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Issue 35 - The lap of luxury

Scotland Magazine Issue 35
November 2007


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The lap of luxury

Ian Buxton visits Corrour Lodge, an exclusive holiday home in the Highlands

Is Scotland credible as a luxury destination, at the very top of the global market? That was the daunting question facing an group of travel writers, and your humble correspondent, on a recent trip to a hidden jewel in the heart of a Scottish estate.

Our base was Corrour Lodge, a £20m+ Highland hideaway on the shores of Loch Ossian, acclaimed by The Royal Fine Arts Commission of Scotland as ‘destined to become one of the few examples of worldclass 20th-century architecture in Scotland.’ Corrour Lodge is certainly stunning – a dramatic modernist structure, surrounded by remaining Victorian buildings and a developing planned landscape garden that is at once naturalistic and yet cerebral.

The house is centred round a glass vaulted Great Hall filled with contemporary art and found objects – the jawbone of a sperm whale and the fossilised head of a giant Irish elk as examples. A radical design divides the property into two parts, which are split by great conical and pyramidal walls of glass facing onto the loch.

Naturally, all eight guest suites enjoy panoramic views of the magnificent natural landscape. But Corrour is about the great outdoors as well. So our party met head stalker Niall Rowantree to learn about stalking and, within a short period, were firing a lethal-looking rifle on fixed targets with considerable accuracy.

Stalking, for both red and roe deer, is just one of the activities available at Corrour.

Here, visitors can also enjoy grouse shooting; walking and climbing on numerous Munros, including the 3433 ft Chno Dearg; fishing from boat or bank on three lochs and several rivers; sailing and pony trekking.

We did not, however, confine ourselves to these activities. Determined to showcase the very best of Scotland, our hosts had arranged helicopter transport to whisk our party to Skye and the renowned Three Chimneys.

With stunning visibility approaching 75 miles, our pilot was able to point out the distant misty shape of St Kilda to suitably impressed London-based visitors who were appropriately taken with Shirley Spear’s cooking and the fresher-than-fresh seafood.

Despite claiming to be more than satisfied with just two courses I noticed that most of them succumbed to The Famous Hot Marmalade Pudding.

Our return took in a brief stop at Talisker Distillery where we learned that, in common with much of the industry, Talisker is in good heart with production being stepped up.

Sunday saw us picnicking and boating on Loch Treig, noted for its spectacular wild pike. Fish of more than 30lbs have been taken and many large Ferox trout also found here.

A formal black tie dinner was served as the culmination of our stay. It demonstrated, if any confirmation was needed, that culinary and service levels in Scotland, even 12 miles up an off-road track, can meet worldclass levels.

The trip was organised by Edinburghbased DreamEscape and masterminded by husband and wife team David and Holly Tobin. Their business is able to provide “exclusive experiences that are as seamless and stress-free as they are enjoyable.” Of course, such a weekend is not cheap.

This is not mass-market tourism, and never will be. But demand for these exclusive experiences is growing and the Tobins are confident that Scotland can and should compete, offering an uncompromising commitment to excellence, alongside unique products such as single malt whisky, in remarkable settings.

Certainly, so far as we were concerned, it was truly a dream escape.