The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Ayr Racecourse jumps season takes off on Wednesday 1 December

By: Iain Ferguson

JUMPS racing returns to Ayr on Wednesday 1 December with a seven race card due off at 12.20pm.

The winter action continues through until the showpiece of the 2010/11season at Ayr – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival on Friday 15 April and Saturday 16 April.

[Pictured: Merigo ridden by jockey Timmy Murphy (green with yellow sash), trained by Andrew Parker in Lockerbie for owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green winning the 2010 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse.]

For the first meeting of the season though the fare will be a little more modest, although still competitive, with more than £40,000 in prize money on offer.

The two feature races of the afternoon are the Bet Live At Victorchandler.Com Novices’ Chase over two miles at 12.50pm and the Best Odds Guaranteed At Victor Chandler Handicap Chase at 1.25pm – both with prize funds of £9000.

First race on the card is due off at 12.20pm with the final contest at 3.30pm.

Lindsey Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager at Ayr Racecourse said: “I am really looking forward to the start of the jumps season. We have a good afternoon’s racing in prospect, and the track should be in great condition having not been raced on since April.”

Gates open at 11.00am and for more information go online on or call 01292-264179.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691.

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Scottish produce could help tourism industry increase sales by £94million

Tourism businesses could increase sales in Scotland by up to £94million simply by making the most of Scotland’s world class food offering, according to a new guide.

“Food & Drink Experience in Scotland” challenges tourism businesses – from restaurants to local tourist attractions and guest houses – to raise their game by serving up fresh, quality, local produce to improve the food and drink experience they offer visitors.

[Pictured: Enterprise Minister Jim Mather with chef Suzanne O’Connor (sitting) and waitress Sochi Green from The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant in the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh at the launch of the Food & Drink Experience in Scotland Guide.]

Research suggests that people would be happy to spend an average 7% more on food and drink when they visit businesses with an authentic Scottish food offering based on quality local produce. This would be a real boost to the £800million each year overnight visitors currently spend on food and drink when they visit Scotland, second only to spend on accommodation.

The new guide has been produced by Tourism Intelligence Scotland, a joint venture developed by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland, and is packed with information and tips on how to tap into this potential spend by giving visitors the best culinary experience possible.

Speaking at the launch of the guide, Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said: “Scotland is a world-class culinary destination – as recognised by the International Culinary Tourism Association in its first ever worldwide study, which declared Scotland one of the most ‘unique, memorable and interesting places’ for food and drink on the planet.

“Through the Year of Food and Drink, Scotland is working to promote and celebrate our reputation as a Land of Food and Drink so that more people, both at home and visiting Scotland, are aware of, and have opportunities to enjoy, our delicious produce.

“Our cafes, hotels, restaurants and pubs have a key role to play in delivering a story about the provenance and authenticity of our food and drink - especially to those who visit Scotland as a destination of choice. The new guide will help to ensure the overall customer experience is as excellent as the authentic produce for which Scotland is world-renowned.”

The guide suggests that by introducing Scottish food and drink to menus and promoting its provenance, businesses have an opportunity to attract a greater number of higher-spending and longer-staying visitors, increase recommendations and provide valuable support for local businesses and the local economy.

It offers particular advice to businesses such as visitor attractions, as research has found that tourists spend more time and money during a visit when they are offered authentic local food in its restaurant or café.

Scottish Enterprise tourism product manager Katrina Morrison said: “Two-thirds of visitors think that quality of food is an important factor when deciding where to go on holiday, and three out of four think that eating local cuisine could enhance their visit. By offering quality, regional food on our menus, we can satisfy our visitors’ desire for an authentic Scottish experience and at the same time make more money.”

A complementary guide “At Your Service – A Practical Guide to Delivering the Best Food and Drink Experience in Scotland” has also been developed by Scottish Enterprise in partnership with Tourism Intelligence Scotland. It contains information for front line staff in tourism businesses and gives them easy reference facts about different food types, a visual calendar of seasonality, background information on classic Scottish dishes and drinks, and hints and tips on how to ‘up-sell’ to customers.

Welcoming the guides, renowned Scottish chef Andrew Fairlie said: “These guides are a fantastic resource for all tourism businesses to help them to improve and develop the culinary experience we offer in Scotland. We have an exceptional natural larder on our doorstep, and we know that our fresh produce and unique Scottish dishes are highly anticipated by our visitors as an integral part of their tourism experience. It is up to us to use Scotland’s natural larder in our cooking – working collaboratively with suppliers, food producers and other local businesses to ensure that we protect the sustainability of our beautiful country and offer the very best food and drink experience at our tables.”

“Food & Drink Experience in Scotland” and “At Your Service” are available free to Scottish Tourism businesses who register at which provides a wealth of helpful insights and tips for businesses.

The launch of the guides is the latest initiative from Tourism Intelligence Scotland (TIS), a joint venture developed by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland, in partnership with the tourism industry, to stimulate growth and innovation in tourism. TIS has recently entered an exciting phase of growth enabling it to provide an enhanced range of market intelligence resources for tourism businesses. These resources, which include the regular ‘Ear to the Ground’ newsletter, information on news and events, plus access to the latest research and intelligence, are free to businesses that register their details with TIS.

