LORD OF LUXURY
Catering for some the world’s highest rollers, Ted Innes Ker unlocks the door to some of Scotland’s grandest and most private estates, explains Stephanie Abbot
From exclusive-use castles to seaplane excursions, Ted Innes Ker takes top clients on luxury tours of Scotland
They say you should never sell what you wouldn’t buy. For me that’s Chardonnay, yellow clothing and house plants (they deserve better). So when it was time for Ted Innes Ker – Lord Edward Arthur Gerald Innes Ker being his full title – to choose a career, the answer was glaringly obvious: Scotland. That is, a job that would involve sharing his love of the country with others in a way that showcased just how spectacular, varied and enchanting his homeland can be.
‘I didn’t really fancy doing a run-of-the-mill job, I wanted to do something which I was incredibly passionate about so Scotland in itself, particularly the Highlands and the west coast,’ says Ted.
‘I had always thought there was a gap in the market at the top end of the luxury travel sector in Scotland if you have the the ability to access things that are inaccessible to any other agency in the world, let alone Scotland or the UK.’
The son of the late 10th Duke of Roxburghe, Ted is accustomed to a level of finery most can only dream of. Having grown up in Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders, the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, he knows exactly what is required when it comes to entertaining guests in lavish surroundings.
‘I have been hosting friends for all my life. My parents were always very sociable people and whenever I went home or to the Highlands there was always a house full of people. I was very used to entertaining and chatting away to people I didn’t know, so I thought that was potentially a strong point of mine.’
Alongside his experience as an event manager for European golf tour events, Ted managed to squeeze in a five-year career as a professional golfer, playing in over 250 tournaments across the world before retiring in 2015. From there he helped to set up Ossian Adventures, then branched out on his own to establish Reiver Travel in October 2018.
Aimed at clients with some truly eye-watering travel budgets, Ted offers completely bespoke trips around Scotland with exclusive access to private estates and family homes not commercially available. ‘It’s sort of a small black book of largely wealthy people who have absolutely incredible properties in Scotland,’ says Ted.
‘Having grown up at Floors and seeing how it’s done extremely well by my step-mother, who has an incredible eye for detail, that was the benchmark of what I wanted to offer so the places I
‘Having grown up in Floors Castle, that was the benchmark of what I wanted to offer’
take my clients to have to be absolutely incredible. It’s essentially like a 5-7 star experience but you’re staying in somewhere that’s a private house and you’re waited on by royally trained staff.’
One of the places Ted’s clients can access is of course Floors Castle. ‘One or two groups come and stay in the castle and receive the all-singing, all-dancing experience at the hands of our team of staff. They are looked after in a way only our friends and family are usually afforded’.
Another estate Ted has up his sleeve is Laudale, located on the shores of the Morvern Peninsula on the West Coast. The owner has his own seaplane which can be used by Ted’s clients. They can arrange a pick up and arrive at the estate in a manner that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie.
Along with amazing places to stay, Ted creates itineraries packed full of activities and experiences aimed at showing off the Scottish landscape, seascapes and world-class outdoor pursuits. ‘A general itinerary might be going to the west coast for a week and enjoying sea-based activities like lobster potting, taking fast boats to island hop before enjoying a decadent lunch and a seaplane trip to Plockton for dinner. Then on to a stately home to live the life of a laird, Outlander style. Activities will include shooting, stalking and golfing.’
Most of Ted’s clients come from the US and the process of organising a trip begins (ideally) with a face to face chat over lunch or dinner to discuss what a particular group might
‘One group spent £300,000 on a ten-day trip’
be looking for. And with vastly deep pockets, one group having spent £300,000 on a 10-day trip, the possibilities are endless.
‘When clients request something I will tend to say yes and figure out how to do it afterwards. Getting a Lamborghini to the remote west coast to drive to the next lodge in Aberdeenshire was quite a fun challenge I managed. Another was organising a bedouin-style camp in the Highlands for 100 people.’
Despite being a solo venture, taking on part-time staff as and when he needs to, Ted does his best to host as many trips as possible and although most international travel is on the blink because of the dreaded C word, he remains busy. ‘I aim for between ten and twelve trips a year but at the moment I’ve got twenty. I’ve had more interest from UK clients and people who have changed original travel plans to stay at home.’
When it comes to taking time off, Ted says ‘being the master of your own destiny doesn’t always allow for that’. However, when he isn’t hosting or planning, he can almost always be found outside. ‘I like to do all the things I sell to my clients, whether that’s fishing, or playing golf. Or going up a hill and just sitting there. All you can hear is a burn or a stag roaring. It’s amazing.’