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Reaching for the stars on Skye

Press Release   •   Feb 23, 2017 11:48 GMT

A luxury, handcrafted organic B&B created from converted croft outhouses on Skye hasachieved the highest Quality Assurance (QA) grading from VisitScotland.

Mint Croft, in north-west Skye, near Dunvegan, has achieved its 5 Star B&B Quality Assurance award from the national tourism organisation.

Shaz and Ali Morton are crofters and designers. Together they have spent over three years restoring and rebuilding Mint Croft to create warm and inviting interiors where guests can relax in beautiful surroundings.

Ali is a master builder and both Ali and Shaz have designed and built the interiors and made some of the furniture.

The croft is six acres, with 920 acres of common grazings. Shaz is the grazings clerk for the township. The croft had been in the MacKinnon family for generations and the pair have taken the best of what they built and updated it.

Their property offers guests accommodation in the Stone Store Suite and the Blackhouse Suite. The Stone Store Suite is a spacious, light filled two-storey bedroom apartment with large picture windows and stunning views out to the sea cliffs and the beach beyond.

It is decorated in a gentle palette of wool, local sheepskin and linens, inspired by the shimmering light on Loch Snizort. A roomy, relaxing sitting space has a generous sofa and a comfortable reading chair. The Fired Earth bathroom has a large bath with a rain drench shower.

The Blackhouse Suite is an updated, traditional Hebridean Blackhouse with a turf roof. The walls are nearly one metre thick and make this room very cosy. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in maximum light and look out to Loch Snizort and onwards to the islands of Harris and Lewis.

A comfortable sitting area has a relaxing sofa and reading chair. The room is decorated with Harris Tweed and beautiful linens inspired by the colours of the flowers and plants on the surrounding land.

Both suites were built with stones gathered from the field. The turf on the roof of The Blackhouse was dug by Ali from the same field. On the turf roof wildflowers, including orchids, come into flower throughout the summer.

As new crofters, this goes hand in hand with their relationship with the land - sustainability and self-sufficiency are as important as the quality and attention to detail in their accommodation, food, service and atmosphere.

Island life means Shaz and Ali have to be very adaptable, wearing many caps and turning their hand to whatever comes their way – it is a living tradition.

They take great pleasure in serving guests local, seasonal and, wherever possible, organic produce from dedicated producers on Skye and in the Highlands and Islands. Breakfasts include Stornoway black pudding, Mint Croft eggs, Andy Race organic peat-smoked salmon and chamomile tea from their own herb garden.

Afternoon tea and home baking, including shortbread and afternoon cakes made by Shaz, are served and from January to early March. She also serves a Mint Croft Highland Platter – a sharing plate for two served in the cosy suites.

The pair, who want to be as sustainable as possible, have 21 hens and a cockerel, grow a variety of herbs and are in the process of preparing land for fruit and vegetable cultivation, pigs, sheep and cows.

Mint Croft Pop-up Shop will open in the summer of 2017, offering contemporary handcrafted furniture and homewares, designed and made by Shaz and Ali on the Croft from sustainable Scottish wood.

Shaz said:

“We're over the moon to receive VisitScotland's Five Star accreditation for Mint Croft Luxury B&B. We continue the Highland tradition of welcoming visitors from near and far into our croft home where we continue the living tradition of crofting into the 21st century, following generations who built with stone, wood and turf from the land.

We want our guests to love our guest bedrooms so much they don't want to leave but we also want them to discover the island's gems. An Explore the Island Kit - binoculars, maps, guides and locally made walking sticks from our neighbour - will help them on their way.

“We are happy to help our guests plan their time on the island and look forward to looking after them in this special place on Skye.”

Developed and improved for over 30 years, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) schemes are world-leading and provide a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. They allow businesses not just to meet visitor expectations, but exceed them.

QA can open the door to new customers. It is a powerful marketing tool and works well with online review sites in using an independent perspective to measure visitor experience against tried and tested criteria, so visitors know exactly what to expect.

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said:

I would like to offer my congratulations to Shaz and Ali for attaining this award. It is fantastic to see the Skye tourism offering enhanced by such quality and luxury accommodation.

“Reaching such a high standard is vital to the tourism industry as a whole and I hope it inspires others to strive for such results. It is vital that everyone involved in tourism works together to offer visitors a fantastic experience when visiting and staying in the Highlands.

“Our Quality Assurance scheme helps businesses to reach their full potential and truly shine. The scheme is about more than just the ‘stars’ on the door - it’s about the entire visitor experience, about investing in your business and making it as economically sustainable as it can possibly be.”

For further information visit www.mintcroftskye.com

For further information on VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme, please visit www.visitscotland.org/quality_assurance.aspx

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