Glittering awards celebrate world class tourism in North Wales

North Wales Tourism Awards held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. Pictured: Best Attraction sponsored by Celtic Holiday Parks - Huw Hendleton won by Zip World with David Stacey and colleagues

An adventure tourism company that’s created 350 new jobs in four years has been honoured for its massive contribution to the economy of North Wales.

Zip World was one of the stars of the show at the glittering Go North Wales Tourism Awards when it was named as the region’s best attraction.

According to a recent study, the company that created Europe’s longest zip wire and a host of other high-adrenaline attractions pumps £121 million into the North Wales economy every year.

North Wales Tourism Awards held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. Pictured: Best Attraction sponsored by Celtic Holiday Parks – Huw Hendleton won by Zip World with David Stacey and colleagues

Zip World managing director David Stacey says the award recognises all the hard work his team as put into making the business the success it is.

He said: “It’s a tremendous accolade and we are just delighted to be playing a part in this amazing boom that is going on in the North Wales tourism sector.

“In just a little over four years we have gone from eight staff to 350. And what a team we have. We are now welcoming close to 400,000 visitors a year to North Wales and we continue to reinvest in our tourism offer.

“It’s our front-line staff that deserve this award. We attract the best, most passionate and dedicated team players and the feedback we get from customers is amazing. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds quite frankly and I dedicate this award to them.”

The event at Venue Cymru in Llandudno was organised by North Wales Tourism to celebrate the best of the region’s tourism and hospitality sector.

The Welsh Government’s new Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, was delighted to be there.

He said: “These awards mark the success and excellence of the best the North Wales tourism has to offer. We have such a lot to celebrate.

“The quality of what we have to offer here in North Wales goes from strength to strength and the Awards are an opportunity for us all to celebrate the industry and to showcase the outstanding quality of our vibrant tourism sector.

“In addition to being named the best in North Wales, the winners are among the first regional winners which will now go forward to the National Tourism Awards which will take place at Celtic Manor in March 2018.

“Congratulations to all the winners – a much deserved reward for their commitment, hard work and passion.”

Managing director Jim Jones said the quality of entries this year underlined why the region was increasingly being recognised as a world class destination which generates £2.8 billion every year and employs around 40,000 people.

He said: “It’s been very successful and I congratulate all the winners. However, in my eyes every nominee is a winner and all have played a party in what has been a successful year for North Wales Tourism.

“This event really showcases the very best of North Wales and we have seen so many amazing entries. A number of the winners will now go forward to represent North Wales at the Visit Wales National Awards in 2018 and I wish them every success.”

Among the big winners on the night was a pair of acclaimed boutique hotels in North East Wales.

The Manorhaus in Ruthin won the award for the best restaurant while its twin sister hotel in Llangollen was named as the best B&B.

The accolades came hot on the heels of another awards double at the Wales Hospitality Awards in Cardiff.

A shaken Chris Frost couldn’t hide his delight and said he was absolutely thrilled and surprised to have won two awards.

He said: “It’s just fantastic that all our hard work has been recognised. These two awards are the icing on the cake in what has been a very special week.

“At the Wales Hospitality Awards, we were named as manorhaus Ruthin was named Best Boutique Hotel in Wales and Manorhaus Llangollen won Best B&B in Wales.

“We opened our Ruthin site 15 years ago and Llangollen five years ago. In total we employ seven staff across both sites and I run the business with my partner Gavin Harris.”

He added: “These awards are a reward our efforts in welcoming people to North Wales and increasing the tourism offer for small towns where tourism is so important for the local economy.

“These awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of the whole Manorhaus team.”

The Best Newcomer Award went to Yr Ysgwrn, the home Hedd Wyn, the tragc poet killed in the First World War.

Hedd Wyn was the bardic name of Ellis Evans, from Trawsfynydd, who was killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele during World War 1.

He was posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead just a few weeks after he died on the front line.

Yr Ysgwrn reopened to the public earlier this year after a £3 million project which saw the original outbuildings changed into interpretive centres.

Project manager Sian Griffiths felt Hedd Wyn would have been proud of what htey achieved.

She said: “It’s the icing on the cake for all the hard work that has been put in by a lot of people. It encapsulates how important Hedd Wyn’s story is to Wales and the nation.

“We have worked very closely with Snowdonia National Park which owns the site and we are grateful for their support. We have two full time members of staff and an awful lot of dedicated volunteers who have helped make the venture the success it is.”

The four-star St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, won the Tourism Business Innovation Award after literally raising the roof of the hotel where they created five new luxury rooms with balconies.

General manager Tony Burns said: “It is a Grade 2 listed building so we had a lot of work to do and we were hampered somewhat by Storm Doris. The roof came off last September and the storm in January put us back a little but we opened in June.

