Great Places to Stay
- Carrick at Cameron House, Loch Lomond, Argyll
NOTE: Cameron House and the Carrick Lodges have been updated since this revue was completed. While much of what is written below is still relevant, there are new websites with more up-to-date information at Cameron House and Cameron Club Lodges Ownership.
The De Vere group of hotels and resorts aim to create dream holidays and the ultimate leisure experience. They have 29 properties in total across the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. One of their star hotels is Cameron House perched right on the banks of Loch Lomond. Everything about Cameron House is luxurious, from its unique, romantic setting to first class hospitality: classic elegance matched with a contemporary lifestyle. As well as hotel bedrooms and suites there are 86 magnificent Scandinavian-style lodges for time-share ownership or self-catering. Leisure and relaxation are the key words here. Set amidst 100 acres of magnificent woodland and manicured lawns the hotel offers every kind of activity and fun both on and around the loch. Down at the private Marina, a range of water sports is available - salmon and trout fishing, boating, windsurfing and water skiing or book a cruise on the Celtic Warrior, the hotel's private motor yacht. There are tennis courts, croquet and activities for all the family including off-road driving, mountain biking and pony trekking.
But for golfers, there's only the Wee Demon, a rather challenging 9-hole golf course. For such a luxury leisure resort, the creation of a full-scale championship golf course would be a major attraction. Now that dream has come true with the current development of a major new £ 50 million De Vere holiday complex at Loch Lomond featuring a specially designed 18 hole golf course - The Carrick on Loch Lomond.
The £50 million plan
The location for the new 5 star resort is 300 acres of unspoilt natural woodland, meadows and tiny lagoons down on the lochshore just a mile north of Cameron House. The Carrick will have superb views over to the towering Munro, Ben Lomond and the Luss hills as well as the newly created Loch Lomond National Park. This former farmland is part of the Luss Estates owned by the local Colquhoun family for over 600 years but untouched for the past 30 years.
The Carrick is named after the award winning Canadian golf architect Douglas Carrick. Curiously enough according to Scottish language sources, his name means "rock" or "rocky place" which aptly suits the setting of his new golf course. This will be a traditional Scottish heath-land course in design, using long grasses, gorse, heather, deep bunkers and water features amidst the undulating landscape. The 18-hole par 71 course in fact straddles the Highland Boundary Fault line - the front 9 holes are played in the Lowlands and the back 9 holes in the Highlands. The 14th will stretch from the summit of a hill down to a green down by the lochside. The routing of the course will preserve the natural beauty of the rolling landscape and forested hills.
As Douglas Carrick describes his ideas of design - " Golf is not only a game of shot making. It is a visual experience that unfolds as you walk the course. You have to fully understand what kind of feeling you're trying to invoke in the golfers - whether you are inviting them into a certain green or making them feel apprehensive about a certain shot."
Luxury Holiday Homes
The Carrick will be a time-ownership resort offering a choice of 96 luxury holiday homes: 78 traditional stone, wood and slate detached Lodges with either two, three or four bedrooms. Quality design and furnishings throughout featuring open plan living and dining areas, fully equipped kitchens, audio systems and private terrace. In addition two classic Mansions will house eighteen two-bedroom luxury apartments, featuring cutting edge bathrooms, home cinema, fireplaces and the highest standard of interior decoration.
Apart from playing the spectacular Carrick golf course, Lodge and Mansion house guests will be able to enjoy a world-class Spa, 18 metre lap pool, gym, steam room, sauna, fitness and leisure facilities, including tennis courts and snooker room. To give a welcome break from self-catering, the resort will also have a choice of restaurants, cafes and bars.
Building 25 at a time, the first lodges will be open for residence by the summer of 2005 with the golf course and leisure resort completed by 2006.
Meanwhile further expansion at Cameron House is taking shape with a further 35 bedrooms being build in anticipation of the interest in visiting the Carrick. Hotel guests will be able to make full use of the new holiday resort and golf course. As well as a cycle track, there's even a plan to operate a waterbus service from the hotel up the loch to the Carrick.
A Natural and Historic Environment
Planning permission for the resort on the private Luss Estate has taken several years of negotiation with regard to the preservation of the natural wildlife around the loch. De Vere Resorts has been working in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, the National Park authority, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The site, especially the deep water lagoons, is very much a long established nature reserve. This is the breeding ground for water voles, otters and bats alongside an abundant bird life - kingfishers, dippers and warblers. Their water and woodland habitat will be retained around the golf course with a footpath created around the outer perimeter for wildlife enthusiasts.
Apart from environmental issues, another major aspect before they could start the development was to study the land for archaeological and heritage assessment. De Vere has spent around £ 1.5 million on a thorough survey and excavation. This has proved extremely exciting and valuable. Fifteen archaeologists have uncovered settlements and buried objects dating to the Bronze Age as well as a 7th century Christian cemetery and artefacts from Medieval times. The stone remnants of a round house have been excavated while cremation pots and jewellery, including complete shale bracelet and a distinctive decorated glass bead have been found during the Dig. All these treasures will be taken to local universities and museums for further analysis and safekeeping.
It's not just ancient settlements that require preservation. A 19th century stone cottage is unfortunately in the centre of the site. It will be demolished and then re-built in a more appropriate place - probably to be used as a half way house on the course.
Managing Director of De Vere Resorts, Craig Mitchell who has run Cameron House lodges for over ten years is ebulliently confident about the future success of The Carrick. He knows from experience the popularity of the existing Cameron House time-share lodges which are owned by a wide spectrum of people, many Scots who may live and work in the central belt - lawyers, hoteliers, business entrepreneurs and a few football players. There's also a large percentage of English owners who enjoy their annual holiday on Loch Lomond. Owners can swap their purchased weeks for time-share villas around the world. Many Cameron House owners may be tempted to purchase a week at the Carrick and the serious marketing of the lodges has begun. Within a few days of launching the Carrick, over £ 2 million had been taken for the future time ownership homes.
"Simply unique and uniquely simple" is how Mitchell describes the style of the resort, as he gives media preview tours by 4x4 Landrover around the fabulous landscape and lochshore. He believes that time-share ownership of a luxury holiday home is an attractive concept and the addition of a world class golf course and spa as part of the leisure resort is a winner for De Vere - and for Scotland. "Scotland's golf tourism has fallen behind Ireland who have built fantastic high quality courses in recent years and offer good food and hospitality. But now the Carrick at Cameron House will benefit Scottish tourism."
More information on the Carrick development including time-share facilities can be obtained via Cameron Club Lodges Ownership.
Vivien Devlin, October 2004
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