The Sunday Times’ Ultimate British Family Holiday

Looking for the ultimate family holiday? Well look no further, because we’ve just been crowned The Sunday Times’ Ultimate British Family Hotel.

Even when you’re us, Monday mornings aren’t the best. We’d had a big weekend celebrating our nominations for The Scottish Thistle Awards, and Monday meant it was time to get back to some hard work. But not before a strong coffee.

We opened the social media feeds to make sure that all of you had enjoyed your weekend too, when we spotted a Tweet from one of our followers congratulating us on winning the title of The Sunday Times’ Ultimate British Family Hotel.

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Well, after swiftly wiping the coffee from the computer screen, it was time to celebrate all over again.

Never in a month of Sundays did we think we’d be crowned number one Ultimate British Family Holiday. It was our “bumper buffet of ways to wear out the offspring” that won us the title, making us the only Scottish hotel to win it in the four years that they’ve been running. And we were actually the only Scottish hotel to be named in the category.

The Sunday Times run their 100 Ultimate British Hotels yearly. They refresh their research, visit and revisit hotels each year to look for particular qualities, “Comfort, service and value are essential, but to be included, a hotel also needs to have qualities that are less tangible — personality and warmth.”

What can we say? We’ll be dining out on this one all week.

Scottish Thistle Awards

It’s time for a little celebration because we’ve just heard the exciting news that we’ve been nominated for not one, but TWO of this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards.

The awards, run by Visit Scotland, have been on the go for over 20 years and are known as the Oscars of the Scottish tourism world.

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First up we heard the news that our Action Glen has been nominated for the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience category. They’ll go up against Go Ape and Highland Fling Bungee in the Central, Fife & Tayside Regional Final this November.

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Since opening in 2013, Action Glen has been a popular choice for lots of different visitors, from corporate teambuilding, hen and stag parties, to families or couples looking for a unique day out. We welcome 40,000 visitors to Action Glen every year, and we’re always evolving the offering to keep it fresh and exciting.

Of course, we did what’s right under these circumstances, and immediately began a little celebration.

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Our resident Action Glen mascot, Glen, had already popped open the fizz when word came through that The Park hotel in Peebles (a member of our family of hotels) had received the nomination for the Innovation in Tourism award. They’ll be battling it out against Born in the Borders and Lateral City to make it through to the National Final, which takes place in March.

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The Park has undergone a rigorous upcycled facelift since we bought it over. It pays homage to Peebles’ industrial past, weaving the stories of the recently closed March Street Mill with the history of the hotel itself.

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Now we don’t like to brag, but we’re absolutely delighted to have received a double nomination and it’s great to see the teams’ hard work being recognised by Visit Scotland. We have to admit that we’re already going between perfecting the dreaded ‘gracious-loser face’ and dreaming of our acceptance speech.

The two categories couldn’t be more different, and we wouldn’t possibly expect to win them both. But it’s certainly nice to imagine it, and it’s brilliant to be in the running.

Cheers.

Big Tree Country

How we’re doing our bit to help preserve Perthshire’s trees

As a family owned business, we believe it’s pretty important not to forget your roots. So what better cause for us to support than the preservation and promotion of the many remarkable trees, woodlands and country gardens throughout Perthshire.

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We’ve been working alongside the Big Tree Country Initiative, and we’re on a mission to help raise awareness of the work they do to maintain the beautiful Perthshire countryside around us.

We like to think that we’re surrounded by some of the most spectacular green spaces in Scotland, so to help our friends at Big Tree Country, we’ve been inviting our guests to donate one-pound per stay to the project.

To kick it all off our Stephen, and Chair of Trustees at Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, Neil Kilpatrick planted a tree together – which now has pride of place in our Victorian Gardens.

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It wasn’t just any old tree that Neil brought along to celebrate the partnership – The Fitzroya Cupressoides, also known as ‘Fitzroya’ or ‘Alerce’, can grow to around 200ft tall and live for as many as 3000 years.

It’s native to the Andes Mountains, but we’re pretty sure it’ll feel quite at home with us, and be here to welcome our guests for years to come.

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We’ll be developing guides and maps illustrating the nature walks and discovery points so you’ll be able to explore these beautiful areas yourself.

