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Gleneagles, Scotland

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
The Brains Behind Homeland, May/June 2012

Those in the know think of world-class golf, shooting, sumptuous spa facilities, falconry, the off-road driving school, an equestrian center, even croquet, when considering amenities at Gleneagles, the full-service hotel some 20 miles from Perth. But with the addition of its Blue Bar, it now includes solid smoking opportunities.

As part of the recently refurbished Dormy Clubhouse, The Blue Bar celebrates Scotland’s most distinctive export—whisky (sorry, duffers)—with the chance to smoke an impressive array of cigars in this al fresco setting in a partially enclosed courtyard and gazebo, with a fireplace that is welcoming all year round.

The property, which is set on 850 acres of Caledonian countryside, is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World with all the amenities that that designation entails. The grand setting is a hotel built in 1924 as a stopover from a former railway. However, accommodations are exceedingly modern and include 232 guestrooms, as well as 26 suites.

Golf is a huge draw, at least according to the Ryder Cup people who chose it as their venue for 2014. Courses comprise the PGA Centenary Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, the King’s Course, the Queen’s Course and the nine-hole PGA National Academy Course, used for instruction.

Dining includes classic cuisine from local produce at The Strathearn (newly refurbished), a Scottish take on French food served at Andrew Fairlie (named for its chef, the former Scottish Chef of the Year) and the Mediterranean fare of Deseo, available in a relaxed atmosphere next door to the spa. The simpler menu of The Dormy Clubhouse (served all day) is paired with spectacular views of the golf courses.

The property works with Scottish Natural Heritage on the ecological management plan of its own acreage. Convenient day trips are available for more wildlife sightseeing, as well as castle tours and visits to whisky distillers.

With so much activity, it’s understandable that you might want to take it easy in the expansive spa program, but save some energy for The Blue Bar, with a cigar menu that includes Bolivars, Cohibas, Cuabas, H. Upmanns, Montecristos and Partagás, as well as pre-embargo Cubans. As the hotel is owned by spirits giant Diageo, it features its premiere blend Johnnie Walker Blue and cocktails inspired by it. Have a smoke and some drams while you lounge on a heated sofa and dream about the next day’s adventure.

Visit gleneagles.com.

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