AFTER an eventful few years a new more confident Scotland is emerging.
We have one of the most vibrant food and drink sectors in the world with the country producing new ideas and innovation across a variety of industries.
The companies that will thrive in this new era will be the ones that get Scotland and understand its past while taking in its future.
Cameron House is a rare place in that it has succeeded where countless hotels in Scotland have failed.
It has managed to fuse past Scotland with the vibrant economic and cultural future that awaits it.
Despite being only 30 minutes from Glasgow city centre, once you are the innards of this atmospheric hotel it is very much a calming oasis.
You could describe it as a decompression chamber where weary urban dwellers come to unwind and relax in the peace afforded by this calming gateway to the Highlands.
Indeed this image is given credence by Cameron House’s close position to the fault line where Highland Scotland officially meets the lowlands.
There is an attention to detail here that hits you as you soon as you arrive.
When you pull up at the front door your bags will be whisked up to your room and a valet driver will drive off with your car.
The building itself is a grand 18th century former stately home which in parts is almost warren-like as you move between new and older parts of the hotel through twisting staircases and wooden-beamed corridors.
Our room was graced with a view which you’d be hard pushed to beat from any hotel room.
A graciously curved bay window sweeped round to unveil an awe-inspiring view of the loch.
No matter what the weather, it has a sense of wonder about it that is easy to get lost in.
Our room, a Colquhoun suite, was elegantly furnished and was kitted out with springable tartan-patterned carpets.
The room’s king-size bed sailed passed the customary ‘sinkable’ test and it was quite difficult to get up from the soft wool blankets and feather pillows afterwards.
The bathroom was marble and came complete with a bath and proper blastable walk-in shower.
There were also nice touches scattered around the room including a plate of tiny fudges on arrival, dressing gowns with VIP embroidered on the collar and Arran Aromatics creams and shampoos in the bathroom.
Loch boat trip
We were fortunate enough to get out onto the loch courtesy of a trip on a rather flash looking speedboat called the Celtic Warrior.
This was a pleasure of a journey. You can sit back on the top deck with a glass of champagne and be regaled with the history of the loch from the local boat staff.
The water is a time capsule of Scotland that details it’s recent and ancient past.
Loch Lomond was once home to residences of Glasgow’s captains of industry - bankers, politicians and industrialists - when the city was the second city of the Empire and an industrial powerhouse.
Today these sprawling estates have long been converted into hotels and apartments.
Loch Lomond is also the ancestral home of the Colquhouns however their family home is now a golf club house.
The loch is also a myriad of small islands with many only reachable by chartered boat or canoe and many have a wealth of history and surprises to discover.
Our boat past skipped past the wooden huts which make up the nudist camp at the northern end of Inchmurrin while Inchconnachan is home to one of the only places outside Australia where marsupials roam freely.
They were introduced by Lady Colquhouns in 1968 and their numbers have now thrived due to the favourable conditions of their island bolthole,
You can also navigate around the remains of a 14th century crannog which is partially submerged in the water.
Your cruise ends with the Celtic Warrior speeding past a stretch of water where it is not uncommon for the odd proposal to be made.
With your sail complete, you can relax at the boathouse overlooking the stationary yachts and enjoy a light an refreshing Cameron Ale.
Breakfast, which I had been told beforehand was one to watch out for, is served from the Cameron Grill and is a laid back affair.
There are plentiful offerings of hot and cold food with a member of staff on hand freshly preparing omelettes to order.
There were rows of gingerbread laces and yoghurt with fresh rhubarb compote to kippers and scrambled egg with local salmon.
A short five minute car trip from the main Cameron House hotel is The Carrick Golf Club and Spa.
Being unable to get a golf ball off the ground, I took the arduous decision to join my wife for a day in the spa.
Spas, I find at least, can either go one of two ways.
They can be a rushed eye-waveringly expensive affairs where you are competing with others for a spot in the relaxation area or you can emerge and new person.
The omens for this one looked good.
We were informed by the reception staff that we were to start on the roof of the spa and work our way down.
On top of the building we found an infinity pool with a breathtaking vista of the loch.
Once you’ve ditched your dressing gown and made the quick dash to the bubbling pool you’ll soon be admiring what is one of Scotland’s most breathtaking views.
Once you’re in and the bubbles are hitting your back it’s a thoroughly pleasurable experience - you have the view of the golf course to your left and the loch to your right.
The view was so good and the experience so relaxing that we left with hands suitably wrinkled.
We then headed down to the six room multi- experience spa which featured a number hot and cold rooms.
Having tried a few, I headed to the heated loungers with an overwhelming stack of Sunday papers under-arm and relaxed for an hour or two looking out onto the golf course below.
The Carrick also offers a VIP spa experience which is truly it’s trump card and would be an ideal present for a couple looking to mark a special occasion.
You’ll be ushered by the spa’s staff into a room boasting a balcony, a hot tub and a steam room complete with two buckets of mud.
The mud, albeit nice smelling mud, is meant to cover yourself in while your partner does the same.
Now this is perfectly fine for a mature upstanding romantic couple however when both you’re maturity levels sometimes borders on the adolescent it is only a matter before mud jokes and blobs of mud itself start flying.
In all serious though once you have relaxed in the jacuzzi afterwards you do feel refreshed and like a new person.
Cameron House has a good reputation for its food offering.
There two restaurants in the hotel - the Cameron Grill and the Michelin-starred Martin Wishart’s - with the diner-style Boat House which sits beside the marina and the Claret Jug at The Carrick beside the hotel’s spa.
We dined at the Cameron Grill which features a theatre kitchen, a salmon bar with fish treated in several ways (some honey-cured and others soaked in Glengoyne whisky) and a butchershop window.
A special mention has the given to the Angus steaks and scallops served in clam shells.
The whole back wall of the restaurant is taken up by a rather fine mural by Gary Myatt which portrays a medieval Scottish banquet with men in authentic Scottish dress and women in modern dress.
We rounded off our stay in the Great Scots bar with walls hung with portraits of prominent Scots.
There all there from Jackie Stewart to honorary Scott Rod Stewart.
The dedicated whisky bar is something to behold
You can pull up a chair and ponder upwards at the 270 plus malt whiskies on offer.
I sampled a 15 year-old Mortlach which had an uplifting sherbet fountain nose, a tangy exciting fruit salad taste and a warm treacle satisfying finish.
This whisky, uplifting, exciting and warmly satisfying, was exactly how I would describe our stay.
Starting price for rooms is from £150 bed and breakfast per night. The spa is from £39pp for the spa experience, with treatments rising accordingly. The Celtic Warrior cruise is £49pp for a one hour champagne cruise.