This past summer, our European family vacation was dedicated to experiencing all things local. Whether it was touring a family-owned organic vineyard or seeing a cultural dance performance just outside of Dubrovnik in Croatia, spending a sun-drenched few days on the island of Hydra in Greece, or enjoying the spectacular Highland colors and absolutely delicious family-style meals at the Fraoch Lodge in Scotland, we wanted local and sustainable, and we wanted it to be the best.
So, when my nine-year-old son declared that of the many great experiences he had “Scotland was my favorite because (Fraoch) lodge felt like home”, that was saying a lot!
My son not only enjoyed the comradery of all 10 Fraoch Lodge guests having a meal and sharing the day’s stories together, he actually loved the meals as well. Homemade soups, casseroles, breads, cakes and ice cream with ingredients sourced from their own garden (which is a part of the WWOOF catalog of organic farming opportunities) along with local Scottish beef dishes greatly impressed us and apparently, we’re not the only ones!
Recently, Fraoch Lodge was awarded the prestigious Taste Our Best award from Visit Scotland for “striving for sustainability and sourcing food locally to ensure that food miles (are kept) to a minimum”.
I first met Andy, Rebecca (who are the owners of the Fraoch Lodge) and their young son in Mexico in 2011 during the Adventure Travel World Summit. We connected because we all shared a passion for sustainability and endeavored to change the face of family travel (i.e. family travel is a lot more fun than just what Disney offers).
Much like perfecting a recipe, over the years, Andy and Rebecca have developed the Scottish Highlands Family itinerary that provides that wonderful mix of activities and relaxation that each member of the family deserves.
Fraoch Lodge is actually a family home that was converted to a guest lodge. Andy and Rebecca offer full services including daily sit-down breakfasts and dinners, boxed lunches and plenty of activity options not to mention afternoon tea and cookies. You may choose to have a fully-guided experience with Andy as your knowledgeable leader or self-guided experience for a more leisurely day out.
For the family itinerary, which is available most of the year, but quite popular during the summer months of July and August, there’s a chance to do some memorable activities such as attending the Highland Games, getting fitted for your own kilt, and of course going hiking and biking on the well-marked and wonderfully scenic trails all over the region.
My son and I opted for to take in as much hiking and biking as possible along the trails. I let him lead by having him follow the maps that we were provided by Andy and Rebecca. He was quite astute in figuring out when we were heading the wrong way and self-corrected.
We had great conversations, quiet lunches along the trail and an educational visit to the Osprey Conservation Center.
Spending a few days in the Cairngorms National Park and particularly at Fraoch Lodge was a remarkable way to wrap up our summer trip. The region is, of course, lovely and full of history, but it’s the delicious, locally sourced and home-cooked meals and friendly conversation that will keep us coming back to Fraoch Lodge.