Now aligned with the nationwide Scottish Thistle Awards, most category winners will go on to represent the region in the VisitScotland-backed national award scheme.
ACSTA chairman Iain Watson says, “The response we have had from across the tourism industry has been phenomenal this year. Narrowing down such a strong field to create the shortlists was a daunting task, but everyone involved in the judging is confident they have selected the very best we have to offer as a tourism sector.
“Tourism operators all over the north east of Scotland have proved themselves to be providing exceptional services to visitors over the past 12 months, and this is directly represented by the variety of businesses that have made the shortlist.
“Many operators who have won or been shortlisted in previous years have chosen to enter again this year, and have been vocal about the benefits of being involved with the awards scheme. It has also been encouraging to see even more new names entering this year.
“From local one-man outfits to large multi-nationals, ACSTA is dedicated to promoting the best of the best and celebrating those who go above and beyond to create a magical experience for tourists visiting Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”
A number of past winners will look to hold on to their titles at this year’s ACSTA ceremony. Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum is once again nominated in the hotly-contested Most Hospitable Hotel category, following a two-year winning streak. Also up for the award are Ardoe House Hotel and Spa and Banchory Lodge Hotel.
Cocktail bar Orchid is also aiming to make it three in a row in the Friendliest Pub/Bar category, against competition from Malones and Soul. All three venues are in Abereen. Glendavan House in Dinnet will attempt to hold on to the title of Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House for the second year. They are up against Callater Lodge, Braemar, and Durn House, Portsoy. Banchory Lodge Hotel is nominated for Best Restaurant Experience, after winning last year, and will compete with Ardoe House Hotel and Spa and Granite Park for the award.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and dinner which will take place on 27 November, 2015 at the Ardoe House Hotel and Spa.
The shortlisted nominees in all categories are:
• Most Hospitable Hotel – Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum; Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen; Banchory Lodge Hotel, Banchory.
• Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House – Glendavan House, Dinnet; Callater Lodge, Braemar; Durn House, Portsoy.
• Best Holiday Accommodation – Crathie Opportunity Holidays, Crathie; Deeside Activity Park/Cairnton Farm, Aboyne; High Seas Hobbits, Fraserburgh.
• Best Informal Eating Experience – Cock and Bull, Aberdeen; Deeside Activity Park, Aboyne; Merchant Bistro, Aberdeen.
• Best Restaurant Experience – Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen; Banchory Lodge Hotel, Banchory; Granite Park, Aberdeen.
• Friendliest Pub/Bar – Malones, Aberdeen; Orchid, Aberdeen; Soul, Aberdeen.
• Best Cultural Event or Festival – Taste of Grampian; Banchory Beer Festival; Lonach Highland Games and Gathering.
• Best Outdoor/Adventure – Deeside Activity Park, Aboyne; Bennachie Centre Trust, Chapel of Garioch; Lochter Activity Centre, Oldmeldrum.
• Tourism – Everyone’s Business – Buchanhaven Heritage Society, Peterhead; The Spotty Bag Shop, Banff; World Horse Welfare – Belwade Farm, Aboyne.
• Best Visitor Attraction – Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven; Macduff Marine Aquarium, Macduff; Drum Castle, Banchory.
• Hospitality Hero – Tricia Horton, Holiday Inn Aberdeen Bridge of Don; Lesley Martin, Aberdeen Skyway Hotel; Elma McMenemy, Elma McMenemy Tourism Marketing & PR.
• Innovation – Brewdog; The Bay Fish and Chips; Visit Royal Deeside.
• Regional Young Ambassador – Andrew Leggat, The Menzies Hotel; Charlotte Stephen, The Chester Hotel; Stephen Daun, AECC.
• Regional Ambassador – Elma McMenemy, Elma McMenemy Tourism Marketing & PR; Peter Medley, VisitAberdeen; Steve Harris, VisitAberdeen.