27 MARCH 2019
Iris Marhencke, Guest Relations Manager, is a familiar face to many who visit Gleneagles. She’s been a real character around these parts, since stepping into the job in 1992.
A Blue Badge Guide and history buff – with a special interest in Mary, Queen of Scots and The Stuarts – she’s seen many a thing during her time here! Ahead, she shares her favourite facts about Glen, many gleaned from her own guest encounters…
1. A hotel built on strong foundations.
Starting with the actual substance of our dear building, Gleneagles has large amounts of sandstone blocks stemming from a derelict railway viaduct in Wishaw near Glasgow. There’s a fair amount of actual railway sleepers embedded in the floor structure of four corridors, too.
2. The station formerly known as ‘Crieff Junction’.
In the wine cellar, you can still see a winch once used to unload luggage and freight when the railway tracks came to the back of the hotel in 1924 – the beginning of its era. The station was then called Crieff Junction, before being renamed Gleneagles Station.
3. ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ or ‘Downstairs Upstairs’?
Our fourth floor of exclusive two-bedroom Spirit Suites, including the Tower Suite, used to be female staff accommodation. The gents had their rooms outside the main property – not quite ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, more like ‘Downstairs Upstairs’!
4. Those highly collectable postal stamps.
When I first arrived here in 1992, we had a branch of the Bank of Scotland in the hotel, near the reception – very exclusive and convenient. The Essentials Shop also doubled as a Post Office, which had its own sought-after Gleneagles postal stamp.
5. And our very own Harvey Nicks.
In 1992, we also had the only Harvey Nichols shop outside of London in our Shopping Arcade. It had a lot of non-residents as loyal customers.
6. An ode to the labourers.
The stone cairn above the King’s Course, which one can see from Auchterarder 70 and The Dormy, is not a memorial cairn to Queen Victoria, nor to one of her jubilees, but a monument to the labourers and workers who built the King’s and Queen’s Course in 1919 by hand with shovel and carts.
7. That time Oasis almost shattered the Ballroom glass.
In 1994, Sony took over the whole hotel for an event showcasing new UK bands – one being Oasis. The sound nearly blasted the Ballroom roof off.
8. Toddlers who live in glass lobbies should not tee off.
During one of the annual Bell’s Scottish Open golf competitions, which were internationally recognised and featured all the elite golfers of the ‘90s, we had the late Seve Ballesteros staying with his family. His 3-year-old spent a long time “teeing off” in the lobby with his own tailor-made golf clubs, doing a great job and having us fear for all the glass in the revolving door and windows.
9. Red Arrows up ahead.
During the early ‘90s, we had an event whereby the chairmen and CEOs of the American airline industry took over the whole hotel. As a special surprise, the famous Red Arrows came flying in formation through the Glen Devon valley opposite us, heading straight for the hotel. Staff watched it from the tennis court area, which was absolutely unbelievable.
10. When world leaders dropped in for the G8 Summit…
During the G8 in 2005, the only two countries who insisted on flying in their presidential cars were Russia and United States of America – to drive half a mile from The Dormy House to the front entrance of the hotel.
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