Its the little things.

I am always amazed a the range of visitors who use the chalets. So far our visitors have include NHS doctors, locum vets, BT engineers, students, holiday makers, bird watchers, writers looking for peace and quiet, wildlife photographers, sea anglers, film crews... the list goes on.

I always try and imagine what our guests might value in our accommodation, and try to include little extras which will make their stay really enjoyable. It’s often the little things that can make a difference to people.

For example, something as small as an EU adapter, which allowed a visitor to be able to charge up their camera battery before a wildlife boat trip meant the difference between them having photos and memories, and not.

As well as practical items, like adapters, free soap, tupperwear boxes in case of a picnic, cling film etc, I always provide information on local amenities and try where possible to help with any information that is needed. Making visitors aware of beaches near by etc can really make a difference to their holiday experience.

We also have DVDs and books available, free internet access, extra blankets...and we’re open to ideas for anything missing! So please let us know if there are things which we could include to make your stay the best it can be.

3 star accommodation in Shetland.

Bi- annual inspection!

 

Hard to believe it has been 2 years since our last visit from Visit Scotland’s Quality team, who come to Shetland and grade accommodation, awarding stars as they see fit.  Once again the chalets have achieved a 3 stars, which is a good place to be. As 2 is extremely basic and often not too comfortable and 4 stars is a luxury grade, which is difficult for the chalets as they are too small to fit in  many features required, such as en-suites onto bedrooms, extensive kitchen facilities.

So I am very happy with a higher score for a 3 star!

 

New doors! - Easterhoull Chalets- Scalloway

Unbelievably, we are into year 10 of owning the chalets. In the past decade we’ve learned so much about running a business, and hope that everything we’re learning has helped to create a welcoming and enjoyable stay for our guests. 

 

 

We continuously improve on what we offer visitors, and we try to do this at as little extra cost to our customers as possible. 

 

 

Some improvements are more exciting than others: the next upgrade is to our nine outside doors. They may not be the most interesting feature of our chalets, but with the strong winds and wild weather we get in Shetland they certainly are important! 

 

 

The existing ones have certainly done their time and are looking a bit tired. After months of trying to identify a supplier who offers exterior doors suitable for Shetland weather, I finally found one! Howdens, who have a super fast service and are great value.

 

 

The doors have arrived and are unfinished, so we’ve had a busy two weeks  of non stop painting, ready for the joiners to arrive and hang them before adding new handles and locks, in time for our next lot of  visitors. I think they will look really great and hopefully, it’ll be at least another ten years until they have to be replaced.

 

Things to do in Scalloway.

As the owner, I see the chalets everyday and it is difficult for me to really imagine it from the visitors perspective, arriving for the first time, not being familiar with your surroundings.  The chalets are in a great location, only 10 minutes walk onto the villiage of Scalloway for example

    So , I have designed a large visitor information sign, specific to the area surrounding the chalets, in my favourite colours!

  When making the list of things to include on the sign even I was surprised how much there was not mention, such as 2 play parks, 2 hairdressers, swimming pool, 2 licenced grocery shops, café, chinese takeaway, e.t c e.t.c! Without even going into Scalloway there is a fish shop, play park, my art studio (opening spring 2018) and an invitation to come and enjoy the 1 acre garden as part of the stay at the chalets.

I hope my new sign will make visitors feel welcome and well informed!

With any luck we may see the white sided dolphins return to the voe just below the chalets, where the stayed for several days last summer!

Families Welcome!

Thinking about a family holiday in Shetland?

During a recent tourism meeting I attended it became apparent that Shetland could perhaps market itself better to families.  

Everyone at the meeting agreed this was strange as the isles have a lot to offer families.

For example, there are excellent sports facilities throughout Shetland, with swimming pools in many of the larger villages. The main leisure centre in Lerwick has lots of fun activities for kids, with a large swimming pool with flumes and a rapid river, to a sauna, steam room, private hydrotherapy pool, badminton courts, squash courts… the list goes on. 

