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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Travel

Enjoy the magic of the Misty Isle at Skye’s Kinloch Lodge

March 14 2011

Mist-covered mountains, wild seas and dramatic ruined castles drenched in history make the Isle of Skye one of the most romantic getaways that Scotland, and indeed the world, has to offer. But perhaps nowhere encapsulates the romance of the Misty Isle more than the luxurious hideaway Kinloch Lodge the island's only Michelin Star establishment. Michael Alexander travelled north to find out more. Tom and Isabella moved up from London in 2002. "It's been a steep learning curve and we've learned a lot on the hoof!"Tom laughs. But significantly the 2007 appointment of Marcello Tully, Kinloch's award-winning head chef, has put the heart and soul into creating a feast for every meal. The menu changes daily to include seasonal, locally sourced produce, expertly handled by Marcello and his dedicated team. Buccleuch Estate beef, game, fish and shellfish caught in the local waters and hot-smoked salmon from South Uist are just some of the delicacies served from the rich larder of the Highlands. The food is matched by one of the country's finest wine lists, recently given Michelin's Red Grapes award. Wine, whisky and beer flights are available with each course, carefully chosen to match the food on offer. Everything we try has an unusual twist. For example, who'd think of combining caramelised banana with salmon as a starter? Marcello would and it works. We both go for venison as our main course and we aren't disappointed. We decide to take it easy with the wine, though, given that next morning we have an early start ahead of a guided tour of the island with a local ghillie. After a sumptuous breakfast of delicious porridge, boiled eggs and coffee, we are picked up by Skye Ghillie Mitchell Partridge, who works independently but closely with the hotel to offer all grades of guided walks and fly-fishing trips. It's too early in the season to go angling, but, knowing that we are keen walkers who are not scared to get our boots dirty, camouflage-clad Mitch has promised to use his local knowledge to show us the best of Skye's sealife and mountain wildlife on a single day whilst giving us tips on how to forage for wild food. Our destination is the 12,500-acre Kingsburgh Estate, a good 40-minute drive away towards the north of the island, and the birthplace of the legendary Flora Macdonald. Driving past snow-capped mountains, sea lochs and tumbling waterfalls, Mitch is in his element as he tells us about some of the guests he's hosted over the years from "generals to brigadiers to binmen". He's spent the day with film stars, an Aborigine and even Japanese visitors who didn't speak a word of English. "One of the most interesting was a Sioux Indian from North Dakota. He was in Scotland visiting the Findhorn Foundation at Moray. He was a very silent man, very spiritual. He spoke in poetry. He sat cross-legged listening to the river speaking to him. To me it was just a babbling burn!" Today, Mitch has the challenge of hosting a pair of Fifers. "We don't get many of them!" he laughs. But what he is pleased about is the growing number of bookings he is taking through the internet. In fact, he reckons 90% of his business is now booked online. Despite rising petrol costs (£1.45 a litre on Skye during our visit) and the relative remoteness of Skye in UK terms, he says the rise in 'staycations' from UK visitors has boosted his business. "I wouldn't be without my iPhone but getting back to nature is what it's all about," he says. "People want to get away from it all. For me it's all about the lifestyle and on my tours, my local knowledge makes the difference." Looking out towards the distant peaks of North Uist, we stop so Mitch can use his camping stove to cook us up some shellfish prised from the rocks and, before we know it, we are enjoying the special experience of picking winkles from their shells with the points of a safety pin! Mitch promised to take us into the mountains as well and in Glen Hinnisdal we see what we came for two golden eagles circling above the trees in their natural environment. A remarkable spectacle to cap a remarkable weekend. The romantic special offer two-night stay at Kinloch Lodge, including dinner, bed and breakfast and one-day wild walking or fishing with Skye Ghillies costs £273 pp until March 31, 2011 based on £99 per person per night for dinner bed and breakfast and a day with Skye Ghillie Mitch Partridge at £150 per couple. To find out more visit www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk. To contact Skye Ghillies about fishing or walking tours go to www.skyeghillieflyfishing.co.uk or call 07909 947849. As soon as we arrived at Kinloch