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Crieff Hydro is finalist in National Geographic Traveller awards

Crieff Hydro’s commitment to ‘green’ initiatives has led to a shortlisting in the prestigious National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards.

The 900-acre Perthshire resort is a finalist in the Green Light (Eco Travel) category, the latest in a stream of accolades recognising Crieff Hydro’s commitment to sustainability and green tourism.

The 200-bedroom resort has a dedicated ‘Green Team’ made up of representatives from across all departments, who become ambassadors for identifying and implementing changes that contribute towards Crieff Hydro becoming a greener business. LED lighting, improved food waste management, upcycling of bedding and kitchen equipment, and guest donations towards Perthshire’s Big Tree Country Initiative are among the eco-friendly schemes which the resort has put in place.

Crieff Hydro is up against Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge in Kenya and The Ocean Cleanup initiative in the Green Light category. The winners will be announced at the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards ceremony on 27th November at the May Fair Hotel in London.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro, said:

“Crieff Hydro is building a stellar reputation as an eco-friendly destination and we’re delighted that the public has put us forward for this National Geographic Traveller award. The accolade is testament to our hard work in the field of sustainability. It’s something that runs right through the business, from staff training to customer awareness.”

Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller, said: “From some of the world’s best-loved destinations and brands to some of the attractions that really should be on everyone’s radar, this shortlist is indicative of the best in travel.”

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

Crieff’s Murraypark Hotel receives prestigious Green Tourism Award for its sensational ‘Silver’ sustainability initiatives

The Murraypark Hotel in Crieff has been rewarded for its commitment to sustainability with a prestigious Green Tourism Award.

The Green Tourism initiative assesses businesses on their green credentials and the Perthshire hotel attained a high ‘Silver’ grading in recognition of its series of planet-friendly initiatives.

Murraypark won the accolade after a recent inspection found that sustainable activities being undertaken there met 74% of the Green Tourism criteria.

The home-from home hotel, which has 21 bedrooms, was commended on its ‘green’ efforts across the board in one of the most rigorous certification programmes in the industry.

Assessors praised Murraypark Hotel on its commitment to sustainability, particularly on its strong local food provenance, initiative to recycle used soaps from the bedrooms and good waste management.

The Murraypark Hotel has received ongoing support from the ‘Green Team’ at its sister hotel Crieff Hydro.

Murraypark Hotel’s Manager Lynne Anderson, who led the visit by Green Tourism, commented:

“The team here are all passionate about playing their part in helping to ensure we work in an eco-friendly environment. Whether it’s through our monitoring of food waste and the ways we can reduce it, or working with local community schemes like Crieff in Leaf, a local charity which maintains many of the wonderful green spaces and flower baskets in Crieff, we’ll be working hard to build on these initiatives to do even better on Green Tourism’s next visit.”

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, continued:

“We’re always looking for new ways to make Murraypark Hotel operate more efficiently and it’s great to see Green Tourism recognise this. All of the efforts from the team at Murraypark Hotel go a long way to making the hotel a truly green and sustainable business.”

This was the first grading for Murraypark Hotel and the high Silver Award is a great achievement. Green Tourism’s Business Scheme is the UK’s leading sustainable tourism certification scheme. Businesses who opt to join are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas like energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.

Andrea Nicholas, Managing Director at Green Tourism, commented:

“The team at Murraypark Hotel has done well to gain a Silver Award during their first grading with Green Tourism. There are a number of great sustainable practices in place, such as a strong local food provenance and recycling soaps from the bedrooms. Overall a very good first assessment and a well-deserved high Silver Award!”

Green Tourism is considered one of the most rigorous certification programmes of its kind. It is the only one independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). It also offers support and advice on developing sustainable tourism businesses.

More information about the Murraypark Hotel online at www.murraypark.com

Crieff Hydro gets even greener, with a splash of gold, as it notches up latest tourism award

Crieff Hydro’s commitment to sustainability has been rewarded with a Gold Green Tourism award in recognition of a series of planet-friendly initiatives.

