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Gleneagles Hotel Q&A with Stuart Smith - Best UK family hotel 2014 - WINNER

We meet the director of events behind the 2014 Junior Design Award-winning entry




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What is your name and job title?

Stuart Smith, Director of Events & Leisure, The Gleneagles Hotel

Why did you enter your hotel into the Junior Design Awards?

Gleneagles is a stunning family hotel set in 850 acres of rolling Perthshire countryside. The hotel offers something for every member of the family with a plethora of activities on offer. Luxury family holidays at Gleneagles are filled with hours of fun in the endless country acres - the perfect playground, no matter what your age. From cycling around lochs, to playing polo, training a gun-dog or even driving an Argo Cat (amphibious vehicle) there are so many outdoor activities on offer - the hotel even welcomes the family dog.

Why would families love to visit your resort over any other in the UK?

Gleneagles is one of the few UK hotels that offers such extensive activities and entertainment in a high-end luxury establishment. Many guests re-visit the hotel year upon year as the resort houses everything you could possibly need to keep all the generations entertained.

The other thing that really makes us stand out is out staff – people sometimes expect Gleneagles to be very ‘stuffy’: this couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re fortunate to have a fantastic team, some of whom have been part of the Gleneagles ‘family’ for years – they have built up some great relationships with our regular guests and can always be counted on to give a warm Scottish welcome and go out of their way to make our guests’ stays extraordinary.

Which activities do children enjoy the most?

Children have a host of activities to choose from when they visit Gleneagles, including falconry, horse riding, golf, gun dog training, cycling, tennis, mini Off-Road Driving, Land Rover safaris and more.  Indoor activities are also available and the little ones can enjoy the playroom (for the young ones) and The Zone (for the teenagers) that offer computer games, arts & crafts, table football and much more. The club also offers indoor swimming.

What do you think are the hallmarks of outstanding design in the wonderful world of family-friendly hotels?

A truly excellent family-friendly hotel is one that offers something for each family member. Gleneagles not only keeps the kids entertained, we offer them activities that they will genuinely enjoy doing while the adults can play golf, dine in the award winning restaurants, relax and unwind in the ESPA Life spa and more.

Not only that, The Gleneagles Hotel incorporates luxury family holiday accommodation that caters for babies, toddlers, kids and young adults, allowing guests to experience the exclusive rooms and luxury suites at Gleneagles with their family. Special facilities include special teenage rooms, family rooms with bunk-beds, cots, and inter-connecting rooms

When is the best time to visit the hotel?

Gleneagles’ rural but accessible location allows you to enjoy and truly embrace different seasons so there is never a bad time to visit. Some highlights include;

·     Spring – not only does springtime at Gleneagles welcome the beginning of the golf season, it’s a great chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with all the family - treat mum to a relaxing trip to the spa or high tea while soaking in the beautiful surroundings. Another spring highlight is of course Easter, when the little ones can enjoy a dedicated programme of activities for the school holidays and bask in the warmer weather.

·     Summer is a popular time at Gleneagles when outdoor activities in our beautiful estate can be fully enjoyed. Tennis, golf, shooting or simply walking in the surrounds are a treat at this time of year.

·     Autumn and winter can be equally enjoyable. When October comes around Gleneagles embrace the school holidays and we have a special additional range of activities to keep everyone entertained – they won’t want to leave, let alone go back to school.

·       The festive season is a time of great excitement at the hotel. Christmas is a magical time at the resort; a combination of culinary delights, exciting activities and festive cheer. Ice skating, gourmet food tasting, and our annual Christmas Eve carols stand out as favourite events, but there is much more on offer to make Christmas one big family celebration – including the appearance of Father Christmas for the little ones.

Gleneagles believe in seeing the year out with a bang, leaving you with a Hogmanay celebration you will be hard-pressed to forget. With a sumptuous black tie dinner to end the year and a dazzling firework display to celebrate the new, a New Year break is truly unforgettable.

What excursions can families undertake?

A trip to Gleneagles is an invaluable chance to spend time together as a family. Stirling Castle and the new interactive Bannockburn visitor centre are just down the road, while we’re just one hour from the delights of Edinburgh and Glasgow – the latter has a fantastic Science Centre, which I can thoroughly recommend.

Who has been your most exciting guest?

We were honoured to have Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit us this year, when they unveiled a plaque to commemorate our 90th anniversary.

What is your personal favourite part of the experience of staying at the hotel?

Dining in the magnificent Andrew Fairlie – Scotland’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant - is always a joy. On a slightly more informal note, watching the kids don their chef’s hat and make their own pizza in Deseo is always entertaining.

Why would you encourage families to take their holiday in the UK over going abroad?

The UK is the perfect holiday destination for families, there is so much to offer and there’s no need to take a flight, which can be a hassle with young children especially. We are lucky in that we are on the main London railway line, so you can be at Gleneagles station in five hours from Central London without changing trains.

Perthshire is such a beautiful place to explore –it really has it all, from outdoor activities, to amazing dining experiences, to woodland walks, and whisky distilleries.

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