Friday, 15 August 2014

The Royal Yacht Britannia, UK’s no. 1 attraction, TripAdvisor

Staff at The Royal Yacht Britannia are thrilled by the news that Britannia has been named the Best Attraction in the UK in the TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Award 2014. This prestigious award reflects the quantity and consistency of 5 Star “Excellent” reviews posted on this influential website by visitors to the former Royal Yacht during the last 12 months (to date, 72% of the 5,000 TripAdvisor reviews are Excellent, and 23.5% are Very Good).

Britannia has officially been Scotland’s best visitor attraction for the last nine years, with a current quality score of 96%, the highest mark ever awarded to a visitor attraction by national tourist board VisitScotland.

With a complimentary audio tour now available in 27 languages, the latest being: Turkish, Thai, Brazilian-Portuguese, Cantonese, and Punjabi, Britannia is believed to be the most translated audio tour in the world.Last month the former Royal Yacht also received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, an award that is given to the top 10% tourism businesses in the world.

Britannia’s Chief Executive, Bob Downie, said “We are absolutely delighted that our passion for delivering outstanding customer experiences has been so highly valued on TripAdvisor, and to be Number 1 in the UK is a tremendous achievement that our staff can be very proud of”.

TELLING THE STORY OF A NATIONAL HERO… at Scotland’s National Wallace Monument

Groups arriving at Stirling’s famous National Wallace Monument might well find themselves being welcomed by a sword-wielding warrior from Wallace’s army!  Perhaps they will notice a few other nasty-looking weapons in his armoury, as he demonstrates how Scotland’s National Hero managed to see off his enemies.

Regular performances by costumed actors are just one of the features of the Monument, a striking tribute to Scotland’s ‘Braveheart’, which towers above the woodlands of the city’s Abbey Craig.

As leader of the Scottish army which triumphed at The Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, William Wallace’s victory ensured that his name would become central to the story of the Scottish nation, and the exhibits and displays within the newly-refurbished Monument show just how he masterminded his victory, and how his legacy endures to this day.
 In a new film – commissioned especially for the Monument, Wallace is depicted in conversation with Andrew de Moray (who had fought alongside him in the battle), and of course visitors can also see Wallace’s legendary sword, a powerful symbol of the hero’s courage.  It now has pride of place in the Hall of Heroes – where the achievements of other famous Scots are recognised, from Robert Burns to Robert the Bruce, who led Scotland to victory at The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Special discounts are available for groups (10+) visiting the Monument (which is open every day), and further information can be obtained from www.nationalwallacemonument.com.

The St Andrews Golf Week

Can you imagine playing over the world famous links where names like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Old Tom Morris claimed some of their most memorable wins! Well here is your opportunity to achieve this dream and play The Old Course which will host The Open Championship again in 2015!

You will follow in the footsteps of the great and play not only the legendary Old Course but also the other excellent St Andrews courses - The New, The Jubilee and The Castle. There is also a days golf at the fantastic Kingsbarns Golf Links.

Whether an expert golfer or a little less practiced, the weeks programme lends itself to golfers of all standards, whilst at the same time allowing you to relax and savour the unique atmosphere of St Andrews, "The Home of Golf".Competitions throughout the week include scramble, stableford, am-am, medal play, nearest the hole and longest drive. For those wishing to work on their game there is golf tuition fromPGA Professionals available throughout the week.

The St Andrews Golf Week was first introduced in 1974 and continues to attract golfers from all over the world.

Please visit www.standrewsgolfweek.com for further information.

Contact: Links Golf St Andrews, 7 Pilmour Links, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JG, Scotland. Tel: +44 (0)1334 478639

Dates: 12 – 18 April 2015 and 18 – 24 October 2015

Web: www.standrewsgolfweek.com

Winter Outings to the Battle Of Bannockburn

The National Trust for Scotland is delighted to announce that the first season at the new Battle of Bannockburn experience* has been a resounding success, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world.  Open for business all year round, the NTS has introduced a treat for groups visiting over the winter period (Oct – March), with its new winter warmer package designed especially for the trade.

Pietro Cecchini, Head of Travel Trade at the Trust said, ‘Our expert catering team has created an inviting selection of tasty winter warmers exclusively for the group market. Featuring our award-winning Puddlebub bacon baps, Scottish venison Bannock-burgers, sumptuous afternoon teas and delicious winter punch with Schiltron whisky, we’re confident our new Battle of Bannockburn package will prove a winning winter combination for our trade partners and their clients.’700 years after the famous battle, the new Battle of Bannockburn experience places visitors at the heart of the action.  Using cutting-edge 3D technology visitors can learn about this momentous event in Scottish history and experience medieval warfare like never before.  Easily accessible from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the new experience has already secured a clutch of awards and nominations and is a must-see visit on any Scotland itinerary.

