Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020

13 | Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20530 Best Luxury Country Retreat - Perthshire Through a collection of comfortable and stylish farm cottages, Blairmore Farm & Estates have designed a Scottish country retreat with everyone in mind, even the family dog. Going into further detail, Alisa begins by providing us with an overview of the firm and offers more of an insight into its clientele. “Together our ethos is to provide luxury at an affordable price, making it accessible to guests from all walks of life. By working tirelessly over the last eight years we have created a sustainable business both in terms of our food production, and the provision of luxury accommodation in the most environmentally friendly manner. Typically, our guests are predominantly families and groups, comprising of a variety of backgrounds and holiday goals, including the exploration of our beautiful area. “Here at Blairmore Farm & Estates, our core values are key to the development of our business. Having had a previous career in physiotherapy, I’ve had to ensure that our accommodation and farm is accessible to as many people as possible. The development of two accessible properties has been a wonderful challenge, and the development of routes around the farm continues as we feel the evolution of the farm will continue as long as we are here.” Although its ethos has proved to be one of the key factors behind the firm’s success, it’s important to remember food production has allowed Blairmore Farm to further distinguish itself from other self- catering businesses, as Alisa explains further. “Farm Kitchen catering services and our onsite licensed bar are both well stocked with local drinks and produce from local businesses. Looking around at the competition in our region, this is typically what set us apart from the rest.” Regarding recruitment instead of focusing on a candidate’s experience, Alisa prefers to focus on personality as on-the-job training can easily be provided as she points out. “When we are recruiting, it’s not necessary to immediately recruit individuals with immense experience for each role. Training and development is of paramount importance to the firm so we will support our team whenever we can. Recruiting within the local community, each team member will also naturally bring their own skills and personality to this family run business.” Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, the firm has still managed to prosper during these difficult and uncertain times. “The pandemic has been a tremendous blow to all tourism businesses throughout the world. The effects are well documented, and our business has had to pivot massively in order to stay viable” Alisa informs us. “Initially we launched an online butchery, and this month we will be launching oven ready meals for the local community. The tourism community in Perthshire along with the amazing support of Scottish Agritourism and Go Rural has massively increased the awareness of agritourism itself. This support and the ability to be involved in such amazing organisations has fortunately driven business to us. The overall trend for ‘staycations’ has certainly been the driving force behind the majority of business we have been able to do this year. Moreover, in the first half of 2021 we are expecting that trend to continue. International visitors made up 18% of our business in 2019, so we are hoping to see a return of these guests later this year.” Finally, Alisa discusses the main benefits of the firm’s location before outlining some of its plans for the coming year and beyond. “Moving forward, the future is bright as we are using the current difficulties to really look at the diversification of the business. To further develop the business we are looking to start a pop-up restaurant, and recently we have been investigating launching a new service to the corporate market, as businesses turn more to working from home. Additionally, we are looking at providing small conferencing facilities to help organisations engage on a social level when they are able to and when the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.” Company: Blairmore Farm & Estates Limited Contact: Ailsa Clark Website: Blairmore Farm & Estates is a working farm offering five-star self-catering holiday lettings. Following its well-deserved success in the Scottish Enterprise Awards 2020, we got in touch with Alisa Clark to find out more.