Magnificent Seven For D&G At Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Finals

Tourism business in Dumfries & Galloway are celebrating after winning a bumper crop of regional tourism awards. The region took home seven coveted prizes at the Scottish Thistle Awards regional finals for the West, which took place last night (Thursday 26 October) at Glasgow’s Science Centre.


This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Scottish Thistle Awards, which celebrates success, innovation, excellence and best practice in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.


Winners included Forest Way on White Loch which picked up the award for Best Accommodation Provider. Staff at the luxury 5-star self-catering property were praised for their ‘outstanding attitude towards positive service which puts the customer at the heart of their operation.’


The Most Hospitable B&B Guest House award was won by The Hillcrest House Guest House, while Trigony House Hotel was named The Fishers – Most Hospitable Hotel. Both categories celebrate going the extra mile to demonstrate heart-warming levels of customer service to every guest who steps through the door.


The Basecamp Café, whose strong focus on using fresh and local ingredients impressed judges, won the prize for Best Informal Eating Experience.


Meanwhile, Galloway Activity Centre was presented with the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience award. The friendly family-run outdoor activity centre operates on the beautiful shores of Loch Ken, offering a range of land and water-based activities and water sports tuition to families, individuals, and groups alike.


Solway Tours was named the regional winner of the Geotourist –  Innovation in Tourism Award. Described by judges as ‘flexible and forward thinking’, the tour operator offers a wide range of flexible, tailor-made tours for families or small groups in the South West of Scotland and beyond.


Finally, Ian McAndrew from the Blackaddie Restaurant with Rooms and Chair of Visit South West Scotland was named Regional Ambassador. This award recognises the importance of regional businesses contributing to the local economy.


The winners of the regional finals will now go on to fly the flag for Dumfries and Galloway, and the wider West region, at the glittering national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards at the EICC in Edinburgh next March.


Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “On behalf of the panel, I’d like to congratulate all our regional winners. They are a credit to themselves, their local area and the entire Scottish tourism sector. 
 “Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it creates jobs and sustains communities. These awards let us recognise the unsung heroes of our industry who show real dedication and enthusiasm for Scotland’s tourism industry.
 “As we prepare to celebrate our 25th anniversary I’d like to wish all our regional winners the very best for the next stage of the competition.”
 Paula Ward, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “I would like to say huge congratulations to all of the winners from Dumfries & Galloway at the Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards.
“These awards recognise the drive and passion the industry has for creating an unforgettable experience for visitors and I’m delighted that so many of our local heroes have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the region.
“The fact that seven out of the sixteen categories for the West Regional Final have been awarded to businesses in Dumfries & Galloway is testament to the great variety and range of quality accommodation, visitor attraction and experience available to visitors to the region.
“With so many brilliant things to see and do, it is little wonder that we continue to see the number of visitors to Dumfries & Galloway rise as the region’s reputation as one of the must-visit destinations in the UK grows.”

A further four regional ceremonies are to take place next month: Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders; Highlands and Islands, which will be organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards; and Aberdeen City and Shire, which will be organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards


The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink,  Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.


For further Information, visit: www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk


The Regional Final winners from Dumfries & Galloway said:

Robert Nixon from Forest Way on White Loch said: “Our challenge was to try to be that final piece of the jigsaw that makes the perfect family holiday in a beautiful location by providing the features you would expect in an increasingly “connect” world, whilst still creating somewhere where guests can switch off and relax in five-star comfort.”
Avive Asbridge from Basecamp Café said: “We are absolutely delighted to win the Best Informal Eating Experience award and would like to take the opportunity to thank our customers for their loyalty and continued support.  We wouldn’t be able to do this without the dedication, commitment and experience of our fantastic team who are an absolute credit to the company and are truly deserving of this award.”
Harriet Williams from the Galloway Activity Centre said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for this award.  The recognition is down to a fantastic team that work so hard, always going the extra mile and at the same time maintaining a smile and sense of humour.  We are proud to play a part in helping promote some of the best that Scotland has to offer.”
Owners of Solway Tours, Lesley Watson and Mark Turner said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award.  We are extremely passionate about promoting Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland as a high quality tourist destination.  We work innovatively to ensure all visitors to Scotland experience a fantastic time when they are with us”.
Deborah Firth from Hillcrest House Guest House said: “We are thrilled and honoured just to have been shortlisted, but blown away to win! Thank you!”
Jan Moore from Trigony House Hotel said: “Thank you very much for recognising us with this Award.  Everyone at Trigony works really hard to make it a home away from home and we are delighted that our guests feel the same.  We look forward to welcoming new and old friends to Trigony when their travels bring them our way.”
Ian McAndrew from the Blackaddie Restaurant with Rooms said: “I am thrilled to win. Since purchasing Blackaddie, I have worked hard to help build the reputation of Dumfries & Galloway in the eyes of our visitors. This is such a fabulous region, it is easy to extoll its virtues to anyone that’s listening and I intend to continue doing so.”

For further information, visit: www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk

Full list of The West Regional winners


Category Winning Business Location Local Authority
Best Accommodation Provider Forest Way on White Loch Colvend, Dumfries & Galloway
J Thomson Colour Printers – Best Bar/Pub The Heilan Jessie Bar Glasgow Glasgow
Caledonian MacBrayne – Best Cultural Event or Festival Glasgow Film Festival Glasgow Glasgow
Historic Environment Scotland- Best Heritage Tourism Experience The Friends of Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust (SCIO) Glasgow Glasgow
Best Informal Eating Experience Basecamp Café Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries & Galloway
Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience Galloway Activity Centre Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway
Best Restaurant Experience: Number 16 Restaurant Glasgow Glasgow
Best Sporting Event: The Open, Royal Troon 2016 Royal Troon South Ayrshire
ScotRail – Best Visitor Attraction Heads of Ayr Farm Park Alloway, By Ayr
Geotourist- Innovation in Tourism Solway Tours Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway
Most Hospitable B&B / Guest House Hillcrest House Guest House Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway
Fishers- Most Hospitable Hotel: Trigony House Hotel Closeburn, Dumfries & Galloway
Regional Ambassador Ian McAndrew, Blackaddie Restaurant with Rooms Sanquhar, Dumfries & Galloway
HIT Scotland – Regional Rising Star Julianne Grasekamp, SnuggleMuffin Glasgow Glasgow
Tourism & Hospitality Hero John Stevenson, Experience Scotland’s Wild West Dunbartonshire
Working Together for Tourism: VisitArran Isle of Arran Arran