The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) winners were revealed on Friday 7 November at a glittering ceremony and dinner attended by 300 tourism professionals from the region. The event was held at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness and hosted by STV’s Nicola McAlley.
HITA chair, Marina Huggett said: “The exceptional quality of the finalists this year demonstrates how much the visitor product in the Highlands and Islands has improved and continues to improve. On behalf of the board and the judging panel, our most sincere congratulations to all the winners.”
Taking home honours in the accommodation categories were Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye for Most Hospitable Hotel, Rockpool House, Ardnamurchan, for Most Hospitable B&B or Guest House and Eagle Brae, Strathglass, for Best Holiday Accommodation.
HITA’s dining out categories went to deserving winners Rockpool Café, Cullen, Moray for Best Informal Eating Experience and Station Road, The Lovat, Loch Ness, Inverness-shire for Best Restaurant Experience.
The award for Best Event or Festival was given to Hebridean Celtic Festival, Isle of Lewis; the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience award went to Kilda Cruises, Harris and Best Visitor Attraction was won by Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh.
Our Warmest Welcome Award was taken by Highland Experience Tours who operate throughout the Highlands and the Discovering Scotland Award went to Doreen Brown and the Shetland Collection, Orcadia, Shetland.
This year the panel selected Links House, Dornoch, Sutherland to receive HITA’s Judges Special Award for their “commitment and vision to quality” and “bringing a new level of luxury to the northern Highlands.”
HITA’s prestigious ambassador awards were presented to Isla Urquhart of The Loch Ness Inn for Young Ambassador of the Year 2014 and David Urquhart, non-executive director of Gordon & MacPhail and a leading member of Forres Events Ltd, for Ambassador of the Year 2014.
Headline sponsor and category sponsor of the Young Ambassador of the Year category, SSE’s George Baxter commented: “SSE is proud to support these prestigious awards for the second year running and I am delighted there has again been a record numbers of entries; testament to the growing appetite for recognition of strong businesses in the Highlands and Islands. The passion and the values that underpin HITA are a natural fit with SSE’s commitment to supporting Highland economies and communities, be it through our hydro and other renewable energy projects, our electricity networks, our commitment to local businesses or our community investment funds. I wish warm congratulations to each of the winners”.
HITA, which now acts as the Highlands and Islands regional heat for the Scottish Thistle Awards, selected the 2014 categories to reflect the importance of the customer experience in the region and also to streamline the route for HITA winners to the national stage. Each HITA 2014 winner, with the exception of the Ambassadors, will automatically become a finalist at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2015, along with the front-runners from the North East, Central South East and Central South West regional heats.