The enthusiasm of the Natural Retreats team proved contagious as an excited buzz swept an audience in Stornoway Town Hall this afternoon (Tuesday May 19).
Natural Retreats is the company coming to Stornoway to turn part of the previously disused Lews Castle into luxury accommodation for people looking to explore the island.
Natural Retreats has been introducing people to beautiful parts of Europe and the USA since 2006.
“Sustainable Tourism” is what Natural Retreats is all about – growing the local economy, supporting local businesses, bringing in visitors from off the island to spend money in our local shops, and enjoying everything the area has to offer.
That’s why they are here, they said: to meet up with prospective providers, dip their toe into recruiting in the area, and learn about the island so that they can inform future visitors about what they do when they get here.
For the first of the Natural Retreats’ ‘Meet the Community’ events, the room was not filled to the brim by any stretch – though it can be expected that more and more interest will generate over the next couple of days – but those who were there seemed enthusiastic to be a part of this exciting new project. Adam Gough, Head of Technical Services at Natural Retreats, and main speaker at the event, even named it the company’s “stand-out project”.
As well as Adam Gough, a number of members of the Natural Retreats team are on the island for this three-day-long ‘Meet the Community’ event, as they try to make connections with local people and businesses, who they plan to work with in the future.
The team they brought up consists of: Ewan Kearney, Chief Operating Officer; Laura Dubois, Head of Commercial Operations; Emma Jonas, Head of Operations, Europe; Kelly Rowland, Meetings and Events Sales Specialist; Nicole Williams, European Marketing Manager.
Mr Gough expressed the company’s desire to work with the community, stating that they will bring people to Stornoway, as they do to their accommodations all across Europe and the USA, and Natural Retreats will promote the best businesses in the area, to give their customers the best experience on their holiday to the island, and also to help support the local economy.
They will also source local produce, where possible, and, with their word-wide media coverage and extensive online presence, help to promote activities across the islands, as they do with their other locations.
As well as providing high-class accommodation, they will also play host to destination weddings, and they will promote Stornoway as a place for those off the island to get married. This will not only bring business to restaurants and shops in Lewis and Harris, but also, Gough pointed out, to other accommodation providers. As Lews Castle will only have 24 rooms, Natural Retreats will not be able to accommodate large weddings. Gough stated: “We’re looking to reach out to local accommodation providers as much as possible to see how they can help us.”
It was also stressed that the ground floor of the building will be open to public use – to stop in for a coffee, a bit of cake, or even dinner. The only time when access will be restricted is when some part of it has been hired out for a private function.
Natural Retreats promises to bring in a number of their loyal followers, and say the new facility is set to be a fantastic asset to the island.