Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Christmas shopping and the GMRT

With Christmas approaching, many of you will no doubt be eagerly looking forward the inevitable pre-Christmas trip to the shopping centre. Surely there can be no better way to spend a hard earned day off, than to wander aimlessly from shop to shop, looking for that perfect gift? Add in the thrill of trying to find a parking space, navigating through the crowds, the long queues, and you’ve got the makings of a real epic!

If, however, this isn’t your “cup of tea”, and you’d rather shop online and let the postman do the work, then are you helping the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team at the same time? And if not, why not?

It was around this time last year we here at Clachaig set out to try and raise some extra funds for the local team using the EasyFundRaising scheme. We’ve just passed the £200 mark, which isn’t bad given that not one of the supporters so far has had to give a single penny of their own money, but it could be a lot more if we can persuade more of you folks out there to help us.

Details of how this works are available on our GlencoeScotland website. In short, pretty much every time you buy something online, you could be adding a little more to the team’s funds. The cost to you? Nil. Not a penny, Just a minute or two to register (email address and chosen cause only) and a few seconds each time you shop to go via the EasyFundRaising site first. Say for example you buy a £9.99 DVD from Amazon, then Amazon (and NOT you) will pay a 2.5% commission/donation to the GMRT. Okay, only 25p in this example, but if enough folks help out then that can easily build into a more meaningful figure. Don’t forget, this isn’t a one-off or short term scheme, but ongoing.

So, in the coming weeks, when your credit card is taking a bit of a hammering, console yourself with the fact that at the same time, you could be helping out the GMRT. With snow on the hills, and more on the way, these guys are likely to be in for another busy winter. Take a minute or two to read a bit more, and hopefully we can convince you to sign up and help out. It’s all for a good cause, as the saying goes.

Never a dull moment

There's barely a sole around at the moment. The skies are clear, the frost is crisp and the snow on the mountains looks like it needs playing in. (Have a look at a couple of the featured blogs on the right hand side for some proof!) But despite all that, there's not much chance of sneaking out for a little fresh air this week.

Clachaig's Ossian Bedrooms - time for a makeover
As soon as our weekend guests check out on Sunday morning we make way for a team of joiners, plumbers, decorators and electricians, as they invade our peace and crack on with the refurbishment of our Ossian bedrooms.

The four bedrooms, along with their adjoining en suite bath, shower and toilets are all being given a complete makeover. In addition, we'll be giving the wee lounge a new lease of life, along with the connecting corridors and stairwell. What started out as a fairly simple 'lick of paint' has turned into a fairly major makeover.

These bedrooms were the first to be refurbished when we set about bringing Clachaig up to a good modern standard several years ago. They've served us well, and still look good. But there's never time to stand still and we're now taking them to the next level. Carpets, wall coverings, furniture, baths, tiles, sinks.... All change!

And as we never tend to do anything by halves, we're also clearing out The Grog & Gruel on Sunday morning too. After 16 years, Fort William's favourite Traditional Alehouse and Restaurant is also getting a bit of a makeover. With the impossible brief of modernise the theme, but don't break what's already there, we're pretty confident that you'll like the new look pub and restaurant. But worry ye not, it'll still be The Grog & Gruel.

So, by 16th December, we'll have re-invested another £150,000 or so into the businesses, making sure that we're ready and raring to go for the Hogmanay Hoolies!

More on the Facebook pages as we go (if we dare show you). Click here for Clachaig and here for The Grog & Gruel.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Gales aren't that uncommon, particularly as we approach the depths of winter. But perhaps because they're not uncommon, their effect isn't usually too severe. Most things that are going to get blown over have already been blown over.

 Not so this morning, however. The Clachaig mobile heading one way, kids on the way to school heading the other, and this huge oak came down between them. A lucky escape for both.



Plenty of firewood on the old village road!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

This is a great time to escape the autumn blues with a late season visit to Glencoe.

Winter is knocking on the door and it is bringing Christmas and Hogmanay with it.

You have probably already spent hours pondering over which presents to get for whom and who will receive a card from you this year. Chances are you are dreaming of a quick escape from this all before there IS no more escaping it. This is where we come in…..

Of course we want to help and knowing how expensive these times are, we have thought of a special 3 for 2 offer which provides excellent value for money.

When you book a 2 nights stay with us at the standard bed and breakfast rate you can stay a 3rd night for absolutely free!

This offer is valid for a limited time only between November 12th and December 23rd (Valid for all our rooms - subject to availability)

Contact Us now with your requirements including number of guests, preferred dates, and room types and we'll get back to you by return.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Cutting off a life line?

The week started well. A few projects on the go at the moment, so despite it now being officially the quiet season, we're very focussed on taking the business forward into the next trading year. And then a chance conversation regarding a comment someone had seen on a web forum. A proposal that the A82 would be closed for a 14 week period whilst improvements to the section at Pulpit Rock are carried out. Surely not?!

Surely not, because if there something so impacting as the closure of THE Trunk Road to the North West was on the cards, someone would have told us. Or a newspaper would have let a story on it? Or the business network across Lochaber would have picked it up and shared it? But no, none of these things had happened. Despite our wide network of contacts (Discover Glencoe, OCUK, Chamber of Commerce, people we meet all the time....) no one had heard. And that folks is "consultation"! And the consultation period ends today.

