Appeared in May/June 2003 LINKS
Several years ago two Scots, Ian Simpson and John Macaskill, decided to take a picturesque ruin on some rumpled East Lothian farmland and re-create it as a stunning lodge flanked by dozens of top golf courses.
Their dream-made-real is Fenton Tower, a restored 15th century stockade tower once sacked by Oliver Cromwell himself. The 400-year-old structure never lost its vault-thick exterior walls, but for 350 years there was little within them but an empty shaft. Restoration is a meager term for the magnificent décor and appointments now to be enjoyed in this unique redoubt. Entering its second full year of business, Fenton Tower is “getting the clientele we expected,” says general manager Wayne Moran. “Eight gents who come over from the States for a week and can spend a bob or two. Most will have me book them a week of golf on the 36-18-36-18 plan.” A typical playlist begins with Gullane No. 1 and North Berwick West. Then it’s over to St. Andrews for a day on the Old Course and Kingsbarns.
“Muirfield is right down the road, but I’m not able to directly arrange bookings there,” reports Moran. “That’s something our guests can arrange with the club.”
No matter the day’s golf destination, Tower-dwellers return home tuckered out. Which is why the establishment's high-class culinary program and “Gosford Park”-style service carries such value. On a six-night stay, a guest party will take three or four of its dinners in Fenton Tower's unique, barrel-vaulted dining room. To keep in touch with modern reality, guests have cable access, DVD viewing and separate phone and Internet connections in their rooms.
Down the road is the stimulating city of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital of arts, culture and cuisine. And coming soon to the Tower is a casual little par-3 hole, right outside the castle walls, that plays to an island green in the middle of the estate's private loch.
“We expect our guests might venture out in the early evening with a tray of large whiskeys and good cigars to see whose wedge game is sharpest,” says Moran. “Just a bit of fun before dinner.”