Reading through the answers from Christine and Stuart from Wemyss House has left us feeling really warmed on this cold winter’s morning, not least because of the mentions of homemade bread and marmalade! It has also left us feeling very proud. They are two exceptional people who have created and maintain one of the most outstanding tourism businesses in our region. Read on to learn what they do and how they do it…
Congratulations again on your award win! How does it feel to have won at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards 2013?
We were surprised and delighted to hear we had been short-listed for the Tourism Awards.
The HITA event in October at the Drumossie Hotel was fantastic and then to find ourselves the winners of the Best B&B/Guest house category was totally ‘mind-blowing’ – we never expected it and it took some while to sink in.
As winners we feel honoured to represent the Highlands and Islands, and totally committed to providing excellent customer service and memorable Tourism experience.
What impact does winning awards have on your business?
The award can do nothing but have a positive impact for our business. In business terms it has put us and Wemyss House ‘on the map’, introduced us to other business providers through direct contact and social media and from those points alone it has and is having a positive benefit.
Also the award has had a positive impact on us, ourselves ,as the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards has recognised the work and attention to detail we have put in and commended us as providing ‘exceptional quality’.
All awards help towards visitor choice. This award, which we advertise on our website, will show prospective visitors and tourists that we have been recognised by the Highlands and Islands as the Best B&B/Guest House and as an indication of quality, will, we hope, lead to increased visitor numbers and returners.
The process of entering the HITA awards was done over a period of time – it is not something which can be done in a hurry. To make it fair across all categories, the questions have to be answered in 400 words so that alone is enough to make you think just what is important to you and your business.
The whole thing proved to be an examination of what, why and how your business operates. You had to think hard about each question, make notes, discuss with your business partner (s) and then encapsulate the answer in a short paragraph. Only the important elements could go forward…no padding!
This self-evaluation was something all businesses should do but probably never find the time to sit down and ask ‘where am I going with this, how can I learn from past events and how can we improve in the future what we are offering the customer?
Tell us a bit about what is most special about Wemyss House?
Our business is special because as a couple, we have been able to address every issue ourselves, making sure that everything is done to our high standards and attention to detail… from the welcome, the cleanliness and comfort of the rooms, the quality of the food and the time we offer to our guests, listening to them and helping them make the most out of their stay. Of course this is also to our benefit as happy and contented guests are the ones most likely to return, and return they do!
When customers give a review about their stay at Wemyss House, they talk about us as hosts, so we know that welcoming, talking and understanding the needs of your guests is paramount.
The other item mentioned by guests, one of our USPs, is the quality and presentation of the food. The food we buy for the guests is of the best quality and preparation. We do not save money by giving them less than we would expect ourselves.
In February 2013 we were awarded a Silver in the World Marmalade Competition in Cumbria, judged by the ex MD of Tiptree Jams. This award proved so worthwhile and has been such a talking point at breakfast. No marmalade was available for sale as we had only made enough for the B&B, but we could have sold many, many jars to guests had we known to make more. We shall know another time!
We think Wemyss House is also special as Stuart has handmade most of the furniture in the bedrooms and around the house. The guests eat dinner and breakfast –with our homemade bread, yogurt, preserves from his handmade table and we have many local works of art, tweeds and pottery around the house. Also the new contemporary entrance extension built by Stuart and myself has proved very popular with guests especially for relaxing evenings chatting and watching the sun go down over the Cromarty Firth.
Are there any new developments for Wemyss House in the near future we can look out for?
During the winter we are upgrading to enhance the visitor experience with luxury contemporary pieces from Matki and Kohler in one of our double en-suite bathrooms.
January 2014 sees the Seville Oranges come into the shops so marmalade making will be on the agenda …question is do we enter the competition and if so how many jars do we make, in case it is judged to be a good batch? Hummm…
The help from HIE has been put to good effect this year and help from the digital team has set us up with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It felt like an uphill journey to begin with but now we have the hang of it we realise the benefits of ‘keeping in the loop’ of Highlands and Islands businesses and providing a good image and offers for guests on our Facebook page. Pinterest can also be utilised to promote tourism (I have added Pictish Cross Slabs). So all in all, 2013 with the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and great help from HIE has been wonderful and we offer our thanks to all who have made this possible for us.
Thank you HITA and HIE from Christine and Stuart at Wemyss House!
Phone: +44 1862-851212
Facebook: wemyss house B&B