Jun 022017
 

Portsoy’s Sail Loft Bunkhouse. Review and photographs by Duncan Harley.

When newspaper columnist Cuthbert Graham wrote about Portsoy, way back in 1963, he commented that the town was one of the most progressive communities on the Moray Firth.
In his travel column, This is My Country, he wrote about the “triumphant success” of the town’s efforts to encourage tourism.

He was quite correct and the town, nowadays a bustling coastal resort and popular stopover on the 6200km-long North Sea Cycle Route, has steadfastly continued to pursue a policy of encouraging community run tourist orientated enterprise.

Alongside attending the hugely successful Portsoy Boat Festival visitors can take part in traditional music and dance workshops at the Salmon Bothy and boatbuilding courses at the Boatshed. Tourism in the town received a welcome extra boost when film makers chose Portsoy as a location for the recent remake of the Ealing comedy Whisky Galore.

Alongside leads Eddie Izzard and Gregor Fisher, many locals appear as extras in the film and at the recent Portsoy Premiere, held in the loft-space of the Salmon Bothy, film-goers were encouraged to get into the spirit of the performance and dip into some whisky-flavoured ice cream. Publicists had, after all, promoted Portsoy’s Whisky Galore connection by nicknaming the town The Village of the Drammed!

Visitor accommodation in the town received a boost this year with the opening of the newly renovated Sail Loft Bunkhouse. Situated on the Back Green near the caravan park, the Sail Loft has had a long and varied history.

Formerly a sail making factory, the Category B listed building dates from the 18th Century and sits within a former industrial site used for the processing of flax and the manufacture of rope. When the demand for sails declined and the rope-works closed the Sail Loft buildings gradually fell into ruin.

In 2006 the North East Scotland Preservation Trust acquired the property from the Seafield Estate and work began to bring the derelict structure into productive use as bunkhouse accommodation for visitors to Portsoy. After 11 years of planning and renovation, the keys to the building were formally handed over to Portsoy Community Enterprise in January 2017. Additional loan funding came via the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Offering high quality self-catering accommodation at reasonable rates, the new 25 bed facility offers visitors to Portsoy a unique hub from which to explore the Moray coastline.  Facilities Assistant Susan Rayne explains:

“Users so far have included cyclists, walkers and families. This weekend we even have a group of divers staying with us.”

Susan is one of a team of three involved in the day to day management of the Sail Loft and is by all accounts fully integrated into the local community.

Alongside her bunkhouse duties she serves as a volunteer fire-fighter and is a keen member of the local women’s rowing group, the Portsoy Skiffettes. Another claim to fame is her role as official chauffeur to Whisky Galore star Eddie Izzard during the location shooting of the movie in Portsoy.

“The buzz in the town was just amazing” she recalls

“Eddie Izzard was very open with the locals and was really interested in finding out about the area.”

It emerged that Eddie was due to perform at Versailles after the Whisky Galore shoot and  Susan recalls that he was amazed to discover that fireplaces in the Palace of Versailles are rumoured to be faced with Portsoy Marble.

Although the Sail Loft is clearly bunkhouse in nature, the new facility offers up-market self-catering accommodation. Guest rooms are simply but pleasantly furnished with white décor throughout. Named after local landmarks, the room plan reads like a who’s who of the Portsoy coastline. Red Rock, The Pointie and The Breeks are just a few. On our visit we stayed in The Dounie.

The design of the building does not allow for panoramic views of the sea but the slanted Velux windows do let in both the sound and the smells of the ocean and provide a welcome change to the typical hotel room hum of the air-conditioning unit. Those wanting to check out the view should either nip outside or, heaven forbid if you are female, check out cubicle three in the downstairs men’s showers where you can view the bay in all of its glory.

Catering-wise, the open-plan kitchen and dining area is more than adequate. Two 4 ring hobs are complimented by micro-waves, kettles and an ample supply of toasters. Pots and pans, dishes and cutlery are all provided and the only onus on residents is to leave the kitchen as you might wish to find it. I was pleasantly surprised to come across an orphaned cafetiere abandoned by a previous guest and made full use of it.

