b'HERITAGEPrevious page: Skibos beautifully preserved landscape. Left: owner Ellis Short has brought the castle back to its former glory. Opposite: the restored swimming pool is one of Skibos key featuresI t is 25 years since The Carnegie Club was founded at Skibo Castle, the former home of the late industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Such anniversaries usually mark the point where we take stock, contemplating the past while anticipating and planning for the next quarter of a century. After all, in human terms, 25 years is, with luck, a third of our allotted span. However, a great and venerable structure such as Skibo has a future that recedes to a vanishing point on the far horizon. Lets be bluntit will be standing proud overlooking the Dornoch Firth when we have all moved on. To re-purpose a clich, the current owners are custodians for the generations to come who will enjoy Skibo and this anniversary is simply a waymarker on a far longer journey.In 2003, the Club was given what Hollywood would inevitably8 1 call a reboot. New owners Ellis and Eve Short forged a change of direction, steering a much-loved institution onto a different course, gaining new fans without, hopefully, alienating past admirers. Ellis Short remembers when he first laid eyes on Skibo. It was 1999. My wife and I visited as the guests of a friend who was a member. Was it love at first sight? Well, it struck me as a very beautiful property. Skibo had survived pretty much intact from Andrew Carnegies day. It hadnt been requisitioned by the military in either World War, nor had it been turned into a boys school, like so many other estates. When you stay in a bedroom at Skibo, you are effectively staying in the same room as one of Andrew Carnegies guests in the early part of the 20th century.Mr Short became a member on that first visit, but it is quite a leap from membership to ownership. How did that happen? I tried to rent one of the lodges for a whole summer, but I was told I couldnt do that because there were corporate event bookings, which meant they would have to move me out several times. And I realised that, I KNEW IT COULD BEalthough it was called a club, in fact, it was being run as a high-end hotel. I felt it could be so amazing, but at that time it- was falling A GREAT CLUB, ONE OFshort. He ended up purchasing a house nearby, but when the THE FINEST IN THE WORLD opportunity to buy Skibo came along, he saw the chance to help it fulfil its potential. I knew it could be a great club, one of the finest in the world, but I also knew that it needed a lot of care and investment to achieve that.And how did the change of stewardship go down with the other members? There was some concern, as there always is when change is afoot, but I think they soon realised any alterations we were going to make would be done with sensitivity and respect for the heritage of'