Gleneagles Townhouse

The Apprentice - you're hired!

19 October 2021
An apprentice Greenkeeper on a lawnmower

Gleneagles has inspired guests for nearly a century, but it’s also inspired generations of talent – apprentices who’ve come to learn their trade, hone their craft and kick-start successful careers in the industry.

From chefs who’ve gone on to launch culinary empires and greenkeepers who’ve progressed to manage the world’s best golf courses, to receptionists who’ve become hospitality leaders, the rooms, restaurants and fairways of Gleneagles have been graced by the talents of many apprentices with the dreams to succeed.

To celebrate Hospitality Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with three Gleneagles apprentices, past and present, to discover what they’ve gained from the experience and why to them it’s more than just a job!

Cameron Caird Apprentice Greenkeeper


Apprentice Greenkeeper

After finishing school, I started a biology degree at university.  Almost immediately, I realised sitting in lectures all day and staring at a computer screen in the library wasn’t for me.

I saw a seasonal greenkeeper vacancy at Gleneagles and got the job. I was so shy that I didn’t say a word for the first two weeks, but the team was so kind and supportive that I soon came out of my shell.  After six months, I’d grown so much in confidence and I was delighted when they offered me a place on the apprenticeship programme.

It’s an inspiring place to work and learn – you’re outside all day in the fresh air at one of the most famous golf venues in the world.  It’s a healthy environment for your body and mind and, to be honest, some days I feel so lucky to be here, it doesn’t even feel like I’m working.

The apprenticeship includes some college work which you complete online to show you understand the skills you’re applying, but you’re learning from some of the best greenkeepers in the business, so there’s a lot of support to help you develop and complete your qualification.

The most important qualities in being an apprentice greenkeeper are an eagerness to learn and work hard. It’s very physical too so, if you’re not fit when you start, you soon will be!

When I was younger, I assumed greenkeeping was grass-cutting, but it’s actually really complex.  Ironically, it involves a lot of biology, so my university lectures have come in handy!

Gleneagles’ reputation is second to none, so I can’t think of anywhere better to train as a greenkeeper than here. One of my proudest moments was working during the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in 2019. Millions of people from all over the world were watching our courses that week, and it felt amazing to be a part of the team and part of history.

The apprenticeship offers you not just a job, but a great career path that can take you all over the world if that’s your dream.  As a local lad who grew up in Auchterarder, that’s certainly one of mine. There are loads of opportunities to spend time at venues and tournaments all over the world.  Many of our team have done volunteering and placements with greenkeeping teams in America, Europe and the Middle East and I’m looking forward to working at a prestigious golf venue in Dubai for two weeks early next year.

Some people feel that going to university is the only path after school, but that’s just not true and, having tried the university route I can say it definitely isn’t for everyone.  With an apprenticeship, you’re being paid to complete your qualification, you’re picking up practical skills that no book or lecture could ever give you, and you’re setting yourself up for a successful career.

Caitlin Noon Playground Planner


Playground Planner – VIP champion

When I finished school, I thought about studying travel and tourism at college, but I decided to go down the apprenticeship route, to get paid to learn on the job. For me it was a no-brainer.

After completing placements in housekeeping, culinary and guest services, I extended my apprenticeship programme by gaining experience for a year in a new department Gleneagles had just launched, Playground Planning – a country pursuits concierge service managing the bookings for leisure activities here in the Glorious Playground.

I enjoyed the experience so much that, after completing my qualification, I chose to take on a permanent role within the team.  Playground Planning has now evolved to become a much bigger reservations service.  We look after everything from requests for extra towels or champagne, to booking leisure, beauty and dining requirements, and creating bespoke itineraries for our guests.

I specialise in looking after VIP guests who often have very unique requests and complex itineraries, but every guest at the hotel is treated as a VIP.  The reservations service we provide is highly personalised to ensure each stay is special and every expectation is met or exceeded.  No two days are the same, so there’s never a dull moment.  My favourite aspect of the job is hearing from a guest that they’ve had a wonderful time; knowing I’ve helped to create those happy memories for someone else is an unbeatable feeling.

The skills I’ve learnt, especially in guest services, have equipped me with transferable skills in customer service that I could now take anywhere – not just to any other hotel in the world, but to any other industry.

I wish more young people were made aware of the incredible opportunities that an apprenticeship can offer. I was really shy at school and got nervous talking to people I didn’t know, but my confidence has grown so much at Gleneagles because of the support of the team.

It’s a truly inspiring place to work and learn from the best talent in the industry.  Before I arrived, I’d seen photographs and thought the hotel looked beautiful, but it’s only when you join the team that you experience the magic of being a part of something so special.

Jack McNeil Front Office Coordinator


Front Office Coordinator

I’ve always preferred learning practical skills to academic study, so when the opportunity came up to learn on the job as a Gleneagles apprentice, I jumped at the chance.

When I started, I knew nothing about hospitality, but I fell in love with the pace and passion of the place straight away.  My apprenticeship lasted for three years, with six-month placements across housekeeping, food & beverage, culinary and guest services, and a further year specialising in guest services.  That diversity provided a complete immersion into the workings of the hotel.  It was, without doubt, one of the best experiences of my life.

It was a real shock to the system at first. One minute I was a school pupil and the next I suddenly found myself at the deep end, making up beds as a full-time housekeeper in one of the most famous hotels in the world.  I was really nervous and out of my comfort zone, but those situations in life are wonderful learning opportunities because every day you’re growing in confidence.

Working across three different kitchens for my culinary placement was another steep learning curve because I had never cooked before, but there’s a passion in kitchens that’s completely addictive. The chefs taught me skills that will stay with me for the rest of my life, especially time-management. I’m never going to become a Michelin-starred chef, but my knife skills are on point and my prioritisation skills are strong!

After Culinary, I moved to Front Office.  As soon as I started, I knew it was where I belonged. I’ve always been a people person with a positive outlook, and guest service gives you the opportunity to interact with people and spread happiness every day.  There is no greater buzz than when you’ve created a really special experience for a guest and they tell you how happy they are because of your efforts.

The rotation format of the programme gives you respect for every team.  If I had never been a housekeeper, chef or a waiter, I would ever fully understand the time and talent it takes to service a bedroom or ensure a guest has a lovely dining experience.  That working knowledge has made me a much better guest services professional.

Once I completed my apprenticeship, I got a job at a luxury private resort in the British Virgin Islands.  It was simply amazing and I know I would never have had the opportunity without the experience I gained at Gleneagles.  After a year, the lure of home was too strong, and I was lucky to come back to my Gleneagles family in the promoted role of Front Office Coordinator.

I look at my friends from school who’re still paying their way through university.  As they’ve been acquiring student debts, I’ve been getting paid to learn, and I feel so lucky.

I’m 22 now, and proud of what I’ve achieved and how much I’ve grown professionally, but it’s only the beginning for me.  My dream is to become a General Manager of a five-star hotel like Gleneagles one day, so that I can help the next generation of talent coming through the industry just like I was supported.

When I was younger, I wanted to see the world, meet people, experience different cultures and go on adventures.  I couldn’t afford to go on a gap year abroad, but what I ended up doing was so much better because the apprenticeship gave me all of that and more.  The programme opens so many doors for you; once you’ve completed it, the whole world of hospitality is your oyster!

If you’re interested in completing a Gleneagles Apprenticeship, take a peek here:

View Apprenticeships