p in the northeastern corner of Scotland’s coast is a unique and unspoiled region with stunning scenery and captivating towns. Called the Grampian Highlands, it has been beloved by the British Royal family ever since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built Balmoral Castle there in the mid 1800s as a summer home.
Rich in historic castles, royal connections and whisky distilleries, you will find here forested hills tumbling down to a craggy and dramatic coast with quaint fishing villages and secluded beaches. The River Dee, one of the world’s most famous salmon rivers, rises high in the Cairngorm Mountains here and rushes through the wooded river valley to enter the sea at Aberdeen, Scotland’s “city of flowers”.
A special region of these highlands, called Royal Deeside because of its many Royal connections, has the charming villages of Braemar, Balmoral, Ballater, Aboyne, and Banchory for you to love. The names alone are a song.
The area around Braemar and Ballater is known as Royal Deeside and it is one of the most beautiful regions in Scotland. Since the reign of Queen Victoria the British Royal Family have spent their summers at Balmoral Castle. Every year they attend the Braemar Highland Games and other local events. Birkhall, previously owned by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother is now a favourite retreat of Prince Charles, who spent his second honeymoon there in 2005. Note that the Balmoral Castle grounds, gardens and exhibitions are closed to the Public during August, September and October as The Royal Family are in residence.
Ballater, the “Jewel of the Cairngorms”, was developed during the 19th Century craze for Spa towns. Today, the original Pannanich Wells still produces bottled spring water which is sold locally and internationally. This village and its surroundings are riotous with flowers in the spring, have pleasantly mild summers, blaze with color in the autumn and have picture-postcard winters. So any time is a good time to visit.
The village, just a 10-minute drive from Balmoral Castle, is easily accessible by road, rail and air to Aberdeen then a spectacular 1-hour drive by car or bus to town. It is surrounded by famous name whisky distilleries, ski facilities, castles and mountains. Major events of the year, according to the official Royal Deeside website, include: “in August of each year Victoria Week recognising the areas’ Victorian heritage, Ballater Highland Games and Food and Wine events throughout the year. The ‘Taste of Royal Deeside’ Food & Wine festival is a popular event. Golf Week takes place amid spectacular scenery. Various arts events happen during the year and in 1995 Ballater was proud to host the European Pipe Band Championships. Ballater boasts art galleries, artists and writers, and antique shops.”
So you see that there is no lack of things to see and do in this charming and remote region.
Just a couple of minutes away from the village is Hilton Craigendarroch Resort (pronounced “Cragendarrick” — and roll those “r’s”), a spectacular country estate perched on the slopes of Craigendarroch Hill, high above the Dee Valley. The main house (pictured top left) was built in the 19th century for the Keiller family (the inventors of Dundee marmalade) and was converted into a modern resort hotel with timeshare lodges and every imaginable facility. (Note: as of Jan. 6, 2013 the hotel portion— the original manor house — was closed, to be turned into timeshare suites; the entire property will be a Hilton Grand Vacations Resort. The leisure facilities which currently operate as part of the Country Club will also be refurbished. The resort will continue to offer Country Club memberships, as well as guest access to the restaurant and bar areas.)
An Interval International-affiliated Premier Resort, its leisure facilities include an 55 foot lagoon pool and fully equipped exercise facility. There’s also a health and beauty suite and tennis and squash courts are also available. There’s even a dry ski slope on the grounds and children are exceptionally well accommodated.
You will not want for fine food here, either– whether you dine in town or on the estate grounds! Fine Dining is available on the grounds at the famous Oaks Restaurant, at the family oriented club house restaurant near the pool, at the Alfresco Bar, or the Club Bar. If you want to cozy up with a good book, there is even a library bar available onsite with a blazing log fire.
In addition, a casino is just an hour away; golf less than a mile; fishing and just about anything else you can think of within easy reach.
Options for Hilton Grand Vacations Club members include: The Lochnagar and Glengairn Lodges at Craigendarroch, 99 lodges sprinkled throughout the grounds in small groupings, each unit with its own magnificent view, each with its own fireplace and glassed balcony to protect you from wind and cold, each with its own fully equipped kitchen just in case you really want to make yourself at home. There is nothing impersonal here, and there are no strangers– only new and old friends. (note that Lodge electricity is metered and charged on departure.)
Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch Suites will offer thirty-two, studio, one and two bedroom apartments in the converted Craigendarroch House, originally built by the Keiller family in 1891. (Due for completion by the middle of 2013). Key features include:
- Reservations for one night or longer
- Studio apartments to sleep 2
- One bed apartments to sleep 2+2
- Two bed apartments to sleep 4 + 2
- 150cm & 180cm Master Beds
- Lounge areas
- Light meal preparation facilities inc, Dining table, Full fridge, Microwave, Toaster, Kettle
- Complimentary internet access & latest television and sound technology.
- Private access to exclusive members lounge for Suite Owners only
So you take the high road and I’ll take the low road– and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye…
Some Web sites with information about the area:
- http://www.visitballater.com/ All about Ballater
- http://www.royal-deeside.org.uk/ The definitive website for the area
- http://www.royal-deeside.org.uk/RDvillages/ballater.htm Village of Ballater and immediate area- some interesting photos
- http://www.balmoralcastle.com/ Official website for Balmoral Castle
- http://www.travelscotland.co.uk/ Scottish Tourist Board’s Guide to Scotland
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually theonly timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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