Tourism operators on Deeside cleaned up at the City and Shire Tourism Awards last week, winning five of the 14 categories.
The Banchory Lodge Hotel, Deeside Activity Park, Glendavan House, World Horse Welfare at Belwade Farm, and Visit Royal Deeside all received prizes at the awards ceremony last Friday, and will all go on to contend in the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.
The Banchory Lodge Hotel won in the Best Restaurant Experience category.
Director, Carol Fowler, said: “To win this award for the second time is testament to how hard the team at Banchory Lodge have worked. It is wonderful to be recognised as a hotel that provides high quality food and service with customers returning again and again. We are delighted to be heading to the national awards in March.”
Deeside Activity Park, a farm diversification project offering clay shooting, quad biking, and four-by-four off-road driving among other things, won the Best Outdoor Adventure Experience of the Year.
Farmer and owner Ken Howie said: “Deeside Activity Park winning this Award is down to all the staff’s hard work, they all give 110% and that shows as we continuously are growing and seeing more and more visitors every year to the park.”
Glendavan House in Dinnet, co-owned by the mother and daughter team of Dr Moira
Milne and Rebecca Milne, won the Most Hospitable Guest House or B&B for the seconed year in a row.
Moira attributed the success of Glendavan down to Rebecca, saying: “It’s my daughter who’s really the front of house, and she’s got such passion for the industry.”
Rebecca is also one of the people running Visit Royal Deeside, which promotes tourism in the area, and won the Innovation category for their geocaching tour up the Deeside Way - the only one in Scotland.
Despite being on two award-winning teams, Rebecca wasn’t present to collect either, as her and her mother had double-booked themselves on a well-deserved weekend away.
Belwade Farm, World Horse Welfare’s rescue and rehoming centre, were the winners in the category Tourism - Everybody’s Business.
In this category, entrants had to demonstrate a track record of exceptional customer care and an innovative approach to delivering the best hospitality for visitors.
Manager, Eileen Gillen, said: “We are absolutely over the moon with the award and still coming back down to earth.
“It’s fantastic to have the hard work and dedication of our brilliant team recognised and I would like to thank everyone who helped us to achieve the accolade which is now proudly on display in our visitor centre.
“When we developed the farm and visitor centre, we really wanted to create a destination that would be loved by both the local community and tourists visiting the area - showcasing Scottish hospitality at its best and always offering the warmest welcome.
“We’re now on the edge of our seats for the national final of the awards in March so watch this space.”
Geva Blackett, Councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, said: “I am so happy for all the winners but in particular, World Horse Welfare, Belwade Farm, who combine rescuing and rehoming horses with a fantastic visitor experience, Visit Royal Deeside who do a brilliant job of promoting this spectacular part of Scotland, Glendavan Guest House for again offering a notably hospitable welcome, and of course the Deeside Activity Centre, who year after year demonstrate they provide a great visitor experience, and also one of the best Sunday lunches around.
“Four winners from Upper Deeside must surely give visitors a strong message – come and visit, you will not be disappointed.”