The Sail Loft lounge boasts a wood burning stove and is perfect for family get-togethers or business seminars.  Alongside a video-projector there are lots of local books, toys and games to keep everyone entertained in the evenings. A drying room, secure cycle storage, a fully equipped laundrette and an outside wash down area for boots or bicycle cleaning complete the line-up and this VisitScotland 4 star hostel even boasts a wood fired hot-tub.

On the night of our stay a group of divers were firmly ensconced in front of the roaring wood-stove planning the next days dive while a group of teachers enjoyed the warmth of the outdoor hot-tub.

All in all this new facility ticks the boxes although it would have been nice to have the option of sitting behind glass while taking in the sea view. But, as I said previously, there’s always cubicle three in the men’s showers!

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Apr 072017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Sen. Account Executive, Tricker PR.

The Federation of Chefs Scotland has appointed its youngest ever President.

David Littlewood (34), chef proprietor of both The Tor Na Coille Hotel in Banchory and The Kildrummy Inn by Alford, was elected President at the organisation’s AGM in Glasgow.

Littlewood takes over from previous president Ian McDonald, Executive Chef, St Andrews Links Trust.

David’s culinary titles include Scottish Chef of the Year, Grampian Chef of the Year, Grampian Young Chef of the Year and the SHA Awards Medaille d’Or.

He has also held the accolade of Grampian Restaurant of the Year, was a member of the Scottish Culinary Team and is a Masterchef of Great Britain.

Under the ownership of David and his family, The Kildrummy Inn has been named Rising Star Scottish Restaurant of the Year in 2014 and was runner up in The Observer Food Monthly, UK Restaurant of the Year in 2014. David’s team took over The Tor Na Coille hotel in Banchory in March this year.

David says of his appointment,

“I was very lucky to be mentored by great chefs in my early career; they inspired me and challenged me and through this, they showed me the immense value in supporting the next generation of great Scottish chefs. I feel that it’s incumbent upon all of us who have learned from other professionals to continue this tradition.

The Federation of Chefs Scotland is an important organisation in driving up standards and our current members play an influential role in enthusing young people about Scottish food and to work in our industry.”

The Federation of Chefs Scotland (FCS) – run exclusively by Scottish chefs – exists to promote excellence in the industry across Scotland through supporting and developing young chefs through training. Alongside David, Jav Aziz, Executive Chef at Rangers, has been appointed Vice President. Robbie Penman and Vikki Munro have also joined the board.

The FCS encourages participation in culinary competitions, and fundraises to support young chefs to undertake national and international learning experiences. The Scottish Culinary Championships at ScotHot and the Scottish Chef of the Year are organised by the FCS, and the not-for-profit organisation also champions helping Scottish pupils to know more about their food through the Chefs@School project.

There are currently 100 Scottish chefs volunteering their time to work with 15,000 pupils.

Outgoing FCS President Ian MacDonald says of David’s appointment,

“David is the youngest president of the Federation of Chefs Scotland. He’s achieved his success with his passion and drive, not only for his own work but for the development of youngsters in our industry through his supportive mentoring.

“I believe that David’s focus on attracting young talent and developing and challenging them to achieve is the way forward for the Federation. I know that David will make the Federation stronger in all different areas of our work and I wish him well during his tenure.”

The 25-bedroom Tor Na Coille Hotel has been a landmark building on Royal Deeside since the reign of Queen Victoria. David and his team, which includes 2017 Scottish Culinary Championships Scottish Chef of the Year bronze winner Colin Lyall, have begun to develop the hotel restaurant as a must visit foodie destination. More about the Tor Na Coille can be found at www.tornacoille.com.

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Apr 012017
 

With thanks to Julia Heys, Marketing Executive, VisitAberdeenshire.

Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy 2010 © Kathy Mansfield

Aberdeen Festivals has announced the addition of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy to further strengthen its portfolio of local member festivals.

Aberdeen Festivals, set up in 2014 to collectively promote festivals, develop audiences and strengthen the cultural sector, has welcomed the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to its ranks.

The renowned festival, which takes place from 24-25 June 2017, will join 10 existing and diverse festivals including; SPECTRA, Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Look Again, May Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival, TechFest, True North, North East Open Studios, DanceLive and sound.

