The Forestry Commission’s Forest Holidays today saw Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, open the latest initiative from its £8.5 million programme of investment in Scottish tourism.
Ms Cunningham opened the site at Ardgartan on Loch Long in Argyll, with 14 luxury timber cabins finished and a further 14 to come on completion. When this happens, it will bring Forest Holidays’ total investment in Scotland so far to £6m.
Fittings in the luxury two and three bedroom cabins include a flat screen TV, a well equipped kitchen, a BBQ and even an outdoor hot tub. Prices for a four night mid week break this month (October) for 4 people staying in a two bedroom unit start from £319 per cabin.
The cabins are designed with ecological issues in the forefront. They feature integral high efficiency log burners with associated internal wall/under floor heating, rain water harvesting, low energy appliances and high levels of insulation.
They are positioned on the Ardgartan site both to take advantage of the views and to fit into the surrounding landscape.
The Ardgartan site has a ‘Forest Retreat’ which houses reception to the site and offers local food products, wine, bakery, coffees and souvenirs. There is also a ‘Forest Experience Room’ for information on local wildlife. It also hosts talks by the resident Forest Ranger who can organise a range of themed walks for guests. There’s a children’s play area and a lochside jetty.
Forest Holidays is a partnership between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club. It owns and operates five cabin sites and 21 caravan and camping sites in England, Scotland and Wales.
The company operates entirely within the Forestry Commission estate and has a 125 year lease on the land on which the sites are based. All the sites provide forest-based holidays in stunning locations, with the forest the source of entertainment, rather than more commercialised activities.
Interestingly, Forestry Commission Scotand came to realise its role as a major support for tourism businesses during the serious foot and mouth outbreak at the beginning of this decade. With access to farmland and forests closed as part of the protective measures of the time, FCS received a flood of letters from businesses whose operations had had to be suspended – like horse rides, guided walks and mountain biking expeditions.
Since then FCS has gone on to become one of the most proactive, inventive and enlightened supporters of appropriate tourism development.