*Timed entry, pre-booking essential.

For bookings and enquiries email traveltrade@nts.org.uk, telephone 0844 493 2104 (+44 131 458 0204) from outside the UK), or visit www.nts.org.uk/traveltrade

Christmas at the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty the Queen.

As part of the Christmas display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the table in the Royal Dining Room will be laid with a silver service, presented to George V and Queen Mary in 1935 to mark their Silver Jubilee. Made in Edinburgh, the service was commissioned specifically for use at the Palace with each piece engraved with the Scottish Coat of Arms. Also included in the display will be pieces from a Bloor Derby porcelain dessert service ordered by Queen Victoria and first exhibited in 1842 during the week of Christmas. On selected dates in December, visitors can also enjoy an Exclusive Evening Tour of the royal residence. Led by an expert guide, the tours offer a special behind-the-ropes experience including the special Christmas display. All tickets include a glass of champagne and festive mince pie, a copy of the Official Souvenir Guide and a 20% discount at Royal Collection Trust shops.

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014. Photographer: Mike Davidson

Breathing Life into a Blend At The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience is increasing its visitor offering by giving whisky fans the chance to create their own unique blend with the launch of the new Blend Your Own sessions.

The art of blending whisky is an extremely complex practice and this new offering will unlock the often mysterious world to connoisseurs and novices alike.  The opportunity to blend whiskies is not widely available and the attraction’s highly trained team will impart the skills required to create a blend, before allowing amateur blenders the chance to create their very own Scotch Whisky.

Suitable for whisky loving groups of ten or more, the participants will receive a small bottle of their blend to take home, as well as a certificate of blending.

Susan Morrison, director and general manager of The Scotch Whisky Experience said: “If distilling whisky is a complex science, then blending is the true art of our industry.Over the years, many of our visitors have quizzed us on the processes involved in creating a blend, so we are delighted to be able to offer our visitors this new experience.

“Everyone has different tastes when it comes to Whisky and we look forward to helping our visitors create their own perfect dram over the coming months.”

The new blending package costs £65 per person and includes a tour of the attraction, a viewing of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky and a tasting of four regional Single Malt Whiskies, alongside the blending session.

For more information, or to book, visit www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk or call 0131 220 0441

Dido Belle – Her Story

‘there are few paintings which attract as much interest and admiration as that of the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Murray, by Johann Zoffany, which hangs in the Ambassador’s room at Scone Palace. The story of Dido is one of controversy, as the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy Captain and an African slave woman and has been brought to life through the recent major movie, Belle. Dido was raised by her great uncle, the 1st Earl of Mansfield who left Scone Palace as a thirteen year old boy and went on to become Lord Chief Justice and one of the most influential figures in legal history. To coincide with the film, we have staged an exhibition not only telling of her extraordinary life, but also her life in the context of legal history.’


9th May – 31st October

Visit our ‘Dido Belle – Her Story’ Exhibition which tells the unique story of Elizabeth Dido Belle, whose portrait hangs here at Scone Palace and is the subject of the forthcoming feature film – ‘Belle’. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

CIE Tours International UK Awards of Excellence

Dublin- based tour operator, CIE Tours International predicts a bumper rise in take-up of its Scottish schedules this year thanks to Homecoming Scotland 2014, the year-long celebration of tourist events.

CIE enjoyed a 20% increase in visitors to Ireland last year, half of which they believe were attracted by The Gathering, a series of cultural events intended to appeal to the North American market. The Company believes that Homecoming Scotland will have a similar effect, by attracting an additional 2000 customers to Scotland, accounting for at least half of its anticipated 35% growth in 2014. The additional customers alone are expected to spend £2.4million during their stays.

Over recent years the Company has been expanding its offer to include Scotland and the rest of the UK, with this area of its business growing by 50% last year.  In 2013, the company brought almost 11,000 visitors to the UK.

Short tours which visit both Ireland and Scotland and are marketed as a “Taste of Ireland and Scotland”, are particularly popular, increasing from one tour per
 week in the summer season four years ago, to three tours per week this year.  The Company has also been able to extend its season, which now runs from early March to November.