Roger Goodyear, co-chairman of Scottish Traditional Boat Festival commented:

“Joining Aberdeen Festivals has been on the festival’s horizons since the collective was formed in early 2014. We have since watched the success of Aberdeen Festivals through its facilitation of collective marketing and collaborative efforts to profile the cultural offering of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

In its 24 year history, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival has become well known locally and internationally as it uniquely showcases the local marine and cultural heritage of North-east Scotland. The annual festival reports on average 16,000 visitors each year with a high proportion of international attendees.

Roger continued:

“We already have a well-established audience and brand but, of course, there is always room for growth and we are looking forward to the various cross-collaborations with other festivals as well as taking part in the extensive and successful Aberdeen Festivals marketing campaign.”

Festivals in the Aberdeen Festivals group have consistently reported significant increases in audiences and ticket sales. In February this year, SPECTRA welcomed 63,000 visits, up by 28,000 on 2016 whilst Aberdeen Jazz Festival, which took place earlier this month, has already reported a 100% increase in ticket sales.

Steve Harris, chair of Aberdeen Festivals commented:

“Aberdeen Festivals has made substantial strides in its three years of existence. This has been recognised with continued local and private funding, audience and sales increases for each festival and numerous prestigious award shortlisting’s. The addition of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to the collective, with its well-connected, high profile festival and large international audience, will bolster this success of Aberdeen Festivals further in profiling the North-east as a top cultural tourism destination.”

Aberdeen Festivals has to date secured private sponsorship from energy company, Nexen, major funding from VisitScotland’s Growth Fund along with ongoing support from VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council. The group recently secured an E Award, organised by EventIt, for its excellence in digital marketing.

For more information about Aberdeen Festivals, please visit www.aberdeenfestivals.com.

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

L-R, Paul Whitecross, Nick Nairn and Ross Spence.

Three of Scotland’s finest chefs are teaming up to share their passion for food in a unique culinary experience, which is set to be a recipe for success for Aberdeen.
Nick Nairn, Ross Spence, executive chef at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa and Paul Whitecross, executive chef at Trump International, will each present an individual course aimed at delighting the senses, showcasing their world-renowned gastronomic skills.

The trio are working together to cook-up Savour, a culinary feast which will take place on Saturday, 4th March, at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa.

The event is being hosted alongside North East Sensory Services (NESS), a charity which supports people of all ages from babies to grandparents, who were born deaf or blind, or for those who have lost their sight or hearing.

The chefs will each create a course for the gastronomic adventure, focusing on the senses of taste, smell and sight, which coincides with the charity’s work with people with sensory issues.

Ross Spence said:

“It’s fantastic to be able to work with Nick and Paul for this event and we will present a superb overall dinner which will thoroughly delight the guests. NESS is an important charity in Aberdeen and across the North-east, supporting more and more people with hearing or sight loss, and we are delighted to host this unique evening.”

Paul Whitecross added:

“The team at Trump International is always keen to support charities which are important to the North-east community and this is set to be a fantastic foodie event to tantalise the tastebuds of the diners who are lucky enough to secure a place at this exclusive event.” 

Nick Nairn commented:

“Given our position with the business and our commitment to the North-east we wanted to be able to give something back to the community that supports us.  NESS is an excellent charity and it’s a wonderful opportunity and a wee challenge to create a feast which excites the senses.”

NESS CEO Graham Findlay said:

“We are delighted that these prestigious chefs are taking the time to devise and present a unique menu for NESS. We are looking forward to an incredible evening, which will excite the senses.

“Nick, Ross and Paul are great supporters of NESS and the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa has been a very good friend to the charity for many years.”

As well as a four-course dinner focusing on the senses of taste, smell, and sight, the evening will include a champagne drinks reception, a VIP auction and raffle, followed by entertainment and dancing.

Savour will take place on Saturday, 4th March, 2017, at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa. Tables are priced at £950, with individual tickets available at £95, and can be purchased from neil.skene@nesensoryservices.org or by calling 0345 271 2345.

Issued by Frasermedia Ltd on behalf of NESS.

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

VisitAberdeenshire is looking to capitalise on £175 million of German tourism spend in Scotland by attracting new visitors to the north east of Scotland.

