Welcome to a new season!   3 comments

As of today, the Visitor Centre is officially open for the 2011 season so it’s clearly time for me to get back into the blogging habit after a rather strange winter!

We woke up to a rather surprising fall of  snow this morning, so winter has clearly decided to drag it’s heals as usual.  Our newly sprung daffodils are none too happy, but it does however make the place look clean and fresh. Huge flakes are falling even as I type.  The whole team seem really pleased to be back to work after their 3 month sabbatical, and have been enjoying some of the changes we’ve been making.

One of the most significant and important changes to the operation has taken place in our ever popular Coffee Shop. After 14 years of service, I decided that the time had come to modernise the whole operation with a new servery which has been specifically designed to better cope with the demands of 320,000 visitors per annum. As regular visitors will know, there are times when a dozen tour buses or more can be parked up in our bus lanes, and as visitor numbers have steadily increased over the years, our previous servery, at times, struggled to cope with the sheer volume of visitors. As much as it was quite poignant watching the old carcass being stripped out, it was fascinating watching the new installation take shape. The whole catering operation has been designed and changed to both raise quality whilst being able to serve people faster and significantly reduce waiting times.

We’ve also brought in new tables, and overall, the old place is simply gleaming. Our first customers are already in and enjoying Cappuccinos and freshly baked scones, and I can smell the first wafts of freshly made Leek & Tattie soup drifting through the place. A strengthened kitchen team also offers us the opportunity to continue to develop the whole operation. To give you a wee glimpse, here’s a few photos.

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER 2

Some of the Coffee Shop team, raring to go!

We’ve also got a few new faces joining the team this year after various retirements and an expanding workforce to help cope with the ever-increasing visitor numbers. Advanced tour bookings for 2011 look very healthy, and we look set to host over 80 weddings this year, a new record. I always breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when we re-open for a new season, as I tend to be working to this deadline with a variety of different projects to complete. Bizarrely, I’ve already started planning next winters projects, with a new roof installation to go on the southern side of the castle, and a complete refurbishment, upgrade and extension planned for our holiday cottage. 2011 will also see the launch of our new on-line shop and hopefully the launch of a new electronic guide application for smartphones, which will be downloadable for visitors before they get here.

On a retail front, after a hugely successful buying trip, we’ve managed to procure some great new products for our Gift Shop, avoiding what I often refer to as the predictable “tartan tat” that seems to fill so many of our country’s gift shop shelves!

All told, we’re absolutely ready for the new season, and myself and the rest of the team look forward to welcoming you all back to Eilean Donan. Make sure to pack some sunshine for when you come!

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Posted March 9, 2011 by eileandonan in News

3 responses to “Welcome to a new season!

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  1. OOOooohhhh Posh…bet that lot cost a small fortune?

    The team look fresh and very enthusiastic, dare you to take the same photo in October!

  2. Stunning! I am truly amazed at the changes you’ve made. Do wish I could be there to sample your wares and take in the beauty of the castle and lochs. Please don’t leave out too many tartan items, especially Clan MacRae. We always count on finding something when we shop with you. Best wishes for a fantastic season, even with a wee blanket of snow to welcome your opening day. 🙂

  3. I’ll be making a trip across the pond next month and will look forward to another visit (my second time -was last there 4 yrs ago). Such a beautiful area.

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