If any of the lairdships reviewed on this website is to be considered the ‘Big Beast’ of the industry, then Laird of Kincavel might take the laurels. Our generic search brought up the title on the moonestates.com site, which seems to be the central one, but there are many many other outlets, including play.com, thanksdarling.com and thegiftexperience.co.uk. This level of exposure must render the title the market leader if only in terms of visibility. No doubt this increases the turnover of the primary business of the owner of Kincavel Estate, the Sonachan Hotel – and why not? Hotels in country locations often struggle, and this gives that business an added market, its lairds. This is a similar effect that the Scottish Laird project (reviewed here) seems to be aiming at with its community idea.
The product itself looks slick. The offering is pared down to the bare essentials and packaged very nicely thank you very much – although what Eilean Donan has to do with this title we’re not sure, smacks of the Laird of Jura’s use of Inveraray castle (reviewed here) (oh look, and we’ve done the same thing and used the pic here!). It also makes sense of some of the other sites’ assurances that no registration card is needed to obtain the title. The package comes with a Freepost registration card which gets sent back to the vendor and a title deed is issued. Of course this is due to the fact that the package is produced in such volume that personalisation can only occur after receipt. For all the other packs, personalisation happens as the lairdship package is put together, giving a much more individual service. We prefer the latter process.
The various websites which market this offering all make the same sort of noises about preserving and conserving the land, but don’t give much more detail other than there’s a 400 acre enclosure owned by the hotel. We’d like to see a Laird of Kincavel website giving much more detail online. We suspect the argument will be that this information is included in the pack and adds value to it as a gift, but as we all know, there’s nothing like photos and maps online to give potential customers a feel for what they’re buying.
This is the mass market product which tries to have the same bespoke feel as the other titles but, we feel, misses it. On the positive side, it is helping support folk in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, and perhaps keeping an hotel open which is always good (hotels are central to small communities in the Highlands and Islands) so we’re not minded to be too harsh.
OSF rating: 3.5 stars