A historic country house in Moray Speyside which was used for army training during World War Two is celebrating after being given Five-Star Guest House status by the national tourism organisation.
Blervie House, at Forres, received the accolade from VisitScotland under its Quality Assurance scheme at its first ever grading. The property comprises nine bedrooms and a two-bedroomed suite.
Blervie is a Historic Environment Scotland listed country house set in a stunning rural setting at Rafford. Owners Graham and Sheena Thompson bought the property in 2014 and spent three years renovating it to meet 21st century demands, without spoiling the character and relaxed atmosphere that Blervie House exhibits.
The house itself sits in nearly 300 acres of grounds and has extensive views over the Moray Firth and Scotland’s north coast. Lucky guests might even catch a glimpse of resident feathered friend, Charlie the peacock.
All bedrooms boast wonderful views and contain top-quality furnishings, many of which have an interesting story to tell. Toiletries in the rooms are supplied by Ness Soaps, part of Calman Trust, a social enterprise helping young people in the Highlands – something important to Sheena and Graham and very relevant during Scotland’s Year of Young People.
While renovating the house, significant memorabilia was discovered indicating Blervie had been used during WW2 for army training – yet another chapter of the house’s history waiting to be told.
Visitors can see many original features around the property – a dumb waiter, the original safe (the same make that set sail on the Titanic), the original ovens and the servant’s bells.
The house has five lounges and a full-sized billiard table for the use of guests, as well as croquet equipment for fair-weather days. There is also a barbecue/picnic area and garden. The property has free Wi-fi in all areas and free parking for any size of vehicle.
Nearby, visitors can enjoy woodland walks, as well as access to beaches, cycling, walking, fishing, golf, horse riding, mountain biking, river rafting, shopping, sightseeing and the theatre.
Blervie House is also a member of VisitScotland’s Information Partner Programme (VIP). Launched in May 2016, the VIP programme ties in with VisitScotland’s global Spirit of Scotland campaign and harnesses the local knowledge, warmth and enthusiasm of partners across the country to help visitors receive the warmest of welcomes and make the most of their trip to Scotland.
Visitor attractions, accommodation providers and social enterprises have all joined the scheme to help ensure visitors receive first-class information about the local region and Scotland as a whole.
Sheena and Graham also hold a Taste Our Best (TOB) award at Blervie House, in recognition of its use of quality Scottish produce. A joint initiative between VisitScotland and the Scottish Government, TOB is designed to recognise businesses including hotels, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, visitor attractions and B&Bs that not only offer a quality food and drink experience, but include and promote Scottish produce on their menus, giving consumers more choice.
Jo Robinson, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “I would like to congratulate Sheena and Graham on their award and also on their sympathetic renovation of Blervie House - it really is a little bit of luxury away from home and five-star status shows visitors that they can expect a high quality experience.
“Quality Assurance is about more than just the stars on the door – it’s about the entire visitor experience and driving improvement in that experience throughout Moray Speyside.
“Consumers want quality and value for money experiences. Star gradings help visitors make informed decisions and select businesses that meet, and exceed, these expectations.”
Graham and Sheena said they were proud and delighted to receive the award, particularly as they only began trading four months ago.
Graham said: “We purchased the house just over three years ago and fell in love with it but soon realised that such a beautiful house needed to be lived in and shared with our guests."
Sheena added: “We want to offer our guests a luxurious but relaxed stay in our home and hope people will arrive as guests but leave as friends. Part of staying at Blervie House means being introduced to this stunning part of Scotland and the endless activities and adventures available from the house. There really is something here for everyone whatever your interests.
"Since the grading visit we have now added beauty facilities and a formal dining option to the Blervie House experience."
Developed over the last four decades in partnership with the tourism industry and informed by visitor research, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes are world-leading. QA stars alongside online reviews give visitors a balance of objective and subjective views to assist in their decision making and expectations.
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
2018 Year of Young People
- The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
- The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
- Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
- Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
- The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
- oParticipation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
- oEducation – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
- oHealth and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
- oEquality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
- oEnterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
- oCulture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
- Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.