Tag: winning awards



Shirley Spear, owner and retired head chef of The Three Chimneys Restaurant with Rooms in Skye and former HITA Ambassador of the Year.
I greatly support the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards as the scheme encourages and rewards our best business operators. Awards help to push the quality bar higher by focusing on excellence at every level.  HITA rewards success, but also inspires our industry to constantly seek business improvements, which in turn, benefit their employees and enhance the wider visitor experience.
How times have changed throughout my business lifetime. This year Eddie and I celebrate 32 years running a small business and exactly 18 years since we opened our luxury bedrooms in The House Over-By and were awarded a 5-Star grading by VisitScotland, one of the very first in the Highlands and Islands.
This was the beginning of a whole new era for the region; the beginning of a new approach towards creating a unique, high-quality destination, open all-year-round and an unmissable experience for visitors coming to Scotland.
Our tourism and hospitality industry had been more of a poor relation in the economic scheme of things prior to this change of heart.  A whole new emphasis was placed upon the importance of small business in rural areas.  A new drive to develop the standards of accommodation, customer service, food, drink and overall visitor experience everywhere, soon followed.  Along with this we were encouraged to join new schemes and compete for awards, which all helped to drive forward our reputation.
In my opinion, this new emphasis was a great move and long overdue.  I was delighted that tourism and hospitality was being treated on a much more serious scale, offering great employment and career development for young people and opportunities for those with entrepreneurial spirit to gain a step on the ladder to success.
Today, tourism in the Highlands and Islands remains a crucial element of the on-going Scottish success story, with a wealth of businesses of many kinds and many hundreds of people directly employed throughout our diverse sector. We play a very important role, supporting the nation’s economy and in many places, building micro-economies on a significant scale.
Accommodation at every level, food and drink service of all kinds, visitor attractions large and small, adventurous and explorative outdoor activities, all combine together to create a unique visitor experience.
We must never forget how dependent we are upon one another in business. The overall visitor experience is a combination of everything our customers and guests experience throughout their stay in the Highlands and Islands.  It is so important that we all work hard together, collaborating with one another, to create the best visitor experience we can.
This is why it is also important for all of us to work at the top of our game in every way, in order to maintain the Highlands and Islands as a fantastic destination.
We should be proud to recognise and reward our best tourism operators and that is what schemes like the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards are all about. I hope everyone will feel encouraged to highlight their own success stories by entering an award category this year.
Also, as it is the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, there may be a particular business or person you wish to nominate for the role they have played over the years towards building the region’s profile as a special destination experience.
The Highlands and Islands is thriving in 2017 as a great destination experience and we should continue to work hard and raise our game towards a very positive future.
Be proud to play your part and enter this year’s awards!




As the countdown to this year’s Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards continues, a massed band of pipers are awaiting their cue.

These proud figures are to the tourism industry in the North of Scotland what the Oscars are to the acting profession. Made from high grade stainless steel, and standing on a base of Caithness flagstone, the distinctive and coveted trophies stand for excellence, quality and innovation in visitor service.

Come November, 15 pipers will have found a new home as the best businesses are identified in the annual awards event.

The iconic piper statues are made by Poseidon Design who came up with the piper image for the unique trophy and manufacture them using state-of-the-art water jet cutting facilities at their base in Oldmeldrum.

Water jets use a mixture of high quality garnet and water at pressures in excess of 60,000 PSI. This cuts the material by supersonic erosion with nozzle velocities up to Mach 3. The trophies are hand finished to ensure the highest standard and are striking additions to the awards ceremony.

Poseidon, formed in 2004 by co directors Marie and Garry Crichton, works in various fields including oil and gas and the whisky industry. Its distinctive work also includes the Cairngorm National Park signs and a floor mosaic for the Dalwhinnie Distillery visitors centre.

If you think you have what it takes to be HITA 2015 winner then you can enter here www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk

This year’s categories are –

Most Hospitable Hotel
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Best Holiday Accommodation
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Friendliest Pub/Bar
Best Event or Festival
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Tourism Everyone’s Business (open to community tourism destination management organisations, destination marketing companies, transport operators, retail and entertainment venues)
Best Visitor Attraction
Best Sporting Event
Hospitality Hero
Innovation Award (open to small or large businesses)
Regional Young Ambassador Award (open to people aged 30 or under)
Regional Ambassador Award (open to people aged 31 or over)



Winning the HITA Special Judges Award was a tremendous marketing and confidence boost for Links House, in only our first full year of operation. 

