A brand new hostel, converted from an 18th-century sail-making loft, has received a four-star award from VisitScotland at its very first attempt.
Following a £1.8 million renovation, the Sail Loft, located at the Back Green in the town of Portsoy, received the award from the national tourism organisation’s Quality Assurance (QA) Scheme. The QA Scheme is a benchmark for quality across the tourism industry and operates across accommodation, visitor attractions and food sectors.
As well as the sail-making loft, the accommodation is comprised of a Georgian house and two associated cottages. All the buildings have a category B listing from Historic Environment Scotland. The sail making loft closed in the 1930s and slowly fell into a state of disrepair.
However, in July 2015, North East Scotland Preservation Trust and Portsoy Community Enterprise (PCE) undertook a £1.8m project to restore the historic buildings and make them into a 25 bed bunkhouse accommodation facility. By January 2017, the development was complete, and The Sail Loft opened its doors at the beginning of February.
Operated by PCE, the hostel offers a variety of rooms, including family rooms and a wheelchair-accessible bedroom. Facilities include a communal kitchen and dining area, lounge with wood burning stove, drying room and launderette, as well as secure bicycle storage and wash facilities. Guests can also enjoy the sheltered and relaxing coastal garden area, which offers a BBQ facility and outdoor wood fired hot tub.
The Sail Loft is expected to increase tourism in the area, as well as making it possible for residential traditional music courses to be held at the nearby Salmon Bothy. This is particularly apt as VisitScotland has just launched a new campaign to highlight the country’s traditional music heritage as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Also in keeping with the themed year, residential boat building courses will now be possible at the Boatshed.
Roger Goodyear, Co-Chair, PCE, said: “We are delighted that The Sail Loft has been recognised as a four-star hostel facility. It reflects the quality we strived to achieve throughout and we thank VisitScotland for the support and guidance provided to us during the process. The Sail Loft adds significant appeal to this beautiful area of the Banffshire Coast and will bring additional tourism to Portsoy and the surrounding area.”
Jo Robinson, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved at The Sail Loft on its four-star QA award. To achieve a four-star grading, particularly on the first attempt, is very impressive.
“Our Quality Assurance Scheme helps businesses to reach their full potential and truly shine. The scheme is about more than just the ‘stars’ on the door - it’s about the entire visitor experience, about investing in your business and making it as economically sustainable as possible.”
Developed and improved for over 30 years, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Schemes are world-leading and provide a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. They allow businesses not just to meet visitor expectations, but to exceed them.
For more information on the Sail Loft, go to www.portsoysailloft.org
For more information on VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme, go to www.visitscotland.org
Notes to Editors
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- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
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- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
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- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
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- 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017