The cream of the north east’s hospitality providers has returned to the region with silverware after picking up awards in the nation’s tourism Oscars last week.
Jean Ryrie, executive head housekeeper of Jurys Inn at Aberdeen Airport, picked up the hospitality hero award for her unfaltering devotion to guests in a career that has spanned 40 years. Coastal self-catering retreat Mill of Nethermill Holidays, based near Pennan, was awarded best accommodation provider and No. 10 Bar and Restaurant of Aberdeen was honoured with the best informal eating title.
Other operators and individuals from the area could follow in their footsteps into the industry’s hall of fame as entries open for this year’s Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA).
ACSTA is the regional heat of the VisitScotland competition, and its winners go head to head with the very best that the country has to offer.
Elaine Booth of Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards organising committee says she hopes the profile gained by the region’s Thistle Awards winners will help to stir up entries. She adds, “To be recognised as a key player in the tourism industry on a national level is a huge achievement for our local award winners, and I hope they all thoroughly enjoyed their opportunity to shine among the very best that Scotland has to offer.
“We have seen the number of entries to ACSTA increase year on year, and especially in the past two years since we became the regional heat for Scottish Thistle. I think we generally tend to be quite unassuming people here in the north east, but I would urge everyone who is involved in our local tourism industry to come forward and showcase what they can offer.
“The awards are a great way of raising the profile of a business and to show staff how much they are appreciated, but they also show visitors and potential guests that a business is committed to ensuring it delivers the best possible experience.
“I know that many of our trophies adorn the reception desks and shelves of venues across the city and shire, and they are a real talking point. We have 16 different awards on offer this year – each and every one needs a winner and you have got to be in it to win it.”
Jean Ryrie won the ACSTA hospitality hero award in 2016 and was stunned to go on to take the national title. She was singled out because of her dedication to customer service and for inspiring others in her team to deliver a continually high standard of work.
She says, “It was a real honour to win, and I am proud to have won it, not just for myself and everyone at the hotel, but for the whole area too. There are lots of people working in tourism who do an outstanding job, so I feel very lucky to have been singled out. It was wonderful to be recognised in this way, and I would encourage people to enter or to nominate someone they work with.”
Entries will remain open until June 30, 2016 when all the submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist in each category. Finalists will be interviewed by a judging panel, and there will also be secret judges’ visits to establishments.
Elaine adds, “We always experience a rush on entries towards the end of June, but I would ask people not to leave it until the last minute. Entrants should take their time with their entry and they too could be an ACSTA winner who will go on to represent the region on the national stage.”
The full list of awards categories is:
1. Best Accommodation Provider
2. Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
3. Most Hospitable Hotel
4. Best Cultural Event or Festival
5. Best Informal Eating Experience
6. Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
7. Best Restaurant Experience
8. Best Sporting Event
9. Best Visitor Attraction
10. Best Bar/Pub
11. Innovation in Tourism
12. Regional Ambassador (age 31+)
13. Regional Rising Star (age -30)
14. Tourism and Hospitality Hero
15. Working Together for Tourism
16. Best Heritage Tourism Experience
Entry into the awards is free and can be made at www.acsta.co.uk. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 24, 2017.