Our RURAL TOURISM & HOSPITALITY finalists for the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards…
Due to an overwhelming response in this category, we took the decision to split this category into two, offering awards in both Rural Tourism and Rural Hospitality.
The Enchanted Forest
Faskally Wood, Perthshire
Organised by The Enchanted Forest Community Trust under the Perthshire Big Tree Country Brand, The Enchanted Forest is Scotland’s premier sound and light show. Founded 14 years ago with just under 1,500 visitors, the attraction brought in around 63,000 last year. The Enchanted Forest costs around £750,000 to put on, the majority of which is spent in Scotland. Reinventing itself every year with a new theme means that no two visits are the same.
The Famous Grouse Experience
The Hosh, Crieff, Perthshire
As Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret – home to The Famous Grouse Experience – still prides itself on mashing its whisky ingredients by hand. Their whisky making process has not changed in 240 years. Welcoming around 80,000 visitors every year, the attraction was the first business in Perthshire to be awarded WorldHost status. As well as showcasing local artisan products in the shop, a collaboration with Wilde Thyme, the award-winning Comrie-based caterers, has created a dining experience that promotes both the use of whisky and local ingredients.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
Launched in 1999, the festival has helped to keep Speyside on the worldwide map. In 2016 it attracted visitors from 37 countries, spanning six continents. Since its beginning, the festival has successfully brought together world-renown distillers with over 100 local businesses – from hoteliers to food producers. With additional benefits, such a creating a new graduate job, the festivals main aim is to secure new partners so that they can work towards sustainability.
Oban Winter Festival
Co-ordinated and run entirely by volunteers liaising with businesses, charities and the wider community, the grassroots festival has prompted businesses to work hand-in-hand with the community and showcases Oban at its best. Since it was established in 2011, it has expanded and now offers the national Haggis Festival, which is supported by the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders. In 2015, the annual report showed a significant economic contribution to the town, with surveys stating that around 5,600 people attend the event from outside of the region.
Isle of Arran
VisitArran is a not-for-profit destination management organisation that was established in 2007 by businesses who felt that Arran had lost its tourism identity through the abolition of the local tourism board. Partner businesses contribute annually to support the organisation and it is possibly the only destination management organisation in the country to be self-sustainable. In four years the partnership has increased Arran’s tourism from approximately 220,000 to 290,000 visitors, with both visitor stay and spend exceeding that of VisitScotland’s national average.
The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
Glenmore, by Aviemore
In 1952, married couple Mr Utsi and his wife Dr Lindgren gained permission to re-introduce a small group of reindeer back into Scotland. Over the last 25 years, they have ambassadors for the Badenoch and Strathspey area, reaching a huge audience who come to see the Christmas parades and displays. With their other brand Wild Farm on the Crown Estate Glenlivet in Tomintoul, the company has been able to present special interest farm tours, conduct live and meat sales and plant over 100 acres of native woodland. The company also look to employ local school leavers and welcome work experience students.
Cream o’ Galloway
Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries & Galloway
Cream o’ Galloway is set on a dairy farm and is the home to the luxury ice cream that is enjoyed throughout the country. Attracting around 60,000 visitors annually, the business employs 25 full-time staff who are currently embarking on a high welfare dairy suckling project to improve sustainability. By 2017 all ice cream and cheese produced on the farm will be made with milk from this system. Founded on strong ethical and environmental principles, a wind turbine 500m from the centre allows green energy to be used in production.
Logan Botanic Garden
Port Logan, Stranraer
Historically a country house garden gifted to the nation in 1961, Logan Botanic Garden is widely known as Scotland’s most exotic garden. Welcoming over 25,000 visitors every year, footfall has increased by ten per cent since 2014. As a key employer in the local area, Logan Botanic Gardens employs 25 staff in its bistro and gardens. Logan Botanic Gardens was the UK’s first ‘green’ conservatory – built in 2014 – and is Dumfries & Galloway’s only five-star garden.
Luss Estates Company
Arden Arnburn, Argyll
Luss Estates is a diversified rural business set on the banks of Loch Lomond. They bring a modern and sustainable approach to green energy generation, farming, forestry, nature conservation and game management. They employ over 100 local people and work closely with Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. Luss welcomes over 750,000 visitors every year to its developments, including Luss General Store, Loch Lomond Arms Hotel and The Clan Shop. Loch Lomond Arms Hotel turned over £1.2 million in 2014, rising to £1.7 million in 2016.
Isle of Arran Distillers
Lochranza, Isle of Arran
Built at the foothills of the village of Lochranza in 1994, The Isle of Arran Distillery’s first spirit ran from the stills on 29 June 1995. Welcoming around 88,000 visitors each year, it is the only distillery on the island. The focal point of the north end of the island, the distillery’s visitor centre – which won Scottish Field’s Visitor Experience of the Year Award in 2014 and 2015 – plays host to local artists and craft producers who sell and display their work, with their CASKS cafe being a hub for the community. The company has recently been given the go-ahead for a second distillery to be built near Lagg.
