With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.
Two distilleries, a fish and chip shop and a colourful display of dolphin sculptures are among those announced as finalists in the 2015 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) today (October 15, 2014). Entrants in 14 different categories now face an anxious wait until January 30 next year to learn if they will be crowned winners.
There was a 25% increase in the number of entries received by the awards scheme, which is organised by the Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association (ACSHA). It took place for the first time earlier this year.
Two additional categories were also introduced and the sections are now aligned with the national VisitScotland-backed scheme, The Scottish Thistle Awards. It is intended that ACSTA will become adopted as the regional final for the Scottish Thistle Awards by 2016.
ACSTA chairman Iain Watson says the level of interest took organisers by surprise. He commented:
“From the moment we opened for entries in July, there was a steady stream of nominations coming in. Overall we were 25% up on the number of nominations received last year and while we have two additional categories, the increase was seen across the board.
“We have received entries from many of the operators who took part in our inaugural awards in 2014, but also many new faces who are taking part for the first time. It is clear that operators across the city and shire have been inspired by the 2014 event and recognise that this is an opportunity for them to shine.
“I can honestly say that every single facet of the tourism industry is represented in this awards scheme, from small one-man operators through to large multi-national organisations. And that is the wonderful thing about ACSTA – there is a place for everyone at the table.
“This is not about rewarding the organisation that has the most budget or manpower at its disposal: the awards are about recognising operators and individuals who make a real difference to the visitor experience and who are dedicated to ensuring that customers, whether they are here for business or leisure, leave with a first rate impression of what we have to offer.”
Contenders in one of the most hotly contended categories – Most Hospitable Hotel – are this year’s winner Meldrum House, Oldmeldrum; Holiday Inn West Aberdeen; and Tor-na-Coille, Banchory.
Calum Richardson from The Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven, who was a finalist in the Ambassador category in 2014, has once again made the shortlist, along with tour guide Pam Wells and Stephen Gow, the general manager of the Thistle hotel group in Scotland.
Final judging will take place before the end of the year and winners will be announced at a ceremony at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa in Aberdeen on January 30, 2015. Host for the evening will be broadcaster Tam Cowan. Further information about the awards is available at www.acsta.co.uk
The shortlisted nominees in all categories are:
Our Warmest Welcome – Holiday Inn Aberdeen West; The Jays Guest House, Aberdeen; Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen.
Best Informal Eating Experience – The Bay Fish and Chips, Stonehaven; Buchanan Foods Ltd, Banchory; The Mariner Hotel Ltd, Aberdeen.
Best Event or Festival – Run Balmoral; Bon Accord Steam Engine Club; Wild in Art for Wild Dolphins.
Green Tourism – Holiday Inn Express City Centre, Aberdeen; The Bay Fish and Chips; Mains of Scotstown, Aberdeen.
Creative Ambition – Glen Tanar Estate, Aboyne; Thistle Aberdeen Airport Hotel; Visit Royal Deeside.
Friendliest Pub/Bar – Orchid, Aberdeen; The New Inn, Ellon; The Illicit Still, Aberdeen.
Best Visitor Attraction – Glen Garioch Distillery, Oldmeldrum; World Horse Welfare, Aboyne; Glen Dronach Distillery, near Huntly.
Most Hospitable Guest House – Durn House, Portsoy; Struan Hall Guest House, Aboyne; Glendavan House, Aboyne.
Best Restaurant Experience – Ardoe House Hotel and Spa; Banchory Lodge Hotel; Atlantis Restaurant, Aberdeen.
Best Holiday Accommodation – Ythan Valley Campsite and Little Lodge; High Seas Hobbit, Rosehearty.
Community Involvement Award – Aberdeen Performing Arts; Marriott, Aberdeen; Park Inn by Radisson, Aberdeen.
Most Hospitable Hotel – Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum; Holiday Inn Aberdeen West; Tor-na-Coille Hotel, Banchory.
Young Ambassador – Stuart McPhee, Harding Ltd, Aberdeen; Adelle Chessor, VisitAberdeen; Craig McDonald, Glen Tanar Estate.
Ambassador – Calum Richardson, The Bay Fish and Chips; Pam Wells, Pam Wells Ltd; Stephen Gow,Thistle Aberdeen Altens Hotel.