 

Outdoors we have a great selection of play parks.  Each one is different with equipment to suit all ages, and many have picnic benches. Some are also very near a beach, such as the Gulberwick play park.  

If the weather is suitable for outside then the beaches are excellent and you usually have them all to yourself! Natural beauty, often with a friendly seal watching what you are up to. Take a camera!   

There are plenty of places to eat out as a family during the day, with reasonably priced cafes throughout the isles, and for evening meals there are good options in the towns and some other areas. I have made a list of recommendations for my chalet guests, but I’d welcome any feedback from good places you’ve found to eat.

Happy holidays for 2018!

Day trips from Easterhoull Chalets.

 

 

Our chalets in Easterhoull, Scalloway, are perfect for a holiday in Shetland - not only do we have brilliant views, but also, an excellent central location.

Shetland is about 70 miles long, from Sumburgh to Unst, so many places worth visiting can be done in a day trip.

Even some of our islands are accessible for a day trip, including Whalsay (25 minute drive to ferry at Laxo from the chalets);  Papa Stour (36 minute drive to the ferry at West Burrafirth); Yell (40 minute drive to the ferry at Toft); and Unst, the most northerly island in the UK, can be done in a day with 2 short ferry crossings.  

Fetlar, which I have never been to yet, is also possible! The exceptions may be Foula and the Out Skerries as transport to and from these islands is less frequent, and Fair Isle which is further away at 24 miles south of Sumburgh.

Shetland enjoys excellent roads which are very quiet, so exploring the islands is easy. As an extra free service to my valued guests I have now written up suggested days out around Shetland, which will be available in each chalet to use as a guide, so hopefully they be helpful and inspire some adventures!

Have you visited any of these places as a day trip? I’d love to know your favourite Shetland days out, please leave a comment or get in touch to le the know.

 

Clean accommodation in Shetland.

 

 

There are lots of good points to running a self catering business. Meeting people, providing a lovely place to stay and relax are just two of them.

 

Then there are the less good, but necessary: cleaning!

 

We deep clean the chalets ?? times a year. Of course we do a regular clean after every let, but it’s important to give the place a really good going over to maintain a high standard of hygiene.

 

Taking the time to look closely at every nook at cranny throws up some surprising finds, and there has been many an upset spider along the way, facing eviction.

 

We have 9 chalets, meaning there are 36 pairs of curtains, 27 mattresses and a LOT of crockery to wash or replace as necessary! Having done this for many years, I have a system in place and can get the whole lot done in a reasonable amount of time, which is no mean feat!

 

We’ve recently started replacing the mattresses to brand new memory foam mattresses, so hopefully our guests will get an even better nights sleep. It’s very quiet at the chalets, so the perfect place to come for a relaxing get away.

Art in the chalets.

 

 

We’ve been brightening the chalets up recently, and have added Sarah Kay Artwork to the walls!

 

While I was a bit nervous that people would think I was pushing my art on them, I felt it was an obvious inclusion, given that the views I paint are often the ones you can see from the chalets.

 

So I hope the work is enjoyed by some of the visitors. There is absolutely no obligation to buy anything, but it’s nice to have the extra space to display the work.

 

My studio, and home, is right next door to the chalets, and next year I am planning to open the studio up to visitors, so anyone staying at the chalets will also be able to come and visit the studio and learn more about my artwork, should they wish! 

visit - www.sarahkayarts.com  to see more.

Where does the time go!

 

Easterhoull chalets: nine years on  - 

 

We are coming to the end of our 9th year owning Easterhoull Chalets, and in that time we’ve never stopped trying to improve them.

 

With expectations from customers constantly growing, it’s difficult to provide absolutely everything and cater to every taste. While we always try to, we have to  remember we’re providing a 3 star experience, and not 5!

 

Some of the major improvements we’ve undertaken include re-plumbing all 9 chalets with a new hot water system and power showers, which are excellent. I am always surprised when staying in other accommodation, sometimes paying double the price, to find very poor showers, often electric with no force on the water. There’s nothing better than a long hot shower to unwind at the end of a busy day, and you can be sure to find one in any of our chalets.