Lodge, accessed via a private driveway and nestled just yards from the south-eastern shores of the island, we knew we were in for a memorable two-night stay that offered the best in Highland hospitality. Invited to take a seat in the cosy reception area with its crackling log fire and deep sofas, we were handed a complimentary glass of bubbly and invited to relax in what turned out to be the oldest room in the hotel dating back 300 years to the days when this was the hunting lodge of the Macdonalds of Sleat. In fact, the links to this ancient clan are alive and well with the family-run business owned and managed by Lord Godfrey Macdonald of Sleat and his wife Claire who has carved a career as one of the nation's best-known cooks. Nowadays, the day-to-day running of Kinloch is carried out mainly by their daughter Isabella and her husband Tom Eveling, assisted impeccably by one of the longest-serving employees at the hotel, reservations manager Rachel McKinnon, and a warm and friendly staff, ranging from local Gaelic speakers to New Zealanders, who exude the impression that they genuinely love their work. Tom (42), a former London-based Sky Sports football reporter who humourously acknowledges his move "from Sky to Skye", takes pride in giving all guests a personal welcome and tour of the premises. We are no exception, and we learn a lot about the efforts that go in to making residents' stays as comfortable as possible. Original portraits of Macdonald ancestors hang on the walls, while family photographs, fresh flowers and, come evening, flickering candles, make for an unforgettably romantic scene. Taking time to relax in our room with its spectacular views out over Loch na Dal and the Cuillin, the dramatic beauty outside serves to maximise the cosiness within. But such is the warmth of the welcome we've experienced, my wife and I can't help but feel that we're staying in someone's house rather than a hotel. Invited to the bar for a pre-dinner drink, Tom explains that this "home from home" feel is exactly what they are trying to achieve at Kinloch. He explains how his mother-in-law Claire established the hotel business in 1972 and over the years she wrote articles and books that cemented her reputation as a self-taught cook. Today, she is famed not just for her cooking but also for her demonstrations, which she hosts from her very own kitchen. Continued... As soon as we arrived at Kinloch Lodge, accessed via a private driveway and nestled just yards from the south-eastern shores of the island, we knew we were in for a memorable two-night stay that offered the best in Highland hospitality. Invited to take a seat in the cosy reception area with its crackling log fire and deep sofas, we were handed a complimentary glass of bubbly and invited to relax in what turned out to be the oldest room in the hotel dating back 300 years to the days when this was the hunting lodge of the Macdonalds of Sleat. In fact, the links to this ancient clan are alive and well with the family-run business owned and managed by Lord Godfrey Macdonald of Sleat and his wife Claire who has carved a career as one of the nation's best-known cooks. Nowadays, the day-to-day running of Kinloch is carried out mainly by their daughter Isabella and her husband Tom Eveling, assisted impeccably by one of the longest-serving employees at the hotel, reservations manager Rachel McKinnon, and a warm and friendly staff, ranging from local Gaelic speakers to New Zealanders, who exude the impression that they genuinely love their work. Tom (42), a former London-based Sky Sports football reporter who humourously acknowledges his move "from Sky to Skye", takes pride in giving all guests a personal welcome and tour of the premises. We are no exception, and we learn a lot about the efforts that go in to making residents' stays as comfortable as possible. Original portraits of Macdonald ancestors hang on the walls, while family photographs, fresh flowers and, come evening, flickering candles, make for an unforgettably romantic scene. Taking time to relax in our room with its spectacular views out over Loch na Dal and the Cuillin, the dramatic beauty outside serves to maximise the cosiness within. But such is the warmth of the welcome we've experienced, my wife and I can't help but feel that we're staying in someone's house rather than a hotel. Invited to the bar for a pre-dinner drink, Tom explains that this "home from home" feel is exactly what they are trying to achieve at Kinloch. He explains how his mother-in-law Claire established the hotel business in 1972 and over the years she wrote articles and books that cemented her reputation as a self-taught cook. Today, she is famed not just for her cooking but also for her demonstrations, which she hosts from her very own kitchen. Continued...

