This month, we have a special treat in store for you! We’re thrilled to have Aeneas O’Hara, founder of Away From The Ordinary, here to have a chat about his wonderful business and all things Scotland. Without giving too much away, Away From The Ordinary does a brilliant job of designing luxurious tailor-made Scottish holidays. We’ve been working with Aeneas for a few years but the best way for you to learn a bit more about his business is to let Aeneas take over.
Meet Aeneas O'Hara, founder of Away from the Ordinary
1. For readers who haven’t heard of Away from the Ordinary, what is it that you do?
In its simplest form we offer our clients tailor-made luxury travel to Scotland. However, this doesn’t really cover the level of detail we got into. Every trip we do for a client is unique because every client is unique and we focus entirely on that individual client’s likes. We have built up a little black book of unique and exclusive experiences for our clients, like visiting castles that are closed to the public, having delicious dinners cooked on remote beaches and opening up stately homes or museums for candlelit tours. First and foremost we listen to our clients and then plan their escape around what they have told us and match it to our insider knowledge and our contacts. We choose hotels, lodges, restaurants, guides, private chefs, experiences and exclusive adventures tailored to each individual client’s personality.
2. What was the inspiration behind Away from the Ordinary and how did it all get started?
Being from the Highlands of Scotland and having always given people hints and tips of what to see and do, I wanted to set up Away From The Ordinary to showcase the best that Scotland has to offer. We will show you some of the main sites but also lesser-known places where you will be a visitor and a guest rather than a tourist. Having travelled extensively around the world myself, I wanted to set up my dream company that could showcase the best of Scotland in an authentic way.
3. What do you love most about what you do?
I love the fact that I get to travel around the most beautiful country in the world, meet amazing people (like Rowan & Andy!) and call it work. I also love the variety of it. Scotland is an amazing country that is very evocative in people’s imaginations even if they have never visited. However, as each client’s dream vacation is different, it means that every trip we create is different, so it keeps my job very varied.
4. We’re thrilled to have you as a partner of Mini Mack Tours, would you mind sharing with our readers how that came about?
We are equally thrilled to have Mini Mack as a partner. I am obviously always looking for Away From The Ordinary experiences to share with my clients. So when I was researching tours with a bit of a difference in Edinburgh I found Mini Mack. My wife and I did a tour with Rowan and loved it. They had a real passion not just for Edinburgh but for Scotland as a whole and we shared the same ethos of what makes an amazing client experience.
5. Do you have any interesting stories about experiences or itineraries you have created for your clients?
We had a client from San Francisco who owns an e-type Jaguar and is a huge petrol head. So unbeknownst to him, we arranged for his driver to take him to the opening of the Jim Clark museum where our client got to meet and get his photo taken with Sir Jackie Stewart. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our client’s trip.
6. What are your plans for Away from the Ordinary in the future?
We are committed to giving back and continue to contribute to various charities in different ways. So far in 2019, we have raised over £2,500 for 2 different charities. In 2020, we will contribute to one of the charities that is replanting native species of trees in Scotland to help offset our client’s carbon footprint. Eventually, the plan is to buy our own plot of land in Scotland and plant trees there.
7. Lastly, if you could design a dream itinerary for yourself, what are a few items you would include?
We could be here for quite a while as I am such a huge fan of my country and there are so many incredible things to do!
In Edinburgh, I would obviously take a Mini Mack tour and afterwards I would go to the Scottish National Portrait gallery and ogle at their frieze of Scottish Kings and Queens on the 1st floor.
In Culross, I would make sure I had a personal appointment to visit Lord Bruce for a private tour of historic Broomhall House, where the history covers not just Scotland but the whole world.
In the Cairngorms National Park, I would visit in January for crisp snowy walks while staying somewhere sumptuous with a roaring log fire.
On Speyside, I would do a private whisky tasting and spend time with the people that make the water of life. There is nothing quite like tasting whisky straight from the cask!
Around Inverness, I would get up early and visit the 4,000 year old Clava Cairns before anyone else and then have a private tour of Cawdor Castle.
On the west coast, I would go kayaking or get a private boat trip and explore the stunning coastline. Then I would join a local chef for a sumptuous meal and make new friends at their supper club.
On the islands, I would watch the most amazing sunsets on a beach with a champagne or whisky picnic and then see the most amazing stars light up the sky.
On the Mull of Kintyre, I would tee off at Macrihanish and see how the wild elements tested my game.
And everywhere absolutely everywhere I would eat like a kin, as the food scene in Scotland is just incredible.
And that is just scratching the surface! Did I mention I’d also go fishing?
We’d just like to thank Aeneas for taking the time to have a chat with us and we hope you enjoyed our first interview-style blog! If you’d like to experience Away From The Ordinary’s bespoke tours for yourself, click here to check out their website. We also offer a range of private Mini car tours in and around the heart of Edinburgh. It’s a great way to pack a lot into one day and see sights that most visitors (and even locals) have never seen. From private city tours to Whisky n’ Cheese tours to a day trip to St Andrews, there’s something for everyone!