At a reception in Glasgow on Thursday 3rd April, Brian Stack, the Managing Director of CIE International presented UK Awards of Excellence to 31 partners from throughout the UK, which were selected according to feedback from 11,000 customers on 259 providers of accommodation, dining, tours and attractions. Awards are presented to those achieving over 90% in the satisfaction surveys.
Commenting on the Company’s growth, Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International said: “Our merit awards recognise that our continued growth is due to the efforts of thousands of people up and down the country who are focused on providing excellent service.”

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact Ilya Scott of Real PR 07799 416476.

The St Andrews Golf Week - Welcomes you to the "Home of Golf"

Event Dates: 19 – 25 October 2014,
12 – 18 April 2015 and 18 – 24 October 2015

Can you imagine playing over the world famous links where names like Tiger Woods, Nicklaus, Faldo, Ballesteros, Daly and Old Tom Morris claimed some of their most memorable wins! Well here is your opportunity to achieve this dream and play The Old Course which will host The Open Championship again in 2015! You will follow in the footsteps of the great and play not only the legendary Old Course but also the other excellent St Andrews courses - The New, Jubilee and The Castle. There is also a days golf at the fantastic Kingsbarns Golf Links.Whether an expert golfer or a little less practiced, the weeks programme lends itself to golfers of all standards, whilst at the same time allowing you to relax and savour the unique atmosphere of St Andrews, "The Home of Golf". The St Andrews Golf Week was first introduced in 1974 and continues to attract golfers from all over the world. To find out more about The St Andrews Golf Week, please visit www.standrewsgolfweek.com

Contact: Links Golf St Andrews, 7 Pilmour Links, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JG, Scotland | Tel: +44 (0)1334 478639  |  Email: tours@linksgolfstandrews .com

Acclaimed artist’s sculpture keeps watch on wildlife wonder at leading attraction Scottish Seabird Centre

The award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, an independent visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, unveiled a stunning new sculpture by the acclaimed Scottish artist Kenny Hunter, on 28th March 2014.

Hunter, best known for his Citizen Firefighter sculpture outside Glasgow’s Central Station, was commissioned to create The Watcher by the Scottish Seabird Centre following an open competition for artists in 2011 to create innovative and stunning new works of art to act as gateways to the Seabird Centre.

Following 30 original artist submissions, a public exhibition and vote, two winning commissions were selected. Fellow Scottish artist Diane McLean was the first to have her winning sculpture erected, with her gannet archway installed in December 2013.

The Watcher is a life-sized figure cast in bronze at the foundry at Powderhall Bronze, Edinburgh. The male figure is adult, contemporary and dressed in outdoor wear, typical of a bird watcher or naturalist. Along with his binoculars he carries a camera bag and wears stout boots. His gaze is directed northeast toward the world-famous Bass Rock which is home to around 150,000 gannets at the peak of the breeding season.

The Scottish Seabird Centre is dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy, conserve and learn about wildlife and the natural environment. Kenny Hunter has an emotional connection to North Berwick which stems from his East Lothian childhood, during which he would make regular trips to the town. As an adult, Hunter has continued to enjoy the boat trips from the harbour out to the incredible Bass Rock as his interest in nature and Scottish wildlife has grown.
Kenny Hunter, artist, said: “Human relationships with nature are very complex; we are custodians as well as exploiters of it. As a sculptor I feel comfortable asking questions rather than making a bold statement. The Watcher is an anonymous figure the public will encounter at ground level, as an equal. I hope The Watcher will encourage people to venture out of their comfort zone, to look at nature and to the sea across the Forth from the Scottish Seabird Centre.
 
“The public’s experience of The Watcher will be more or less like the experience they have of North Berwick harbour and the Scottish Seabird Centre itself, evoking the countless other departures and homecomings that have been played out in this location throughout history.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said:
“Art is an outstanding way to inspire people about wildlife. Since opening, the Seabird Centre has supported numerous photographers, painters and sculptors and many of their works can now be seen in and around the Centre.

“As we celebrate Scotland’s wildlife in the year of Homecoming, this latest addition at the approach to the Centre and looking out to the world’s largest single island gannet colony will hopefully make people think about our impact on wildlife and the natural environment – both good and bad – historically, now and in the future. This stunning new sculpture by an artist of Kenny Hunter’s calibre, with Scotland’s wildlife as its inspiration, will, I am sure, be a popular additional attraction at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

“We are very grateful to everyone that has supported this wonderful initiative, in particular Creative Scotland and East Lothian Council. We are also grateful to everyone that voted in the public competition to choose the winning sculptures.”

