Hallelujah! We have once again had our VisitScotland 5-Star status confirmed, following the visit of their Quality Assurance Manager to Kirkcudbright a fortnight ago.
When we opened in May 2013, the news that we had been recognised as the town’s first 5-Star Holiday Let was welcome indeed after all that we had been through – and paid for! – to get the show on the road. So what qualifies a house for such an exceptional rating? And how did Castleview House match up? Here are some of the key criteria, as we understand them:
1. The Property: This needs to be well-located, conveniently laid-out and built to the highest standard. Our prominent position looking down St. Cuthbert’s Street to MacLellan’s Castle and backing on to the charming Hope-Dunbar Park assured the former, whilst the exceptional skills and insights of our Kirkcudbright Architect, Glynne Shackleton, delivered on lay-out and quality. Indeed, we like to think that our conversion of this previously derelict and unloved shell has lifted the atmosphere at this end of the town.
2. Fixtures and Fittings: So as to get these right first time – and to avoid domestic disputes on the way! – we decided to employ the services of a professional Interior Designer, Ian Kay of No. 16 Interiors here in Newark, adding personal touches here and there, e.g. all those cats. Ian’s taste and experience allowed us to access fabrics, wallpaper and accessories that we would not otherwise have considered whilst his clout with suppliers helped keep these within our fast-disappearing reach. I particularly like the Scottish (Shortbread) Suite with its Vivienne Westwood wallpaper and quirky strong sense of the Highlands – but then I would really , wouldn’t I?
3. Cleanliness: Our Lettings Agents, Nigel and Jane at Discover Scotland in Castle Douglas, insisted from the outset on 5-Star+ standards here, especially in the kitchen and in the four bathrooms we have provided, three of which are ensuite. Our thanks therefore go to Tony and (especially!) to Karolina of Nith Valley Cleaning Services for the fact that we have not had even one complaint about cleanliness since we opened up. There’s a lot of house to clean in the six hours between Departures and Arrivals……not least the dusting of all those pesky cats!
4. Local Connections: I have already written in an earlier Blog about the property’s Masonic links and our Archive Album records much else about the journey from its origins as three separate ‘but-and bens’ at ground level only in the late 18thCentury to the Georgian feeling of today. The Heritage Neuk on the first floor brings all this to life whilst the wall of inter-war Railway Prints positions Kirkcudbright on the national tourist trail. In general, we avoided replicating the familiar representations of MacLellan’s Castle and Kirkcudbright Harbour because…
5. Specialness: …we have at all times sought to distinguish Castleview House from our competition through quality and design, personality and service and we choose to believe that the range of Testimonials on our website bears this out. There has been the occasional complaint but we have always regarded these as prompts to engage with our guests and to improve our delivery. Happily, many guests return to stay at Castleview House year after year, quickly rebooking their favourite weeks.
So, what of the future? Is there anything left to do?
Well, indeed so with our plans to develop a “Pocket Park” on the land purchased behind and to the left of the property and some scope to enhance the furnishings.
On a wider front, we intend to become more involved with local partners such as Nick Morris’ outstanding Station House Cookery School.
We also work closely with VisitScotland to promote their annual themes. Next year they will be focusing on Coastal Towns so with our active fishing harbour and marina, the sweeping Dee Estuary, nearby sandy beaches and rich wetlands, plus glorious sunsets across to the Mull of Kintyre, that sounds like a 5-Star start for Castleview House and Kirkcudbright already.
Would you like to read the article written about Castleview House and which appeared in Dumfries and Galloway Life? Then please click here.
~ until next time, Peter