As an entirely new hotel and restaurant in a locality not well known for luxury, this was a great confirmation of our strategy for overall superb quality, across our bespoke architecture and interiors, fabulous restaurant and wine cellar and unparalleled customer service.

The award cited our ‘vision and commitment to quality, bringing a new level of luxury to the northern Highlands,’ which endorses us in the marketplace and rewards the tireless efforts of our staff to create a unique visitor experience.

This accolade was then almost immediately strengthened when we were given three TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards. These guest-driven awards placed us in the UK’s top ten luxury hotels and top 20 country house hotels, as well as the top 30 luxury hotels throughout Europe.

HITA and TripAdvisor generated exceptional trade and wider press coverage and allowed us to develop extensive social media-based marketing efforts, which again support our high quality market positioning.

Tourism essentially drives the Dornoch economy and feedback from our guests has demonstrated that, as the HITA judges stated, we have added a new high-value tourism element to the area. Most of these customers would not previously have visited the northern Highlands based simply on its golfing and other traditional attractions.

Our guest profile typically includes couples and others who normally stay for a number of nights and enjoy luxury experiences including spa treatments, castle and garden tours, country sports and top-notch shopping.

Recognition from HITA has therefore not only provided peer-group endorsement for our efforts and for our team but has also helped inform highly-targeted customers of a distinctive venue and destination they will want to visit.

Todd Warnock, co-Proprietor, Links House Hotel at Royal Dornoch




Which person or business goes that extra mile to promote the area? Offers a service that is second to none? Or just makes a visit to the area that little bit more special?

If you haven’t already nominated your favourite individual, attraction, event or venue in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) 2015 there is still time before the deadline on Monday, 18 May.

There are awards in 15 categories up for grabs, with the best places to stay, eat and drink and enjoy the area’s sporting and musical culture among those to be honoured.

The awards scheme, which is held in association with SSE, is free and businesses or individuals can either be nominated or put themselves forward for recognition. Visitors and peer nomination groups are being encouraged to propose businesses they feel deserve an honour, although success will not be based on the number of nominations made.

The categories have developed and evolved each year in line with feedback within the industry and to reflect factors aimed at helping its growth and sustainability. 

New categories this year are Friendliest Pub, Best Sporting Event, Hospitality Hero and the Innovation Award.

The awards event, which was launched last month by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, will culminate in a grand ceremony at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on 13 November.

Marina Huggett, Chair of HITA, said: 
“We have been encouraged by the number of people and businesses which have entered or been nominated for awards so far, but there is still time for others to be recognised.
“The Highlands and Islands are full of talented people who are constantly working to improve the service we offer to our visitors. We want to ensure these people are recognised for pushing the boundaries of excellence and ensuring the industry benefits now and in the future.
“By nominating your favourite person, place or event you are not only helping reward individual achievement, but also assisting efforts to further enhance our quality product in this part of Scotland.”
The HITA awards is an industry-led scheme representing all sectors of tourism. It is also supported by VisitScotland, Calor, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council, Loch Ness by Jacobite, Inverness Hotels Association, the Federation of Small Businesses, Ritsons, J Thomson, Scottish Provincial Press, Macleod and MacCallum and Lucid PR.

It is overseen by a voluntary board of directors who, with the judging panel, have more than 450 years of tourism industry experience.

The independent judging panel is drawn from experienced industry professionals working across the region.

The categories are –

Most Hospitable Hotel
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Best Holiday Accommodation
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Friendliest Pub/Bar
Best Event or Festival
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Tourism Everyone’s Business
Best Visitor Attraction
Best Sporting Event
Hospitality Hero
Innovation Award
Regional Young Ambassador Award
Regional Ambassador Award

Facebook – www.facebook.com/Highlands.and.Islands.Tourism.Awards
Twitter – @HiTourismAwards

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