October 31, 2010
Weather wc31st October
last week saw the steel structure for our new indoor facility being erected and whilst I was hoping for a calm week with nio wind so the crane could function properly, in all the panic about calm I forgot to ask for dry and boy did it rain! Indeed I do not think I have seen such heavy rain as regularly as we had last week but hopefully that bodes well for firstly the roof going on the frame and then the wedding next saturday! We can at least keep our fingers crossed so what really is all ahead?
Today: Any showers overnight will quickly die out. Then dry with clear spells and winds falling light. There will be some fog patches and a ground frost.
Monday: Dry and bright through the morning with fog patches slowly dispersing. Rather cloudy in the afternoon with a little rain but stregnthening winds,
Tuesday:A misty or foggy start to the day, and this may be slow to clear. Staying dry by day though.
October 30, 2010
Eriska's first scottish thistle award
Last night we attended the Scottish Thistle Awards in Edinburgh. These awards come at the end of the traditional "summer" season and represent the highlight of the tourism provider calender with all thiose involved in teh uindustry collecting at the EICC and the annoncement of the winners. earlier tis year we were thrilled to have been selected as one of the finalists and throughout the evening we were continually reminded that not only was taking part an honour but that being selceted as a finalsit was a reward for all our hard work.
VisitScotland’s Regional Director, Scott Armstrong, stated that: “The Scottish Thistle Awards give us a great opportunity to showcase the very highest quality tourism businesses from the Highlands. I’m delighted to see Highland businesses shortlisted in this year’s Awards and the fact that they have been finalists and winners in previous years demonstrates the quality and consistency of the visitor experience in the Highlands."
However after waiting in anticiaption the name of Eriska was called out and we collected the wonderfuul statuette of a Thistle for the Taste of Scotland Category. After the ceremony we had a chance to mix and mingle with otehr finalsist and meet the judges. It soon became clear what highlighted Eriska for the award in the eyes of the judges. Roberts continual persuit of the best local fresh produce and his wonderful menus clearly won the day. After being nominated as a fianlsy we had 3 anonymous vsisits from the judges, luckily we had been unaware of these otherwise it would have heightened the pressure, and then they selected us from a shortlist of three.
Having never won a Thistle award it was a great honour and is a real credit to the all the team who work here at Eriska and certainly spurs us on to continue what we do and how we do it.
October 26, 2010
Late last week we received great news that one of our Duty Managers, Katharina, has been awarded The Savoy Educational Trust Philip Thornton Award for commitment to learning excellence. The team here at Eriska are thrilled that one of our team members has beaten off stiff competition to be awarded this prize from the Academy of Food and Wine Service. Following Katharine’s reference was sent to the judging panel, she was subsequently shortlisted and invited to the presentation of awards last Friday in London.
Late on Friday afternoon we received a call from an excited Katharina to let us know she had been successful and won the scholarship. As a result of her hard work during her time at Eriska, she will now spend a week working at the Andaz hotel, a boutique Hotel in London - very different from Eriska with 267 rooms and situated in the centre of London. Katharina has told us she is looking forward to getting the chance to experience the day-to-day running of a different style of hotel and see both front and back of house, furthering her knowledge of the food and wine sector in a different environment.
Meanwhile, two other members of staff are eagerly awaiting the results of scholarships they have applied for, with these results coming in the next month…Watch this space! Until then, we wish Katharina the best of luck with her scholarship!
October 25, 2010
Weather wc 24th October
I suppose with the clocks changing next week and looking in my diary this is the last week of British Summertime so the optimist in me hopes for one last week of sunshine and the pessimist would say that we should start preparing for a harsh winter starting at the end of the week. In reality both will be true as with the gulf stream we will have a mild climate but that extends all year round so with last week we had stunning days flanked with complete wash outs so what is ahead for next week?
Sunday: After a very frosty night we should begin to see sunny spells
Monday: Any cloud remaining over the hills will clear, then it will be dry with long clear spells and a fairly widespread frost overnight.
Tuesday:Wet and windy weather will cross all parts during the day.
wednesday:A fine dry day with only patchy cloud and some sunny periods. Mainly light winds, fresh northerly breeze on summits.
Thursday: Another frosty start, all parts will have a fine, dry but cold day with plenty of sunshine and light northerly winds.
October 23, 2010
Eriska's New Blog Location !
We are moving to a new location
Deadline met with room to spare- just!
When we set out on major worked we always set targets which not only can we achieve but that we have a minor leeway if we hit a snag, however with our new indoor hall we set a target on the same principle however due to a stalled start date we soon used up the contingency and left ourselves with a deadline of tomorrow for phase one to complete. phase one is the ground works and completion of all work below ground level- the foundations, drainage , structural columns and floor slab. Yesterday in some of the heaviest rain witnessed here at Eriska we completed the major works leaving today- with the help of a brisk wind and sunshine to level out the surface and prepare the road for the arrival of the structure on Monday.
So no we are ready although tomorrow we will have to continue with the rolling of the surface to compact the slab in preparation for the 30 tonne crane and two low loads of steel. the next deadline will be to complete the structural erection and then clad it by the middle of November and then we will be back on site and finish the walls and storage areas. then it will be a matter of waiting for thefloor to dry out before we can complete the project, install the surface of the hall and have a grand opening- all seems so simple and so far so good!
