A set of three boutique hotels on Skye is courting success against a company which manages Andy Murray’s hotel in the main awards for Scotland’s catering, hospitality and tourism industries.
In another David vs Goliath confrontation at this year’s Catering Scotland (CIS) Excellence Awards, where finalists come from as far apart as Wester Ross and the Scottish Borders, a restaurant in rural Perthshire is up against the head chef of the two Michelin Star Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.
Sonas, the family firm which owns and operates the Skye hotels, is one of three finalists in the Group Hotel of the Year category along with Inverlochy Castle Management International (ICMI) and the 283-bedroom Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, part of InterContinental Hotels. Anne and Ken Gunn opened their first hotel, Toravaig, in 2007, and later added Duisdale House and Skeabost House. They have a combined total of 43 bedrooms.
Properties managed by ICMI include Cromlix near Dunblane, which is owned by world number one tennis player Andy Murray and his family; Greywalls beside Muirfield golf course at Gullane in East Lothian; Inverlochy Castle near Fort William; and the Roxburghe Hotel at Kelso.
In the running for Chef of the Year are Stephen McLaughlin, Tim Dover of The Roost Restaurant near Bridge of Earn, and Stewart Macauly of The Adamson in St Andrews. Dover, a Masterchef of Great Britain, opened The Roost in 2008.
A runner-up in the category last year, Edinburgh’s Cafe St Honore has again reached the final of the Restaurant of the Year Award, together with Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or, Glasgow, and Wedgwood the Restaurant, Edinburgh.
Last year’s winner of Independent Hotel of the Year, The Torridon in Wester Ross, is up against Ardanaiseig, near Taynuilt in Argyll, and the six-bedroom Windlestraw at Walkerburn, near Galashiels. The 16-bedroom Ardanaiseig, owned by a London antiques dealer and built in 1834, is on the banks of Loch Awe. Recently opened Windlestraw is an Edwardian mansion overlooking the Tweed valley.
Pub Excellence winner of 2012, The Bridge Inn at Ratho, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is back in the final of that category with Bennet’s/La Petite Mort beside Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre and the family owned and run Uisge in the Perthshire village of Murthly. Two years ago, Bennet’s owners Jacqui and James Nisbet turned the theatre’s former ‘Green Room’ into a restaurant.
Finalists in the Restaurant Newcomer of the Year Award include Firebrick Brasserie at Lauder in the Scottish Borders, Norn in Edinburgh’s Henderson Street, and the Tayberry Restaurant at Broughty Ferry, by Dundee, run by last year’s Young Chef of the Year, Adam Newth.
As Scotland’s annual competition combining the catering, hospitality and tourism industries the CIS Awards are seen as the ultimate accolade for Scottish hotels, restaurants, gastro pubs, related organisations and chefs.
Advisory board members include: Stephen Carter OBE (former managing director of Cameron House on Loch Lomond and now general manager of the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews); James Thomson OBE, owner of Edinburgh’s Prestonfield Hotel; Scottish Food Guide founder Wendy Barrie; Federation of Chefs Scotland president Kevin MacGillivray; and the current BBC TV Masterchef: The Professionals champion, Gary Maclean.
The CIS Awards will be presented in Glasgow on 25 May at a dinner attended by over 500 of Scotland’s leading hoteliers, chefs, caterers and their guests.