The guide is part of the “Opportunities for Growth” series, aimed at helping tourism companies make the most of new and emerging opportunities in the sector.

Other guides in the “Opportunities for Growth” series include: Knowing Our Markets…Scotland’s Visitors; Scottish Tourism in the Future; Walking Tourism; Listening to our Visitors; Golf Tourism; and Adventure Travel in Scotland.

Scottish Enterprise is also providing through the Experiencing Scotland project, specialist food service advice and support to tourism businesses across Scotland. This will help create marketing opportunities for businesses across the supply chain, as well as increasing the use of local, fresh and seasonal produce at Scottish visitor destinations.

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Our role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. We support ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and help build Scotland’s globally competitive sectors. We also work with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment.

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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Celebrate the festive season in a Scottish cottage or castle!

With Christmas and New Year being just around the corner many people’s thoughts are turning to a festive getaway, and what better way to spend it than in true Scottish fashion.

Despite the recession and a degree of caution in the market place, Scotland’s largest specialist self-catering holiday company Cottages & Castles, has experienced an increase in bookings for large houses this year with a 15% percent increase in bookings to date, against last year’s figures.

Sue Bourne, Manager of Cottages & Castles believes a lot of people who may normally consider a winter break abroad are deciding to stay in the UK and choose Scotland which is renowned for New Year. The weather can be unpredictable and travel arrangements chaotic over the festive period, so holidaying at home is a preferred option.

A luxurious festive getaway is an extremely affordable option with some of the most spectacular self-catering accommodation in Scotland available from as little as £29 per head per night. Properties offer all the facilities of a first class hotel whilst also providing the freedom to have full run of the accommodation.

Sue said: “Christmas and New Year in Scotland offers an idyllic time to celebrate with loved ones. We are finding the real growth in the market is from families who want a traditional Scottish experience in a high quality property, whether with the whole family, or with a group of friends. There is also a steady influx of visitors from abroad wishing to stay in a stunning castle or country mansion and see in the bells with their very own Scottish Hogmanay and ceilidh dance.”

The full range of self-catering accommodation offered by Cottages & Castles includes cosy cottages for two, traditional bothies and log cabins, city-centre apartments as well as castles and country mansions for larger parties.

Some of the best deals still available for large groups this festive period include:

Dell House Whitebridge, Inverness-shire (pictured above)

Sleeps 14. New Year price £2900. An impressive Georgian house with grounds running down to the shores of Loch Ness where you could enjoy your own New Year ‘Nessy’ Hunt. Elegantly decorated, the house offers an abundance of charm and character and the large dining room is perfect for a lovely Christmas family dinner whilst the log fire in the drawing room sets a tone for a spectacular New Year party.

Wards Gartocharn, Loch Lomond (pictured above)

Sleeps 20. New Year price £5500. Set within 600 acres of private ground, this exceptional modern country house has been stunningly refurbished and offers an abundance of public space, making it an ideal festive retreat. The conservatory has a delightful log burner whilst the swimming pool offers a heaven of relaxation. The outstanding sitting and dining room with large glass windows and double heighted ceilings offering fantastic views across the Lochans and provide the perfect backdrop whilst seeing in the New Year and dancing the night away.

New Lodge, New Kelso, Strathcarron in Wester Ross (pictured above)

Sleeps 18. New Year price £5500. This is a truly exceptional purpose-built holiday house offering unsurpassed facilities and presentation. Being finished to the highest of standards, the rooms are spacious and bright. The kitchen is exceptional and likewise is the formal sitting room which benefits from a wood burning stove and 180 degrees of windows offering marvellous views to the sea and the mountains behind. Outside you will find the ‘ceilidh barn’ a superb space filled with every games table you could imagine, a 60” flat screen TV, large wood burner, bathroom and kitchen area. This is a truly spectacular venue for a large family and group of friends wishing to escape and celebrate the festive period in style.

House of Craigie, Ayrshire (pictured above)

Sleeps 14. New Year price £4000. This simply wonderful B listed Georgian Manse offers fabulous facilities and a stunning garden setting in the beautiful Ayrshire countryside with views over the Firth of Clyde. Everything has been thought of with beautiful furnishings throughout and the bedrooms present a luxurious country house atmosphere. There is an abundance of public space with a bright, gracious, formal drawing room, a large family/TV room and a terrific games room. Large groups of family and friends will also be able to make the most of the wonderful private swimming pool complete with its own shower rooms, patio and views across the delightful garden.

To learn more about the full range of properties available through Cottages & Castles over the festive period, visit or call 01738 451610.

About Cottages and Castles Ltd

Cottages and Castles Ltd, established in 1983, is Scotland’s specialist holiday lettings company with over 600 properties in its portfolio and is privileged to be the official letting agents for The National Trust of Scotland.

The company’s dedication and attention to detail has made them one of the largest self catering companies in Scotland offering an enviable range of holiday cottages, exclusive large houses, holiday castles, Scottish mansions and country lodges.

Cottages & Castles is operated by CKD Galbraith, one of Scotland’s leading independent property consultancies with 12 regional offices throughout Scotland.

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