The 900-acre Perthshire resort won the accolade after a recent inspection found that sustainable activities being undertaken on the 900-acre Perthshire resort met 80% of the Green Tourism criteria.

The popular tourist destination, which has more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units and six eating outlets, as well as two swimming pools, a horse riding centre and Action Glen activity centre, was commended on its ‘green’ efforts across the board in one of the most rigorous certification programmes in the industry.

Assessors praised Crieff Hydro on its commitment to sustainability, in particular the staff training and awareness.

Crieff Hydro has a dedicated ‘Green Team’ made up of representatives from across all departments, who become ambassadors for identifying and implementing changes that contribute towards becoming a greener business.

The introduction of LED lighting within the hotel, significant changes to their food waste management and its visitor payback scheme, where guests are invited to donate £1 during their stay to help Perthshire’s Big Tree Country Initiative, was also recognised. A truly green scheme, it helps to conserve some of the world’s most enigmatic conifers in the woods, forests and estates of Perthshire.

Alexandra McDonald, Crieff Hydro’s Support Services and Environment Manager, heads up the Green Team and led the visit by Green Tourism. She commented:

“Since Green Tourism’s last visit in 2013, we’ve worked hard to look for ways to improve and our Crieff Hydro Green Team are all passionate about playing their part in helping to implement the little changes that all go a long way to working more efficiently. Whether it’s closer monitoring of the food waste and ways we can reduce it, or working with local community schemes to donate duvets and kitchen equipment, all of these steps have helped us achieve a fantastic grading from Green Tourism.”

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro, said:

“We’re always looking for new ways to make Crieff Hydro operate more efficiently and it’s great to see Green Tourism recognise this. All of the efforts, from the team across Crieff Hydro, go a long way in making Crieff Hydro a truly green and sustainable business.”

Crieff Hydro has been a member of Green Tourism, the UK’s leading sustainable tourism certification scheme, since 2007. Businesses who opt to join are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas like energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.

Andrea Nicholas, Managing Director at Green Tourism, commented:

“Crieff Hydro has put a lot of work into this project and the Green Team should be very proud of its achievements.  Reducing food waste, working with a local company to recycle soap waste, installing LED lighting in key areas of the hotel and becoming involved with the Big Tree Country are just some of the measures that have seen Crieff Hydro to its well-deserved GOLD award!”

Green Tourism is considered one of the most rigorous certification programmes of its kind. It is the only one independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). They also offer support and advice on developing sustainable tourism businesses.

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

Rave guest reviews lead to latest family-friendly award for Crieff Hydro

Crieff Hydro continues to add to its accolades with a win for top family friendly hotel – voted on the basis of guest reviews.

The popular Perthshire resort beat hotels across the U.K. to bag the win as part of LateRooms.com’s annual Simply The Guest Awards. The awards, the only ones in the industry to be based entirely on genuine guest reviews, recognise hotels with outstanding customer service. It is one of only three Scottish properties to appear in LateRooms.com’s awards listing of 25 hotels.

Crieff Hydro, which has invested around £40 million in its facilities in recent years, boasts a swimming pool, riding stables, an Action Glen activity centre, water sports, a ‘tween’ zone, supervised kids’ clubs and an in-house cinema. The 900-acre resort in Crieff, located in the heart of Highland Perthshire, has more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units and six eating outlets.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro, said:

“The Simply the Guest award recognises how hard the Crieff Hydro team works to be an unforgettable family experience. More than that, because the award is based on feedback from genuine guests who have stayed here, it really is something to celebrate.

“We’re constantly striving to improve things for our guests at Crieff Hydro. Most recently we’ve revamped our website to make it much more user-friendly.”

LateRooms.com spokesperson Sandra Perkins said:

“One of the first things many people look at when booking a hotel is the reviews of others, which is why the Simply The Guest Awards are such a valuable industry accolade. The guest experience is one of the most important, not to mention independent, measures of how well a hotel is performing.

“To be recognised as the best in one of the Simply The Guest Award categories reflects the dedication and emphasis the hotel places on guest experience across a range of areas – from customer service to the breakfast served.”

