Why is it important for Kinlochewe hotel to attract cyclists and mountain bikers?
"We made a conscious decision at the beginning of our ownership of the hotel in 2017 that we wanted to be a sustainable business and that we also wanted to encourage people to enjoy the outdoor pursuits of the area and to do this in a responsible and sustainable way. Using cycles fits with this ethos perfectly as do the hill walkers and climbers that also frequent the hotel."
How do you cater for cyclists and mountain bikers – are they not more work than other visitors?
"One of the first things that we needed was a secure space for people to leave their cycles which are very important to the cyclist as it is typically an expensive piece of kit. We want people to relax and enjoy Kinlochewe Hotel so they need to feel that their bike is safe.
In addition, they to look after their bike so a place to wash and carry out routine maintenance was also important.
In keeping with other guests arriving having taken part in outdoor pursuits they are often wet and in need of a place to dry their clothing and often their tent so a drying room is another element that is required and one that thankfully we already had.
Once you provide these basic facilities you are enabling outdoor enthusiasts to holiday comfortably, safely and in a more sustainable way. The initial outlay requires some finance and thought but we all need to be doing these little things which collectively make a difference.
They are not more work – the work is at the provision stage early on, from then on they are self sufficient and less hassle if they already have what they require once they arrive with you.
After that they become just like any other guest who usually appreciates a welcoming and warm place to rest with local produce, local beers and some friendly local staff. Who can resist some freshly caught local seafood, venison casserole, local ale followed by a dram or two in a friendly relaxing environment?"
Tell us about your bike friendly facilities – how did you plan and deliver these?
"In our first season here at the hotel we quickly identified that there was a growing market of mountain bike and cyclist visitors to the Highlands. If we were to tap into this market, it was not good enough to suggest that guests leave their bikes round the back of the hotel leaning against a post as 'it will be fine, this is the Highlands'. The demand for secure cycle storage was growing exponentially and we wanted to offer a way of encouraging this growth for our village Kinlochewe, attracting these environmentally friendly travellers to stop in Kinlochewe supporting our local economy.
So, we set about installing a shed with a lock in the garden. This was better that the original alternative, but it was nowhere near big enough. It also needed racks etc.
After many chats with Chris Gibbs, the guide from H+I Adventures who regularly brought mountain bike groups to the hotel, Chris shared his knowledge and expertise to put together a list of what was needed to cater for cyclists. Chris also suggested funding available through DMBinS and very soon we were able to chat with Ruari from DMBinS and put together an application for a grant to help improve bike friendly facilities.
So, we now have a much larger secure bike storage facility and we use our initial smaller shed to house the basic repair facility. We also have washing facilities for cycles as well."
How do you collaborate with mountain bike businesses?
"By using the expertise of a company like H+I and their knowledgeable guides, we are able to ensure that we are providing the correct facilities for cyclists. From the initial installation which Chris advised on, to later having him check over the repair facility at the beginning of the season to make sure that we had the basics that people would likely need. He was able to point out a few bits that would make all the difference to a cyclist with a bit of a problem, so now we feel confident our facilities will meet the needs of biking guests. Through keeping this ongoing communication with our customers including guides we hope we can keep developing to attract mountain bikers and cyclists."
Further information about the grant scheme
The grants available are match funded, with maximum grants of £500. The idea is to support businesses make easy changes that help provide the facilities that mountain bikers need - Secure storage, bike wash, basic tools. We encourage businesses to think about the welcome and facilities they provide, and come to us with a short proposal on how they would use the grant to improve this offering.
We want to be able to be flexible to suit businesses - some choose to buy a new shed for bike storage, or beef up the security on an existing one. For others the need may be tools and bike wash facilities to compliment existing facilities.
The grant scheme opens in November 2021, with projects to be complete by the 13th of March 2022.
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