THE long-time figurehead of Scotland’s best-known luxury resort has received the Scottish tourism industry’s highest honour.
Peter Lederer was crowned “Silver Thistle” winner at the annual industry Oscars in Glasgow last night, for his stewardship of Gleneagles over the course of 30 years.
He was also honoured with the lifetime achievement award for the key role he played in the securing and staging of the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles last year.
Mr Lederer, who announced he was standing down from his role shortly after the Perthshire resort played host to the sporting event, received his lifetime achievement award at the climax of the Scottish Thistle Awards ceremony.
He was honoured alongside a tour company offering trips to the Hebridean archipelago St Kilda, Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, a luxury log cabins development near Inverness and Perthshire’s annual “Enchanted Forest” light show.
There were a string of surprises as a cafe-bar in Fraserburgh was named Scotland’s friendliest pub, one of Islay’s whisky distilleries was named top visitor attraction and a cafe in Leith renowned for its cakes claimed one of the nation’s leading culinary honours.
Mr Lederer, 64, is widely regarded as one of the most significant figures in Scottish tourism for the way Gleneagles was transformed from a golfing hotel to a leading international resort covering some 850 acres.
He joined as general manager in 1984, became managing director in 1987 and was chairman from 2007 until he stood down at the the end of last year. He was also a director of drinks industry giant Diageo, which owns Gleneagles.
Mr Lederer, who previously served for nine years as chairman of VisitScotland, told The Scotsman last year that he had been involved with discussions about bringing the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles as far back as 1989.
He said: “Everyone thought it was a good idea, because the Ryder Cup started at Gleneagles. The first informal match was played here and we thought it would be nice to bring it home.”
Scottish tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “For many years Peter has worked tirelessly to promote the tourism industry at home and overseas. He was instrumental in the successful bid for the Ryder Cup and worked on behalf of the tourism industry and the country to ensure Scotland cemented its reputation as the home of golf.”
Dr Mike Cantlay, chair of national tourism agency VisitScotland, one of the organisers of the awards, said: “Peter is a fantastic ambassador for Scottish tourism. His passion has left a lasting mark, not just in the transformation of Gleneagles but also on quality, educational standards and training opportunities within the sector.
“He has helped place tourism at the heart of Scotland’s economic success. I want to thank him for his commitment, dedication and enthusiasm for the industry in Scotland.”
Major honours at the awards went to Prestonfield, in Edinburgh, which was named Scotland’s most hospitable hotel, Eagle Brae’s log cabins, in Beauly, which were honoured as the country’s best holiday accommodation and Craigatin House, in Pitlochry, named the best B&B or guest house.
Pitlochry also triumphed in the hotly-contested best event category, with Enchanted Forest fending off challenges from Glasgow Film Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival and Stornoway’s Hebridean Celtic Festival, while Laphroaig Distillery on Islay was crowned best attraction.
The Kitchin, which was opened nine years in The Shore area of Leith by Tom Kitchin, was named Scotland’s best restaurant, while neighbour Mimi’s Bakehouse was honoured with the “best informal dining” prize.
Stephen Carter, chair of the judging panel, said: “Tourism is at the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and all those nominated are leading the way when it comes to making our country a fantastic place to visit and do business. It is important we continue to recognise those going the extra mile.”
Full list of Scottish Thistle Awards winners
Best outdoor/adventure experience: Kilda Cruises (Harris)
Best visitor attraction: Laphroaig Distillery (Islay)
Best holiday accommodation: Eagle Brae (Beauly)
Most hospitable B&B/guest house: Craigatin House (Pitlochry)
Most hospitable hotel: Prestonfield (Edinburgh)
Friendliest pub/bar: Cheers (Fraserburgh)
Best informal dining experience: Mimi’s Bakehouse (Leith)
Best restaurant experience: The Kitchin (Leith)
Warmest welcome: Cruise Forth Welcome Volunteers (Edinburgh & Fife)
Best event/festival: Enchanted Forest (Pitlochry)
Creative ambition: Auchrannie Resort (Arran)
Discovering Scotland: Helen Fraser (Afternoon Tea Tours - Edinburgh)
Silver Thistle: Peter Lederer
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