Other family-friendly accolades for Crieff Hydro have included: Scottish Hotel Awards’ Family Hotel of the Year; Winner, Family Hotel in The Sunday Times’ Ultimate 100 British hotels listing; and Outstanding Contribution, Herald Scottish Family Business Awards.

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

VIDEO GOES VIRAL AS FAMOUS ‘TURRET’ TAKES A HOLIDAY AT CRIEFF HYDRO

When The Famous Grouse Experience’s distillery cat went missing from his Perthshire home, his feline friend Glen and distillery colleagues feared the worst!

Mouser-in-chief Turret is quite a celebrity at Glenturret Distillery at The Famous Grouse Experience in Crieff. The popular puss has an important role welcoming 80,000 visitors every year and supervising operations as he patrols the award-winning visitor attraction.

With the freedom to roam Glenturret Distillery’s grounds to put his natural instincts to explore to the test.

Turret follows in the proverbial paw-steps of Towser who still holds the Guinness World Record for best mouser, catching 28,899 mice in her 24 years at the distillery and whose statue and World Record Certificate is proudly displayed on the distillery wall.

But when he failed to turn up for work one morning earlier this month, frantic staff launched a search party.

Despite combing the immediate area – from the grain stores to the popular Wilde Thyme restaurant – there was no sign of the mischievous moggy.

Things looked bleak … until a social media post from a member of staff at the nearby Crieff Hydro on a local Friendship page popped up.

It seemed like Glenturret’s fabulous feline fancied a holiday and decided to check out the accommodation next door.

And, while he waited for his lift back to Glenturret, delighted Hydro staff treated the fussy feline to a marvellous mini break, sampling the upmarket facilities which make the Hydro one of the UK’s favourite hotel destinations.

Now Turret has become an internet sensation after his antics have been captured in a light-hearted video which has now been viewed by thousands.

Check out his adventures here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NeYOGEuLDI

FAMOUS CHILDREN’S AUTHOR DEBI GLIORI HOSTS FAMILY STORYTELLING SESSION IN PERTH

Children’s author and illustrator Debi Gliori is hosting a family-friendly storytelling session at the AK Bell Library in Perth on Saturday, February 4, from 11am until noon.

Debi will be reading from her bestselling book, Dragon Loves Penguin. It’s the heart-warming tale of a dragon in need of an egg and an abandoned egg in need of a mummy. It seems like the perfect fit, but what happens when that egg hatches and the little baby doesn’t look like all the other dragons (in fact, he looks remarkably like a penguin)? Debi will explain how she created this story and the research she did to create the beautiful characters and illustrations.

Following the reading, youngsters will get the chance to draw their own penguins and after the event some of Debi’s books will be available for sale in the theatre foyer.

This fun, free event is suitable for children aged four and above, who must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Booking is essential. Tickets are available via www.eventbrite.co.uk or by phoning 01738 444 949. More information at www.culturepk.org.uk

 

Crieff Hydro voted U.K.’s top family hotel in Sunday Times listing

 

Crieff Hydro has sealed its position as one of the country’s leading resorts by being voted the U.K.’s top family hotel by The Sunday Times.

In a listing of the Ultimate 100 British hotels by The Sunday Times last weekend, Crieff Hydro was voted winner in the Family Hotel section. The newspaper’s prestigious travel section described the 900-acre resort as offering a “bumper buffet of ways to wear out the offspring”, listing its supervised kids’ clubs, swimming pool, mini zoo, riding stables and water sports, kids’ tea, quiz nights and an in-house cinema.

“It’s big, but no bunfight and there’s no campfight nonsense,” said The Sunday Times, listing Crieff Hydro’s accommodation options, which range from bedroom suites to self-catering cabins.

Located in the heart of Highland Perthshire, Crieff Hydro has invested around £40 million in its facilities in recent years with, most recently, a play zone for 8- to 12-year-olds. Featuring traditional board games, PlayStation and Xbox One and Kinect consoles, the tween zone is part of Big Country, a child care facility for 2- to 12-year-olds which is included in room rates.

