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Double delight for Kingsmills Hotel Group at Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards in Inverness

By Staff Reporter

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INVERNESS’S Kingsmills Hotel Group was a double winner at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA).

Both of its hotels celebrated wins at the annual event designed to recognise the best of the region’s tourism industry.

The Kingsmills Hotel won the best hotel experience award, with the judges summing it up as operating on a scale and at a standard that is unrivalled in the Highlands.

New addition to the business, Ness Walk hotel, was also a winner thanks to duty manager Christina Smith, who was named Highland rising star and praised for consistently delivering a level of customer service beyond expectation.

Other winners collecting trophies at the ceremony at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness included Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre guide James Ryan, who “made the hairs on the back of the judges’ necks stand” with his spellbinding description of the battle.

Eagle Brae lodges of Struy took the best self catering/alternative accommodation award home for a second time in five years, and the best outdoor/adventure experience title went to Wester Ross’s Gairloch Canoe and Kayak Centre for its care and attention to detail for all aspects of the business.

Café One One Two took the best informal dining award to Nairn after judges praised its innovative approach, while Raasay’s recently opened distillery beat more established businesses to be named best visitor attraction, and the best heritage tourism experience went to Johnstons of Elgin, whose own history dates back to the 18th century.

The prestigious Highland ambassador title went to Annie Grace Gunn of Skye’s Toravaig, Duisdale and Skeabost hotels and a past Scottish hotelier of the year, with HITA chairman Laurence Young describing her as “a remarkable person (who has) worked tirelessly with her husband and staff teams to develop three remarkable hotels on Skye”.

With the exception of the Highland ambassador and rising star, this year’s HITA winners will now go on to represent the north at the national Scottish Thistle Awards in March 2020.

Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards winners:

  • Best informal eating experience: Café One One Two, Nairn.
  • Best restaurant experience: Etive Restaurant, Oban.
  • Most hospitable B&B: Glenegedale House, Islay.
  • Best hotel experience: Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.
  • Best self catering/alternative accommodation: Eagle Brae, Struy.
  • Best visitor attraction: Isle of Raasay Distillery.
  • Best cultural event: Cowal Highland Gathering.
  • Best outdoor/adventure experience: Gairloch Canoe and Kayak Centre.
  • Best heritage tourism experience: Johnstons of Elgin.
  • Best bar/pub: Sligachan Hotel, Skye.
  • Innovation in tourism: The Majestic Line, Dunoon.
  • Working together for tourism: Destination Orkney.
  • Tourism and hospitality hero: James Ryan, Culloden Battlefield.
  • Highland rising star: Christina Smith, Ness Walk.
  • Highland ambassador: Anne Gracie Gunn, Sonas Hospitality Ltd, Skye.

* Pictures taken by Callum Mackay

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