Coming to a place near you, be afraid,very afraid…


Dear All,

               An update on progress re Lews Castle Self Catering Proposals

1.       The really positive news is that there is indeed real progress being made. I met with Ian the OHTIA chairman and some other members yesterday and can assure you that they are “on the case” and putting sustained pressure on Joe MacPhee and his plans.

2.       Part of this strategy is very obvious. We need to get feedback from the industry and hence they have produced a survey, the results of which they can then use to support the case being made to the council. The survey response has been good but there is a deadline approaching, so please click here and fill it in if you haven’t done so already. It is very short and will take two minutes to do, but it is vitally importantto our case to the council.

3.        If  you think you are distant to this debate, think again. Imagine if the council have an old schoolhouse near you and cannot get rid of it. Why not turn that into a hostel or self catering?  Lews Castle is only the tip of iceberg

4.       It is already happening elsewhere, see Valtos Outdoor Centre

The completed development will see the creation of an outdoor centre complete with bunkhouse and 4 star self catering accommodation in an area of outstanding beauty.


5.       Twenty self-catering units to be built at the new St. Kilda centre?   That’s the rumour. Could be true. Who would be in pole position to operate them do you think?

Next week, Thursday 27th, NT are doing a presentation in the council chambers. Please attend if you can. I cannot be there as I’m being dragged off to a sunny place for a wee holiday. But please ask questions for me!

And get those surveys filled in !


Natural Retreats Outline 5 Star Proposals For Lews Castle

Natural Retreats Outline 5 Star Proposals For Lews Castle

March 2014…/ Natural Retreats are delighted to announce their proposed plans for the hospitality and accommodation facilities at Lews Castle on the beautiful Isle of Lewis. Subject to formal approval and on-going discussions with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Natural Retreats hope to create a 5-star experience at the iconic Castle.

Natural Retreats are a specialist leisure and travel company, renowned for offering customers high quality tourism based experiences in some of the most dramatic natural locations the world. With over 100 years of relevant international and regional leisure and tourism experience, Natural Retreats’ senior management in both Europe and the US bring a wealth of expertise to the project.

Sustainability runs through Natural Retreats’ core emanating from its founder Matthew Spence, who developed the first location in the Yorkshire Dales on his family farm in 2006. Sustainability is prevalent today in the development of new destinations, through sustainable operations using local employment and supply chains and, most importantly, sustainable tourism that makes significant economic contributions to the communities in which Natural Retreats operates.

Spence, founder and CEO of Natural Retreats, commented: “I am delighted to share our vision for Lews Castle. We hope to create a 5-star accommodation offering and service and look forward to sharing this wonderful destination, which boasts stunning scenery, a rich history, wildlife and endless activities, with our guests. It is easy to see why this was voted the Number 1 European Island to visit recently by TripAdvisor, I couldn’t agree more.”

Natural Retreats and Lews Castle

The accommodation at Lews Castle will be completed to a 5-star standard and will consist of 52 bed spaces which include stunning en-suite rooms and larger suites that make the most of the unrivalled setting, some of which will contain kitchen and dining areas. Due to the innovative design, the accommodation can be offered to guests in different configurations containing one, two and three bedrooms. This allows a wide range of visitors to be accommodated from families and couples to groups and corporate guests.

The ground floor of Lews Castle will feature a dedicated and staffed reception space for guest check-in along with a guest lounge and bar. These will be in addition to the on-site café where guests can enjoy locally sourced food or have delicious dishes delivered to their room. There will also be a retail and activity space and unique function rooms to allow the Castle to host weddings, conferences and events.

Staff based at the Castle and Natural Retreats’ concierge service will help guests explore the island, discovering highlights such as Callanish Standing Stones and Uig Sands, or taking to the open water for a sea safari. As with all locations within Natural Retreats’ portfolio, guests are given ultimate freedom on arrival dates and trip duration, encouraging visitors to stay longer and enjoy this beautiful location.

The style of accommodation planned for Lews Castle has been branded as an ‘Inn’ by Natural Retreats and will be similar in terms of flexibility to the inaugural Inn launched at the iconic John O’Groats in August 2013. The interior design, furnishing and fittings within the Castle will be in keeping with Natural Retreats brand standards – modern, contemporary, functional and inspired by British and preferably local designers and manufacturers. This commitment to design-led development is what sets Natural Retreats apart. The Inn at John O’Groats has been put forward for a number of international design awards and has featured heavily in the international press.

Another amazing location

Natural Retreats are delighted to share plans for this landmark property in one of the world’s finest locations.

Natural Retreats plan to invest into the marketing and promotion of this wonderful destination and the region in order to enhance the existing initiatives and ultimately attract additional visitors on top of what is already in place.

The brand adopt a multi-channel B2C marketing approach and each year have over 750,000 unique visits to and a contact database of over 300,000 individuals.

The marketing team also employs international PR agencies who generate expansive press coverage on behalf of the brand and the regions and communities. Since Natural Retreats became involved at John O’Groats, John O’Groats has benefited from extensive media coverage including a circulation of over 135m and an Equivalent Advertising Value (EAV) of £3m. This team also utilise national and international advertising campaigns, strong tourist board engagement with VisitScotland and strategic partnerships with wide-reaching complementary brands.

Natural Retreats have a loyal guest following with around 30% of bookings from repeat guests. The brand is delighted to offer their loyal customers another must-see destination.

Notes to Editor – About Natural Retreats

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain’s quote is as relevant today as it’s always been and reflects the sense of freedom and adventure we like our guests to experience on a Natural Retreats escape.

At Natural Retreats we pride ourselves on being a unique leisure and travel company offering extraordinary experiences at a selection of stunning coastal, countryside and wilderness locations around the world. We all work and live by the principles that underpin the company forever on a quest to help or guests and customers explore, dream and discover.

We are your guides to life’s most amazing experiences and guardians of quality time understanding how important your leisure time is to collect moments to form memories that will last a lifetime.

Natural Retreats truly believes in sustainability, the communities and landscapes within which we develop are the real amenities. We have a real passion for these rural communities; after all, this is where its founder, Matthew Spence, came from having developed the first location in the Yorkshire Dales on his family farm back in 2006.

Now, Natural Retreats operates 18 destinations across Europe and the USA, each offering extraordinary experiences, activities and accommodation. Highlights include John O’Groats, North Highlands, Scotland, Trewhiddle, South Cornwall, England, Tsaina Lodge in Alaska and South Fork Lodge, Idaho, USA.


For further press information on Natural Retreats please contact Grifco on 020 7385 7090 or email Charlie Fox, Nicole Lovett or Jess Heslop

Best wishes,

Nicole Lovett

Account Executive Grifco PR


p: +44 (0) 207 385 7090
f: +44 (0) 207 385 6936
a: 18 Coda Centre, 189 Munster Road, London SW6 6AW