Cameron House makes brave attempt to cash in on blockbuster bonanza
John Keating, who joined the resort last year, said that Brave, the new movie from the studios behind Cars and Toy Story, is doing wonders to raise Scotland’s profile among potential visitors from the US.
“Brave will be fantastic,” he said, adding the film – which is set in a mythical Scotland and features a skilled archer called Princess Merida – had inspired some of the activities planned for this summer.
“We’ll have cooking academies, fishing, archery and summer camps for children to keep the families engaged while they’re here,” he said. “When people go overseas there’s so much to do, so we have had to raise our game.”
Keating previously worked for resorts operator Sandals in the Caribbean and joined Cameron House last year as general manager. He has just been promoted to managing director and is planning an £80,000 investment to attract more custom from people taking to the water on Loch Lomond.
He said: “Over the winter we’ll develop another leg to the marina so we can add around 30 berths to the 200 we have just now.”
Given the hotel’s location in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Keating said the plans involved a close dialogue with planning authorities, “but they’ve been very helpful and they’re very much in favour of seeing it come to light”.
Keating has also overseen the recent completion of a new seafood bar at the resort, which involved a £55,000 investment in new equipment.
“It’s a business partnership with Loch Fyne and it’s all about trying to do business locally,” he said.
Shellfish will also be on the menu in September, when the hotel hosts its first oyster festival. Keating said: “The season for native oysters starts on 1 September.
“We’ll have oyster-opening competitions, and lessons on what’s best to drink with oysters.
“The calendar is falling perfectly for us, and I would love this to be an annual event.” Despite the current global economic woes, Keating said efforts to build Cameron House’s profile in the United States were paying off.
“I work with a British lady in the US called Rebecca Slater, who runs ‘Rebecca Recommends’, so we visit travel agents and build up relationships. Americans are more prepared to book suites so they have more space and they stay longer too. Year-on-year we’ve improved our room rate by about 10 per cent.”
To coincide with the release of Brave, which opened in the US on Friday, tourism body VisitScotland is spending £7 million on a global advertising campaign and Keating said Cameron House’s location gave it a distinct advantage in attracting overseas visitors.
He said: “When they were launching Brave in the US last week, they were asking people what they knew about Scotland, and Loch Lomond was always near the top of the list.
“When I’m showing off the hotel, I’m really showing off Loch Lomond and the area, because it’s spectacular.”