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Innovative resort not resting on its laurels
Ian Forsyth - The Courier & Advertiser (May 30, 2023)
Success at Scotland's premier tourism and events awards has been a clear highlight of 2023 for the boss of one Fife business. Eilidh Smith is managing director of Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort at Kingsbarns, near St Andrews.
The venture was named best self-catering accommodation experience at the Scottish Thistle Awards national final earlier this year.
Eilidh said: "We are often described as a hidden gem and are lucky enough to fill our accommodation through recommendations and repeat business. Its exciting that many are yet to find us and, as we are soon to embark on a fresh marketing campaign, so we look forward to really expanding our reach."
The MD, whose career includes working in high performance sports in London, said Pitmilly was born in 1990, with 10 self-catering courtyard cottages, a pool and a small gym.
So what was the gap spotted in the market?
Eilidh explained: "There were few self-catering operation that offered a wide array of leisure facilities and activities that could be enjoyed whilst holidaying, so we've worked hard to ensure we continue to develop and enhance the experience guests have when they come to stay with us at Pitmilly.
"It was pretty successful from the start. I guess it was quite a novel experience to guests to enjoy a holiday on a diversified farm.
"Lots of guests who stayed with us in the 1990s continue to come and stay with us now.
"The facilities on offer have evolved lots over the years. We believe our commitment to continually investing and adding to our offering has been integral in our success.
"For example, we added an outdoor tennis court, putting green, games room with table tennis and pool table, football area, sauna and children's play area during the 1990's.
"In 2000, we planted 10,000 hardwood trees which was a great addition to the already-established five miles of farm nature trails we had for our guests.
"We have doubled the number of holiday houses, added a croquet lawn, indoor tennis court, large gym, snooker table, an expanded games area and treatment rooms.
"More recent additions are a dog activity park, boules court, retail area for guests, outdoor food/drinks area for serving breakfast and hosting evening street food events, and also eight community raised beds for veg growing."
So what does Eilidh enjoy most about her role?
She replied: "The magic we create at Morton of Pitmilly. I have a brilliant team and together we work hard to create the best possible experience for our guests."
Pitmilly has a team of 10 full-time-equivalent workers, who look after the needs of up to 160 guests a week in high season. Eilidh said that Covid had been a nightmare for the business as cash flow ground to a half.
But she is pleased to report that trade started to pick up again in April 2021 and is now back to pre-Covid levels.
She also reported that bookings for this summer were shaping up pretty well. She said what makes Pitmilly stand out is that it is a unique holiday experience.
"The farm has been manicured with our guests in mind and the land creates the canvas for guests to share our space, and enjoy nature and wildlife.
"We continually invest and innovate to develop Pitmilly on all levels - accommodation upgrades, introducing additional activities, expanding our food and drink operation and also having team members available seven days a week to ensure our customer service is second to none."
Eilidh attributed her many years competing in various sports as another factor in the success of the File operation.
She added: "One of my coaches and myself worked on the basis that 'you are only as good as your last match',
"I really like to apply this concept to Pitmilly, that 'we are only as good as our last guest'.
"It keeps us true and honest in our daily goal of making sure that each and every one of our guests has a memorable and enjoyable stay."