The Scottish Highlands has just been recognised as one of the world’s top 20 destinations by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. Elaine takes a look at why you would choose the picturesque Highlands as an incentive destination, who it’s suitable for and how to get the most out of your visit.
What type & size of incentive group is suitable for the Scottish Highlands?
As you read through the rest of this article you’ll see that most of the experiences I’ve mentioned are suited to smaller groups, with higher budgets. The reason for this will become apparent, but is mainly based on the availability of accommodation, the travel to the Highlands and the types of ‘incentive programs’ that work best in the area.
What time of year is best to visit the Highlands?
The winters are relatively mild at low attitude but become snowier and colder with the higher mountains – which can have up to 6 months of snow covering – perfect for winter skiing.
The Highlands really come to life in spring as the countryside turns green and floral once again! Enjoy the mild weather and take in the dramatic landscape!
Summer is definitely the most active season in the Highlands. Mountain biking, sailing, fishing, golf, rock climbing, horse riding, hiking and many more activities are available to try out!
Autumn in the Highlands offers a crisp chill and vibrant colorations as the forests offer spectacular changing scenery. If you’re a keen photographer, you can’t miss this opportunity!
How easy is it to get to the Scottish Highlands?
You could fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh but it’s a long journey time (3+ hours) and when incentives average at 3-4 days, you don’t want to spend 2 full days travelling!
Alternatively, if you’ve got a small group with a big budget, you could spend a few days in Edinburgh / Glasgow and charter a helicopter to fly to your Highland destination.
Or a big budget group could take the Orient Express Royal Scotsman for a luxury way to travel and see the country!
Where to stay
There are a few large resorts and hotels in the Scottish Highlands (Aberdeen & Aviemore for example) however I think the very best Highland experiences involve staying in smaller venues.
The Highlands is littered with 4* & 5* small boutique hotels, country houses and castles that are amazing for small groups.
Your DMC should be able to advise you on the best accommodation for your group's personality, budget and program requirements.
What to do whilst your there?
Take a tour of some of Scotland most stunning and lesser visited castles. Hear about the violent history of Huntly Castle, see the mystery trap door in Tolquhon Castle and Castle Fraser, where the blockbuster movie The Queen was filmed.
The heart of Scotland’s whisky history can be found in the Highlands. If you’re a whisky lover this will be your paradise! Take a tour of famous distilleries like Glenfiddich, MacAllan, Speyside or Strathisla – the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland, founded in 1789.
See the Sights in a Leisurely Manor
A great way to see the Highlands is by train and there is a fantastic Jacobite Steam Train that offers a relaxed way to spend the day! Take in Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain), pass by Loch Morar (the deepest freshwater loch in Britain), and arrives at Loch Ness (the deepest seawater loch in Europe and where the Loch Ness Monster lives!)
If you’re into adrenaline experiences like mountain biking, climbing, canyoning, kayaking and more, there’s ample choice for all of these in the Scottish Highlands. Your DMC should be able to provide you with options based around your preferences.
If you'd like to plan an incentive trip to the Scottish Highlands, please contact me, I'd love to hear from you!