Highland Fling


One of the most mystical places on the planet, and the alleged home of the legendary monster, Loch Ness sees millions of visitors each year. Robbie Girvan of GG Leisure Group tells Luke Thomas how their stunning Sanctuary lodges are giving people a mythical slice of luxury

Give us a brief history of the GG Leisure Group and how Sanctuary Loch Ness came about.

I started the GG Leisure Group 18 years ago with my parents, when we developed our first park in Loch Ness. We went on to turn this park into an award-winning 5-star resort, followed by a sister park, complete with golf course that is also now award-winning. It was then that we started offering rentals as hands-free investments for clients.

Tourism in Scotland is even more popular than ever - it increased by 24% in 2017. We realised we needed more lodges to meet demand and from there, we invested £10 million into Sanctuary Loch Ness. This third, 50-acre park is not a gamble for us, we know the demand is there, and that one of our lodges is a hands-free investment. People love visiting Scotland and Loch Ness and we know the area so well, that we can give owners the best possible holiday here.

What are the main reasons that people invest in a lodge – first home, leisure, business? Which is the most common?

We’ve found three categories of investor; those who are looking to make a return on investment, holidaymakers who see the lodges as a second home or for holidays for friends and families, and a mixture of the two – someone who stays at their lodge, but regularly rents it out when they’re aren’t there.

We’re proud to say that our lodges have 92% occupancy, so 9 times out of 10 there is always someone staying in them. They’re in demand all year round. The sheer quality of the design and build means that even pure investors have mentioned that they’d like to stay in them. They’re a hands-free investment with a 13.3% yield and owners are exempt from not only council tax but also stamp duty and second home tax too.

What sets Sanctuary Loch Ness lodges apart from its competitors?

In short, our brand - we’re experienced, award-winning and dedicated. I’ve run 9 businesses within the leisure sector for a considerable period of time now and know it like the back of my hand. My team all share my vision and are dedicated to bringing our clients the best possible experience – and they’re available 24/7.

We also make things as easy as possible for our visitors. We’ll organise chauffeurs from various locations in Scotland, including the now widely served Inverness Airport. We even organise transport by helicopter if requested.

Loch Ness is a unique and much sought-after location – why do you think this is?

The Loch is classed by many as the 8th wonder of the world. It’s a magical, mystical and eerie place, and combined with our 5-star luxury lodges, it provides peace and tranquillity to residents. Everyone in the world has heard of Loch Ness – you could be up a mountain in the Himalayas and share a joke with a Sherpa about the Loch Ness Monster and they’d know exactly what you meant – it’s iconic.

What’s your favourite part of the local area? What makes it special for you?

There’s no wrong turning throughout all of its 80-mile reach. No matter where you go, you end up in an area of spectacular beauty. Driving down one of the roads at water level on a cold morning and seeing steam coming off the surface of the loch is a sight to behold.

One of the best parts, is actually being out on the water. It’s vast and beautiful. No one knows the exact depth of the loch because of its many caves at the bottom, but it holds more water than every reservoir in England and Wales combined. We have our own marina onsite, so our clients can bring their own boats and tour at their leisure.

What’s on the horizon for Sanctuary Loch Ness and the GG Leisure Group?

There’s a lot coming up. Number one on the list is Sanctuary St Andrews, where we’ll be building our 5-star lodges on the legendary golf course - the birthplace of the game.

We’re also spending £4 million on a new retail offering for Sanctuary Loch Ness. It will include a range of restaurants, ice cream parlours, gift shops, premium retail outlets and even a spa. We’ll also be developing a woodland-activities centre to include pursuits such as archery, mountain biking, white water rafting and plenty more. This will be perfect for companies looking to invest in places for corporate teambuilding retreats.

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