A 19th Century Scottish Baronial-style castle in South Ayrshire has been named the friendliest hotel in the region at Scottish tourism’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Glenapp Castle took home the Fishers Most Hospitable Hotel accolade at the West Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards, held at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow on Thursday, 24 November), hosted by TV presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch.
Thistle judges called it “an excellent example of a hotel which has put customer service at its core” reflected by the 60% of guests being return visitors.
The luxury hotel near Ballantrae will go on to represent the region at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards National Final held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in March 2017.
Hugh McDowall, Edite Paramonova and John Orr, fom Glenapp Castle were joined on stage in Glasgow by Presenter Scott Inglis, Commercial Director at sponsors Fishers and host Jennifer Reoch.
The 2016/2017 Scottish Thistle Awards, in association with Fishers, recognises hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service.
Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “It has been another record-breaking year of entries for the Scottish Thistle Awards and winners, and indeed all finalists, should be very proud of their achievements in such a highly competitive field.
“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy – supporting communities and creating jobs throughout the year in every corner of the country.
“The Scottish tourism industry and hospitality sector prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience for visitors and success here is both recognition of excellence and innovation, and a sign of quality. It is their warm welcome, embodying the Spirit of Scotland, which makes the country a world-class destination for visitors.”
This year the Scottish Thistle Awards received a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715 across the 15 regional categories, amounting to a 16 per cent increase on last year.
The awards are divided into four regional ceremonies held in November: Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders; West; Highlands and Islands, and Aberdeen City and Shire.
The Scottish Thistle Awards are led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.
Michael Jones, Managing Director at Fishers, said: “Congratulations to all of the regional winners and finalists. The people who work in our tourism industry not only play a crucial role in the Scottish economy, but they are Scotland’s ambassadors too. Fishers also plays an important part in supporting Scotland’s tourism sector and we are proud to do so - and to be headline sponsors of the Scottish Thistle Awards. The pursuit of excellence within our industry is important for the whole sector and it’s equally important that it’s recognised.”
Annique Armstrong, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Glenapp Castle has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to tourism in Ayrshire. Tourism is the driving force for providing the jobs of today and tomorrow and these awards recognise the tireless effort that goes into creating a memorable experience for visitors to Ayrshire. I wish the team at Glenapp Castle all the best as they represent the region in the prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards National Final.”