What's new in... Scotland

In the year of 'Homecoming Scotland', Annica Wainwright finds plenty of reasons to hold a range of corporate events north of the border

It’s All Go for Trump
US business magnate Donald Trump has had his plans to create ‘Scotland’s ultimate golf resort’ approved. We hear work on the 1,400-acre site set to host the Trump International Golf Links has already begun, with the first golf course and clubhouse due to open in spring 2010. When the full resort stands completed in 2012, it will feature two championship golf courses and a five-star hotel. The location is Balmedie Beach on the Menie Estate, just north of Aberdeen.

Fairmont St Andrews - StAndrews1.gifFairmont Celebrates End of Refurbishments
Purpose-built resort hotel Fairmont St Andrews has just emerged from a £17m-refurb and is looking better than ever. Improvements include spruced-up guest rooms and public areas, plus a brand new signature spa and upgraded 15,000sq ft conference area – the largest resort conference facility in Scotland. The Torrace (one of the hotel’s two on-site championship golf courses) has also been redesigned in time for hosting this year’s Scottish Seniors Open.
Fairmont St Andrews, tel: 01334 837000, squaremeal.co.uk/standrews

London’s Hoxton Hotel will gain a Scottish relation in 2011, when its owners are due to open an as-yet-unnamed property in Edinburgh’s Cowgate district

Get Up-Close with Nessie
As the only habitable castle on the shores of Loch Ness, Aldourie Castle is a Highland highlight. Currently undergoing a major restoration programme, it will soon be available for exclusive use, hosting events in both its public rooms and 500-acre grounds. Upon completion (in July 2009), the main house will feature 14 lavish bedrooms alongside impressive reception rooms and meeting areas. Larger parties will be able to spread into the estate’s three cottages, and marquees erected for additional entertainment space. Inverness airport is just 16 miles away. 
Aldourie Castle and Estate, Loch Ness, Inverness, tel: 0870 625 0265

Asylum Turns Boutique Hotel
The latest link in the popular Hotel du Vin chain opened in Edinburgh’s Old Town in December last year. Located next to the Bedlam Theatre (also available to hire for events, tel: 0131 225 9873), the new property may occupy a building that was once a ‘lunatic asylum’ but is now an entirely sane prospect – particularly for smaller events. On-site are 47 bedrooms, a bistro with accompanying chef’s table and private dining rooms, a whisky snug, bar and wine-tasting table, as well as a courtyard garden with a heated cigar shack. A sister property is due to open in St Andrews in winter 2009/10.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro, 11 Bristo Place, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 247 4900

CREDIT_VISIT_SCOTLAND_Edinburgh_Castle.jpgOnline Offensive
The good people at Visit Scotland have launched themselves into the world of social networking with a new Facebook group, blog and Twitter account. Find them and other event professionals among the V&E team’s followers at www.twitter.com/squaremealvande
Visit Scotland, tel: 0131 472 2355, squaremeal.co.uk/visits

Turnberry on Target
Vicious rumours may have had it otherwise but we’re assured the £30m makeover of the five-star Turnberry Resort will be completed in time for the 138th Open Championship on 16 July. You won’t be able to book rooms for the duration of the tournament itself but reservations are already being taken for the period immediately afterward. We know there’s going to be a stunning spa but new owners Leisurecorp are otherwise remaining very tight-lipped about developments. It looks like we’ll just have to tell you all about it when we head up for the golf, so check squaremeal.co.uk/venues/news for details come July.
Turnberry, Ayrshire, tel: 01655 331000

Glitzy New Hotel for Glasgow
Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, may seem a million miles from Glasgow – but perhaps not for long. We hear the Dubai landmark’s operator, Jumeirah, is planning to open a ‘five-star super deluxe’ property in the Scottish city. Scheduled to open in 2011, the new hotel will be located in Glasgow’s financial district and feature extensive conference facilities alongside 160 rooms and 85 serviced apartments. Other features include a 630-seat ballroom, a Talaise Wellness spa and several restaurants and bars, including a rooftop cocktail lounge.

Did you know that world leaders from 60 different countries have stayed at the Old Course Hotel? Find out why it’s so popular at squaremeal.co.uk/oldcourse

0902_royalbotanicgarden_webpic.jpgGreen Space at the Botanic Garden
Designed with sustainability in mind, the John Hope Gateway visitor centre will serve up innovative space for eco-friendly entertainment when it opens at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh this summer. The venue, which will be available to hire after-hours, will incorporate reception space for up to 160 guests and have a sizeable roof terrace with spectacular views across the gardens. Event catering and food for the 120-capacity on-site restaurant will be provided by Prestige Scotland (a division of Sodexo Prestige), which promises to source local food wherever possible. The venue is also kitted out with a wind turbine, biomass boiler and rainwater harvester, as well as solar panels and furniture made from the garden’s own reclaimed wood.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, tel: 0800 328 1373, squaremeal.co.uk/rbge

Did you know that Scotland’s largest ballroom is in Glasgow? The 1,000sq m room at the Thistle (tel: 0870 333 9154) seats 1,500 and has recently undergone a £1.2m makeover

Town House Co Takes on Glasgow
The former Royal Scottish Automobile Club (RSAC) headquarters in Glasgow are set to reopen as a five-star hotel this summer. Managed by the Town House Company, which operates Edinburgh’s Howard, Bonham and Channings hotels, the 88-bedroom Blythswood Square will house a 10,000sq ft spa, conference facilities and a ‘Rally Bar’, named after the Monte Carlo rally that used to start from this address. A 100-cover restaurant will move into the space that was the RSAC’s ballroom, while the Penthouse Suite will have its own lift, dining area, bar and balcony, with BBQ, hot tub and city views. Corporate enquiries are handled by Jo Wintour,
tel: 0131 274 7410

Monkey Business
Watch the chimps watching you in the new Budongo Boardroom at Edinburgh Zoo, where meetings for up to 12 delegates can be held against the backdrop of floor-to-ceiling views of the zoo’s chimpanzee enclosure. Certainly makes a change from your usual whiteboard!
Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 314 0350

Let there be light: more than a quarter of a mile of LED lighting cable has been installed in the main event space at the handsome Edinburgh Corn Exchange (tel: 0131 477 3500)

Leave Your Troosers at Home
Edinburgh-based Reel Time Events has launched a new kilt hire service for events. The production company, which also organises Scottish party entertainment, will send delegates self-measurement instructions ahead of the event, for which it then delivers outfits to the customer’s hotel, alongside a kilted Scotsman to show guests how to wear the garments properly. Tartan sashes and brooches are available for ladies and all clothes are picked up again the following day – hassle free. Reel Time Events, tel: 0131 346 8393

CREDIT_VISIT_SCOTLAND_Edinburgh_Festival.jpgSensory Dining at Sheraton
Foodies looking for a twist on the private dining concept should check out the new Sensory Dining package at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh. The concept, designed to heighten awareness of flavours, smells and textures, sees diners tuck into a five-course meal in blindfolds, removing the sense they’d usually rely on most. Whether or not food tastes better ‘in the dark’ may be up for discussion but this novel way to enjoy a gourmet meal certainly makes for a memorable dining experience. Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 229 9131

InterContinental is rumoured to be looking at Edinburgh’s Haymarket area for its first Scottish property, set to open in 2013

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2009