Ian Sharp and his wife have been based in the Speyside area for the last 10 years, their luxury Visit Scotland 4 Gold Star award-winning property Castleview is located in Dufftown around 2 ½ miles outside of town. Ian heads up the B&B operation and his wife, who still works outside the business, helps out when and if required.
“It was a lifestyle choice. I’m a people person and being self-employed was appealing. We converted the house so we could offer up three guest bedrooms."
Ian, who trained with the Scottish 2 Star Michelin Chef Nick Nairn, loves to cook so providing gourmet evening meals works well for guests who might want to relax in the evening rather than heading back into the town.
Castleview has many regular repeat guests as Ian explains “We have some guests who have stayed with us since the very beginning of our B&B. One couple stayed with us when first courting and then got engaged during their next visit (he romantically proposed in the grounds of Auchindoun Castle). They came back to us as a married couple and most recently booked in with their kids. We also have a lovely couple from Fife who visit twice a year, every Spring and Autumn.
Ian is both passionate and hugely knowledgeable about Scotland – “I love recommending ‘off-the-beaten track’, hidden gems.” His other great love is fishing, he is a part-time Gillie for the River Deveron “one of the finest trout rivers in Scotland.” And offers guided fishing days on both river and loch.
Ian signed up for freetobook as his B&B’s online room booking system - back in the software’s infancy – in December 2012. He also uses freetobook’s channel manager to bookingcom and Expedia along with a connection to the Visit Scotland’s website. On average around half of the property’s room bookings are direct via the accommodation’s website and telephone.
“I would absolutely recommend freetobook - the customer service is second to none. The software has evolved and been enhanced to work for all kinds of properties from the smaller B&B through to self-catering cottages. The functionality is amazing. It’s by far the best out there … and I know as I’ve looked at all of the others.
Over the years there have been many innovations and improvements to the system but I must say the addition of the new Messaging system has really enhanced the experience for me. It allows me to communicate with guests before their arrival in a much improved way, enabling me to customise messages with graphics and pictures and to provide them with details of social events during their stay. One of the great advantages of freetobook's Messaging is that I can schedule these in advance therefore eliminating human error ie me forgetting to!"