Say Turnberry, on Scotland’s rugged west coast, to many and golf dominates. Turnberry’s Ailsa and Kintyre courses have for decades attracted business worldwide. Private jets almost commute to Prestwick, under half an hour away, and easiest scheduled airlift is via Glasgow or Edinburgh.
But the 1906-vintage 324-hectare estate is now Trump Turnberry, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. What is so encouraging, and enticing, is that since the future President Trump bought Turnberry in 2014 it is reckoned over £120 million (A$209 million) has been spent on glorifying the past while bringing in forward-future. Son Eric, guardian of the estate, is, currently, turning a neighbouring farm into a giant organic garden, to feed hungry golfers and more (there will also be extended livery facilities, with possibly an equine spa, to satisfy equestrian-mad Mrs Eric).
Somewhat fortunately, earlier Turnberry owners had cleverly invested in a separate wellness haven, with an underground approach – lined with golf memorabilia – five minutes’ walk from the hotel. A conservatory-set pool allows look-as-you-lap down to the golf. The compact gym has Technogym’s very-latest bits. And oh, the spa, now entirely seaweed Ishga, ‘water’, a Hebridean brand that, once found, is never forgotten. Even the hand-sanitiser is a delight.
Sporting and other groups often opt for the full-service one or two-floor cottage Villas, more private than the red-roofed, white-harled main house, which has 120 bedrooms. Suite 123, The Cink Suite, is directly above 152 steps leading from the main house’s west door down to street, and sea, level. 1.5 kms ahead is Turnberry lighthouse, today housing golfers’ halfway snacks and a stay-in suite. Beyond is the Atlantic, with the Isle of Arran to the right. On clear days, the giant quasi-religious Ailsa Craig island where curling is said to have been invented, is also clearly seen.
This is the ideal place, by the way, to perfect your mixology skills. A miniature Hendrick’s awaited on the dining room table, with tonic water and other necessities. A cupboard holds full-size bottles of Hendrick’s, plus Grey Goose, Havana Club and, on the Scotch front, both Ailsa Bay and Turnberry. Plus, of not surprisingly, a bottle of Trump Meritage 2015, American Red Wine from the family’s vineyard outside Charlottsburg, VA.
Look out from The Cink Suite as a lone piper, kilted of course, heralds sunset. Head down to 1906, a traditional restaurant with superb local ingredients – hotel boss Ralph Porciani (who cannot say enough to praise Eric Trump’s devotion to Trump Turnberry – started here in 2004 as Executive Chef. Drink Trump, with a glass of red, but eat Scotland. Begin, say, with a Trio of smoked salmon, smoked with Balvenie Whisky, Beetroot, and Hendrick’s. Continue to Roast cutlet and slow-braised belly of lamb, with kale, such a part of the national diet that in some dialects it is synonymous with food.
Stay Scotland, too, next morning, perhaps with a Burns breakfast of Arran cheese hash potatoes, haggis, fried egg and hollandaise. And after that, head to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, 22 minutes’ drive away. Or turn up for your spa or tee time, or merely sit in your comfy room looking across the water to those Scottish islands.