Meet James Middleton, Host at Masterpiece Estates

When you book one of the Masterpiece Estates for a private getaway, Oetker Collection offers the option of a handpicked Host to help make your stay as extraordinary as possible.

Meet James Middleton, one of our 5 Masterpiece Estates Hosts.

At the end of 2018 you’ve started working as a host in Glen Affric. As I understand, this professional sphere is new for you – why did you agree to this position? Was it just a right moment to chance something in life?

The countryside has always been a big part of my life and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about being in the wonderful clear air in the countryside. Spending quality time with friends and family in glorious surroundings is one of the biggest pleasures that life can offer, it can provide time to clear your thoughts and also spend uninterrupted time together making magical memories.

When I was asked if I would like to be involved in the Masterpiece Estates offering I jumped at the chance as I find it extremely exciting and rewarding to be able to help people enjoy and appreciate the countryside and all that it has to offer.

What are your job responsibilities now? 

The main responsibility of the Host is to ensure that everyone has the best possible time during their stay, whether this is organising exciting acitivities, arranging a quiet place for guests to relax, beauty spa treatments, a delicious picnic or whisky or gin tasting, as your Host I look forward to getting to know you  and finding out what will make your experience truly unfortgettable and then making that happen.

Your video presentation on the official website of the Oetker Collection is so inspiring. Your adoration of life among beautiful nature is clearly transmitted through the screen. Can you describe your typical day in Glen Affric? And what is your favorite part of the day?

My ideal day at Glen Affric would start with a morning swim in the Loch, wet suits can be provided by the Estate for the colder mornings! I would follow my swim with a hearty breakfast cooked by the wonderful resident Chef (James Lowe) and then engage in one of the group activities, clay pigeon shooting is always great fun and enjoyed by all, although can be quite competitive at times! For lunch I would take the Estate boat to the far end of the Loch to the Estate’s fishing bothy where guests can enjoy the beach and a delicious picnic. I would choose to walk back to the Lodge along the sides of the Loch taking in the wonderful surroundings and observing nature. Depending on how energetic my walk had been once back at the Lodge I would then love to spend more time on the Loch, sailing, paddle boarding or canoeing. After a freshen up, the evening would start with either a local whisky or gin tasting session, followed by a wonderful dinner prepared by Chef and served in either the elegant dining room in the Lodge or the Argentinian Grill room.  After dinner the lights go down and the music goes up! The Estate work with some very talented musicians and it’s great fun to partake in a traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance.

My favourite part of the day would really have to be the early morning swim where you can clear your mind and look forward to a wonderful day ahead at the Estate.

There’re many activities that Glen Affric offers its clients – from riding horses to canoeing. Do you usually take part in all of them with visitors? Which activity do you like most?

There really are a huge variety of activities available at Glen Affric which appeal to all ages and interests. I really do try and take part in all the activities with guests however there is only one of me so sometimes one of our other wonderful team at the Estate will guide guests on certain activities.  Glen Affric’s setting is magical, the Victorian Lodge is set on the stunning Loch Affric surrounded by the Highland hills.  I really enjoy any of the activities based around the Loch where you can get a real feel for your surroundings.

Of course, for the guests of Glen Affric generally staying in this hotel is a new experience full of discoveries and pleasure. And talking about you: have you discovered something new since you’re working here – some «secret» amazing places that you’ve never seen before or maybe even something new in yourself?

The real magic of Masterpiece Estates is that you have the luxuries of a wonderful hotel, however the Estate is not a hotel it’s a home, which is your home for the duration of your stay.  Guests enjoy exclusive use of the Estate totally undisturbed by the outside world.  As for finding something new about myself, I have been very fortunate to have been hosting these kind of gatherings for a very long time.  Previously all the guests would be people I know which I thought would make the host job easier, however I have found that meeting new people and sharing stories with them has been one of the best parts of the role.

It seems that you always take your charming dogs with you – no matter whether it’s work or journey. How many dogs have you got now? How did your mutual love begin with these pets (since childhood?) and what do they mean to you today?

I really can’t imagine life without my 5 gorgeous dogs. I have always loved animals of all shapes and sizes and really love the loyalty, energy and companionship that having pets can provide.

If you were asked to give your own explanations to words «happiness» and «peace», what would they be? Are they inextricably linked in your picture of life?

I think a big key to happiness and peace is being realistic with everything in your life and taking time to appreciate what you have and enjoy precious times and experiences with your loved ones. Quality time with family and friends is my ideal picture of life.

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