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

5 thoughts on “Natural Retreats Outline 5 Star Proposals For Lews Castle”

  1. I feel deeply concerned to see this premature yet very confident-sounding press release from Natural Retreats, and even more concerned to actually read some of their intentions in greater detail. I own two long-established self-catering properties on Lewis, and had thought the plan for Lews Castle had gone from being a five-star hotel to some sort of budget travel lodge, but on reading these plans I am shocked by Natural Retreats’ intention to somehow be “all things to all men”, and in adopting this approach, to hell with the consequences for accommodation providers across the spectrum.

    Natural Retreats say they want to offer “en-suite rooms and larger suites, some with kitchen and dining areas; and using different configurations containing one, two and three bedrooms”, plus a concierge service, reception area (on the ground floor?), guest lounge, bar, conference and wedding facilities, a cafe, room service. What is this? A hotel? A guest house? Self-catering? Natural Retreats can’t even decide themselves what this pick’n’mix is to be called, hence their invented branding of it as an ‘Inn’.

    For all Natural Retreats’ boasts about the vast budget they spend on marketing, publicity and its huge following, I had not heard of them until this plan came to light (albeit in a rather shadowy, shifty manner), and I used to write travel features for a national newspaper. In fact, their many overweening claims about what they will offer the island and its visitors put me in mind of the pre-election party political manifestos that are invariably forgotten before the ink on the ballot papers has dried. The one thing that seems certain, however, is that this dizzying hotchpotch will wreak maximum damage on the widest range of accommodation providers.

    As for Natural Retreats and its founder Matthew Spence having “a real passion for these rural communities’’? How very patronising. In this case, Mr Spence, perhaps you should listen to the community whose castle this is, and know that your particular brand of tourism is not needed here if it threatens the livelihoods of the very tourism providers who have helped make Lewis and Harris TripAdvisor’s Number 1 European Island to visit.

  2. On this company’s web page on the first line says –
    “Incredible self catering holiday accommodation in stunning locations across the UK.” yet this press release never mentions the term – self catering once – not once!! and don’t you think that “en-suite rooms and larger suites that make the most of the unrivalled setting, some of which will contain kitchen and dining areas” sound a bit like – self- catering !!!
    So it is self-catering and will it be called the “The Lewis Castle Inn “???

  3. It is interesting that the OHTIA have now, at 2 minutes to midnight, commissioned a survey of other tourism businesses on the island. The Comhairle are going to or have been asked to employ yet more outside consultants to establish the impact of the Natural Retreats proposal. The thing is that facts and figures are readily available from organisations such as Visit Scotland and other market research companies. Has anyone involved in this grand plan established whether self catering bed space or the model proposed by Natural Retreats is in demand? Has anyone surveyed business visitors, tourists, the press (who regularly visit the island)? What do they want? Surely the self catering demand is in rural areas where punters can have a cottage by the sea and or with views, peace and quiet? To my mind, a chance has been missed to encourage passengers from those cruise ships to spend a night in Stornoway or to provide high end accommodation to visitors on business. The Natural Retreats model seems a bit confusing; a sort of Premier Inn meets serviced apartments type effort. I also think there is something we aren’t being told. If the OHTIA don’t want to ask, then perhaps an alternative tourism trade organisation should be formed. An organisation that can ask the likes of Natural Retreats and the Comhairle some awkward questions and demand answers that have a modicum of plausibility to them. It’s a suggestion!

  4. This is looking more and more like a “done deal” – and the way this has all been done is most obvious example of getting the” horse and cart” the wrong way round. It should have started with market research, survey, information gathering, consultation exercises and most importantly frank and open discussion esp. with the people it was going to impact on the most. This is not looking like a hotel or anything like it. How would the concierge service work – is it like a travel lodge – ring a bell and wait !! and would the food for the wedding receptions be produced in the café ?!!! Also I wonder if anyone has asked the Trust about access as I see the gate at the golf club is still closed on a Sunday. Also what if someone in the “Lewis Castle Inn” wants to play a round of golf on a Sunday. There are loads more questions that need to be asked – I feel the press release from Natural Retreats is way over confident and far to early – unless they know something we don’t!!

  5. what happens during the festival when their is a very loud large part outside the castle?

    does the festival have to move locations now?

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