The partners behind the internationally renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links have held talks with several potential new investors as they aim to realise its long-term development vision.
The venue, near Inverness, which is hosting the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years this summer, has ambitious plans to create a major resort including a second championship course, two hotels, a spa and leisure facility. It is also proposed to build a par 3 course and refurbish the 17th century castle that gives the site its name.
The existing partners believe this is the optimum time to move to the next phase of Castle Stuart’s planning-approved master plan, given that Inverness is about to benefit from a range of development projects.
Accessibility to Inverness and the Highlands is about to undergo dramatic improvement. A £315 million City Deal, recently announced by the Scottish and UK Governments, will trigger unprecedented infrastructure activity, including work to improve both the A9 and A96 trunk roads to motorways connecting Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen to the Highland capital.
British Airways and KLM will start new air routes between Inverness and the international hubs of Heathrow and Amsterdam in May. In addition, the new Inverness Campus is fast becoming a world class academic and business hub attracting students, faculties, and businesses from all quarters of the globe.
All of these developments reflect Inverness having been the fastest growing city in Europe in several of the past ten years.
The Arnold Palmer Group has already invested in plans to develop the second course at Castle Stuart – the golf legend’s first in Scotland. Several other potential partners, from different parts of the world, have also expressed interest in the Castle Stuart vision and in progressing the plans.
This week a team from leading property consultants Christie & Co, led by global managing director Chris Day, will begin investigating other possible investors worldwide and highlight the development opportunity at the site which overlooks the Moray Firth.
Grant Sword, a Castle Stuart managing partner, said: “For some time we have been on the lookout for other investment to allow us to move to the next stage and fulfil our vision.
“This has led to us speaking with a number of potential new partners recently. Due to this level of interest, we have asked Christie & Co to examine the demand and also cast the net further to make sure we find the right fit for us; a major new partner who would enjoy the development opportunity, share our vision and help us finish what we’ve started here.
“Our motivation is to move this development forward and eventually complete the vision. With all the other developments happening in this area now, we believe it’s the ideal time to take a major next step.
“There is a need for more quality accommodation in this area, with current occupancy rates in Inverness hotels amongst the highest in the UK. Creating a high-end development in keeping with our spectacular environment will help bring more visitors to this part of the world.”
Castle Stuart Golf Links has achieved worldwide acclaim since its launch in 2009. Golf Magazine has ranked Castle Stuart in its prestigious “World Top 100” list of courses since Castle Stuart was first eligible for ranking in 2011.
Castle Stuart also hosted the Scottish Open within two years of opening and has staged the tournament three times, with the 2013 event, won by Phil Mickelson, reaching a worldwide television audience of more than 550 million households. The Scottish Open returns for the fourth time this July 7–10.
From the outset, Castle Stuart has had a wider vision for a major development. The site is zoned for the next phase, which includes the second course, a 60-bedroom hotel and the refurbishment of Castle Stuart into a luxury eight-bedroom base for guests plus a super-suite occupying the top floor.
Longer-term proposals enjoying planning consent include a larger hotel, 148 lodges, a par 3 course, and, prospectively, two separate steading developments.
Chris Day, global managing director of Christie & Co, said: “Castle Stuart Golf Links is known around the world and is synonymous with quality. Its wonderful location, the exciting development plans and the advantageous timing of this investment opportunity make it very attractive to prospective partners. We look forward to exploring all future investment offers to find the one that best suits the master plan to ensure its potential is maximised.”
Castle Stuart Golf www.castlestuartgolf.com