Following purchase by the Karma Group last year, Karma Lake of Menteith, the recently rebranded Lake of Menteith Hotel, near Aberfoyle in the Trossachs, has been launched with exciting plans to collaborate with local visitor attractions and further develop its impressive whisky vault.
With more than 44 resorts, retreats and estates all over the world, including Bali, Thailand and India, together with prime locations in Europe and Australia, Karma Group is an award-winning international travel and lifestyle brand offering extraordinary experiences and exclusive curated entertainment in the world’s most beautiful locations.
The luxury brand is the brainchild of British born entrepreneur, John Spence, who had the vision to create a holistic, connected community of five-star destinations, linking like-minded individuals on every continent. Karma Lake of Menteith is the group’s first Scottish acquisition.
Able to accommodate 48 guests, Karma Lake of Menteith has 18 en-suite bedrooms including several with picturesque lakeside views. Along with a bright conservatory, and whisky ‘Malt Vault’ bar area, it offers a 32 seater dining room with a wooden deck overlooking what is Scotland’s only lake, also known as Loch Inchmahome.
It was this enticing proposition that brought Chris Diplock out of retirement and back into the world of hospitality as general manager of Karma Lake of Menteith. Chris (62), originally from Sussex, who has worked in senior roles in both retail and hospitality all over the world, retired to Spain in 2019, but quickly realised retirement wasn’t for him.
And he is now busy welcoming guests, recruiting new local staff, and overseeing subtle refurbishments and redesigns of key areas in the hotel, including the bar and Malt Vault, and is loving every challenge.
“I’m delighted to be here at the truly stunning Lake of Menteith, this resort is a fantastic addition to the Karma portfolio,” said Chris, who first joined Karma in 2007 in Goa, India as general manager of a 63 apartment holiday resort in North Goa near Baga Beach.
He went on to work on the Thai island of Koh Samui, Bali, and in various European countries and it is this impressive CV which ensures he knows what guests are looking for in a luxury resort.
“Many of our Karma locations have a calming holistic air to them, and certainly you feel that here - looking out over the Lake is truly mesmerising with Stirling’s hills and mountains in the distance,” he said. “It’s so peaceful and tranquil that you can’t help but feel better when you come here, so important for guests after the trials and tribulations of the last two years.
“There’s heaps of potential to develop our offering here at Karma Lake of Menteith in the coming months. We’ll add value to the guest experience through our outstanding range of whiskies – with another 17 bottles just added to the collection - together with collaborations with other visitor attractions in the area.”
Chris revealed that Elizabeth Gilmour, a British Cycling qualified mountain bike leader and cycling coach who lives in the area, had agreed to offer guided bike rides around Loch Ard Forest.
“This is a brilliant way to appreciate the local scenery, whilst enjoying an exhilarating bike ride with an expert. It’s this type of relationship we want to foster moving forward,” he said.
With a significant “own label” range of beers, wines and spirits, which are available across Karma resorts, and can also be purchased by guests, Chris is reaching out to local artisan suppliers in the area who could furnish him with some lovingly crafted products.
“We work with vineyards and distilleries all over Europe and we’re always on the lookout for local suppliers, not necessarily just for alcoholic drinks, but for any product that is delicious, sustainable if possible, and reflects local heritage and location.
“We have a particular requirement for our own label honey which we thought would be a fantastic addition to breakfast, and could be retailed to guests here, and across our global resorts. We’ve already had a very positive conversation with local renowned chef Nick Nairn who has his own hives.”
Since he arrived at Karma Lake of Menteith, Chris and his team have been implementing some changes to the look and feel of the hotel, which initially appealed to owner John Spence because it had the air of a New England lakeside retreat with lots of local timber and stone used in the décor, along with a huge open hearth fireplace by which to sit and relax.
“We’re certainly going to retain that airy, paired back look, as it lets the views do the talking,” said Chris, “but, as with any hospitality business, there’s always maintenance to complete. We are replacing wooden flooring, dining tables and chairs, and refreshing décor in the common areas.”
A cosy nook in the hotel where guests can savour a fine dram, Chris explained that he was looking to completely redesign the Malt Vault area, which would be unveiled soon.
“We’re going to go for a ‘gentleman’s club’ type of look with Chesterfield sofas and muted lighting. But we are aware that many ladies drink whisky too, so it will be a cosy space to appeal to all.
“I jumped at the chance to re-join the Karma family and head up this amazing place, it’s a real privilege, and I know I can achieve a great deal, not just in the day to day running of the hotel, but in passing on my extensive skills and experience to younger people in hospitality as the sector recovers. We must build for the future.”
Further details on Karma Lake of Menteith can be found HERE.