It's never too early to start preparing for a Ryder Cup, and at The Gleneagles Hotel that means spending money to make it. Gleneagles' owners (premium-drinks company Diageo PLC) have continued to bring their resort up to date with the opening of the $14 million Braid House, a 59-room wing featuring luxurious rooms with state-of-the-art technology overlooking one of the grandest views in Scotland -- Glendevon and the Ochil Hills.
From their beds, hotel guests will be able to touch a keypad to control air conditioning, lighting, heating, audiovisual equipment and even their curtains. In a country infamous for bad showers and lack of ice cubes, this is a leap into the 21st century.
Named after the Hall of Fame golfer and course designer James Braid, Braid House is connected to the main hotel and revamped leisure club by an all-glass atrium. This addition brings Scotland's only Five Red Star hotel to 275 rooms, but the development won't stop here. Expansion is in the pipeline for the next 12 years, and when the Ryder Cup arrives in 2014 it will be on the 90th anniversary of the hotel.
The beauty of Gleneagles is that modernization hasn't changed its old-world charm. The game may have outgrown the Kings and Queens courses that Braid sculpted in 1918, but the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, opened in 1993, will have matured nicely when the American and European teams convene for the 40th playing of the matches.
While on property, players and travelers (30 percent are from the United States) also will notice another Scottish stereotype shattered -- that being the absence of good food. Andrew Fairlie, the 2002 Scottish Chef of the Year, has opened a restaurant at the hotel. Herbs from Arran, fish from a smokehouse on the shores of Loch Linnhe, scallops and lobster from the Island of Jura, lamb from the Glenearn Estate and produce from the Rungis Market South of Paris are on the menu.
Fairlie's favorite dish is homesmoked lobster with warm lime and butter sauce.We don't want to say it was the determining factor in Gleneagles getting the Ryder Cup over Turnberry and St. Andrews, but it didn't hurt. Tim Rosaforte