays” and when your ready to go, give us a call and we will be happy to bring your dream trip to life.