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Gleneagles, ScotlandJanuary 8, 2010 By: Staff Travel Agent
|Marc Casto dons a traditional Scottish kilt during the Chairman’s Recognition Event hosted by Virtuoso at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.|
Marc Casto, president and COO of Casto—a San Jose, CA-based travel management company—recently attended the Chairman’s Recognition Event hosted by Virtuoso at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. The event honored the luxury travel network’s 78 top revenue-producing travel advisors. Here, Casto shares his experience.
In October 2009, my wife, daughter, mother and I were afforded an opportunity by Virtuoso to experience Scotland in a way that I had never thought possible. The last time I was in Scotland, 10 years ago, was for a backpacking trip. Needless to say, this paled in comparison to our stay at The Gleneagles Hotel and its luxurious high standards. From its tour guides to porters, the five-star hotel left an indelible impression on my family and me. Most notably, the Gleneagles staff was able to accommodate our family’s gluten- and lactose-free diet restrictions immediately at every meal, without prior intimation. This is not something we are accustomed to, even back home in the U.S. Additionally, the resort is vegetarian-friendly, which was unexpected. We were blown away by the hotel’s service and accommodations; it is top-rated in my book.
|An Estate Room. Most in this category (there are Sovereign and Classic rooms, too) enjoy views over the Gleneagles estate with many looking toward Glendevon.|
Golfing, without a doubt, is one of the biggest draws of Scotland. I have always sold it as the ultimate “guys’ golf getaway.” I was pleasantly surprised to see how accommodating Gleneagles was for everyone in my family, especially my two-year-old daughter Elenora, who had many activities to relish. From The Golf Academy and Equestrian Center to the Junior Gundog training and off-road driving school for the older ones, Gleneagles has no shortage of activities for younger travelers. The hotel is an ideal vacation spot for families, and its wealth of activities makes it an easy pitch and sell to our clients.
|Gleneagles is set on 850 acres of Perthshire countryside. It’s located within an hour’s drive from the international airports of Edinburgh and Glasgow.|
I must recommend a few activities that were exhilarating. Something I have always wanted to do—but never thought possible—was to learn the art of falconry, where our gloved hands let go of hawks, but also got them to fly back to us. That was an eye-opening event. Gleneagles’ Shooting School allowed us to compete against peers, not to mention Virtuoso’s CEO, Matthew Upchurch. I admit that I was a bit off-target.
Our medieval banquet, which was hosted by VisitScotland at the historic Stirling Castle, was special. Virtuoso introduced its own handcrafted tartan kilts for men and specially designed tartan with sashes for the ladies. And, while I have always appreciated Scotland’s most notable spirit, I found out what a truly good scotch is, courtesy of our group dinner and a tour of Glenturret, the oldest whisky distillery in Scotland.
One of the more unexpected and unforgettable moments during our trip was certainly the serenade of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” by the “Red Hot Chili Pipers,” a bagpipe-only musical group.
This Scotland sojourn would not have been possible without the commendable Virtuoso team, which spent more than two years planning this well-conducted week-long event. It was a magical experience for all participants. I am very grateful to have made its list of the top 70-plus advisors from six countries.
|Falconry is just one of the many activities available at Gleneagles. There’s also a shooting school, equestrian school and three championship golf courses.|