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Next March, Adventures By Disney is launching a Scotland tour pegged to the Disney-Pixar movie Brave, which follows the fate-defying, longbow-wielding princess Merida as she Clydesdales her way through medieval Scotland.
As you might expect, the itinerary’s spectacular experiences have spectacular prices to match, upwards of $5,619 per adult and $5,339 per child for an escorted 9-day land package. And while you won’t go wrong on an Adventures tour, you also won’t go wrong taking a lesson from the film: Merida may be a princess, but she prefers galloping unescorted through the Highlands to rolling with a pack.
With that in mind, here are ways an independent traveler like Merida might brave Scotland for less.
Film tie-ins have surfaced on toys, fast food, and even cologne, but Disney has taken movie marketing to the next level with “Scotland: A Brave Adventure,” a nine-day tour from Adventures by Disney beginning in March 2013 with visits to locations that inspired Disney/Pixar’s latest animated movie, Brave, opening June 22.
For Disney fanatics, the itinerary takes travelers to Dunnottar Castle, a ruined medieval fortress in the Scottish Highlands that forms the home of the film’s heroine, Merida; the Callanish Standing Stones, a ring of stone structures on the Isle of Lewis that alters her fate in the movie; the Black House of Arnol and the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a traditional home that served as inspiration for the Witch House; and the Rothiemurchus Estate, one of the largest natural forests in Britain, where you can indulge in Merida’s favorite pastime of riding Highland ponies. And to remind you whose pockets you’re lining, a Disney movie night is scheduled on day three.
Traveling to Britain this winter? Grab a BritRail Low Season Pass and save 20% on regular rates. A three-day consecutive pass (you indicate the three days of travel) is just $159. Or for $239, travel in first class. The BritRail pass services all of the national rail networks of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales). With trains traveling up to 160 miles per hour, and running every 15 minutes on the main lines, this pass can get you throughout the three countries quickly, maximizing what you visit during your stay. Passes are also available for four, eight, 15, and 22 days, as well as one month time periods. Flexible passes are also available at an additional cost. Travel now through February 29, 2012.
THE VALUE: Save 20% on a BritRail Pass and travel through three countries on a comprehensive network of train lines.
THE CATCH: The weather is not ideal in January and February.
THE DETAILS: To purchase your ticket, visit www.raileurope.com.
Foodies rejoice! Nothing says fresh like food you’ve foraged yourself from the wild – an unexpected education to be had via the chef-led enrichment program at the Connoisseurs Scotland group’s luxury Boath House property in Nairn (situated near Inverness, on Scotland’s northeast coast). The exclusive three-day foraging courses are led by Chef Charlie Lockley, designated Scottish Chef of the Year 2010 (and proponent of the UK’s slow-food movement), who heads the hotel’s Michelin-star eatery. Read more
Dressing like the Queen of England isn’t necessarily advised – unless, of course, you’re sporting a traditional kilt. Starting this year, guests on Orient-Express’ The Royal Scotsman (one of our Top 10 Train Trips in Europe) may do just that. Kinloch Anderson, Her Royal Majesty’s kilt purveyor of choice, will let guests on the luxury train trip purchase handmade, wool skirts in their family tartan or the train’s own signature pattern, a mulberry, navy, and plum design. The service, starting at $310, sends travelers to a pre-departure fitting at Kinloch Anderson’s showroom, where kilts, argyle cut jackets, and tartan trousers await. The attire takes eight to 10 weeks to arrive, but guests may still don the traditional Scottish garb during the trip’s formal dinner, as Kinloch Anderson wares are available to borrow en-route.
Scotland has long been a draw for hard-core adrenaline junkies, but for the average traveler, trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster was about as adventurous as a trip here would get. Not anymore. This small island country has exploded in popularity among a wide range of adventure travelers, with more than $1.4 billion spent annually on trips there. Forecasters are also predicting a 70 percent jump in visitors over the next three years, according to figures from the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
If you haven’t yet been, why not add Scotland to your 2011 travel calendar? Here, some popular excursions in what is fast becoming the newest go-to destination for outdoor adventures.
The Luxury Nestled on 850 acres in the Scottish countryside, just 1 hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Gleneagles Hotel has been a playground for Britain’s upper crust since 1924. The 232 rooms and 26 suites boast sumptuous linens and marble bathrooms; the standout ESPA spa, opened in 2008, offers 20 treatment rooms. The real draw, however, is the three championship golf courses; one designed by Jack Nicklaus will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Stately old castles, coastal bluffs, rocky mountainous terrain, and bright-green meadows define Scotland’s scenery. Make your dreams of visiting this picturesque wonderland a reality by booking a last-minute getaway with Lynott Tours. The Highland Homecoming package, priced 25 percent lower than standard brochure rates, includes six nights in your choice of Scottish B&Bs with daily breakfast. Included with this offer is a 6-day standard rental-car with unlimited mileage – a great way to explore Scotland’s awe-inspiring treasures and experience the Highland Homecoming festival’s numerous theater productions, walking tours, exhibitions, and much more. Valid from October 19-31, this package costs just $1,136, including round-trip airfare from Newark, New Jersey to Glasgow. Visitors can also opt to upgrade this package for a measly $100 more, and spend one night in an extravagant Scottish castle.
The Luxury What golf destination compares to Scotland, where the sport has been played for 600 years? At the Fairmont St. Andrews, golfers can enjoy spectacular cliff-top views of the area’s legendary courses. Enhance your swing on the highly rated Kittocks course or head to the tough and undulating coastal Castle course.
The Value The Castle and Kittocks Course Package comes with 18 holes of golf on each of the two courses, plus a two-night stay in a deluxe guest room and a full Scottish breakfast. For stays through October 31, prices start at $429/night—almost $200 below the usual cost for rooms alone. Plus, the high-season greens fees on the Old Course are just $119 a person for hotel guests, more than 50 percent lower than last year’s.
The Catch The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, on August 7–31, may beckon. But it’s at least an hour’s drive away.
The Details Call 866/840-8208, or visit www.fairmont.com/standrews.
From the summer issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.
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