Britain's Best Small Business focuses on luxury eco-tourism with funding support from Santander UK

  • Woodlands Glencoe won UK Small Business of the Year at the Federation of Small Businesses’ annual Celebrating Small Business Awards
  • Family-run, Argyll-based business invests in developing eco-tourism offering
  • Santander UK has provided six-figure funding to support Woodlands Glencoe’s eco-tourism developments


Woodlands Glencoe is a family-run tourism business based in Ballachulish, Argyll, Scotland and was named UK Small Business of the Year at the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) annual Celebrating Small Business Awards in May1.

Established in 2009, and located on the mouth of Loch Leven, the Highland estate has been transformed by the Young family into a luxury tourism destination featuring an estate, café, activity centre, golf course, and 17 luxury eco-lodges with hot tubs. In just over a decade, it has increased its revenue by almost 2000%.

As well as being a luxury bolt-hole for guests, Woodlands Glencoe is focused on becoming an eco-tourism destination. With the support of a six-figure funding package from Santander UK, the business has invested in a host of environmentally focused developments over the past year.

The funding has enabled it to expand its accommodation offering with the addition of five SeaBeds and four RiverBeds small luxury lodges, which are constructed with wood and renewable materials and heated with Air Source heat pumps. The hot tubs on the private decking of each lodge are also heated with Air Source units to maximise energy efficiency. The lodges’ fire pits are fuelled with timber from the estate, seasoned for two years, and the ashes are used to fertilise the grounds.

It has also funded the installation of four charge points for electric vehicles in the past year, and the purchase of a fleet of 31 electric vehicles, including maintenance trucks, vans and buggies, segway personal transporters and e-bikes for guests. The additional access roads that have recently been constructed on the estate were built using road scrapings recycled from roadworks being undertaken in the local area by transport authorities, which saved the environmental cost of using new asphalt.

The Youngs have also planted hundreds of trees on the property and recently opened the grounds for locals to walk and cycle in free of charge. With the Sustrans national cycle network2 track running along the edge of the estate, Woodlands Glencoe is currently installing four e-bike charge points to encourage visitors to explore the grounds.
Woodlands Glencoe has almost doubled its staff in the past year, now employing 22, most of which live locally. The business provides year-round employment due to its unique accommodation and the wide variety of outdoor activities on offer onsite and in the local area.

The business was founded by Laurence Young, who has lived in Ballachulish for 35 years, previously led The Freedom of the Glen Family of Hotels - which operated four hotels on the west coast of Scotland – and is involved with a number of Scottish tourism initiatives and organisations. His family operate Woodlands Glencoe alongside him, with sons Callum and James in the roles of Operations Manager and Business Development Director respectively, and daughter Katie the business’ Guest Services Manager.

Laurence Young, Woodlands Glencoe Chairman, said: “Santander UK’s support has not only enabled us to significantly increase the size of our staff, employing more people locally, but to invest in developing our eco-tourism offering. Our next phase is to encourage locals and visitors to enjoy the resource we have here including the stunning cycle tracks and walks.”

David Gallacher, Relationship Director at Santander UK, said: “Woodlands Glencoe’s recent accolade from the FSB is a real testimony to how innovation combined with an environmentally focused business offering is a recipe for success. We’re delighted to support Woodlands Glencoe’s eco-tourism developments and look forward to working together on more exciting innovations to come.”

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Notes to Editors
1) Woodlands Glencoe was named UK Small Business of the Year at the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) annual celebrating business awards. More information is available on the FSB's website.

2) Further information about the Sustrans national cycle network is available on its website.