How much would you pay for a weekend away in the north-east?
With 165 glorious miles of coastline in Aberdeenshire, the beauty of Royal Deeside and attractions such as Aberdeen Art Gallery and Nuart, holidaying at home makes perfect sense.
And with cruise ships expected to bring up to 31,000 guests to the region, it’s not exactly an undiscovered gem.
It’s no wonder that Scotland is said to offer some of the ultimate staycations in the UK; Aberdeen and Peterhead have recently been named two of the best staycation destinations for seafood lovers.
But here’s the catch — staycations can be unbelievably expensive.
How much do staycations cost?
There’s quite rightly a clamour to support local, but are we getting priced out of holidaying on our doorstep?
This isn’t an exclusively Scottish problem; research suggests that the cheapest average weekend away in the UK will set you back £572.
When you factor in accommodation costs, food and drink, activities and fuel, the bill can equate to what you could pay per person to jet off abroad on a package holiday or even a bargain city break in Europe.
Perhaps the comparison is too simplistic, especially if you consider the fact that local accommodation providers are also faced with the rising cost of living.
Insurance, cleaning plus the upkeep of the site if you’re offering glamping for example, must all be factored in when accommodation is priced.
We’ve spoken with Chief Executive of Visit Aberdeenshire, Chris Foy, alongside Carol Fowler of Banchory Lodge to find out more.
Carol Fowler on a staycation in Aberdeenshire: ‘It’s much cheaper than going to Skye’
Carol Fowler, who owns Banchory Lodge Hotel and Prime Events Scotland, says hotel rates are complex to say the least.
Set on the banks of the River Dee, Banchory Lodge has carved its way in the fiercely competitive Deeside area.
It offers numerous packages alongside its popular “sitooterie” where guests can dine outside overlooking the water.
“There’s not a simple strategy to the cost of accommodation, it’s a science” said Carol.
“We offer four different room categories alongside member rates, as well as rates which reflect the time of year.
“We’re in a unique position on Royal Deeside, we’re not the same as a corporate hotel.
“There’s no straightforward rate as we have different packages, it’s something we look at weekly and we change the rates according to the market.”
Hotels previously worked on a rack rate business, and Carol believes it is important to offer customers choice.
Charging rates are ‘not an easy decision’
“It’s definitely not an easy decision what we charge for our rooms,” she said.
“But we do like to give customers a vast amount of choice of what rate they want to pay alongside suggestions of what to do in the area.
“Most people who come to stay with us just want to sit by the river.”
Many of the guests at Banchory Lodge come from Aberdeen, Peterhead, Ellon, Stonehaven and Portlethen – and stay for one to two nights.
“There’s also other things to consider, such as the fact our gas and electric bills have tripled,” said Carol.
“Our food costs have also gone through the roof.
“It’s still worth remembering that it is much cheaper this side of the country, than if you went to Skye for example.”
Chris Foy: ‘It’s not just about the price’ when it comes to staycations in Aberdeenshire
As chief executive of Visit Aberdeenshire, it’s no surprise that Chis is passionate about the region and he has worked in the tourism industry for more than 25 years.
“Accommodation comes in all different shapes, sizes and quality,” said Chris.
“The crucial thing from a visitor’s perspective rather then just price, is value for money.
“Our average rate is also significantly lower then other cities.”
‘Staycation’ may be a relatively new term, but the concept certainly isn’t.
“Staycation is just a new bit of semantics, our domestic visitors have been strong for a very long time,” said Chris.
“We now have a whole new audience thanks to cruise ship visitors, so there’s an interesting future.”
As to whether staycations are getting too expensive in the north-east, well in Chris’s eyes it can come down to personal opinion.
“I think it can be in the eye of the beholder, and it’s worth nothing value over price,” he said.
“It’s about keeping pace with customer expectations, and a great many people have been rediscovering the region right back to lockdown.
“There’s a great range of accommodation on offer, from three star to five star.
“There’s also increasingly innovative options, such as Wildflower Eco Lodges in Fraserburgh where the lodges are made from straw bales.
“I don’t think it hurts to remind people; don’t just make a day of it, make a stay of it.”