Stobo Castle celebrates 40th anniversary year

Stephen Winyward, managing director at Stobo Castle health spa.
Stephen Winyward, managing director at Stobo Castle health spa.

The Borders’ largest spa resort, and Scotland’s only residential heath and spa destination, Stobo Castle, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month.

Reborn from a derelict castle near Peebles, the five-star spa resort began as a health farm in 1978 and, four decades on, can boast celebrity guests including Dames Shirley Bassey and Joan Collins, around 185 staff, and record-breaking profits.

In March the castle’s profits broke through the £1m barrier for the first time, reflecting a record year for the business.

It represented a pre-tax profit rise of 33% and came as the company grew revenue by 8% to £7.8m.

Managing director Stephen Winyard said: “Stobo Castle’s evolution from what was basically a derelict property, has been remarkable. My mother was chairwoman of the Society of Health and Beauty Therapists at the time. She had a vision that it could become a health farm, at a time when such places were virtually unheard of.

“Today Stobo Castle is Scotland’s only destination spa and one of many people’s ‘must visit’ places to relax and rejuvenate. Sadly, my parents are no longer alive to see it, however its success is testimony to their incredible vision and hard work.

“Stobo Castle’s staff have also contributed immensely to its success, many of whom have been here almost since the beginning. In fact, we’re well on course to attain the highly coveted Investors in People Platinum Award in November.”

The business was established in 1978 by Mr Winyard’s parents, at a time when health spas were practically unheard of in the UK.

Commissioned in 1805 by Sir James Montgomery, 2nd Baronet, whose father was a Lord Advocate and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, it was a family residence for over 100 years before falling into disrepair.

Former RAF pilot instructor Robert Winyard and his wife Gaynor, a beauty therapist, took it over in the early 1970s, along with Stephen. They oversaw a visionary refurbishment to open Stobo Castle Health Spa in 1978, one of the first health farms of its kind.

At the height of Seventies’ fashion, it featured 16 bedrooms with shared avocado bathroom suites, medical checks for guests and calorie-controlled meals.

A £5m state-of-the-art spa extension in 2003 led to the creation of 36 treatment rooms, a fully-equipped gym, saunas, steam rooms, a 25-metre infinity pool and outdoor hot tubs.

And today the castle’s Cashmere Suite, complete with original works of Scottish art, hand-made Italian beds, cashmere lined walls and a bathroom famed for its £10,000 hand-carved limestone bath, is acknowledged as the most opulent guest suites in Scotland.

The ladies’ restroom was Scotland’s most luxurious loo in 2015.

Mr Winyard added: “I’m enormously proud of its evolution to date and excited for the future. Our success to date demonstrates the popularity of escaping everyday life for a spa retreat and our drive to continue to innovate.

“This success has enabled us to foster a deep sense of social responsibility, supporting around 360 charities in the last couple of years,”