And if you’re looking for a little more information on the trees around the resort, our Head Gardener Dave’s been working the land here for thirty years, and knows pretty much everything there is to know about these 900acres.

Or if you’d like to know a little more about Big Tree Country’s fantastic work, take a look at their website.

Crieff Christmas Party People

We know the wonderful Scottish summer has only just come to an end, but we can’t help getting excited for our Christmas Party Nights. The bookings have been coming in thick and fast, and let’s just say some of the party group names have given us a laugh or two.

We have to hand it to our party people, they’ve really excelled themselves in terms of creativity this year.

Kicking things off we have The Almost Real Housewives of Fife (we’d watch that show!) and the intriguing These Are Not Our Teeth.

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The Leven Loonies, The Radio Mentals and a group known only as The Nutters are worrying us a little. As are the Moody Mares – we won’t allow any Scrooge or Grinch like behaviour ladies, not at our favourite time of the year.

It’s all about getting glammed up and having fun! And we’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to celebrating the festivities with The Gorgeous Nurses from Ward 19, The Foxy Chicks and Because We’re Worth It. But we’re just not quite sure what to expect from The Thunder from Down Under(?!).

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We’re anticipating an interesting standoff between The Posh Birds and The Dirty Dozen who arrive on the same night, but we’re hopeful that the People Who Ellen Doesn’t Hate will be able to keep the peace (they sound like a nice bunch). If that fails, we’re pretty confident Ellen will be able to handle things by herself anyway.

To top it all off, we can officially confirm that The Spice Girls Reunion Tour will be celebrating their Christmas Party Night with us… Zig-a-zig ah.

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If you’d like to join our creative festive revellers, book your Party Night now – make sure to keep the group names coming!

Enchanted Forest

Lights, music… action! This October the Perthshire forest will wait until evening falls to come alive.

Photography by Angus Forbes please credit when using

Think Avatar’s world of Pandora meets Disney’s Fantasia, but in a real life forest setting.

Photography by Angus Forbes please credit when using

You might think an outdoor sound and light show just as we head in to the Scottish winter is totally crazy, and let’s face it, you’d probably be right. But just wait till you see the transformation of Faskally Wood, and the weather will be the last thing on your mind.

The forest is worth seeing in the daylight for it’s autumnal tones and scenery alone. But wait for darkness, whack on some innovative light installations, atmospheric music and visuals, and you’re looking at something pretty special.

Photography by Angus Forbes please credit when using

Last year the show sold out of it’s 62,000 tickets (hence the reason for this timely blog post) so make sure to book in quick for the 15th annual show.

This year’s show – ‘Shimmer’ is The Enchanted Forest’s most ambitious display to date.

Photography by Angus Forbes please credit when using

The organisers like to keep details of the show a surprise, but what we do know is that this year’s show will follow the theme of an enchanted wood and there are promises of some larger than life characters.

The light displays are undoubtedly the focal point of the show, but there are always little touches like dancing fountains and acrobats to really illuminate the surrounding nature.

Photography by Angus Forbes please credit when using

 

There’s so much detail to take in that you’ll have to take a few trips around the forest to take it all in. With every walk around you’ll notice something new. And don’t be put off if it rains, the drops only add to the enchanted forest, making the lights glisten and sparkle even more.

National Wellness Day

Since we opened our doors in 1868, we’d like to think we’ve changed a fair bit.

There’s been over £40 million worth of investment since our beginnings, and we somehow doubt we would have 1000 visitors each day if we were still a dry venue! But one thing we do like to stick to our roots with, is our attitudes to wellness.crieff-hydro-1904_52683

Our story began with guests checking in to try out the latest in fashionable freezing spring-water cures. Almost 150 years later; we’ve introduced some brilliant new products, added just the right amount of heat to our pools – and our water cures are as popular as ever… although a lot more relaxing!

We’ve substituted the weird and wonderful water prescriptions of 19th century Hydro, for spa treatments, a sauna, steam room, spa bath and our perfectly heated Victorian spa pool. To create a much more pleasant (and warmer) water based experience.

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In the spa we partnered up with BABOR, the number one in German professional skincare, and we don’t think BABOR could be more at home than here at the Hydro. Their treatments use the healing power of water in their methods and in all of the products themselves.