The tourism organisation will attend VisitScotland’s Frankfurt Workshop – an exhibition and Burns Supper – on 7 February. VisitAberdeenshire business development director Jenni Fraser will meet key business tourism trade decision makers to promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to the German travel market.

While at the exclusive German event, Jenni (pictured) will promote Lufthansa’s direct air links between Frankfurt and Aberdeen International Airport, as well as the wealth of conference and event venues throughout the region.

The trip to attract business travel from Germany – Scotland’s second largest international inbound travel market – follows hot on the heels to a VisitAberdeenshire leisure travel trade mission to the Stavanger Travel Day in Norway last week.

Jenni says,

“The future of business tourism in the north east of Scotland is looking bright, with several important developments set to revitalise the region’s offering to conference, events and incentive organisers.

“The city’s infrastructure is currently undergoing a massive overhaul, including the £20 million expansion of Aberdeen International Airport which will greatly improve services available to international travellers. As well as encouraging new direct flights, these improvements will also enhance the experience of those travelling on existing routes including from Frankfurt.

“Ground has also been broken on the £333 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) which will transform the north east’s conference and meetings offering, for both large and small scale events. As well as relocating nearer to the airport – making it more convenient to business travellers – the new AECC will also boast increased exhibition and meeting space.

“Similarly, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall are also undergoing major refurbishments – worth a total of £37 million. These will not only increase leisure facilities in the city centre, but also offers unique spaces for drinks receptions and gala dinners.

“Aside from major developments, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire boast some incredible independent venues that are perfect for smaller meetings and incentive provision. From exclusive use of a historic castle or a privately-chartered steam train; conferences at a unique seafront venue or golfing at one of over 50 world-renowned golf courses; Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have so much to offer.

“We look forward to meeting with key German business tourism buyers to encourage them to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

For more information about conferences and events in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – or about the region in general – visit www.visitabdn.com

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Jan 192017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

VisitAberdeenshire is teeing up for success by heading Stateside to showcase Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s world-class golf facilities to a global audience.

The tourism organisation will visit the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando from 24-27 January – one of the world’s biggest golf shows – where they will meet with key industry professionals in a bid to boost the region’s golf tourism trade.

The trip is the latest initiative in VisitAberdeenshire’s drive to increase golf tourism in the north east of Scotland, following sponsorship of the Northern Ireland Open last year.

Jenni Fraser (pictured), business development manager at VisitAberdeenshire, says,

“Golf has long been one of the biggest draws for visitors to the north east, attracting both leisure and business tourists throughout the year.

“Holidaymakers looking to play at some of the world’s most famous links courses, and business visitors using the fairways for networking and incentive travel, have lots to discover in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“Golf is worth around £220 million to the Scottish economy every year, and it is estimated that golfers spend 120% more than other visitors. With such fantastic facilities in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, there is a real opportunity for local golf courses and tourism businesses to capitalise on and benefit from that income.

“By attending the PGA Merchandise Show – a major event in the golf world – we’ll be able to communicate the strength of the offering that we have here in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to hundreds of key contacts.”

Research commissioned by Scottish Golf Tourism and VisitScotland shows that Scotland is third on a list of desirable golfing destinations across the globe (#1 Spain, #2 Portugal, #5 Ireland, #9 England).

Jenni continues,

“The north east of Scotland is home to over 50 top golf courses, including some of the sport’s most recognisable names: Royal Aberdeen, Trump International, Cruden Bay and Newmachar. But it also features some of the UK’s quirkier and more historic courses, including Britain’s highest 18-hole course at Braemar, and Fraserburgh where play dates back to at least 1613.

“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have something to offer golfers of all levels, whether serious enthusiasts looking to tick a renowned course off their bucket list or casual players seeking a friendly nine-hole challenge. From stunning links courses to incredible inland courses, the north east has it all.”

VisitAberdeenshire will be joined at the PGA Merchandise Show by tour company Bonnie Wee Golf, which creates exclusive golf trips to some of the most exclusive courses in Scotland – including many in the north east – and Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course.

