Tomintoul Hostel was officially reopened this week by Cameron McNeish, having been taken over from the SYHA by the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust. It will be known as the Smugglers Hostel, a nod to the whisky smuggling past that the area is well known for.
With a long established affinity with hostelling Cameron McNeish, a former Hostel Warden, has previously spoken about his passion for hostelling and his belief in maintaining the Scottish hostelling product.
He said: “It is with great pleasure that I am able to officially reopen The Smugglers Hostel. It is great that the community was able to step in when its future has become uncertain. Hostels remain an important product in the Scottish accommodation sector, allowing budget travellers and outdoor enthusiasts to access the amazing landscape that is Scotland.”
The Smugglers Hostel is the highest hostel in the Highlands, attracting a large number of outdoor enthusiasts who visit the area due to its great location on the northern boundary of the Cairngorm National Park. Although somewhat isolated Tomintoul is a fantastic base for walking and cycling throughout the year and the Trust is focussed on developing the facilities to further cater for this growing market. Tomintoul provides a moorland detour from the Speyside Way, has a large network of paths and walks in Glenlivet and Tomintoul, and is currently developing a series mountain bike trails.
Details of the Smugglers Hostel can be found on its website.
The Development Trust has a number of significant upgrades planned for the next six months, including the installation of a wood pellet biomass system to generate a further income stream and make the business more sustainable and customer friendly on a year round basis. Hostel visitors are also set to benefit from extended opening periods from May to October this year. There are also ambitious plans to open on a year-round basis in the future.
The 20 bed family friendly hostel is open from April to November and has both ensuite and dorm rooms available to cater for a variety of visitors. Group bookings can be accommodated throughout the year, with tailor made packages available including activities and catering.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Moray Council and the Crown Estate all provide support to the Development Trust including funding for their Development Officer.
CNPA Board member Eleanor Mackintosh said: “I am delighted to see that The Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust has been able to work with the Scottish Youth Hostel Association to take over this amazing community asset. The Smugglers will provide accommodation for visitors wanting to explore this area of the Cairngorms National Park – which has so much to offer. The Development Trust has done extremely well in such a relatively short time to be already delivering on the regeneration strategy which so many people in the local community helped to shape.”