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Our leisure facilities have taken a different turn too, gone are the days when one had to arrive to take part in exercise suited and booted. We’ve now got over 20 cardiovascular machines and a full timetable of fitness classes.

We waved goodbye to the peculiar ‘exercise’ regimes offered back in 1868. These days if you’re looking to shed a few pounds or increase upper body strength, then our team are on hand with some real scientific advice – unlike this curious contraption that we offered all those years ago!

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Alongside some of our more strenuous classes, we recently included yoga in our exercise timetable. Yoga focusses on strength, balance, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing.

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We’ve definitely changed a lot, (you couldn’t have jumped on a quad and roared around the off-road track back in the day, most-unsightly!) but it’s nice to know that our founding messages of being a centre for wellness are still relevant.

Thank goodness for science and technology for helping us find a more therapeutic way of getting our message across!

Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight

It’s time to shine the spotlight on our brilliant local suppliers. The 3rd-18th September is the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, so that means we’re about to embark on a whole two-weeks of celebrating the best in Scottish produce.

We’re not sure if you knew… but we’re pretty proud to be Scottish. While we think it’s really important to support our local businesses, it’s almost too easy with the range of premium quality food and drink that comes out of our wee country.

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So without further ado, let’s wet our whistles…

We’ll start with our friends at Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery. The Stirling brothers’ 2000-acre farm is home to their single-site operation, from farm to bottle. The growing of ingredients, distilling, maturing and bottling all take place on their Arbroath estate, and they even have their own mountain-filtered water supply from their underground lagoon.

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You can try one of their world class gin or vodkas, but sadly you’ll have to wait ‘til 2029 to try out the Arbikie whisky, as they refuse to release anything younger than a 14-year-old malt. It’s all about quality with Arbikie, at only three years old, their products are already being stocked in Harrods, The Ritz and of course, here at Crieff Hydro!

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It wouldn’t be a celebration of Scottish refreshments without a wee dram of our most proud export – whisky! The liquid nectar makes up a massive quarter of the whole of the UK’s food and drink exports. You can head to the Meikle bar to check out our whisky wall with over 80 of the finest Scottish malts to choose from.

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For a local nip, try out the Deanston single malt, distilled only a half hour’s drive from our front door. Of course for a real taste of Crieff it has to be The Glenturret, distilled only a half hour walk from us here. Both of these working distilleries are open for tours with the The Glenturret home to The Famous Grouse Experience and the Deanston single malt offering their chocolate and whisky tours.

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Next it’s on to our choice of Scottish craft beers. You’ve got to try out the Harviestoun brewery’s range. Brewed in Alva near Stirling, their award winning beers are full of flavour and they’re always experimenting with new ingredients. You can try their Ola Dubh barrel aged beer in the Meikle, Bitter & Twisted golden ale in the Brasserie or the popular Schiehallion at our Clubhouse.

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Next up its Brewdog, our craft beer experts. If you’ve not heard of them already, where have you been hiding?! These guys have been creating craft beer for under a decade but are already exporting to over 50 countries from their base in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Their Punk IPA (which you can try in The Hub) is the biggest selling craft beer in the UK and Scandinavia.

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It’s got to be said, we’re not doing too badly at all when it comes to making drinks… especially for a wee country! 😊😊

Caledonian Camino

It looks like we’re going to find ourselves in the midst of a 185-mile walkway.

No, don’t worry – The Proclaimers haven’t taken over Crieff…

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Plans for the ‘Caledonian Camino’ – a pilgrimage from the Isle of Iona, through Crieff and right across to St Andrews are beginning to take form.

The planned route from East Coast to West Coast will pass through Oban, Tyndrum, Crieff and Dundee. And Crieff Community Trust are busily putting together the best route through town, for the walk across Scotland.

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One of the five sections of the pilgrimage, the 70-mile Fife stretch, is already underway. It gained support from a £400,000 Heritage Lottery Fund award and should be ready for walkers by 2018.

The SPRF (Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum) plan to use the success of the Fife scheme as a platform to promote and secure a path for the rest of the walk.

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The project is inspired by Camino de Santiago – the famous Spanish pilgrimage – which welcomes around 200,000 people each year. The Scottish route is part of a bigger European movement to revive pilgrimages (although it might be a tad chillier here in Scotland!).