David Harris of Bonnie Wee Golf says,

“For a long time, golf has been a key attraction in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and every year we see golfers coming from America to play some of the most famous courses in the world, right on our doorstep.

“The chance to visit one of the world’s biggest golf exhibitions with VisitAberdeenshire is a fantastic opportunity to network with industry professionals, discuss the sport’s latest developments, and show what we in the north east of Scotland have to offer the global golfing community.”

Andy Burgess of Meldrum House Country Hotel and Golf Course adds,

“We are delighted to be partnering with VisitAberdeenshire and Bonnie Wee Golf at the 2017 PGA Show in Orlando. We have been attending the show for the last seven years, and as a result have welcomed hundreds of American golfers to stay at Meldrum House to play golf around the north east.

“Attending events like the PGA Show sends out a very positive message and shows that we are serious in developing our international golf market, encouraging as many global visitors as possible to experience golf in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

For more information about golf facilities and in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com/attractions-and-activities/golf

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Jan 132017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Tourism body VisitAberdeenshire will journey to Scandinavia this week on a mission to capitalise on the booming number of Norwegians going on overseas holidays.

The organisation will exhibit at the Oslo Tourism Fair from 13-15 January, where they will have the chance to speak directly with holidaymakers about the world-class facilities on offer in the north east of Scotland.

Between 2003 and 2015, Norwegian holiday expenditure rose across the globe by an incredible 158% – from £4.7 billion to £12.2 billion.

VisitAberdeenshire’s Jenni Fraser (pictured) and Raeanne Farquhar will attend the exhibition to encourage more travel to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to benefit from this rise in spending. They will be joined by partners Aberdeen Festivals and bmi regional – which operates direct flights between Oslo and Aberdeen.

Business development manager Jenni says,

“Norway has traditionally been a key market for both leisure and business visitors to Aberdeen, and the city continues to be one of the top three Scottish destinations for Norwegian travellers.

“Increasingly Norwegians choose to holiday abroad rather than at home, and in 2015 spent 307,000 nights in Scotland – spending £36 million. Aberdeen is well connected to Norway with flights operating from Oslo, Stavanger and Bergen, and so offers an attractive weekend break destination for those looking to get away from it all.”

Norwegian travellers are often attracted to the UK where, thanks to a favourable exchange rate, shopping and dining are far more affordable. While at the Oslo Travel Fair, VisitAberdeenshire will showcase the north east’s top restaurants, bars and shops, while highlighting the attractions, entertainment and hotel offers available in the city and surrounding area.

Jenni continues,

“Norwegian visitors are often drawn to the region by our stunning castles and historic whisky distilleries – and for good reason. The imposing ruin of Dunnottar Castle, perched perilously atop a rocky cliff face, and the fairytale-esque Fyvie Castle are amongst some of the area’s top attractions, while distilleries like Glen Garioch and Royal Lochnagar offer tours to allow visitors the chance to see how single malt is made.

“And while they may come for the castles and whisky, visitors will have the opportunity to discover all that the area has to offer – from world-famous golf courses, including Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay, to outdoor adventure activities.

“We will also unveil the 2017 Aberdeen Festivals programme to a Norwegian audience. Events like the sound festival have already built strong connections with the Norwegian and wider Scandinavian cultural community, and we look forward to sharing what’s ahead with those in Oslo.”

For more information about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and the region’s leisure tourism facilities, please visit www.visitabdn.com

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Dec 062016
 

With thanks to Julia Heys, Marketing Executive, VisitAberdeenshire.

In light of its continued collaborative work, a group of 10 major North-east festivals has again announced its shortlisting for a national art award.

Aberdeen Festivals, a group formed to bolster the festival product on offer in the region, has been shortlisted for an award at the upcoming Arts & Business Awards 2017.

The shortlist recognises the group’s collective work with local destination management organisation (DMO), VisitAberdeenshire, in positioning the region as an exciting, culturally diverse, place to visit.

The valuable relationship is in the shortlist to win the ‘Placemaking Award’.

Angela Michael, Festivals & Culture Director at VisitAberdeenshire commented;

“We are delighted to have our hard work recognised on such a high-profile scale. The shortlisting reinforces the work this group has undertaken to promote Aberdeen as a culturally distinctive place.”

