Local couple are King and Queen of the castle following Business Gateway support

25/06/2021
Culdees Castle

A ruined castle that was left in a state of disrepair for over 50 years is undergoing renovations that will transform it into a luxury new venue in Tayside, giving future guests the chance to “glamp”, wine and dine.  

Culdees Castle Estate, designed and built in 1810 for Charles Drummond, whose clan was rewarded for fighting with Robert the Bruce, hadn’t been lived in since 1968. After a lifetime of renovating properties and stumbling across the castle on a family holiday, Tracey Horton and Rob Beaton bought Culdees in the summer of 2019 and are determined to restore the site to its former glory.  

Armed with Tracey’s extensive experience in property development and events management, the pair have a long-term plan of restoring the whole castle, but it was Business Gateway that was able to provide the couple with the practical advice needed to launch the business venture.  

Following the purchase, Tracey and Rob accessed a suite of Business Gateway’s start-up support services including advice on their business plan, marketing, and funding. A dedicated adviser also provided 1:1 guidance through regular virtual meetings and was able to signpost the couple to a business loan, helping them secure enough funding to turn their vision of turning the castle into a fully functioning venue into a reality.  

Thanks to Business Gateway’s support, the first phase of renovations is making significant progress, and the estate now boasts a luxury glamping site with three cosy cabins, each named after previous custodians of the castle. Visitors to the site can enjoy hot tubs, fire pits and BBQs with direct views of the backlit castle. The couple hope to continue renovating the main body of the castle next year, and future plans include revamping the commercial kitchen and chapel, as well as designing a cosy whisky bothy. Tracey also hopes to develop a luxury champagne bar where guests can enjoy afternoon teas.  

Tracey Horton, Managing Director, Culdees Castle Estate, said: “We knew renovating Culdees Castle would be a big project, but we really appreciated the beauty of the building and were determined to transform it into something special. Perthshire has a great reputation for tourism, so we really needed to make Culdees stand out from the crowd.  

“I can’t thank Business Gateway enough for their support – they have helped enormously with setting up my own business. I was used to managing and running projects, but admittedly was a complete novice at doing it by myself, especially on a project of this scale. I am so pleased that what we have built so far has proved popular with the public. We’re hosting our first wedding in October which is just so exciting.” 

Stuart Milne, Business Gateway Team Leader & Business Adviser, said: “Tracey and Rob took a risk when purchasing the Culdees Castle Estate, but it has paid off. Their passion was second-to-none and, when it came to writing up their business plan, we knew this venture was going to be something special. 

“I have no doubt that the castle will give people something to look forward to as restrictions ease further, and I’m confident the venue will make a beautiful backdrop for the weddings that have been booked for later this year. We will continue to support Tracey and Rob as they continue their renovations and I look forward to seeing what they do next.” 

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