Perth & Kinross

Cromix Hotel top for luxury in industry awards

April 20 2015

Tennis ace Andy Murray has yet another reason to celebrate after his five-star hotel was hailed as one of the best in Scotland. Cromlix House, on the edge of the 27-year-old’s home town Dunblane, scored a top accolade in the Scottish Hotel Awards. The establishment, where Murray and his bride Kim Sears held their wedding reception earlier this month, was named luxury hotel of the year. Murray bought the Cromlix, which has its own chapel, in 2013 and re-opened it last year following a £1.8 million refurbishment. The hotel had been the venue for his brother Jamie’s wedding in 2010. The Cromlix was named hotel of the year at last year’s awards ceremony, but this time round the top title went to the Auchrannie Resort on Arran, described by judges as “Scotland in miniature”. And despite hosting the wedding celebration of 2015, the Cromlix didn’t take home the wedding hotel of the year gong that honour went to Balbirnie House at Glenrothes. Elsewhere in Courier Country, the Lake of Menteith Hotel at the Trossachs National Park received the small country hotel award, while the Malmaison in Dundee was named style hotel of the year. The Kinloch Lodge on Skye received the coveted breakfast of the year award. Restaurant of the year went to the five-star Inverlochy Castle near Fort William, while the romantic hotel award was picked up by Shieldhill on the site of a 12th-Century castle in Bigger on the upper Clyde. The winners were announced last night at a sell-out party in Glasgow attended by more than 500 hoteliers, staff and guests. Judging involved three months of mystery visits to venues across nine regions. All regional winners were eligible to win in the national categories. Explaining the choice of Auchrannie for the top prize, Damian Riley-Smith, managing director of awards organiser Paragraph Publishing, said: “Auchrannie is an inspiring Scottish tourism success story. “It is a creatively designed destination resort offering excellent accommodation, hospitality, leisure facilities and a luxury spa where guests of all ages can experience care-free relaxation and family fun for a true getaway island escape.”

Business news

Troubled Fairmont up for sale

June 18 2014

The loss-making Fairmont St Andrews Hotel and Golf Resort is up for sale with a £37 million price tag, it has been confirmed. Global selling agent CBRE said offers are invited for the 209-bed luxury property which also features a spa, two golf courses, and planning permission for dozens of new holiday homes on a 520-acre estate a few miles south east of the Fife town. It said the opportunity offered the purchaser a “truly unique” chance to further establish the location as one of the foremost conference, wedding, golfing and leisure destinations in the UK. But accounts for operator St Andrews Bay Development Ltd posted at Companies House earlier this year revealed how its immediate parent had breached banking covenants casting “significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Pre-tax losses more than tripled to £12.8 million during the 12 months to December 2012. Earnings were hammered by a £10.6m impairment on the value of the property, St Andrews Bay directors said, though gross profits were up 23% at £3.8m. It was bought by present owner, New York-listed real estate and private equity firm Ares Management, in 2006 with Canadian-based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts taking over the hotel’s management.

Fife

Man accused of attacking police fails to appear in court because “he doesn’t have the funds to pay for the bus”

April 4 2018

A man who is accused of attacking police officers while resisting arrest at Dunfermline police station has failed to appear in court. David Darren Kinloch called his defence solicitor ahead of today's hearing and claimed he did not have enough money to pay for the bus. Kinloch, 34, is charged with acting in a threatening and abusive manner by shouting, swearing, uttering threats and repeatedly striking the inside of a police vehicle on January 20 2018. He is also accused of assaulting PC Daniel Clarke by kicking him on the hand while he was carrying out his duties at the police station. Kinloch faces a third charge which states that he did “resist, obstruct or hinder” three officers and did “struggle violently with them” on the same date. He was due to appear at Dunfermline Sheriff Court today and Sheriff Simon Collins issued a warrant for his arrest. Kinloch’s defence solicitor, James Moncrieff, told the court he was “unlikely to appear” despite staying in the same town. He said: “I was contacted by the office indicating that it was unlikely he would be in attendance because he doesn’t have the funds to pay for the bus to court. “If he had attempted to walk, he may have been dissuaded by the weather.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Business news

