The History of Gleneagles
Gleneagles Hotel was first opened in 1924 and because of the beauty of it’s location was described as a ‘Riviera in the Highlands’. The General Manager of the Caledonian Railway Company was a man called Donald Matheson and he so loved the area around Gleneagles that he decided to build a huge hotel with a golf course. In 1913 Gleneagles Ltd was founded and construction of the hotel began but then the project stopped for a while and work resumed again in 1922. However in 1919 James Braid the 5 times Open Championship was hired to design Kings & Queen’s courses in the grounds. In those days this was done by manual labour and using horse & cart converting very rough ground into 2 beautiful courses, which opened 5 years before the hotel.
The early years of Gleneagles Hotel
In 1921, Gleneagles was honoured to host the 1st international match between America and Britain in a match which later became the Ryder Cup. In 1923 the Caledonian Railway Company became part of another rail company called LMS and work on the hotel progressed with a grand opening in 1924. This was a huge deal for Scotland and the media got very excited calling the hotel “the eighth wonder of the world”. There was a huge gala ball which was broadcast on the BBC with bandleader Henry Hall performing. By 1930 the hotel was a very fashionable place to stay and a well- known playground for leisured classes. Sadly in 1939 the hotel had to close when World War II was declared and the Gleneagles Hotel was used as a military hospital and later a miner’s rehabilitation centre. When the hotel finally re-opened in 1950 the chefs had to cope with rationing but it yet again became a popular summer destination for high society clientele in post war Britain.
Important events at Gleneagles Hotel
The hotel hosted many important events and in 1977 Commonwealth leaders met to plan their sporting boycott of South Africa and sign what became the Gleneagles Agreement to try and stop the apartheid regime. In 1982 the hotel started to operate year-round for the first time and a spa was opened (in what used to be the garage). In 1985 the Jackie Stewart Shooting School and the Mark Phillips Equestrian Centres were opened providing guests with yet more facilities. These were the first of their kind and big draws for the hotel, as was the British school of falconry in 1992. A 3rd golf course was added in 1993 when the legendary Jack Nicklaus designed the Monarch’s Course which went on to become the PGA Centenary Course. The quality of golf at Gleneagles is exceptional and all the courses are truly beautiful and a massive selling point for the hotel which hosts many prestigious tournaments including in 2022 the Seniors Open. The Ryder Cup and The Solheim Cup have also been held at Gleneagles. No other hotel in Europe has achieved this.
Food at Gleneagles Hotel
On the culinary front, fame came with the arrival of Andrew Fairlie in 2002. Although Andrew has now sadly died, his restaurant remains Scotland’s only two- star Michelin venue. 2005 was another very important year for the hotel with the G8 summit, which was a massive event for Scotland and the Queen hosted a famous state dinner prepared by Andrew Fairlie and the hotel’s Glendevon Room became the main meeting room. The spa was hugely upgraded in 2008 and added on 18 treatment rooms winning all sorts of awards for its excellence. The golf club house also got a huge upgrade in 2011 and the Dormy was created providing a super new bar and grill, with a lovely terrace for pre dinner drinks or post dinner cigars.
Gleneagles Hotel in recent years
In 2015 the hotel was sold by Diageo the drinks conglomerate, to Ennismore, a London company which operates high end hospitality venues here and abroad. Very excitingly for the hotel they embarked on a massive refurbishment programme at Gleneagles which was much needed. They also opened 3 new bars, 3 new restaurants, an afternoon tea lounge, children’s adventure areas, a beauty lodge and a huge upgrade of all the bedrooms & suites which had got a little tired but which now look super. The hotel is in very good shape indeed! A new private events wing Ochil House was opened in 2018 offering an incredibly stylish venue for meetings or private events. This would be a lovely spot for a party and the staff at all these different hotel venues are excellent. This is a very well-run hotel with exceptionally high standards. Gleneagles is world renowned and regarded as one of the finest hotels in the World. There is a shopping arcade and the hotel sort of has everything. There are so many different activities on offer now from falconry to ferreting, you could happily spend a few days there and never leave the estate.