Kinloch and Eilean Donan among tourism winners

Businesses in Lochalsh, Skye and the Western Isles were among those celebrating at last Friday’s 10th annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.

Held in Inverness, the ceremony saw Kinloch Lodge on Skye named the most hospitable hotel while HebCelt picked up the award for best event or festival.

Isabella Macdonald from Kinloch Lodge said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to win this coveted award. It is a testament to the whole team for their hard-work and commitment to hospitality. Our guests at Kinloch Lodge are so very precious to us and we thrive on offering them the warmest hospitality as part of their special holiday with us.”

HebCelt festival director Caroline Maclennan was also delighted, commenting: “Winning this award is another major achievement in what has been a very rewarding year.

“Recognition of this nature is a fitting tribute for the all the hard work done by an army of volunteers who help ensure HebCelt continues to grow and thrive.”
Harris-based Kilda Cruises re­ceived the best outdoor/adventure experience award, with owner Angus Campbell commenting: “We are absolutely de­lighted. 2014 was our tenth year of running out to St Kilda and to win the awardis a fantastic end to the season.
“We have invested to develop the trips over the years as St Kilda is an iconic place which deserves the best level of quality of service that we can bring to the experience, so hopefully we are achieving that.”

Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie was named the best visitor attraction. Gatekeeper David Win said: “The whole team are absolutely thrilled and delighted to win the award for best visitor attraction 2014. We have enjoyed yet another record-breaking season at Eilean Donan, with over 380,000 visitors to the site. This award truly represents the icing on the cake after much hard work, over a number of years, to improve our visitor’s experience.
“The fact that this award is judged by our industry peers is fabulous recognition of the entire team’s efforts and commitment. Without those efforts Eilean Donan would just not be what it is today.”

All the HITA award winners now go on to the finals of the Scottish Thistle Awards, which are held in March.

HITA chair Marina Huggett added: “The exceptional quality of the finalists this year demonstrates how much the visitor product in the Highlands and Islands has improved and continues to improve. On behalf of the board and the judging panel, our most sincere congratulations to all the winners.”

Pictured at the awards are staff and representatives of Eilean Donan Castle.