Five-star award showing from region’s hoteliers

April 28 2014

Hoteliers from across east and central Scotland have put big city rivals in the shade after dominating the winners’ podium at a major hospitality industry awards event. Venues from across the region picked up almost half the titles on offer at the Scottish Hotel Awards bagging 13 of the 28 major gongs available. But it was Wimbledon champion Andy Murray who made the headlines, with his Cromlix Hotel, at Kinbuck, near Dunblane, named Scottish hotel of the year and luxury hotel of the year just 27 days after opening is doors for the first time. The refurbished 15-bed Victorian mansion includes a Chex Rouz restaurant, and is set in 34 acres of grounds which include an SW19-themed tennis court. Awards chairman Gary McLean Quin said the hotel’s “superbly balanced” combination of investment, vision and experienced management made it one of Scotland’s leading lights. “What impressed us and specifically enabled this award was the involvement of the award-winning management and individuals in every department people of excellence we have known for a decade,” he said. “The result is no less than a national treasure. We must also pay tribute to Andy’s mother Judy who has undoubtedly played a great part in this transformation.” Cromlix management company Inverlochy Castle Management International was also amongst the winners, picking up the hotel management company award for the fifth year in a row. But there were a host of other winners with Perthshire a particularly strong favourite amongst the judges. Knock Castle & Spa was named romantic hotel of the year, while Crieff Hydro won the family hotel award. Pitlochry’s Fonab Castle picked up the rural hotel of the year gong, with the nearby Craigmhor Lodge and Courtyard named guest house of the year and The Old Mill topping the inn of the year category. Cairn Lodge, in Auchterarder, won the boutique category, while Jody Marshall of Ballathie House, on the banks of the Tay at Kinclaven, was named hotel manager of the year. Nicholas Russell, a longstanding director and co-proprietor of Balbirnie House in Markinch, received a fellowship award for his “outstanding contribution to Scotland’s hospitality industry.” Dundee’s DoubleTree by Hilton was named branded hotel of the year, with the city’s new Malmaison recognised as the city hotel of the year. And The Parsonage, at Dunmore Park, near Stirling, was named exclusive use venue of the year. VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay hailed the “superb standards” of establishments in Stirlingshire, Tayside and Fife. “These stunning regions not only offer an excellent and varied range of high quality visitor accommodation, but also boast some of the finest hotels in the country, building on Scotland’s reputation as a world-class destination,” he said. The national awards - selected from a shortlist of nine regional winners in each category - were presented by enterprise minister Fergus Ewing at a gala dinner in Edinburgh.

Business news

US firm snaps up Fairmont St Andrews hotel

August 19 2014

Luxury hotel Fairmont St Andrews has been sold to a Beverley Hills-based property investment group for more than £32 million. Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate snapped up the exclusive 209-bed property to complete its second top-end European hotel purchase this summer. The Fife destination and golf resort was put on the market in the spring with a £37m price tag, with selling agent CBRE saying the sale offered a “truly unique” chance to establish the site as “one of the foremost conference, wedding, golfing and leisure destinations in the UK”. Canadian management firm Fairmont Hotels & Resorts said it would work “diligently” with the new owners to ensure a smooth transition, while stressing the change of ownership would have no impact on the hotel’s day-to-day operations. “The Fairmont St Andrews will continue to honour all guest reservations and group contracts and the employment of all hotel staff will continue with no changes to current conditions of employment for hotel colleagues,” a spokeswoman added. The controversial £50m development, just south east of the ancient Fife town, was opened by US entrepreneur Don Panoz in 2001 but was subsequently bought over by New York-listed real estate and private equity firm Ares Management, with FRHI taking over the hotel’s management on a 25-year contract, in 2006. Accounts for holding company St Andrews Bay Development Ltd posted at Companies House earlier this year revealed how its immediate parent had breached banking covenants casting “significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. Pre-tax losses more than tripled to £12.8m during the 12 months to December 2012. Earnings were hammered by a £10.6m impairment on the value of the property, St Andrews Bay directors said, though gross profits were up 23% at £3.8m. Mary Ricks, president and chief executive of Kennedy Wilson Europe, said the deal provided “a number of good opportunities to leverage our extensive asset management expertise”. The hotel is set in 520 acres, with planning permission for dozens of new holiday homes on site. Kennedy Wilson also paid 29.8m euros (£23.9m) for Dublin’s Portmarnock Hotel in June.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Angus & The Mearns

Some ‘TLC’ ahead for Carnoustie’s Kinloch Arms Hotel

June 13 2014

A fixture of Carnoustie High Street is undergoing a £200,000 makeover. The project will restore the Kinloch Arms Hotel to its former glory and open a coffee shop and restaurant on the site. The pub will be closed for approximately four weeks and is expected to reopen at the start of next month. New lessee Grant Wiseman said: “The Kinloch Arms Hotel is a brilliant building in a fantastic location, all it lacked was investment and some TLC and now it will be getting both. “I want it to be a place the whole community can use, enjoy and be proud of and I’ve tried to think through every detail so we can provide a warm welcome for all. “I can remember the Kinloch Arms as a young man on nights out in Carnoustie I never dreamt I’d end up running it.” The refurbishment will be carried out under the auspices of Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken’s pub business.

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