Established through an awareness of the need for inclusive holiday accommodation, The Rings is Scotland’ only self-catering accessible holiday provider. Accommodation is suitable for most guests including, but not limiting to, those who suffer paralysis, sensory impairments and temporary disabilities. The company are currently planning to team up with Paradentures, a charity who specialise in getting disabled people out into the countryside, and aim to expand to meet the needs of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Rings is currently being visited by VisitScotland and VisitEngland as a Good Practice example of Accessible Tourism.
The only four-star VisitScotland guesthouse in Braemar, Callater Lodge is firmly rooted in the local area. Working with local businesses, owners Katy and Julian provide photography and foraging workshops and have arranged pop-up restaurants for 2017. Callater Lodge also makes use of local produce; with eggs from their own hens and meat from their local butcher. Both Katy and Julian’s extensive experience of living and travelling Scotland has inspired guests to explore lesser-known attractions. Callater Lodge has been described as a ‘Guest Home’ on Tripadvisor.
The Puffer Bar and Restaurant
Easdale Island, Oban
Located on the tiny car-free island of Easdale in the Inner Hebrides, The Puffer Bar and Restaurant is critical to the economic viability of the island and is the hub of the local area. It caters for the island’s 70 residents, mainland communities and neighbouring islands and highlights the best produce on the west coast, championing local suppliers. It is one of only 18 businesses in Argyll to be accredited by Taste Our Best. Plans are also underway for a small gin distillery, which will produce Easdale Gin.
Errichel House and Cottages & Thyme at Errichel Restaurant
Errichel farm and the hospitality and tourism aspect has been evolving over the last ten years. Once a family-run hill farm, today the site offers Errichel House Bed & Breakfast and Thyme at Errichel Restaurant. They breed rare breed Shetland cattle and large black pork for the restaurant and retail sales, along with Highland ponies, goats, ducks, chicken and geese. According to an evaluation by Taste Our Best, 91 per cent of Errichel’s ingredients are sourced from the local area. The Errichel team also caters events for local businesses, including Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery and Highland Safaris, and runs the Tayfest festival for both locals and visitors.
Best Western Kinloch Hotel
Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran
From its beginning in 1954, Kinloch was about creating a place for the local village as to the tourist visiting the island. A firm supporter of the local community, Kinloch regularly sponsors the local football team, provides raffle prizes and hosts the annual local primary fun swimming gala. In three years, the hotel has raised more than £7,000 for good causes. As the hub of the area, the hotel also runs a food and drink festival in July to promote Arran’s larder and local businesses such as Creelers and Taste of Arran.
Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges and The Barn Bar
Lerags Glen, Oban
Cologin offers a range of self-catering accomodation and an award-winning country pub in rural Lerags Glen. Quality assured by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers and a member of VisitScotland’s iKnow VIP programme, The Barn Bar also has WorldHost status. As the heart of the community, they are also a member of the Oban and Lorn Tourism Alliance. Closure would massively affect neighbouring chalet site Lagnakeil, Ardoran and cottages on the west coast. The company are currently planning to expand their facilities to cater for visitors touring Argyll by motor-home.
Down on the Farm
In 2012, Carole Short established High Seas Hobbit, a farm diversification business which allows guests to live on the farm, enjoy spectacular views and escape the pressure of everyday life. Expanding on this, Coastal Carriage – a restored railway carriage living space – was launched in 2015. The unique aspect of Down On The Farm is the experiences it offers guests in discovering a real working farm and forgotten aspects of honest, rural life.
St Boswells, Melrose
Located in the heart of the Borders, The Buccleuch Arms is an award-winning gastro pub with a heartfelt understanding of the countryside. Employing a team of 45 people, Rachael and Billy have placed a firm emphasis on hiring local staff and supporting local producers – their slogan being ‘Provenance Rocks.’ The Buccleuch Arms has won the Scottish Countryside Alliance Sporting Pub of the Year 2015, Scottish Inn of the Year 2013 and 2015 and is four-star accredited by VisitScotland.
Highland Farm Cottages
Highland Farm Cottages is a five-star holiday cottage business on the outskirts of Dingwall. The business started in a bid to rescue old buildings which were built in the mid 1800s and transform them into an experience for those visiting the Scottish Highlands. The company continually promotes green tourism in the Highlands and supports government initiatives and new technology to ensure a successful rural economy.
Craigatin House and Courtyard
Craigatin House is a beautiful Victorian former doctor’s house that has been transformed into a boutique bed and breakfast by Martin and Andrea Anderson since the couple took over the business in 2007. Martin and Andrea are committed to the Pitlochry community and are members of a number of groups and organisations; Martin is the Chairman of the Pitlochry Partnership, a Trustee of the Enchanted Forest and a Director of The Pitlochry Lighting Committee. Andrea is also Secretary and Webmaster for Pitlochry in Bloom.