Workshops in Wild Places is an international art teaching initiative developed by Canadian artist and educator Janice Mason Steeves. Janice will be leading a tour to Scotland this fall. The location of this tour is a Scottish Castle that is owned by Anne and her husband Ali Dunskey. Janice graciously conducted an interview with Mrs.Dunskey for her travellers to find out more about Anne and the castle.

The Interview:
Can you tell me a little of your personal story and that of your husband?
Anne emigrated to America when she was ten years old, but it was at an art gallery in Saigon, her birthplace, where she met Ali. At the time, Anne was working with several NGOs on anti human trafficking in the Mekong Delta. Ali was sauntering around on his Russian Minsk motorbike as a CEO of a real estate consultancy company. After the first glance, he boasted to a friend at the gallery that she was the woman he would marry. Against all odds, Ali managed to obtain Anne's phone number.
Eight months, two lost telephones, and several strayed emails later, on their second date, they were engaged. A round cross-cut of a chilli pepper served as an engagement ring.
It's been spicy ever since.

Can you tell me a little of the history of the castle and the Orr-Ewing family?

James Kennedy Hunter designed Dunskey Castle for CL Orr Ewing MP in 1898 and. the historic building stands as a superb example of its type. Most remarkable for its ornate ceilings, extensive wood work and original carpets, the castle has been little touched since completion. Mr Orr Ewing also had built 2 world class yachts at the end of the 19th century, the legacy of which are in evidence around the Castle.

Here is an earnest glimpse of life in a baronial home in rural Scotland at the beginning of the century. The castle is also noted for its advanced technology in construction, incorporating some early work of steel beam support and in-home electricity. Step back in time through the romantic drawing room, the Great Hall, the stately library, and the gleaming dining room to revel in the splendour of a private home that has remained preserved in time and heritage.

When did you decide to turn the castle into a hotel?

We are decidedly NOT a hotel. In fact we are considered a private venue hire. We made this decision after trying to live in the entire house as a family of four, and never felt that it was the right ethical or environmentally correct thing to do. We have zero experience in hospitality and never intended to enter this industry. However we knew that the Castle needed to be shared with as many as possible. We are extremely proud to be able to accommodate many different guests from all over the world. In fact, our very first booking were guests who used to deliver fertilizer to the Estate, and it was a great source of pride and joy for everyone to welcome them into the Castle.

What's the best part about living in rural Scotland like you do?

There is a Japanese term, shinrin-yoku, that means forest-bathing. To me, this is the absolute best thing about living in such a remote area. I am surrounded by intense beauty and tranquility. It allows me to take on very stressful projects such as working on voters suppression laws in America. My children also get to have a childhood that is free from fear and inane competition, for which I am extremely grateful.

What are your favourite places on the estate and why?

It has to be the gravestones at the headland. In the spring, the entire area is covered in daffodils, and you can have the most magnificent 360 degree view of cliffs, ocean, and woodlands.

Are there any unusual, amusing, or intriguing stories that come to mind about the castle, or things that have happened there?

There are many, but we will save this for the house tour when you are here in-situ.

What do you hope your guests will take away from their experience at the castle?

I think that ultimately, we want you to feel that your Dunskey experience is one of unparalleled splendor. Ali and I are hoping to use Dunskey as a platform to change the hospitality industry, to humanize it and to truly invest in the people. In the past four years, we have recognized the brutality of the industry, the demands it places on those working in it, and the tolls of that emotional labor. We hope to change that by showing that it is possible to be successful while caring deeply for our staff, diversifying income streams to accommodate work-life balance, and that profitability can come in many other invisible forms such as a reduction of burn-out and turn-over. We hope all our guests will see that the Dunskey experience comprises of achievements from a team that is well-cared for, and who, in turn, can care deeply for our guests’ journeys.

What else would you like me to know about you or about the castle?

We are very proud to be energy efficient! Heating and hot water comes from renewable energy via the biomass, our water comes from a private spring, we have a septic tank for waste, and compost all of our food. All laundry is done on site, and nothing is machine-dried.



I understand you are renovating the upper floor of the castle to be a working studio where you can hold workshops like the one I'm leading in September 2019. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it when it's finished at the end of March.

Thanks so much for offering to tell me a little of your story and the story of the castle.

My best,

Please be in touch with Donna at Worldwide Quest for more details and to book: or 1-800-387-1483/