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As walking and cycling have become increasingly popular – it’s hoped that the route will not only attract spiritual walkers. Iona and St Andrews are considered two of Scotland’s most iconic religious sites, but organisers would also like the route to become a rival for the West Highland Way.

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Some of the route is still very much in the planning stages. Permission from landowners, and of course, a method of taking walkers across the Atlantic from Mull to Oban are still to be arranged.

Of course you’ve still got Crieff’s trusty old hill, The Knock, to rely on while plans are finalised for the Caledonian Camino.

National Dog Day

Whip out the biscuits and buy a new chew-toy, because today is National Dog Day!

There’s no greater love in the world than that of an owner and their beloved dog.

No one is ever as consistently happy to see you arrive at the door than your furry extended-family member. Wagging their tail in celebration at your mere arrival, is a level appreciation that’s otherwise hard to find.

There aren’t many relationships in the world where one party is happy to dish out so much love and enthusiasm without fear of rejection. The darling dog will come back time and again, even when their loving efforts are rebuffed by a busy owner.

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You won’t find that kind of loyalty from a cat, out there chasing birds and playing hard to get. The cat doesn’t need you – but a dog will be there for you throughout the good and the bad, always by your side.

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We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and now on the top of our agenda is National Dog Day.

A day to celebrate our four legged-friends, and generally appreciate their existence in our lives.

It isn’t just the impact on our family lives that warrant the celebration of dogs, even those of us that don’t own a dog have plenty to be thankful to man’s best friend for.

They provide the blind with a level of independence which would be otherwise impossible. They stand by the police in their day to day duties. They detect bombs and drugs to keep us safe, and they locate victims buried under wreckage… Great work dogs!

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We say it’s time to treat our tail-wagging buddies, and repay some of that unconditional love that they doggedly dish-out.

Here at Crieff Hydro we like to make sure that there’s something for all of the family, and welcome your pooches with open arms. We’ve got 900 acres of land for you and your hairy-mate to spend some quality time together, and you can bring your pet along to your dinner at the Clubhouse or in our sister hotel – the Murraypark.

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All of our self-catering facilities are dog-friendly, and you can even check your furry-friend in to one of our executive rooms! There are kennels too, if your pup prefers to camp outside.

So join us to celebrate this year’s National Dog Day and surprise your canine chum with a trip to Crieff Hydro! Book now.

Crieff Highland Gathering

We’re furiously brushing up on our caber tossing skills, looking out our finest kilts and practising our Highland Fling. That’s right – we are fast approaching one of our favourite weekends, it’s the return of the Crieff Highland Gathering!

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The Highland Gathering is the highlight of Crieff’s summer calendar, and it has been for the past 130 years. We love it, and not just because it’s almost as old as we are.

It brings people together to enjoy themselves, come rain or shine (admittedly it’s usually rain!) It’s a wonderful day out but don’t take our word for it, take Obi Wan’s…

It takes place in the town’s historic Market Park this Sunday, and of course all of the classic highland games will be on display.

There’ll be muscly men throwing things, plenty of Scottish food and drink to enjoy and you’re more or less guaranteed to hear a bagpipe at some point.

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There’s also the mile long, Crieff Kilt Race which starts from the top end of the town, hurtles down the hill and finishes in the park. Any spectators looking uphill, should beware of the true Scotsman!

This year also sees the return of the Glenturret Live music tent. After a successful first year at the last Gathering, our friends from Glenturret Distillery have once again organised a fantastic line up of Scottish Music. Skippinish, Breabach – who have twice been nominated for ‘best band’ at the BBC 2 Folk Awards – and more will provide the soundtrack to the Gathering.

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The ‘Taste of Tartan’ mini food festival will be showcasing Strathearn local food and drink produce, and you’ll even get a cheeky wee taster. There’ll also be food and drink stalls for those who don’t have time to pack a picnic – it does start at 9.30AM on the day of rest after all.

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And, as if all of this wasn’t enough, the Chieftain of this year’s games will be Professional Golfers’ Association chairman, David Murchie, who’s even going to bring along the Ryder Cup for all of golf-mad Scotland to see.

Click the link to book your tickets for the Crieff Highland Gathering here.


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For news and events in Crieff, Perthshire.

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