Edinburgh’s landmark Balmoral Hotel scooped a prestigious Icon of Scotland Award last week, at a lavish Gala Dinner in New York. Organised by Scotland Magazine, in association with VisitScotland, the annual Icons of Scotland Dinner rewards the finest in Scottish excellence. Thousands of Scotland Magazine readers voted for their Icons of Scotland 2004 from a short list of five in each category. The Scottish Food and Drink Category, won by The Balmoral, recognises any person, product or business which best reflects Scottish Food and Drink.
Damian Riley-Smith of Scotland Magazine remarked, “Icons of Scotland defines the very best people, products and places from Scotland. The incredible history that is Scotland’s past and the creativity that Scotland displays today are all captured in Icons of Scotland.”
Jeff Bland, Executive Chef at The Balmoral created a Michelin-starred Scottish Banquet for the 250 guests who attended the Dinner. He collected the award with Debbie Taylor, General Manager, who commented, “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award, which recognises that The Balmoral offers the best Food and Drink product in Scotland. I have a very talented team within our Food and Beverage Operation, who display creativity, passion and a constant drive for perfection. I am thrilled their hard work has been recognised and we look forward to welcoming our American visitors to The Balmoral to experience the best of Scotland.”
This accolade is a further endorsement of The Balmoral’s status as Edinburgh’s leading hotel. Last month, Debbie Taylor unveiled the “New Balmoral”, following its £7 million refurbishment programme, as well as six creative new packages and “wow” initiatives. This has also been a good year for award-winning Jeff Bland, who retained his Michelin Star in January and is currently Drambuie Scottish Chef of the Year.
Debbie Taylor has been in New York for the past few days to promote the “New Balmoral” to key US Agents and Media. The US Market, which accounts for over quarter of The Balmoral’s total business, should be further boosted by the introduction of a direct route between Newark and Edinburgh, by Continental Airlines in June.
The Balmoral has put some innovative measures in place to capitalise on these opportunities. Within the banqueting sector “The Shindig at The Balmoral” is a four-course traditional Scottish Evening with entertainment, set in the newly refurbished Sir Walter Scott Suite, with stunning views towards Edinburgh Castle. This event will run on a nightly basis over the summer months and is specifically targeting the US Market.
The new “Destination Scotland” package aims to showcase the very best of Scotland. Guests to The Balmoral will enjoy a “wee dram” on arrival, luxury accommodation and a tailor-made itinerary, with highlights such as golf, haggis hunting and ceilidh dancing.
Rocco Forte Hotels has strengthened its representation in North America. Both David MacGregor and Jolene Mello are dedicated to servicing the US Market to increase US business for The Balmoral.