Entrepreneur packs up city life to launch sustainable Speyside holiday escape

Paul Cannavan and one of the woodland cabins

A FORMER solicitor has left behind his life and work in Edinburgh to start a new hospitality venture in Speyside, with four new luxury woodland cabins at the north edge of the Cairngorms National Park. 

The Dell at Glenlivet began as a lockdown idea for entrepreneur Paul Cannavan and, with support from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans Programme and DSL Business Finance, he acquired a former clay pigeon shooting site near the world-famous Glenlivet Distillery to turn his idea into reality. A £25,000 loan helped Paul to cover the costs of building the bespoke hideaway cabins.

As well as a 15-year career in the legal sector, Paul also has prior experience in hospitality businesses. Building on a family connection with the Speyside area – Paul holidayed locally throughout his childhood – he saw a gap in the market for high-quality accommodation in one of Scotland’s best-known whisky regions.

The cabins are built from locally sourced materials, such as Scottish larch timber, and use ground screw foundations as an alternative to concrete, meaning minimal disruption to the natural ecosystem underneath each property. The design also incorporates a range of sustainable features including a borehole fresh water supply and environmentally friendly waste disposal.

The cabins are set within an international dark skies park, making it an ideal spot for stargazing with little to no light pollution. Each property has an outdoor bathtub to take in the views and, while they are connected to an electricity supply for power, there is no internet connection which Paul hopes will encourage guests to truly switch off.

Paul said: “The Dell at Glenlivet is unlike anything else that’s available in Speyside at the moment for tourists and holidaymakers. The location is the ideal spot for enjoying the outdoors or whisky tourism, as well as escaping from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and having a digital detox.

“We welcomed our first guests just last month and the initial response has been fantastic. Having the option for luxury accommodation so close to nature and the Cairngorms National Park is a big draw for people. Even though the site has four properties, they are well-spaced so it still feels totally private and secluded.

“Sustainability was a big focus as part of the design process and I’m pleased that the cabins have turned out so well, fitting in with the woodland surroundings with a low carbon footprint. We’re looking forward to welcoming guests from all over the UK and beyond throughout the years ahead.”

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 6,500 loans to new business owners in Scotland since 2012, including more than 100 loans worth over £850,000 for entrepreneurs in Moray.

Barry McCulloch, senior manager, UK Network, Scotland at the British Business Bank, said: “Hospitality and tourism businesses, particularly those linked to Scotland’s whisky-making heritage, are a vital part of our economy and continue to drive visitors from all over the world to see what Scotland has to offer. It’s great to have been able to support Paul with his escape from the city and a career change too. The Start Up Loans scheme was designed to support creative, ambitious entrepreneurs with the funding they need to take the leap into new ventures and become their own boss.”

Murray Marshall, loan officer at DSL Business Finance, added: “Paul approached me with a detailed business plan and vision for what he was looking to achieve. He engaged with me early in his journey and we worked together to ensure his funding was available when required. It has been great to see Paul’s vision become a reality with a fantastic offering to tourists in the Moray region.”

For bookings, visit: the-dell-at-glenlivet.co.uk

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