 

We also invested heavily in technology to make sure we had the best internet connection available to each individual chalet, and have included this into the nightly cost.

 

The next major investment is new outside doors, currently on order which will smarten up the appearance of each chalet.

Best price for self catering in Shetland.

Chalet Prices

 

One aspect I find difficult with running the Chalet business is the pricing!

 

Now at the end of year 9, there has not been a price increase on the weekly let for 7 years. It’s only after staying in similar accommodation elsewhere that I realised just how much we offer for the price.

 

With overhead costs increasing each year I need need to look at our pricing structure, and find something which is still good value but which reflects the excellent services we provide, and suits all potential visitors.

 

Each chalet contains 2 bedrooms, so can sleep 4, and we currently have a set price per chalet. So this is a bargain for 4 people but not so great for one person.

 

We currently offer a discount for a full week, to try and encourage people to stay a full week, but perhaps this is pointless as the majority of visitors stay any number of nights regardless.

 

Other ideas in the pipeline are a loyalty scheme, for returning customers. We certainly have lots to consider. 

A Good Yarn

 

 

A good yarn can describe a well-told story or knitting wool and both are appreciated just as much here in the Shetland Islands. It is not uncommon to see regular gatherings advertised where people can meet together to chat to each other while they work on their latest knitting projects. Multitasking at its finest, as stories are woven into the conversation like the patterns formed with coloured strands of wool. These can range from the muted, natural colours of the native sheep to a kaleidoscope of colour in every hue imaginable. Many books have been written on the subject, whether it is lace knitting or Fair Isle, and there is an abundance of ideas for all ages and abilities when it comes to choosing something suitable to create with your own hands. Knitting is also very relaxing, even on holiday.

 

This month, a group of keen knitters from the Netherlands are staying at the Chalets as a direct result of attending Shetland Wool Week last year. For the past eight years, this event has been held in September for the purpose of promoting Shetland wool and all the many ways it can be utilised. Classes and workshops are offered in spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting involving local crafters and producers, all experts in their area of interest. Visits are also organised to various places where the wool is produced and processed into yarn. For example, just along the hill to the south of Easterhoull, is Uradale Organic Farm, where organic wool is obtained from their flock of native sheep. Wool Week has become such a popular, international event now that bookings are being made a year in advance so, if you would like to experience it for yourselves, please don’t delay and book early to avoid disappointment.

Springtime at Easterhoull

 

 

Once spring arrives, with longer hours of daylight, it soon becomes clear that there is work to be done outside. Voar, the Shetland word for springtime, was and still is a busy time for a lot of people as repairs are made after the winter gales and the ground is prepared for sowing and planting. Properties are spruced up inside and out, paint is purchased and lawnmowers are brought out and put back into service after being stowed away all winter. At Easterhoull, the Chalets were completely repainted a few years ago and the blue, white and red colour scheme fairly stands out against the green grass surrounding them. They look very picturesque, clustered together on the side of the hill overlooking the sea and the village of Scalloway.

 

This year, the plan is to renovate and replant an area of ground behind the Chalets, which is going to be a bit of a challenge as it is on a very steep slope. A retaining wall in front keeps the soil in place otherwise it would slide down the hill. Last year, a section was cleared and planted up with strawberries and chives, which the guests at the Chalets were able to pick for their own use. Hopefully, when the new planting is completed, it will provide even more growing space for pick your own produce as well as making a beautiful feature for everyone to enjoy. Next door, at Highlands, the garden is open under Scotland’s Gardens scheme to raise money for various charities and is an example of what can be achieved in a difficult location by sheer hard work, determination and a fair amount of artistic flair.