Clearly, there's cause for concern. Yes there are other routes. But yes, clearly there are other destinations as well. And we're not blessed with a network of roads here. The alternatives involve some significant distances and times. And yes, the A82 desperately needs repair and upgrade. But at what cost to the communities it serves?

So, as we said, the week started out well, but amidst all the planning of investing (more of that later we hope) in the future of the business, protecting and growing employment in a fragile rural area, we have to drop everything for a few days to to fight closure. There's an irony there, don't you think?

Here's the official version of events:
The last link on this page entitled "This brochure" is worth a click.

Chances are you're reading this too late to expres your own opinion. But for what its worth, here'swhat we said.

The issues

Fact versus perception
Many years of dealing with the public leads us to believe that there is a very big difference between what is actual fact, and what is public perception, simply based on headlines. The perception that the A82 is closed, ergo the access to the north west is closed is highly likely, regardless of advice given on alternative routes. A lack of willingness to travel north and west due to fact or perception will cause significant loss of business to the Lochaber area.

Loss of Trade
A significant amount of trade to the Glencoe area comes from the Greater Glasgow, Ayrshire and Ireland. Glasgow and Prestwick Airports are key Gateway points to our market. This geographical draw is extremely significant in the weekender and short break market. This is also an informed market, who are able to make decisions based on such variables as weather, activity, and convenience.

Based on fact or perception, this market can easily make decisions to head to the east, rather than the North West, resulting in significant loss of business to Lochaber businesses.

Winter Market
Our business, as many visitor based businesses in the South Lochaber and Fort William area, trade year round. Whilst the summer market is critical to our very existence, the winter market, both before and after the Festive period, is still very significant and keeps many people in year round employment as opposed to traditional seasonal tourism employment. However, it is fragile and has taken many years to develop. Any loss of business in summer would have massive economic impact. Any loss of business in the winter would have direct impact on employment.

With 2 ski areas served by the A82, any impact on the ski season would be devastating to an already beleaguered sector, and be especially harmful to Glencoe Mountain.

Inadequate Consultation
There is insufficient knowledge of the proposed closures across all the affected areas. The advertising of the consultation process may well satisfy the statutory requirements with a small ad in a local paper but few businesses appear to be aware of it. Consequently, the ability to take more time to make a considered and informed opinion has been prejudiced. In any event, something so fundamental as the long term closure of a Truck Road should have been given much wider airing.

Inadequate Consultation (further demonstration)
Glencoe business have long recognised the importance of the A82 to the economy and the community. For this reason, regular meetings with representatives of Transport Scotland & TransServe have been held for a number of years. These meetings have helped to address issues arising out of the various A82 bridge replacements. The specific issue of the A82 south of the Glencoe was raised at the most recent meeting on 22nd September. There was absolutely no mention of the proposed closures and the imminent consultation process.

Our track record shows that where adequate consultation has been permitted, we have been able to work to find a mutually agreeable solution. Through the process, we have been able to understand the more technical issues involved, in some cases prevent proposed closures by finding alternatives, and certainly to mitigate the potential negative impact of essential works through mechanisms such as alternative timing, re-scheduled work patterns, adequate publicity and signage etc.

The solutions

The exceptional prolonged closure of a major arterial Trunk road requires exceptional measures to mitigate the impact of the closure on the fragile economies and communities it serves.

In the extremely short amount of time we have had available in which to prepare a response, we would list the following as essential measures which must now be taken.

  • Direct, detailed and on-going proper consultation with all affected parties, but in as far as we speak for ourselves, with our representatives from the Glencoe area, in advance of decision being made.
  • No decision to be made on the closure period without reference to the proper Consultation process. There is no ‘good’ time of year for a closure, but periods may be better than others. In all cases, traditional peak trading periods, both summer and winter must be avoided.
  • Close examination of the options and alternatives to complete and prolonged road closure with clear reference to the Consultation process.
  •     Temporary / Weekend opening
  •     Use of Bailey Bridges for parallel working
  •     Flexible / Intensive shift working patterns
  •     High penalty clauses for over-running.
  •  Clear and express ‘positive message’ at all available opportunities, fully describing alternative routes and avoiding negative implications.
  •  Advance signs advising of alternative routes (and not congestion/delay) 
  •  e.g. major advance arterial routes M74 etc.
  • No non-emergency road works to the A84 or Argyll alternatives during the planned closure periods.
  • No negative reporting – the A82 isn’t closed, but ‘the A84 and A81 are open and it won’t take much longer’.
  • Careful management of press releases to ensure accurate information and to respond to any potentially negative reporting should the need arise.
  • Public transport links, especially the Glasgow – Fort William bus service maintained throughout the closure period, with clear, accurate and easily accessible information about alternative schedules brought about by the diversion.
  • Budget allocation from the overall scheme costs to be given to marketing bodies in the affected areas for the express use of communicating the “open for business” message. In terms of scheme costs, this sum would be negligible. In terms of the mitigation that it could achieve, it would be substantial.
  • E.g. Discover Glencoe, OCUK, and not VisitScotland   
  • Advertising in the Glasgow Evening Post
  • Direct distribution to Glasgow & Prestwick Airport, Ferry terminal in Troon,
  • Car hire centres etc    .