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Tourism potential of crumbling castles to be investigated

October 26 2020

Tourism potential of crumbling castles to be investigated

A report by the Scottish Tourism Recovery Task Force has recommended the trial of a new initiative to replicate the Spanish Parador hotel network, as part of measures to boost the struggling leisure and tourism sector.

The Parador system sees historic buildings repurposed as centres of culture and history to provide a more authentic visitor experience while safeguarding landmark palaces, castles and fortresses found off the beaten track.

Operated by the state-run Tourism Paradores the network is known for combining high standards of food, accommodation and service, attracting visitors and providing much-needed income for maintenance and upkeep.

Welcoming the initiative architect Alan Dunlop said: "If Scotland could replicate such an initiative it could be incredible, creating tourism opportunities which could lead to the opening up of ancient routes and possible restoration of many of our abandoned castles and tower houses, from the Scottish borders, through Perth and Kinross, Fife and Moray.

"Of course, many of the castles and tower houses like Baltersan Castle in Ayrshire; Blairfindy Castle in Moray; Pittairthie Castle in Fife and my favourite the spectacular Keiss Castle in Caithness in are in such a ruinous condition that they are probably beyond restoration but Collarnie Castle in Fife; Earlston Castle in Dalry; Fairburn Tower near Muir of Ord, Castle Tioram on Loch Moidart and particularly Donnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire are not.

"Even our more important contemporary buildings, like the Bernat Klein Studio on the borders and now deteriorating fast would make a stunning small luxury hotel."

The Scottish Government will now consider the recommendations, which will require a combination of public private-finance to get off the ground and operate in tandem with accommodation already operated by the National Trust.


Islands of sanity
#1 Posted by Islands of sanity on 27 Oct 2020 at 16:45 PM
The Posadas in Portugal , the same idea, are wonderful. Re castles, I can see the SPAB debate reigniting again. Every decade there is a spark of indignation from both sides, to restore or not to restore.
Alan Dunlop
#2 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 27 Oct 2020 at 18:29 PM
The drawing was made the weekend after last at Glen Etive at the entrance to Glencoe as the bracken turns golden. 5 hours well spent. A building I mistakenly left of the list was Mavisbank House. It is genuinely Scotland's finest Palladian Villa now in a ruined state, it sits in its own grounds and would make a perfect luxury hotel and the country's first parador
#3 Posted by Colin on 28 Oct 2020 at 07:40 AM
Do you mean the National Trust, or the National Trust for Scotland?
Fairborn Tower is already subject to a public fundraising campaign for Landmark Trust who have well advanced plans to restore it.
#4 Posted by Colin on 28 Oct 2020 at 07:43 AM
And Mavisbank too.
Alan Dunlop
#5 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 28 Oct 2020 at 08:49 AM
The Landmark Trust and HES are applying for Heritage Lottery Funding as I understand it, one of number of restoration bids. I hope they are successful but it by no means certain and I don't believe that renovating Mavisbank as a parador would be detrimental in fact it could work perfectly. Neither is Fairburn Tower certain to be saved, despite the fundraising effort.
Kenneth J Cameron
#6 Posted by Kenneth J Cameron on 31 Oct 2020 at 03:24 AM
The Spanish Parador chain comprises a range of historic buildings, including former monasteries and civic buildings, as well as castles. Their success lies in their group promotion and management as a chain of hotels offering guaranteed quality accommodation and service, combined with a distinct atmosphere and aura reflecting their individual origins and architectural 'presence'. They usually enjoy locational advan tages in well-preserved, attractive towns and villages, frequently enjoying stunning vistas. Their branding as a group is key, and it is not hard to see Scotland's potential to create a corresponding asset. For years there was a debate what to do with Perth City Hall, although a new use appears to have been found for it. Although not particularly old, it had an architectural appearance and location in the city centre that could have made it a potential candidate. There must be other similar buildings, no longer suitable for their original purpose, which could find a new lease of life, whilst drawing on their commanding presence. Our country is littered with ruined mansions that have fallen into ruin in the last century or so - far better to give them, if suitable, a new lease of life.

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