With more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units, 6 eating places and over 60 on-site activities, Crieff Hydro has consistently won awards as a family business and a family hotel. Accolades include Scottish Hotel Awards’ Family Hotel of the Year and Outstanding Contribution, Herald Scottish Family Business Awards.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, commented:

“We are thrilled to have been recognised as the country’s best family hotel in last weekend’s Sunday Times listing of ultimate British hotels. This accolade is testament to the consistent hard work and the team effort that goes into making this resort the ideal family getaway. Crieff Hydro began life as a healthy spa getaway in 1868 and we’re proud that in 2016 it’s a healthy family getaway too.

“It’s fair to say we’re not fans of shushing and tutting at Crieff Hydro. The whole resort is designed with families in mind and with kids to the fore.”

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

 

Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels celebrates a double Thistle nomination

Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels has garnered  two prestigious nominations at this year’s Regional Thistle Awards run by VisitScotland, with Crieff Hydro’s Action Glen and Peebles-based hotel, The Park both featuring in the shortlist.

Leading the charge with a nomination for Best Outdoor/ Adventure Experience, Action Glen, Scotland’s premier adventure centre, has been shortlisted in the Central, Fife & Tayside Regional Final.

Action Glen will battle it out against Go Ape at Aberfoyle and Highland Fling Bungee for the coveted award. With over 30 activities to choose from including Segway trekking, Aloft! tree top adventure, quad biking and much more, Action Glen’s success has seen the adventure centre expand into one of Scotland’s biggest outdoor leisure operators welcoming over 40,000 visitors annually, a 60% increase in just four years.

The Park, which re-opened earlier this year after a ground-breaking refurbishment project, has been shortlisted in the Innovation in Tourism category and will compete in the Lothian & Borders Regional Final against Born in the Borders and Lateral City.

Situated in the heart of Peebles, The Park has undergone an exciting programme of investment with a quirky upcycled facelift which has payed homage to the Borders industrial past, weaving the stories of the recently closed local March Street Mill with the history of the hotel itself. The result has been a unique, nostalgic reinvention of The Park’s reception areas that has celebrated the past and the future.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels commented:

“We are delighted to be recognised twice at this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards and in two very different categories. Action Glen continues to be a massive success story for Crieff Hydro and an experience that has consistently proved popular with an array of visitors to Perthshire every year.

“2016 has been an incredibly exciting year at The Park and many people have worked tirelessly to bring the vision for our unique refurbishment programme to fruition. Both nominations are testimony to everyone’s dedication, across Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, to provide the very best experiences to all of our customers, offering a warm Scottish welcome.”

Both Action Glen and The Park will compete in their respective categories at a ceremony at Prestonfield House Hotel, Edinburgh on Thursday 10th November.

http://crieff.actionglen.com/

http://www.parkpeebles.co.uk/

Auchterarder student’s art is the pick of the crop

Mhairi McWhinnie’s autumnal pumpkins take the top spot in the third instalment of Crieff Hydro’s local schools art competition.

The S1 student from the Community School of Auchterarder, has become the third winner of Crieff Hydro’s “By the locals, for the locals” mailer campaign which features school children’s artwork from across Strathearn throughout the year, with each flyer containing a range of exclusive offers and savings for Strathearn residents.

The 12-year-old’s artistic pastel pumpkins were picked from a crop of strong competition and will now front the flyer, which will be arriving through 12,000 local letterboxes this week.

Kirsty Laird from Crieff Hydro’s Marketing team, commented:

“We have been so impressed by the talent of local school pupils and level of artwork that has been produced. It was not an easy decision choosing the winner, but, in the end, Mhairi’s entry stood out as she beautifully captured the colours of the autumnal season, making it the perfect choice for this quarter’s flyer. We’d like to thank all the pupils at the Community School of Auchterarder who took the time to submit their fantastic entries.”

As well as seeing her cover design make its way through the letter boxes of thousands of homes in Perthshire, Mhairi also won a £50 gift voucher to spend at Crieff Hydro.

For more information visit www.hydrolocal.com

So you want to be a (great British) baker? Tips from inside the kitchen

 

As the country immerses itself in the latest series of The Great British Bake Off, meet two chefs who are not only inspired by the programme but are an inspiration themselves.