She continued;

“The successes of this campaign have shown through each of our festivals significantly increased profile and many have reported considerable audience growth. Aberdeen Jazz Festival saw an audience increase of 40% whilst 35,000 people attended Spectra in 2016, compared to the 10,000 that visited in 2015. VisitAberdeenshire’s support, expertise as well as market entry has been pivotal to this.”

The partnership between Aberdeen Festivals and VisitAberdeenshire saw, for the first time, Aberdeen being promoted as a cultural destination. The group, with the DMO’s support, collectively undertook substantial marketing campaigns locally, nationally – across Scotland, as well as London and Newcastle, and internationally – predominantly in Norway.

Steve Harris (pictured), CEO of VisitAberdeenshire and Chair of Aberdeen Festivals added;

“Our collaborative work with Aberdeen Festivals is going a long way towards profiling this region for something other than industry. One of our core goals is to reposition Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in the minds of our audiences as a creative place, whilst marketing it as a region of cultural prominence. We have already seen great success in profiling the region as a cultural destination and we look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership over the coming years.”

The Arts & Business Scotland award ceremony, which celebrate the most creative and innovative partnerships, will take place on Thursday 23 March 2017, in Glasgow.

Aberdeen Festivals is a cultural initiative representing 10 member festivals and is sponsored by Statoil, and supported by VisitAberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Council. For more information visit www.aberdeenfestivals.com. VisitAberdeenshire is the destination marketing organisation for the region of Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, further information can be found at www.visitabdn.com.

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Nov 282016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

acsta-logo-adaptStalwart of the north east tourism industry Roger Goodyear was honoured on Friday (November 25) by his peers at the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA).

Mr Goodyear joined 15 other winners, who lifted their trophies at the ceremony held at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa.

Mr Goodyear, who last year was made an MBE for his services to tourism in Banffshire, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the gathering which celebrated Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s finest tourism achievements.

Closely linked with the tourism industry for several years, Mr Goodyear – who is Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire – was named Regional Ambassador of the Year by ACSTA in its inaugural year in 2013. His work as chairman of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy and involvement in local tourism initiatives has led him to become a well-liked and much-respected member of the north east tourism industry.

Amongst the other winners were Deeside Activity Park, which held onto its title of Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience for the second year running, Glen Tanar Estate’s Claire Bruce who was named Regional Ambassador, and Gemma Cruickshank of VisitAberdeenshire who was crowned Regional Rising Star. Drum Castle also scooped two awards – the Innovation in Tourism award, and the Working Together for Tourism award in association with Aberdeen Art Gallery.

ACSTA chairman Peter Sangster says,

“2016 has been a fantastic year for tourism in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and it has been brilliant to be able to celebrate such a diverse range of providers – from global brands to family-run outfits, there is a place for all in the north east tourism industry. I am proud that the entire spectrum of tourism is represented in this year’s winners.

“Every year it becomes more difficult to choose the winners in each category. So many tourism professionals in the region are finding new and innovative ways in which to provide world-class service to their customers – it’s very inspiring. It really is an exciting time to be part of the tourism industry in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

The winners will now go on to represent Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire at the national Scottish Thistle Awards in 2017, against regional winners from across Scotland.

Jo Robinson, regional director at VisitScotland, adds,

“A huge congratulations to all of the winners at the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards. I wish them the best of luck as they move forward to represent the region in the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final next year.

“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 the region.”

