Travelling abroad may have been restricted this year, but outdoorsy families who are craving a winter getaway are flocking to Loch Insh.
The upmarket outdoor centre in the heart of the Spey Valley has been entertaining families who want to get away from it all and spend quality time together enjoying outdoor pursuits.
It’s ideally placed in the Cairngorms for snowsports when the snow comes, but the centre has a whole host of other activities, so it’s the perfect choice for a short break this winter. And, in response to Covid-19, the team at Loch Insh has introduced a new strategy in a bid to have less families on site but invite them to stay longer.
Duncan Freshwater, one of the directors at Loch Insh, explains that this has been beneficial to both the centre and its visitors:
“Feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive. Back in June we developed a detailed Covid operating strategy, adapted our business model in response to that strategy, and have experienced a really positive summer and autumn season as a result.
“People should consider us as a venue while they cannot go on a winter holiday to Europe and the Alps.”
Duncan is keen to point out that The Highlands in general, and the majority of Cairngorms National Park, including Loch Insh, has always been in Level 1 of the Scottish Government’s tier system. Loch Insh has also launched its own Covid Code, further boosting the safety of its visiting guest.
As well as having 22 bed and breakfast rooms (14 of which are family rooms) on site, Loch Insh also has the benefit of two apartments and 13 self-contained chalets – some even have their own hot tub – which sleep up to eight people, so families of all sizes can escape, including the dog, as most chalets at Loch Insh are pet friendly.
Keen to give visitors a magical experience, whether there has been a snowfall or not, Duncan and brother Jonathan’s team of outdoor enthusiasts have come up with an exciting idea – for the first time ever, Loch Insh has an ice rink!
From December 19, 2020, until March 7, 2021, the new artificial ice rink, which measures 20m in length, has been introduced to the centre to enhance the winter holiday experience for families who visit. The ice rink complements the artificial ski slope perfectly, and if it proves to be a success, there are future plans to make it a more permanent feature next winter.
Families who visit Loch Insh are looked after from the moment they drive on to the loch-side site and this continues throughout the duration of their stay. And you and your family are not simply left to your own devices on the ski slope, as expert tuition in skiing or snowboarding is on offer from the snowsports team, led by Duncan, a former National Team Performance Director at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010 and Pyeongchang 2018.
In warmer weather, this expert tuition continues on the water, with instruction in sailing and windsurfing, and your chance to try paddlesports and powerboating, all available on site. In fact, you can enjoy these watersports on the very same stretch of water where champion windsurfer, Islay Watson from Aviemore, honed her skills. Islay, a part-time summer instructor, is a former Junior Windsurf World Champion and, in August, was silver medallist in the first ever European iQFoil Championships, the new Olympic Class for 2024.
Loch Insh is the perfect place for adventurous parents to introduce young families to the great outdoors and all that it encompasses: from the crisp fresh air, picturesque surroundings and numerous sporting and leisure opportunities, including mountain biking (bikes are available for hire). It’s a place they will want to return to again and again.
To book a winter adventure for you and your family at Loch Insh in November, December or January, and enjoy a range of outdoor winter pursuits – including ice skating and skiing – visit the website www.lochinsh.com
Covid and The Cairngorms
The Cairngorm Business Partnership, of which Loch Insh is a member, developed a smartphone app in May to trace anyone who might have come into contact with someone who subsequently was diagnosed with Covid-19.
As kayaking and canoeing were mentioned in the Scottish Government’s opening strategy in May, Loch Insh was the very first business to use this app which is now being used by over 100 businesses across the Cairngorm National Park and has had over 90,000 downloads. Since then, more than one million people have enjoyed overnight stays or visiting attractions in the area without a single Covid case being recorded.
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