Who knows what December 2020 in Scotland will bring? A year ago we could never have imagined the chaos the pandemic has created throughout the world. Normally this time of year would be quiet for us, perhaps a few guests making the most of a pre-Christmas break.
However this year we are Tier One which means we currently have the lowest Covid 19 risk so whilst we are not in lockdown we may as well be as people in higher risk areas can either not travel at all or can only travel to an area at the same risk level as themselves. All of this means everywhere is very quiet and many businesses are taking some down time or undertaking some improvement projects.
December 2020 Projects
Projects here around the house grounds we have embarked include landscaping new walking trails and completely clearing around the Loch so guests will have more opportunity to enjoy this natural setting. Listening to the bird song, watching the herons or spotting a Roe Deer even just sitting in the sunshine is a lovely way to relax.
Wander through the woods back to the house checking out for Red Squirrels – they will be around. If you are looking to walk further afield we have cleared out our adjoining woodland and improved the many connecting trails so those of you looking for fresh air, exercise and relaxation there are plenty of places to start.
In the meantime I have been checking out some of the nearby visitor attractions so I can feel justified in recommending them. One day was spent exploring Loch Ness with Jacobite Cruises and spending some time exploring the history of Urquhart Castle. The day on Loch Ness was brilliant sunshine so don’t forget to consider visiting Scotland out of season – the weather will always have a surprise for you. Living so close to the Coast you often see the Coastguard helicopters flying around so it was quite fun to be involved in a training exercise with both Jacobite Cruises and the Coastguard.
Another day was spent on a socially distanced walking tour of picturesque Strathisla Distillery. Strathisla is the oldest working distillery in the Highlands and undoubtedly the most picturesque. This tour takes you on a socially distanced walk through the distillery and out through parts of the town. Learn the history of the magnificent Scottish baronial houses, wonder at the ruined Castle and if you are there at the right time of year you might just see leaping Salmon returning upriver. And of course you might just enjoy a dram or two or at least come home with your driver’s pack.
And another mammoth task undertaken this year has to been to cut back Rhododendrons on the drive. Much as we all love to see Rhododendrons out in flower each year with the driveway being over half a mile long we also like to see where we are going.
One of the best things about living in Moray is the microclimate but that is reflecting in how everything grows! However I think everyone has enjoyed the opened up driveway.
December 2020 Low Season
For Hospitality businesses of any description low season means a behind the scenes busy season. Like any profession these days it is amazing how much administration needs doing. In keeping with the rest of the World Zoom meetings take place and with the help of Visit Scotland we even took part in a 3 day Virtual Re-Connect 2020 meeting with Travel Agents attending from all over the world – that was a real first for all participants. You certainly appreciate technology when it allows you to connect colleagues worldwide and exchange information and build connections.
Differences in December 2020
This year has certainly been the year we have done things differently. This also means that this time of year is a good time to evaluate the measures we put in place. Our Good To Go Certification is in place and our risk assessments have delivered the safety we need to provide for our guests, our staff and ourselves.
We have hand sanitiser prior to entry, temperature scanning, Robotic UV Light cleaning for hospital level sanitisation of rooms. Our much appreciated Breakfast measures have worked well with minimal disruption to normal routine. Additional tables and chairs on the terrace allow for plenty of Social Distancing while enjoying the weather and the view. Of course Social Distancing in a house this size is not too onerous.
And on top of that we have learnt to be flexible but I think that is a lesson we have all learnt this year. We have reviewed our rates and offers (our 3 night stays are always the best value). Our Cancellation Policy has been made more flexible in line with the way we are all living and any restrictions that may unexpectedly come in.
Of course like the rest of the World we are hoping all of the above measures will not be required next year if the World gets the much talked about vaccine.
So guess all I can say is that as December 2020 comes to an end like everyone else in the World we hope we can all get back to normal next year.