The winners of the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards are:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Roger Goodyear
  • Most Hospitable Hotel sponsored by Fishers Services Ltd – Holiday Inn Aberdeen West
  • Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House sponsored by Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association – Callater Lodge
  • Best Accommodation Provider sponsored by Northlink Ferries – Mill of Nethermill Holidays
  • Friendliest Pub/Bar sponsored by Brewdog – The Grill
  • Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience sponsored by Aberdeenshire Council – Deeside Activity Park
  • Best Visitor Attraction sponsored by The Chester Hotel – Royal Lochnagar Distillery
  • Working Together for Tourism sponsored by The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa – Aberdeen Art Gallery and NTS at Drum Castle
  • Innovation in Tourism sponsored by Marriott Hotels – NTS Drum Castle, Gardens and Estate
  • Tourism and Hospitality Hero sponsored by VisitAberdeenshire – Jean Ryrie, Jurys Inn
  • Regional Rising Star sponsored by Ardoe House Hotel and Spa – Gemma Cruickshank, VisitAberdeenshire
  • Regional Ambassador sponsored by Aberdeen International Airport – Claire Bruce, Glen Tanar Estate
  • Best Cultural Event or Festival sponsored by Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre – Celebrate Aberdeen
  • Best Sporting Event sponsored by Active Aberdeen Partnership – Braemar Gathering
  • Best Informal Eating Experience sponsored by Jury’s Inn – No. 10 Bar & Restaurant
  • Best Restaurant Experience sponsored by RBS Leisure – Eat on the Green

For further information on the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, please visit www.acsta.co.uk  

Follow the awards on Twitter @ACSTourismAward or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/acstourismawards

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Nov 252016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

ken-howie

Farmer Ken Howie is the man behind the World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail.

It’s one of the north east of Scotland’s most famous exports, but many don’t realise or understand its heritage.

So one enterprising farmer has made it his mission to put the history of Aberdeen Angus beef firmly on the map  – and his efforts have been recognised with a nomination at the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

Ken Howie is the man behind the World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail, which is nominated in the Innovation in Tourism category of the awards scheme which will celebrate the successes of tourism providers in the north east at a ceremony this week.

While much of the region’s tourism offering focuses on the incredible castles, world-class golf and sumptuous whisky of the north east, Ken believes that there is room to include the famous Aberdeen Angus cattle – which have been reared in the area for over 150 years.

Ken says,

“Although Aberdeen Angus beef is renowned around the world, it’s not as prominent in north east tourism as our other exports. I’m really enthusiastic about the history and heritage of the breed, and really want to share that with visitors to the north east. I’ve reared it on the farm for years, and we serve it up in the restaurant at Deeside Activity Park.”

The World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail is currently made up of 14 venues, which ranges from larger tourist attractions to family-run establishments – and new organisations continue to come on board. What connects them all is a love of Aberdeen Angus, and a commitment to the provenance of the food they serve and rear.

Ken adds,

“The trail starts at Ballindalloch Castle, which is the spiritual home of the breed – there’s been a herd there for over 150 years – and runs through to Glamis Castle. Glamis Castle is perhaps best known for its connection to the late Queen Mother, who was patron of the Aberdeen Angus Association for over 60 years.

“In between the castles are a number of smaller, independently-run venues that have connections with Aberdeen Angus – including the Fife Arms in Turriff and Castleton Farm Shop. Community organisations like the Alford Heritage Society and Turriff Heritage Museum are also involved.”

Although not officially launching until spring 2017 – to coincide with the World Aberdeen Angus Forum, which is to be held in Scotland for the first time since 1977 – the trail is already producing noticeable results for the area. Visitors have been following the trail through Aberdeenshire, and have been interacting with partners along the way.

It is hoped that by beginning and ending the trail at established tourism hotspots, it will expose a greater number of visitors to the trail and encourage tourists – and locals – to explore the region in greater depth than they might otherwise have done.

Ken concludes,

“Over the last 20 years the food and drink offering in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has come on leaps and bounds. Food tourism is a huge global industry, and we really hope that we can capitalise on this for the region. If we can encourage people to come to visit the area to learn more about an iconic brand like Aberdeen Angus, then naturally they will stay to explore the area and discover all it has to offer.

“Everyone I have worked with to put the Aberdeen Angus Trail together has been so enthusiastic about the idea, so if we win the award it really will be a celebration for all of us. I couldn’t have done it without their work and support. Maybe we’ll hold a big party if we win.”

The World’s Only Aberdeen Angus Trail is up against High Seas Hobbit and Drum Castle in the Innovation in Tourism category of the 2016 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

The winners of each category will be announced at an awards ceremony and gala dinner on November 25, 2016 at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, and many will then go on to represent the region at the national Thistle Awards.

For more information about the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, visit www.acsta.co.uk  

Follow the awards on Twitter @ACSTourismAward or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/acstourismawards

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