Sweeping success for first time winners at Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards

Staff from Aberdeen Altens Hotel, winner of the Tourism and Hospitality Employer of the Year

EACH category of the 2023 Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards has been scooped by a first-time category winner. Fourteen businesses and individuals from across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were named best in their field in front of an audience of more than 280 tourism professionals at The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen on Friday evening (22 September).

The full winners’ list is available on www.acsta.co.uk:

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  • Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival –  Spectra

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  • The MacRobert Trust Emerging Talent Award  – Rosa Jackson – Leonardo Hotel

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  • Tourism Individual of the Year – Ian Pithie – Gordon Highlanders 

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The 2023 awards – open to all businesses of all sizes across the north-east of Scotland hospitality and tourism sectors – featured several new categories including climate change, inclusivity, celebrating thriving communities and The MacRobert Trust emerging talent awards.

Rosa Jackson, trainee duty manager at Leonardo Hotels in Aberdeen, was named the inaugural MacRobert Trust Emerging Talent winner. Beginning her career as an apprentice, Rosa has already achieved much in her career, being named employee of the year in 2022 within her hotel and undertaking training with Leonardo’s Insights for future managers. Judges were impressed by Rosa’s composed, friendly, outgoing and professional demeanour and cited her as “a general manager of the future”.

The accolade of Tourism Individual of The Year was given to Ian Pithie, head of visitor experience at The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen. Ian’s colleagues describe his positivity and enthusiasm as infectious. Judges were impressed by his introduction of digital audio tour guides in nine international languages including Doric and described him as “a remarkable human being; modest and inspirational.”

The first Inclusive Tourism award was scooped by Crathie Opportunity Holidays on Royal Deeside. Judges were impressed by the large-scale structure in place in terms of items like hoists and bathrooms giving accessibility for all, but also in the care taken at a micro level with items like bird feeders.

Climate Action was awarded to Cairngorm Lodges and Bothies – green-living accommodation by Logie Coldstone in Royal Deeside. Judges were impressed that the whole ethos of the business is sustainability and commended the enthusiasm of everyone who works in the business. Specific building methods have been used to ensure that the business makes no adverse impact on the environment.

Chairman of the voluntary committee which organises the awards, Stephen Gow MI FIH said:“We were delighted that our entry numbers for the 2023 awards were so high, and that we had so many ‘debut’ entrants. To see 12 out of 14 of our categories being won by first-time winners of the Aberdeen City and Shire and two categories being awarded to previous winners in different categories is very gratifying. 

“The awards could not run without the generosity of our sponsors and the efforts made by all of our committee members and judges who give their time free to acknowledge the importance of this sector to the north-east of Scotland. I’d like to personally thank everyone who makes the awards possible, and that includes every business and individual who takes the time to enter.”

All of the winners of the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards – with the exception of the MacRobert Trust Emerging Talent award which is a north-east category only – now progress to the national awards – The Thistle Awards – which take place in Glasgow on Friday 1 December. Three north east regional winners from 2022 – Lys Na Greyne B & B in Aboyne; Wild Discovery in Crathie and Douneside House by Tarland. – went onto win Thistle Awards in 2022.

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