AN island resort set up more than 25 years ago to offer indoor leisure facilities for families at risk of having their holiday blighted by Scotland’s changeable weather has been named hotel of the year.
Auchrannie on Arran took the main honour at the Scottish Hotel Awards, which also saw last year’s hotel of the year, Cromlix, near Dunblane, voted luxury hotel of the year. It is owned by tennis star Andy Murray, who earlier this month held part of his wedding celebrations at the venue.
Auchrannie is owned by Iain and Linda Johnston, who acquired it in 1988. It has since expanded to include two leisure clubs with pools, a spa, outdoor adventure centre and a children’s “playbarn”.
Mr Johnston, who moved to Arran in 1977, was appointed island tourist officer six years later and realised that the unpredictable weather on Arran left many families in fear of being left without any way of entertaining children in the event of rain.
“It was set up by my uncle in response to the need on the island for indoor leisure facilities, for both local people and tourists,” said David Johnston, nephew of the founders and now a director at the hotel.
“When we have rain, particularly in the peak tourist times in the summer, our facilities are full. If the sun comes out, people head off to the beach or golf course, which is great, and return in the evenings. The family market has been a huge one for us as there is such a need for something to do if the weather isn’t good.”
He added: “It is fantastic to have won this award and we are so proud of our staff.”
Judging of the award included three months of mystery visits in nine regions, with regional winners eligible to win national categories. The overall hotel of the year was chosen from national category winners.
“Auchrannie is an inspiring Scottish tourism success story,” said Damian Riley-Smith, managing director of awards organiser Paragraph Publishing.
“It is a creatively designed destination resort offering excellent accommodation, hospitality, leisure facilities and a luxury spa where guests of all ages can experience carefree relaxation and family fun.”
Other winners included
Ardanaiseig, on the banks of Loch Awe at Kilchrenan, which was country house hotel of the year, and Lake of Menteith Hotel, beside Scotland’s only natural lake in the Trossachs National Park, which took the small country house hotel award.
Shieldhill, on the site of a castle at Biggar in the Upper Clyde valley dating back to 1199, and whose guests have included Nelson Mandela, won the romantic hotel award, while chef of the year was Tony Sarton of Twenty Princes Street at Edinburgh’s Royal British Hotel.