“It’s proving a huge success and the award recognises all the hard work of the hotel’s 104 staff. It’s a major award and one that belongs to the hotel’s whole team.”

The Green Award was won by Menai Bridge-based adventure boat company RibRide.

Directors Tom Aswell and Phil Scott said the award is testament to the hard work of their five full-time staff.

Tom said: “As a company we were delighted to be named as one of only 12 companies world-wide that have been award a Blue Flag recognising that we are a sustainable marine operator.

“This award belongs to our full-time staff and the 15 or more seasonal staff we employ in the summer. It really means a great deal to be recognised for what we do in North Wales and our contribution to the North Wales tourism offer.”

The award for the Best Marketing Campaign went to The Tournament, an event organised by members of Conwy Chamber of Trade whose members came to the ceremony in mediaeval outfits.

Kimberley Edmunds, wife of the town’s official jester, Erwyd le Fol, who was dressed in medieval costume, said: “We took over the town last June for an event that proved very successful. We had a medieval jousting tournament, a banquet, traditional and Morris dancing teams, archery contests and street performers.”

Conwy businessman Mark Stillwell, also dressed in medieval costume, said: “The project was put together by volunteers from seven businesses with the plan to attract visitors to the town.

“We ran an innovative and quite subtle marketing campaign which proved very successful. This award is fantastic and rewards all our hard work.”

The award for Young Tourism Person of the Year which was open to any young entrepreneurial, professional business talent went to Tom Davies, 26, who runs Coed-y-Glyn Log Cabins.

Tom said: “I set up my business on my sheep farming dad’s land at Glyndyfrdwy near Llangollen. This award is a symbol of my hard work and a real honour.

“My village is the site of an old slate quarry where my grandfather was the manager. My dad farms sheep but I decided to build some log cabins and the business is doing really well.

“I have built three and I’m just staring my fourth. My customers seem really happy and I’m delighted we are attracting people to the area.”

The award for the Magnificent Crowd Puller under 7,500 visitors went Under the Arches, an event held every July which illuminates and celebrates Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which is a World Heritage Site.

Event manager Amanda Davies, of Wrexham County Borough Council, said the award was a fantastic achievement and accolade and recognised the hard work of the whole team.

The Magnificent Crowd Puller over 7,500 award went to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Llangollen Eisteddfod board member Ian Lebbon said: “It’s wonderful recognition of the more than 800 volunteers who come together to welcome the world to Llangollen through music, song and dance.

“We believe in what we do. We deliver a festival of peace and a peaceful festival which is really why the festival was born from the ashes of the Second World War.”

The Arts & Business Cymru Tourism Award went to artisan chocolatier firm Baravelli’s of Conwy.

Emma Baravelli started the company with her husband Mark in 2011 and says the award means a great deal.

She said: “I went to art school and love applying my skills everyday to create one off pieces. It’s a perfect combination. I am the artist Mark is the businessman.

“Business is booming and we have even had a commission to supply Harrods with hand crafted bespoke Easter Eggs.”

Also nominated for the award were North Wales International Music Festival, Mostyn and 3RD SPACE at the Great Orme Brewery.

The Dunoon Hotel, Llandudno was named as the best hotel and general manager Gerwyn Rowlands says the award tops off a fantastic year for the hotel which has won two rosettes for food, a silver AA award for service and a Visit Wales gold award.

Llanfair Hall was named winner of the Best Caravan, Camping or Glamping Award Gwinllan Conwy were named as the Best Food and Drink Provider.

Director Colin Bennett said: “It’s a huge award for us. People laugh when we say we have a vineyard in Conwy but we are now supplying the finest restaurants and hotels across North Wales.

“We have welcomed literally thousands of people to the town. This award means a great deal to us and to say I’m delighted is an understatement.”

And the award for Best Use of Digital went to the Focus Wales in Wrexham.

Full list of winners

  • Best Attraction – Zip World
  • Best B&B – Manorhaus Llangollen
  • Best Caravan, Camping or Glamping – Llanfair Hall,
  • Best Food or Drink Provider – Gwinllan Conwy
  • Best Hotel – Dunoon Hotel
  • Best Marketing Campaign – The Tournament
  • Best Newcomer – Yr Ysgwrn,
  • Best Restaurant – Manorhaus Ruthin
  • Best Self Catering Accommodation – Gors-lŵyd Cottage
  • Best Use of Digital – FOCUS Wales
  • Magnificent Crowd Puller Over 7.5k – Llangollen International Music Festival
  • Magnificent Crowd Puller Under 7.5k  – Underneath the Arches
  • Sports Adventure Tourism Award – Always Aim High Events
  • The Green Award –RibRide
  • Tourism Business Innovation Award – St George’s Hotel
  • Young Tourism Person of the Year – Tommy Davies – Coed-Y-Glyn Log Cabins
  • Arts & Business Cymru Award – Baravelli’s Ltd