AA plus for the top venues in Scotland

Outlets across the country triumph at hospitality awards

ICMI manages various venues, including Inverlochy Castle Hotel

HOTEL management firm Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) was among the Scottish winners at this year’s AA Hospitality Awards.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Fort William, ICMI, which manages various hotels, including Rocpool Reserve and Chez Roux in Inverness and Cromlix near Dunblane, was named the AA Small Hotel Group of the Year 2019-20.

A number of Scotland-specific awards were also handed out. Gleneagles in Auchterader was bestowed the Hotel of the Year for Scotland award; Sugar Boat in Helensburgh was named Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year; The Meikleour Arms in Perthshire scooped Pub of the Year, Scotland; and Edinburgh’s Castle Terrace Restaurant was handed the Wine Award for Scotland.

The gongs were presented to operators at a ceremony at Grosvenor House in London late last month.

Conor O’Leary, Gleneagles’ joint marketing director, said the team is “thrilled” with the award win, which he said signifies that Gleneagles “takes its place amongst the finest hotels in the world”.

Will Smith, owner of Sugar Boat in Helensburgh, said: “This award is an incredible achievement by the whole team and is testament to the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into opening and building the restaurant. Thrilled, elated, blown away, astounded and so very proud to be recognised at a national level.”

The owner of The Meikleour Arms, Claire Mercer Nairne, was also in high spirits. She said: “Giving a new lease of life to a rural Scottish country pub has been a marvellous journey for our team – and now attending a prestigious event in Mayfair to collect an award recognising our hard work is just surreal.”

And Joel Bastian, group head sommelier at Castle Terrace Restaurant, commented: “Passion, curiosity and hard work always pays off.”

AA Red Stars, which are awarded by inspectors to the best hotels within each star rating, were also handed out to two Scottish venues. The Torridon in Wester Ross and Cromlix near Dunblane both picked up five Red Stars.