Five Galloway winners in tourism awards

(l-r) Duncan and Vicki McConchie, of Laggan Outdoor Ltd; presenter Victoria Brooks, Board Member of Wild Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.
(l-r) Duncan and Vicki McConchie, of Laggan Outdoor Ltd; presenter Victoria Brooks, Board Member of Wild Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.

A pub that greets walkers along the Southern Upland Way has been named the friendliest bar in the region, and one of five Dumfries and Galloway winners at Scottish tourism’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The Clachan Inn topped the Friendliest Pub/Bar category at the West Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards held at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow last night (24 November), hosted by TV presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch.

(l-r) Richard Hermon, of Galloway Activity Centre; presenter Tom Craig, of the Scottish Government; host Jennifer Reoch.

(l-r) Richard Hermon, of Galloway Activity Centre; presenter Tom Craig, of the Scottish Government; host Jennifer Reoch.

The pub in the picturesque village of St. John’s Town of Dalry was one of five winners from the area. Thistle judges referred to the pub’s “excellent” feedback on review sites and described it as a “hub for village life”.

Philip Papworth, owner of The Clachan Inn, said: “We are delighted to have received such high recognition for our pub. We love running The Clachan Inn and we love being part of The Glenkens community. We are really grateful for the support of our locals and regular returning customers who love the atmosphere, ambience and what we have to offer. We hope that we can continue to make The Clachan Inn a friendly, warm and welcoming place for people to enjoy, for many years to come.”

It was joined by Brookford B&B who took home ARRAN, Sense of Scotland Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House, Dundream who collected Best Accommodation Provider and Laggan Outdoor which picked up Best Outdoor/Adventure.

In addition, Galloway Activity Centre received the Scotland CAN DO Award for Innovation in Tourism. Judges called the eco-bothies project at the activity centre “truly innovative” and “the kind of development that is the future for Scottish tourism”.

(l-r) Presenter Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association; Philip Papworth and Laura Burnie of The Clachan Inn; host Jennifer Reoch.

(l-r) Presenter Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association; Philip Papworth and Laura Burnie of The Clachan Inn; host Jennifer Reoch.

Richard Hermon, Director of the Galloway Activity Centre, said: “In this year of innovation and design we are delighted to introduce our new Eco Yurt which complements our eco bothies perfectly. The new buildings are running at 80% occupancy and their unique design adds to our core message of developing green and sustainable tourism at here the Galloway Activity Centre and more widely across Dumfries and Galloway.”

Winners will go on to represent the region at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards National Final held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in March 2017.

Ronnie Bradford, owner of the Brookford B&B, said: “As the owners of Brookford B&B, we are thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award and feel very humble that we have been recognised in this way. We are particularly proud that our guests have been so generous with their praise, enabling us to reach this stage of the Awards. Both Karen at The Knowe in Carsphairn, Laura and Phil at the Clachan Inn, Dalry and ourselves hope to do The Glenkens proud by bringing the awards for Most Hospitable B&B and Most Hospitable Inn/Pub home to D&G and further enhance the reputation of our region.”

Elaine Hamilton, owner of Dundream, said: “I am delighted on behalf of my staff and myself that Dundream has been awarded Scottish Thistle, best holiday accommodation provider. This is a remarkable achievement and was a personal goal. Dundream was designed to stimulate well-being, balance and harmony and it is so rewarding when guests depart enthusiastic about their Dundream experience I am passionate about this stunning, unspoiled area of Dumfries and Galloway, which has so much to offer in terms of food, scenery, local businesses and friendly people, contributing to Dundream’s success.”

(l-r) Ronnie Bradford, owner of Brookford B&B; presenter Janet Russell, of ARRAN, Sense of Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.

(l-r) Ronnie Bradford, owner of Brookford B&B; presenter Janet Russell, of ARRAN, Sense of Scotland; host Jennifer Reoch.

Duncan McConchie, Director at Laggan Outdoor, said: “It is testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of our incredible team that we have won and are able to continuously deliver first class activities and experiences to our customers.”

The 2016/2017 Scottish Thistle Awards, in association with Fishers, recognises hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service.

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “A huge congratulations to all of the winners at the West Regional Final and I wish them the best of luck as they move forward to represent the region in the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final next year.

“It has been another record-breaking year of entries for the Scottish Thistle Awards and winners, and indeed all finalists, should be very proud of their achievements in such a highly competitive field.

(l-r) Presenter Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance; Elaine Hamilton of Dundream; host Jennifer Reoch.

(l-r) Presenter Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance; Elaine Hamilton of Dundream; host Jennifer Reoch.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy – supporting communities and creating jobs throughout the year in every corner of the country.

“The Scottish tourism industry and hospitality sector prides itself on delivering a rewarding experience for visitors and success here is both recognition of excellence and innovation, and a sign of quality. It is their warm welcome, embodying the Spirit of Scotland, which makes the country a world-class destination for visitors.”

Michael Jones, Managing Director at Fishers, said: “Congratulations to all of the regional winners and finalists. The people who work in our tourism industry not only play a crucial role in the Scottish economy, but they are Scotland’s ambassadors too. Fishers also plays an important part in supporting Scotland’s tourism sector and we are proud to do so - and to be headline sponsors of the Scottish Thistle Awards. The pursuit of excellence within our industry is important for the whole sector and it’s equally important that it’s recognised.”

Doug Wilson, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “This has been an outstanding night for Dumfries and Galloway businesses, with five winners from across the area showing the quality and diversity of the visitor experience.

“Tourism is a crucial part of the Dumfries and Galloway economy, and these awards are deserved recognition of the tireless effort each of these businesses has put into creating a memorable experience that will encourage repeat visits and growth in the local tourism industry. I wish the winners all the very best as they go forward to represent the region at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final in March.”

This year the Scottish Thistle Awards received a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715 across the 15 regional categories, amounting to a 16% increase on last year.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are 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.

The awards are divided into four regional ceremonies held in November: Central, Fife & Tayside and Lothians & Borders; West; Highlands and Islands, organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards; and Aberdeen City and Shire, organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.