The installation of The Watcher at the Scottish Seabird Centre is the first of several key commissions to be unveiled by Hunter this summer, with solo shows at House for An Art Lover, from 4 July to 4 September and Paxton House, Berwick-upon-Tweed as part of GENERATION, the exhibition series celebrating 25 years of Scottish contemporary art as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. Hunter is also working on a large-scale frieze commission for Leicester Square in London.
Media enquiries to Fiona Leith on 07581 056 562, or Peter Duncan on 07740 469 949.
I’d like to think that the sculpture will encourage people to be still and ask themselves what he’s thinking about, what he’s looking at and then engage with it themselves.

Inverewe Garden and Crathes Castle win prestigious award

Clients of CIE Tours International have voted the National Trust for Scotland’s Inverewe Garden and Crathes Castle as two of the UK’s best tourism attractions. Both attractions will receive CIE’s celebrated Special Accolade Award of Excellence for 2013. Within easy reach of Inverness, Inverewe is one of the world’s great gardens with 10,000 recorded plants from all over the globe, while themagical 16th-century Crathes Castle provides a spectacular backdrop to one of Europe’s finest walled gardens.

Tour Operators can visit  www.nts.org.uk/traveltrade for more information about the NTS and how the Travel Trade Team can help them develop new and existing itineraries and experiences for their group and FIT clients.

New for 2014 – Scone Palace are offering Garden Tours

Head Gardener, Brian Cunningham will conduct a fun and informative tour of our glorious gardens, 1st Wednesday of each month, at 2.30pm, June, July and August. (There is an additional charge of £3.00 per person on top of the regular entrance fee).In addition, we are delighted to offer bookable Garden Tours to Groups.  


For further information or to make a booking, please call Cathy on 01738 552300.

Exhibition of Dido Belle – Her Story at Scone Palace

There are few paintings which attract as much interest and admiration as that of the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle, by Johann Zoffany, which hangs in the Ambassador’s Room at Scone Palace, near Perth. Their lives, and in particular Dido’s, is brought to life by the launch , this year of the film ‘Belle’, produced by Damian Jones.To coincide with the launch, we will be staging our own exhibition ‘Dido Belle – Her Story’, telling not only of her extraordinary life, but also life in the context of legal history.  

For further information or to make a booking, please call Cathy on 01738 552300.

30 Years (not) out for c-n-do Scotland

This spring marks the 30th anniversary of the foundation of Scotland’s Premier walking tour operator, C-N-Do Scotland, an event that set in motion a national outdoor industry.  Firmly rooted in the Stirling community, C-N-Do was quickly recognised for characteristics such as quality, inspiring, environmental sensitivity, sustainable, fun, to name but a few, with the walking experiences being certainly memorable. The current portfolio includes scheduled guided trips, private guiding, independent tours, navigation and leader courses. In addition C-N-Do’s base contains Central Scotland’s only dedicated Paramo Outdoor Clothing store. The high standards and attention to detail for which C-N-Do Scotland is well known, make it the company of choice for customers worldwide.

However, it didn’t get to there in five  minutes. From an innovative spark of an idea that was basically “a hobby gone wrong”, say the two founders Margaret Porter and Dorothy Breckenridge, and a lot of hard work,  grew the leading walking tour operator in Scotland. Whilst being based up north somewhere was considered, Stirling was where the company stayed, and “it turned out to be the perfect location to do business - with easy access to the best walking in Scotland”, says Margaret.  “We’d like to thank all the businesses, organisations and  folk who have supported us over the years, without whom we wouldn’t have succeeded. Now come on - get out!”

For more information contact Margaret Porter - margaret@cndoscotland.com or Dorothy Breckridge - dorothy@cndoscotland.com

Victoriana Dundee: Bazaar at the Museum Saturday 17 May 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Experience the museum at night as our special guests and see The McManus come to life with art, music, stories, costume, games and famous characters from Dundee’s Victorian past! The Victorian Gothic revival McManus museum provides a stunning backdrop to this unique event that will transport you back in time to the bazaars and grand exhibitions of the 19th Century.

Meet characters like the formidable Whaling Captain Alexander Fairweather and intrepid journalists Bessie Maxwell and Marie Imandt and find out what life was really like in Victorian Dundee. Explore period toys and games, and mix in a little of the 21st Century as you pose for a family portrait in the very Victorian Instagram photo studio. Then finish your evening with a sample of Victorian refreshments in the McManus Salon.

Victoriana Dundee is just one of the many exciting events taking place throughout Scotland as part of the Festival of Museums between 16 and 18 May 2014.

This event is free, but booking is essential at http://victoriandundeebazaar.eventbrite.co.uk