October 21, 2010
5 Gold Stars!
Earlier this week we received great news from Visit Scotland...we have been awarded the highest award given out by Visit Scotland for a Country House Hotel – their 5 Star Gold Award! Recognition has to be given to the team here at Eriska and the support from our guests over the years who have all contributed us receiving this award.
Regardless of our continual hard work to maintain and improve our customer service and standards through the hotel, facilities and the island, when it comes to inspections and reviews, we are always intrigued to hear their responses as different people will have differing expectations and opinions of Eriska. Whilst we strive to exceed these expectations, it is interesting for us to hear feedback from these inspectors and reviewers as they see a variety of accommodation providers on a day to day basis and have to assess Eriska objectively.
When word reached us at the hotel that we had gained the award, with almost 100% in each category, it definitely made us realise that all our hard work does pay off! The award highlights 3 key aspects which have long been embedded within Eriska’s culture; our Eriska Welcome, high standards of service and hospitality throughout each guest’s stay as well as our accommodation and facilities which we continually aim to improve year on year for the benefit and enjoyment of our guests. The award also highlights the commitment towards our customer focused approach and underlying approach to staff training and development which together work hand in hand to create the Eriska Experience which many of you return to experience again and again. However, this does not mean we will sit back and bask in the glory of receiving this accolade, rather we will strive to build on and improve our offerings – no rest of the wicked!
October 19, 2010
Oban Rail Link
We are always interested to hear from our guests and friends who approach us with information about the history of the island and the hotel, thus broadening our knowledge of Eriska’s history which we can pass onto interested parties. Lately, we came across plans with a reference to Eriska, the hotel and island, in the “History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands” by John Thomas.
In the construction of the West Highland railway, various proposals had been put forward and many of them rejected and altered before final agreements could be made. The plan was to ultimately connect the village of Ballachulish, north of Eriska, to the Connel ferry, south of Eriska, which would enable direct access to the quarries at Ballachulish. Originally, from Connel ferry, the train line was to cut through Keil Crofts and over Eriska, over loch Creran and through Port Appin, before finally rejoining the mainland and following the coast round to Ballachulish. At the time of these original plans, a local unnamed company was commissioned to build a Hotel on Eriska as part of the West Highland Railway plans, however this Hotel, now known as the Isle of Eriska, did not operate as a Hotel at this time, and instead it was occupied as a private house, until much later, when we turned it into the hotel it is today in the early 70s.
Rather than the above railway plans going ahead, the railway from Connel to Ballachulish followed what is now known as the A82, passing through Benderloch and over the Cregan Bridge, which has since become a road bridge, through the Strath of Appin before joining the original railway route at Portnacroish and following the coast round to Ballachulish. However with so many improvements in travel and changing industries, there is not the need there once was for rail transport, and as a result these railway tracks are out of commission, having been replaced and upgraded for other motors.
October 17, 2010
Weather wc 17th October
its hard to beleive that last night there were reports of snow on some of the Aberdeenshire hills especially given the stunning day we had here at eriska yesterday although the cooler conditions due to cl;ear skies at night needed the sunshine to burn the dew off the grass. Anyway it has been a great week just right for laying sports hall floors given the dry days and stable temperatures insuring taht concrete does not dry too fast or too slow. Now all we have to do is hope for still conditions in a weeks time when the steel frame arrives but that may be a step too far- so whats ahead fro this week?
Early fog patches clearing then dry with sunny spells.
Monday: Overnight mist and fog patches, especially around and on the hills, gradually clear to leave a fine and dry day with some long spells of sunshine.
Tuesday: A mainly dry night with clear spells, allowing a widespread ground frost then in comes the cloud and patchy rain
Wednesday: A bright start but generally a rather cloudy day with outbreaks of mostly light rain through the morning and early afternoon. Freshening southwesterly breeze.
Thursday:Sunny spells and occasional showers, turning increasingly wintry over hills as winds turn more northerly and strengthen
Friday:We can expect a mixture of blustery showers and rain with drier and brighter spells.
Saturday: Showers will be heavy at times and wintry over higher hills and mountains it will feel generally cold as winds come from a northerly direction.
October 16, 2010
Giant Mole Invasion
We have over the last few months, that would be the "Royal WE" as katherine has been doing it solo, developed a Bird diary for the hotel. It combines traits of birds and images with a grid map of the island and the opportunity for guests to make notes of where and when birds are spotted. I has however now led to requests from others as to whether we could benefit from a general wildlife diary so guests could then check to see when and where the latest otter sighting was allowing them more chance of spotting elusive squirrels of hiding pine Martens. All seemed a sensible idea until I realised that not all guests are such experts as Katherine and some may confuse species so we would need to have a moderator to insure that both sightings and locations were correct otherwise hours may be spent sitting and waiting for the wrong animal in the wrong place. anyway its a concept worth developing.
However on that note it was maybe not surprising when two guests returned having been out investigating the island to report on an influx of giant moles, rather surprising line I was confused and not surprisingly shocked when I heard they had been damaging the golf course so I rushed out to assess the damage. However I need not have worried as the large mounds were indeed man- not mole- made and were part of the completion process of te golf course as they were in fact the mounds of topsoil that had been excavated from the tennis court area some 30 years ago and were now being relocated to the approach to the 7th green. The plan now is to level the coil out and lay turf on it in time for the grand opening of the final three holes completed with new bunkering in the spring. in the meantime I will be on the watch for further mole action!