Welcome to Raemoir.
After the extremes of a dry, warm March into one of the wettest April’s on record the weather seems to have returned to some sort of normality – four seasons in one day have not been uncommon over the last few! The grounds remain wet enough for us only to have managed one cut of grass so far this season, and even that had to be done between showers. The flowers are opening up nicely though and the tree foliage thickening heralding a more colourful few months ahead at Raemoir. Hopefully the occasional overnight frosts will not take their toll.
With the swings in weather the River Dee has been proving a challenge to the fishers, or at least those that have been staying with us. I dare not lay any claim to my expertise on the water but so far catches have been recorded as depressingly low with an early return to the Bar for a consolatory dram or two! The weather has been so erratic that one group told of farmer friends who were thinking twice about planting a potato crop this year as the cost and effort would likely not provide a commercial return. I dare say we will see the price of potatoes rise as a result and therefore so will our Haddock & Chips! It is extraordinary to believe that such a pleasant warm spell in March will have implications on our business later in the year.
With the Marquee finally in place we now have to consider the landscaping and grassing of the surrounding ground. The rain has meant we have lost the first sewing so hopefully the second will be more successful. We originally expected an upfill of around 2 feet to have the base for the Marquee level with the house and kitchen but in the end, at the furthest out point, it was nearer 5 feet so a use was found for the redundant tennis court. However the excavation has now left us with a bit of an eyesore so a pond would seem the obvious feature. I had thought it would be best placed at the far side but having observed the water there stagnant and that the near side seems to have a natural flow across it there is not much point in fighting that which already exists so as soon as everything dries up it’ll be back in with the diggers to shape out something a little more attractive.
Inside the house some of the bedrooms have come under Mrs Rae’s eagle-eyed scrutiny again (no, that’s not her sitting on the stair window sill..) but planning in her intended works is the next challenge. With business increasing there are less opportunities to close rooms for a few days (if the truth were told after 18 months of trying to re-establish the business I am not inclined to do so for any length of time!) but in order to progress it must be done so my apologies for any upheaval and the smell of paint once again. Hopefully the results will be worth it.
With our Michelin Guide recommendation, David Littlewood heads the kitchen brigade in grand style. Three of the brigade, Alexandria, Sam and Mike are all through to different categories in the Grampian Chef of the Year competition finals this month so hopefully we will have more news next. Fabrice is the new man on the team and is shaking up the Restaurant so be ready to succumb to his Gallic upselling techniques. Stephenie and Tamarah can be found at reception and Kim keeps the place clean so if there is anything you need, please just let us know.
We hope you enjoy your stay
The weather has probably been the biggest issue of late. Last year we were recovering from 3 months of snow so we should be grateful, but it has caused a few irritations.
Over the last few weeks our main challenge has been the heating system and a temperamental boiler both of which are near impossible to understand.
Guests last month will be aware of the radiator and plumbing issues we have discovered however after weeks of trial and error we finally managed to get everything working as best we could to contend with the expected seasonal weather. However, on the last Monday in February, the temperature outside was so unseasonably high that we turned the heating off as inside the house it had risen uncomfortably. There is no thermostatic control over the heating system apart from a dial on the boiler so the house temperature has no effect on the output!
As we drew into the afternoon a light breeze started to make it feel airish inside so thinking ahead for the evening, the heating was turned back on. An hour later the radiators had not warmed up so the boiler was checked. It had tripped for some reason so we switched it on again only to have to repeat the whole process half an hour later. The boiler appeared to be pumping against a restriction in the line then shutting itself down. The main circulation pump was suspected and a quick call to our friendly plumber confirmed our suspicions and that a new one was needed. As the boiler also provides heat for the hot water supply we left it on to ensure there was enough for all our guests next morning. But the story doesn’t end quite that simply.
When driving home later I noticed the temperature on the gauge in the car. It’s hard to remember when we felt 15.5 degrees at any time over the last year never mind at 10.30pm on 27th February but the picture tells the story. What a strange experience being able to drive home at this time of night with the window open and not suffer a frostbitten right ear!
It was a slightly cooler, but still arguably unseasonal, 10 degrees when returning to work at 6am the next morning, but inevitably, on reflection, the condemned pump had decided to take on a new lease of life overnight and the temperature in the house had risen to a degree just below suffocating! So much for our planning. It never rains but it pours…. with hot water in our case! The priority list is not getting any shorter. Onward and upward…
At Raemoir we are always looking for something different for our customers so we have started taking brides and grooms up the Hill of Fare for a unique photo opportunity. It’s a fabulous setting and it was during one of these shoots that we came up with the idea of possibly serving dinner there. This year for the Banchory Summer Ball auction, organised for charity by Logan Sangster, we decided to offer Dinner, Bed & Breakfast for 2 with the dinner being served on top of the Hill. The lot was so successful that we were encouraged to enter another for Dinner for 10. The bidding was extraordinary to say the least and we were absolutely delighted that the combined lots raised almost £4000 for charity. Of course, with such endeavours, there are always things that are not thought about initially – in this case some form of shelter, and given the “summer” we have just had it was completely necessary! We asked Esslemont Marquees if they could help out and…..well the picture tells the story. The dinner for 10 turned into 14 and the original dinner for 2 into an 8 such was the excitement and desire to share the experience. David, our Executive Chef, created a fabulous menu, all prepared in the marquee and the weather thankfully remained dry, although we did think that our own Hurricane Irene was determined to join in for a while! Would we do it again? Absolutely – how unique an experience do you want?
4th July 2011
Straight on the back of being awarded 2 Rosettes for food we can now announce the arrival of our new Commis chef Sam Ritchie who was recently crowned Grampian Seafood Chef of the Year 2011 at the same ceremony where our Sous Chef Alexandria Hay won the seniors Chef of the Year award. Sam joins us from the highly respected Cock & Bull Restaurant and we are delighted that he now takes us up to a unique position – the only hotel in Grampian and Scotland with four regional Chefs of the Year in the kitchen. We have a lot to do at Raemoir to re-establish it as one of the leading Country House Hotels in Scotland and such commitment to the kitchen underlines the importance we put in providing a top quality product that cannot be matched elsewhere.
24th June 2011
We are delighted to announce that Raemoir has been accredited by the AA with 3 Star status for the hotel and 2 Rosettes for its food. This is a fantastic award, especially as they have rated Raemoir with an exceptional 85% merit score which is on par with some of the top hotels in the UK, the national average being just over 76% so we are thoroughly delighted. Such recognition so early in our time at the Hotel is a reflection of the all hard work that has gone in by everyone involved at Raemoir and to receive 2 Rosettes immediately demonstrates that we are on the right track to making Raemoir a truly exceptional and unique Country House Hotel. A great achievement.