Pass it on week

 

 

Pass it on Week, Scotland’s annual initiative to promote recycling, may be over but it isn’t limited to one week in the year at Easterhoull Chalets. Re-use and recycling is all part of the Easterhoull ethos which involves recycling as much waste as possible and providing an on site compost heap to gather suitable materials for use in the garden. These are the more obvious examples but the Chalets also re-use good quality furniture, some of which is purchased from the local Social Enterprise Company, Cope Ltd. They were able to use Pass it on Week to highlight the work that they do in Shetland regarding recycling and to encourage people to bring in things that they no longer need but which may be of use to someone else.

 

Cope Ltd has been operating for a number of years now and their Shetland Home Company store is a popular place to obtain household items, including antiques, which still have a lot of life left in them yet. If you want to get a bargain then you have to be quick, as some items get snatched up as soon as they get in the door and before they have even been priced. They also provide employment opportunities and training for several young people, helping them to acquire skills and confidence in their own abilities. Easterhoull is pleased to support Cope Ltd as we share the same principles of reducing waste and encouraging re-use, something that was common practice in previous generations but is now being revived.

Da Voar Redd Up!

  Coming soon to Shetland is "da voar redd up" in its 30th Year. This annual collection of litter from our many beaches and road sides is important to keep Shetland tidy. With more than 20% of the population volunteering, many of them school children, every year tonnes of rubbish is disposed of. This is an excellent help to keep Shetlands environment and wildlife cleaner and safer for everyone to enjoy.

Shetland wook week

As our islands are predominantly covered in heather and rough grazing suitable for our hardy Shetland Ponies and Shetland sheep to eat. They produce the finest oo (wool) in return. Which is then turned into the famous Fair Isle knitted garments.

Shetland wool spinners and knitters promote a 'wool week'with a range of teaching and exhibiting of local hand knitting. 7 yearl old, this week in September has become popular around the globe, with several Dutch and American knitters visiting the islands, sharing and learning skills.

Dates for 2017 are filling up fast, with 2 chalet still available. Starting- Saturday 23rd September - 1st October.

Up Helly Aa

   Its that time of year again. Lerwicks Up Helly Aa takes place every year at the end of January, come what may rain or shine. The viking festival is a very rare event not to be missed, many hours of preparation go into making it a very colourful occasion especially for the chief Juizer Jarl and his squad of hairy vikings. 

 We have one chalet left (due to a cancellation) for any last minute visitors! The chalets are only 5 minutes drive away from Lerwick and make a excellent base for visitors, open all year round.

Welcome to Easterhoull Chalets blog!

With Christmas and New Year celebrations over for another year, the village of Scalloway (Shetlands ancient capital) looks forward to the fire festival, held in the village under the shadows of the castle, built for Earl Patrick Stewart in the late sixteenth century. Patrick was a very evil man and treated the locals very unfairly, however his evil ways was finally his undoing and he was tried, found guilty and hanged in Edinburgh!

Seal pup’s big adventure gives motorist a gluff

An adventurous seal caused quite a fright when it was spotted on a road in Bressay, miles from the water.

Gemma Tulloch, 28, said she had to look twice when she saw the hefty pup by the roadside at about 11am.

She jumped out of the car to take a quick photo of the animal which was close to their home before contacting her dad who helped rescue the seal with a tonne bag.

“It was a complete shock. I had to take a double look, it was quite unexpected,” she said.

“He seemed to be following the verge of the road…he didn’t know where he was going.

“I was in the car and I was just going in over the island and he was just opposite our house. I hadn’t got very far and I stopped and I thought I would have to do something about him becasue he clearly wasn’t meant to be there.”

After being taken over to Lerwick the seal was transported up to Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.

Jan Bevington who runs the sanctuary with husband Pete, said the seal had belly-flopped along the road for about two miles.

“It’s a female and a decent size,” she said.

“I can’t see anything totally wrong with her but it’s just collapsed in its pen and it’s snoring near enough.

“It’s so tired I assume it’s the two-mile flop that’s done it.”

Mrs Bevington said seal pups that have moulted can go on land looking for food if they are hungry.

She believes the seal is about four to six weeks old and weighs about 30 kilos.

And other than being dehydrated the initial signs were that seal was in good health.

“If she’s ok we’ll feed her up for a week and let her go,” she said.