Five star Lews Castle to benefit Isles’ economy

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The Comhairle continues with refurbishment of Lews Castle and have shared some of their interior plans with the Gazette.

Because it’s an historic building there are countless regulations that have to be adhered to in the refurbishment, right down to the colour scheme which can be used.

Last week the Comhairle announced their private-sector partnership with operator Natural Retreats.

The partnership sees the Comhairle retaining ownership of the building. Money that the Council makes will be invested in the Castle’s museum and archives, with hopes that this will be a key step towards protecting much of the Islands’ heritage.

Accommodation is the central point of the Strategic Action Framework referred to by the Tourism Outer Hebrides 2020 initiative; aiming to make the Outer Hebrides a first-choice destination for a world-class experience by 2020.

The development of the Castle aims to attract visitors to the Isles by offering a destination to a new range of tourists.

Plans are for the facility to be completed to a five-star standard to go beyond the level of any accommodation currently available to visitors to Stornoway.

This will be the level aimed for in both Visit Scotland and TripAdvisor ratings.

As a result of the high standards expected by the council, and due to the targeted advertising used by Natural Retreats, it is expected that the majority of guests will be people who are visiting the Outer Hebrides for the first time, and those with significant disposable incomes.

The Council expect this to be good news for retailers, restaurateurs and recreation businesses in the isles.

Since the latest recession research has shown that the majority of visitors to the isles are now coming from the Scottish mainland, whereas before there were more visitors from the south of England.

Because Natural Retreats have destinations in America and Europe it is expected that the new development will bring more international travelers.

The Castle development is also expected to further compliment the planned development to island pontoons; recreational sailors will be able to visit all of the Isles of the Hebrides with Lews Castle as a planned destination.