The oven gloves are off as contestants compete in one of the nation’s favourite TV cooking competitions: The Great British Bake Off. As the 7th series of the hit show hots up, wannabe pastry chefs are already planning their careers in the kitchen.

Baking and baked goods have always been part of the British culture, but the BBC 1 programme has sparked a surge in interest in baking in the U.K. One fan of the show is Beth Douglas, pastry chef de partie at Crieff Hydro, part of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels. She admits that TV cookery programmes and Pinterest provide inspiration for her. But her interest in baking goes back much further than The Great British Bake Off.

Beth shone in home economics at high school in Crieff, Perthshire but it wasn’t until she started helping out in the kitchen at Crieff Hydro – where she was also a part-time waitress – that she saw the possibility of a career in the kitchen.

Realising a love for baking, she is now the youngest of an all-female team of pastry chefs at the luxury Perthshire hotel. Now, as pastry chef de partie, she works in the main kitchen making cakes for the Wintergarden Café, one of six eating places in the resort. She also occasionally helps prepare food for fine dining restaurant Meikle, and for functions.

“It can seem intimidating as this is a very big hotel,” says Beth of a resort that includes 200 bedrooms and 50 self-catering units. “But the kitchen is split into little teams so that makes it easier.” Teams are arranged according to sections of the kitchen, each called a partie, in a system that dates back to the late 19th century.

Last year Beth was given the challenge of creating a selection of cakes and baked goods from scratch; up until then the Wintergarden ordered in cakes from an outside supplier. But it’s a challenge this young chef has relished.

Beth isn’t college trained. Instead she learned as she went along, by watching her fellow pastry chefs and by developing her own ideas. Experimentation is key when you’re a pastry chef and Beth says she’s lucky to have the backing of a kitchen and an executive chef that gives her creative space. “They give me a lot of scope to try things out and follow through different ideas,” she says.

That’s how executive chef Bruce Price operates – by trusting his brigade of 45 chefs to do their job, and giving them flexibility to put their own stamp on dishes.

And it’s how Jen Thomson, head chef at The Park Hotel in Peebles, a sister hotel to Crieff Hydro, works too. “Being a chef is all about being creative, and in my mind that’s not something that should be stifled in any way. That said, of course we have kitchen rules to adhere to, and the traditional hierarchy of the kitchen. But within that, I’m open to ideas from my brigade of chefs.”

Like Beth, Jen and her staff get inspiration from TV programmes like The Great British Bake Off. Says Jen: “Our customers are watching these TV shows too, so in a way having all of professional cooking and baking on TV, and the spin-off cookery books, raises the bar for us. It’s raising customer expectations and in a customer service industry that’s only a good thing.”

The Crieff Hydro group of hotels is open-minded when it comes to their new chefs’ qualifications. Although Andy Brodie, group executive development chef with the Crieff Hydro group of hotels, sees the benefit of young chefs attending a catering course at college, he says it’s not for everyone. “Beth has a talent for picking things up quickly. A college environment would be boring for her. In her case there’s more to be learned by going straight into the kitchen environment.”

Ask her what she loves to bake and Beth says simply: “Anything that makes people say wow.” The wow factor isn’t easy to achieve, however, as The Great British Bake Off has shown. Contestant Louise Williams’ gingerbread church fell apart last week during the Showstopper challenge and she was shown the door. This week, Val Stones’ Showstopper, an elaborate bread Noah’s ark, drew criticism for its apparently unrecognisable ‘animals’.

As for the future, Beth hopes one day to open her own “little tea house – with good food and home baked cakes”.

[Beth’s piece of advice]

‘Get yourself into a kitchen’

Beth’s advice for future chefs is this: “Get yourself a decent collection of cookbooks to look through, watch cooking programmes, and experiment at home. Then go for it! Get yourself into a kitchen for some work experience and just take things from there. So long as you’re interested, passionate and enthusiastic about food I personally don’t think going to college is completely necessary.”

  • Catch The Great British Bake Off every Wednesday at 8pm on BBC 1.