While Gleneagles Hotel is undergoing a multimillion-pound refurbishment in advance of the event, a rival leisure project that includes 170 luxury homes overlooking the fairways of a newly created 18-hole championship golf course, is being built right alongside.
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The first 26 plots have been released for sale at the £500 million development, called gWest, offering buyers the chance to build a bespoke home (to their own design) on one- to four-acre parcels of land amid a breathtaking Scottish landscape, yet only 40 minutes drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
This mix of golf, glorious countryside and trophy homes in an accessible location is expected to entice a new generation of wealthy settlers.
gWest is the vision of the al-Tajir family, which owns the 24,000-acre Blackford Estate next door to Gleneagles. Mahdi al-Tajir, a Dubai- based billionaire businessman and former UAE ambassador to Britain, bought the estate in 1979 and used the pure water of the Ochil Hills to establish the Highland Spring water company.
At the time, most people ridiculed the idea that Scots would pay for bottled Scottish water, but Highland Spring is now a successful global brand. Maher al-Tajir, the eldest son who manages the family’s Scottish business interests, aims to silence sceptics by pulling off a similar entrepreneurial coup with one of Europe’s largest leisure projects. With its exclusive homes and self-styled “seven-star” hotel and spa, expected to be Scotland’s finest, and butler service for property owners, gWest is out to upstage Gleneagles, owned by drinks giant Diageo.
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Plots cost from £1.5 million and buyers can expect to pay at least the same again to build a home (potentially up to 12,000sq ft) that is worthy of the setting. Unusually, the developer is not insisting that purchasers select an off-the-peg house design or use its project management services. Buyers are free to appoint their preferred architect and contractor and can build any style of home, subject to planning permission. “We’re open-minded — it could be modern or traditional,” says Stuart Davie, project director.
There is a bit of both about the dramatically designed domed clubhouse nearing completion at the 650-acre scheme. Some locals have condemned it as an eyesore, out of context with the rugged natural environment and low-key local architecture.
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“It’s an ostentatious Arabian-style palace,” fumed a regular at the warm and pleasant Golf Inn pub in the nearby village of Aucterarder, though Charles McKean, professor of Scottish architecture at Dundee University, describes it as “a modern version of Athens’s Tower of the Winds”.
Eighty timeshare homes are part of the gWest planning consent, but no construction schedule has been agreed. For more details, visit gwest.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rettie & Co on 0131 220 4160.