11 September 2013

Taymouth Castle Transformation Brings 5 Star Hotel Opening Next Year

The proud new owners of Taymouth Estate have demonstrated their determination to carry through their ambitious plans to create a 5-star luxury resort by opening up the castle to the press and marketing experts to view the significant progress they have made in less than a year.
Most of the principal rooms on the first floor of the castle, which is A-listed, have been carefully restored, even to the extent of buying identical silk wall hangings from the firm that originally supplied them for the Chinese Gallery 150 years ago.
The rooms, including the Library, Banner Hall and Baron’s Hall, have been elaborately decorated and restored by specialists in Victorian gothic style, with rich carvings, gilded ceilingalts, and ornate panelling and plasterwork.
They are approached from a main staircase that soars to the full height of the castle. Ornate lamps, some 10-ft high were discovered in a shed and have been carefully repaired and rewired.
Even the biggest detractors of new owners Meteor Asset Management would have to accept the pace of change has been impressive and that huge sums are being invested in turning the castle into what they call a “luxury boutique-style hotel.”
According to their man in charge, Martin Mortimer (pictured right), it will open next year with 31 suites, restaurants with a Michelin starred chef, and a stunning spa in a glazed-over courtyard in the east wing.
A further fifty suites are planned in a new north wing, with building work scheduled to begin late next year.
A new Spikes Bar on the southwest corner of the castle, with a suite of locker rooms and changing facilities for golfing guests, gives a taste of the high standards of the refurbishment. This area is already fully equipped with concealed lighting, leather seating, mirrors and marble.
Martin Mortimer was unable to answer the crucial question of which hotel operator would be running the venture. “We are in talks with several major people,” he said, “but it will certainly be decided in the very near future.”
He said that until an operator has been signed up, Meteor couldn’t furnish the hotel suites as this will be carried out to the operators’ specification.

Housing ‘On Course’
For Meteor the most profitable element in the 450-acre grounds are the estate properties or ‘residences’ designed by local architect Eric Strickland. The City-based investment company has persuaded P&K Council that the original planning permission for 89 properties would not be financially viable and 71 more have been allowed, subject to detailed conditions about positioning and public access.
Clusters of new buildings priced at £800,000 to £1.2m will be peppered throughout the estate, and some of these are already underway. They incorporate pitched roofs, stone chimneys and exterior fireplaces, and timber panelling and render. A number will have stone gateways and bridge walkways to the riverside units with decking optionally incorporating hot tubs.
The brochure emphasises the latest luxuries: “Riverside properties will enjoy unencumbered frontage, to the River Tay, with exterior deck areas directly on the river, the views enhanced by the use of glazed balconies. Optional hot tubs can be installed on the exterior decking areas.
“The specification of the kitchens includes granite, quartz or Corian work surfaces, Bosch stainless steel or integrated appliances, stainless steel or Corian sinks and traltavertine marble or solid wood flooring.
“In the bathroom areas the feeling of quality is continued by the use of Sottini and Bette sanitary ware with Hansgrohe taps and marble flooring and wall tiles.”
There will be integrated audio and media systems and “Tilevision TV” – a mirrored panel on the bathroom walls that transforms into a digital TV.
People buying houses in the estate will be able to let them for holiday use through the hotel company when they are living elsewhere.
One close to a fairway will be completed this autumn and has already been reserved by an American family. It is also rumoured that David Beckham has bought one. Meteor’s spokesman said: “I’m afraid it is an official ‘no comment’ in terms of any potential investors.”

Golf Course
A crucial attraction is the James Braid-designed 18-hole golf course, which is being extended and improved by golf professional Stephen Gallacher. Work is well advanced with alteratioaltns taking place all over the course. It will be more than 7,000 yards long of Championship standard with two new holes on the northwestern side of the state reaching close to the river.
Bulldozers have almost completed digging out a new pond close to the western access road that will be a feature of the new course.
There is still uncertainty about the future for Taymouth Castle Golf Club however. According to Martin Mortimer existing members will still be allowed to play on the course and membership might be restricted to some local post code areas. However, the new hotel operator is likely to have the final say.
In its publicity Meteor says Taymouth Castle Estate “will be an unrivalled guest experience and a destination in its own right, putting it on the world map in terms of quality and standards.”
Much is made of the parkland setting “at the gateway to the highlands of Scotland” and the river and loch fishing facilities. There will also balte an equestrian centre within the estate.
On the basis of the August preview, it will certainly be able to compete with other Scottish golf resorts like Gleneagles and Loch Lomond.

by Peter Hounam


Pictured from top: Martin Mortimer: golf course house (1) designer image and (2) progress to date; the Spikes Bar in the castle 


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