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Visit Scotland | Alba

As part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, we took a closer look at some of the businesses and organisations who made the most of the water wellness trend.

Jo Wyke, of the Melvich Hotel in Thurso told us how she has been able to share her love of the ocean with her guests.

How does water wellness relate to your business and your customers?

In short, water is why we became hoteliers in the first place back in 2007. Our love of the sea brought us to the north coast and to the Melvich Hotel in particular. This has always been a strong thread throughout our various incarnations throughout the year – not least as an escape valve for us personally when the season’s stressful moments can become overwhelming. Being in the sea or on the beach is part of our family life and sharing that with our guests has always come naturally. That said, the increased popularity of wild swimming, watersports, the outdoors itself and indeed, the North Coast 500 has meant that we are able to share the “secret” of water wellness with far more people than we were able to in 2007.

Working with North Coast Watersports has brought a new demographic to our hotel front door – of erstwhile beginner surfers who bring themselves to the north coast for one reason only. They want to enjoy, escape to, immerse themselves in and fully appreciate our seas. They are nervous with anticipation when they arrive and vibrating with exhilaration when they leave and it is an absolute pleasure to watch that journey and to share the joy. We hope that our work with Iona & Finn at NCW and our guests’ enjoyment of the ocean will only continue to grow and thrive.

Tell us about your business and how it aligns to the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21

Our beautiful location at the Melvich Hotel has always lent itself to a unique perspective on, and a huge appreciation for, our coastal environment. Indeed, a love of watersports brought us here to the hotel in the first place in 2007. Surfing has played a huge part in our lives and now as a result, on our business. Thanks to the popularity of the NC500 over the last several years we have been able to lean heavily into our own interests to mould a new business model for the hotel and the emergence of the North Coast Watersports (NCW) team in 2019 was a match made in heaven.

Our business thrives on sharing our love of the ocean with our guests – from the décor, to the website, to our branding and now with this amazing collaboration with NCW. Even our wood fired pizzas are named after beaches!

We trialled a Learn to Surf weekend retreat, in collaboration with NCW, back in the autumn of 2019 and with YCW2020 on the horizon, its success meant we could plan for three more weekends in 2020. We all know what happened to 2020, suffice to say that we postponed our plans until 2021 and this year have four weekends in the diary throughout the year, already fully booked for intrepid adventurers to visit the north coast, enjoy our beautiful location & earnest hospitality for four days and in the meantime learn to surf, breathe deeply with some garden yoga and enjoy the very best of our local larder. We have loved every single one of them and sharing our passions and our beautiful home has never been more enjoyable.

Marketing the weekends has also been a dream in terms of imagery, branding and social media. Harnessing even more creative output (removed from the usual food, drink, accommodation and local area photos that we would be using), the opportunity to showcase watersports, coastal issues, health benefits, ocean environmental causes and even climate change has been a breath of fresh air and one we are delighted to shout about.

Surfboard leaning against a garden seat with coastal views in background

Garden view from Melvich Hotel to Bighouse Head. Credit: Melvich Hotel

How have you engaged with VisitScotland’s water wellness campaign?

Throughout the year so far we have used the #YCW2021 hashtag to promote our posts and have ensured the logo is visible on our website. We have always tried to share the huge health benefits of water wellness, and salt water in particular, through our own messaging and having the opportunity to really engage in this manner with our NCW collaborations has been brilliant. We are always happy to shout from the rooftops about the wellness of water!

Find out more about the Melvich Hotel by visiting their website.

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