We may pride ourselves on our flawless events, but never have we been so proud to host a shambles with The Apprentice at Achnagairn Castle!
Those of you who tuned in will have spotted us hosting the hapless boys in the first episode of this season’s The Apprentice - proving spectacularly how you cannot forgo planning when it comes to events!
Achnagairn Castle as featured on The Apprentice. Images taken from the show by Fremantle Media Ltd.
Those who tuned into The Apprentice last night may have spotted some locations that they recognised. The whole episode was set in the Highlands as the new season's contestants were tasked with hosting a corporate away day, and the boys' Apprentice antics were all at Achnagairn Castle!
Back in April when the show was shot, Achnagairn Estate was not only the site of a whole portion of the filming, but we also hosted the whole team and all the contestants, and are finally able to talk about it!
Part of the joy of watching The Apprentice has always been the tail-biting awkwardness of seeing the arrogant but hapless contestants go head to head. This year was no different, but they seemed to have cranked the haplessness up a notch.
When the show was filmed, we were lucky enough to be one of the Highland venues chosen to show off the best of locations and experts to provide a corporate away day.
But even with the advice of Highland Games experts, the produce of outstanding caterers and a castle made specialising in events… the candidates were clueless.
While they filmed, we had peeked behind curtains to see a merry crew as the dramas unfolded, and seeing them finally shown our screens had our team in stitches last night.
As the boys got to work preparing a meal in our kitchen, we cringed, feeling extremely relieved that our general policy is ‘only professional caterers’ in that kitchen! How right we were… they produced a cold, stale toad in the hole and managed to leave the four out of the brownie…
In reality, happily The Lunchbox Boys’ Dougal was on hand to supervise, but even he could not help as the wonderfully entertaining mess unfolded.
When the poor clients arrived back from their abseiling adventure, they expected to be greeted by a glass of wine, only to realise that it hadn’t made it into the boys’ budget… The boys scrambled round to find a bottle (our lovely wine store wasn’t allowed to be at hand!) by which time the clients were restless… and late.
Even the delights of our ballroom could not raise a smile in them.
The boys had laid on a lovely display of highland dance, but it rapidly emerged that the clients had only 5 minutes before needing to get back to their offices. The poor dancers crammed in a speedy performance and the unimpressed group headed home.
In the boardroom, the boys got their comeuppance. Sir Alan was appalled as their figures showed they made a loss from their terrible event.
The Apprentice boys showed that you do… in fact… need experts to ensure an event comes together beautifully
Back at Achnagairn, while we laughed at the rollercoaster of disasters, we felt vindicated in watching proof that you do… in fact… need experts to ensure an event comes together beautifully.
We felt pride in the excellent food our caterers put together, even when events run late and plans need changing; at our team's adeptness at switching the run of things to ensure our guests stay entertained (how about bringing the highland dancers into the ballroom boys.. everyone was waiting for your food after all!!), and never allowing our guests to go without a glass of wine or whisky to settle them in.
We were delighted to be featured in the series, alongside our partners in delivering corporate events.
Our chairman Marina Huggett commented that "It was a real boost for Highland businesses in general and we were delighted that they selected Achnagairn Castle as the venue, not only for the boys, but for the entire crew to stay in during the several days of shooting. Living up our ethos of “escape the ordinary” we were able to show our flexibility -hosting large groups with very precise requirements one moment and providing the backdrop of sheer luxury the next. How ironic that despite having the best of the best, the contestants still had no clue…! “
Behind the scenes, the team were a delight, and giving Tim Campbell a private tour of the castle while he took photos to show his mum, made the trip all the more memorable!
If you are a business looking to organise your own corporate retreat, get in touch! From Highland Games to canyoning, dancing and dining - we'll do it right and create an event you will not forget.
We just promise not to let any Apprentice candidates near it!
Catch up on The Apprentice on iPlayer