Inspiring the next generation of golfing talent at Gleneagles
- Credit: Archant
Four-year-old Ella wasn’t sure about having a golf lesson. Ever the concerned, she wasn’t even sure what golf was or what she had to do.
But an hour later she was so bubbling with confidence she told us she was going to take part in the next Ryder Cup.
I didn’t like to spoil her enthusiasm with negative details about being a female and being four so we carried on the chat about the famous competition being held this year at Gleneagles, our home for the weekend.
Like many people I was familiar with the Gleneagles name and knew it was a celebrated luxury hotel in the heart of the Perthshire countryside but was keen to find out what it had to offer today.
The hotel is synonymous with tradition and history. It was opened in 1924 by the Caledonian Railway Company and soon the golf course and grouse shooting was enjoyed by Scotland’s elite.
It may have hosted world leaders and royalty, but Gleneagles has a surprisingly democratic guest list. Golfers enjoy their sport alongside spa breakers and young families who roam the hotel at the same time as American tourists and family groups of several generations often celebrating.
With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and a referendum last montr, 2014 has been a milestone year for Scotland.
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Gleneagles itself enjoyed the limelight as the European team lifted the Ryder Cup in on the famous course.
Golf is obviously a big draw. The hotel has three championship courses rated amongst the best in the world.
Lack of ability is not a hindrance here. There’s a nine hole pitch and putt course and an 11 acre championship practice ground. The brilliant and patient professional staff are happy to teach those with little or no skill.
Ella had her one to one lesson with teacher Chris. We had no idea how this would work but she loved it and was so proud of her ball hitting achievements. Chris was extremely patient and she actually listened to his instructions.
My husband, a golfer since childhood, said playing the Kings course was a sporting highlight of his life. Gleneagles is that kind of place – it makes you feel special and invigorated every day without any pretence.
Another first for the children was driving a miniature Landrover. Ella was old enough to take hold of the controls following instruction and 18-month-old William was able to sit beside her for part of the journey.
They loved it. Again, the teacher was experienced and encouraging and the children were full of confidence and excitement as they went for a walk through the 850 acre estate continuing their adventure.
Amongst its many other accolades is one for the best UK Family Hotel. For the past four years, finding a hotel which is welcoming and comfortable for children hasn’t always been easy. As our little ones are growing, facilities on offer is also important.
The family welcome to Gleneagles is outstanding. It retains its splendour while giving families the perfect, action packed break.
The beautifully renovated bedrooms had plenty of space for the children. A proper cot and comfortable additional bed were made up prior to our arrival and baby equipment was readily available. There was even a gift for the little ones.
The estate turned the children into adventurers for the weekend. They loved the gardens, the trails and parks. Inside, there is a well-equipped playroom with qualified staff on hand to supervise children over two for up to two hours a day, free of charge.
I stayed with toddler William as he delved into the dressing up box while Ella sat down to do crafts with the staff.
During holidays, seasonal activity programmes are offered for children including tea parties and picnics, bug hunting and science demonstrations.
Next to the play room is a cool room for older children and teens with a juke box, playstations and giant beanbags.
For a grown up treat I had a treatment in the excellent spa while the rest of the family went for a swim.
Most spa pools are dedicated to adults. Some tolerate children but certainly don’t welcome them. Again Gleneagles extended its welcoming arms as children are encouraged to splash around in the shallow end of the swimming pool as adults enjoy the outdoor hot tub at the other end.
The resort also excels in its food and drink offer. The Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles restaurant is the only restaurant in Scotland with two Michelin stars.
The Strathearn is another fine dining restaurant with Sunday Lunch a Gleneagles tradition. The staffs are outstanding and the food was some of the best Scotland has to offer. Smoked salmon, Hebridean crab and roast sirloin of scotch beef were a treat.
The theatre and diversion involved in having dinner at Deseo made it the best family choice.
The children were encouraged to choose toppings to put on their pizza then watch as they were cooked by staff in the ovens. They were given chefs hats to really get into their chef role.
There were plenty of child free grown up areas to enjoy to including a 1920s style bar and a whisky bar next to the clubhouse. The cocktails were innovative and expertly prepared by the bar staff – I’d expect no less as the hotel is owned by drinks company Diageo.
With genuine hospitality and warmth, outstanding facilities and luxurious surroundings Gleneagles was a real winner with our family.
The children were asking when we were returning before we’d even left. I have a feeling we will be soon.
Glenagles is one hour by road from both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports / rail stations.
Address: Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, PH3 1NF
Telephone: 01764 662 231
Rooms from £245 per including breakfast and use of the facilities for two people.