There were celebrations all around the north coast following the prestigious Northern Ireland Tourism awards held in Enniskillen Castle.
The Bushmills Inn lifted two awards including the much sought after Hotel of the Year award, seeing off the challenge from the Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Lough Erne Resort. They also won the Customer Service Excellence award in what was a tough category which included Galgorm Resort and Spa and Visit Derry.
Joining the celebrations was Nicola Neill from Blackrock House B& B in Portrush who won the Best Serviced Accommodation award for Guesthouses and B&B.
The Adelphi in Portrush picked up a commended award in the same category.
The Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Snow Water Partnership took the award for Tourism Innovation for the Atlantic Sessions.
The Fullerton Arms and Guesthouse Inn was highly commended in the Most Promising New Tourism Business category and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust received the same recognition in the Tourism Innovation category for its Artisans at Work, Craft Reach Économusée project.
Delighted with her award Nicola Neill owner of Blackrock House B&B said: “Last year I was in the Most Promising Business category at the awards and came runner-up which was amazing as I had been in business less than a year.
“I celebrated my first year anniversary of the business in April this year and to win the award for Best Serviced accommodation outright was totally unexpected. “The lady who was runner-up was the winner last year so I went along happy to be in the top three and happy to be a finalist and really it was a bit of a shock when I was announced as the winner.”
Blackrock House B&B is Portrush’s first 5 Star Bed and Breakfast offering four luxury guest rooms, overlooking the West Bay and with the Irish Open in Portstewart in July and the British Open in Royal Portrush in 2019, Nicola’s award winning accommodation has already proved to be a hit with golfers from all over the world.
“As we speak I have six Spanish golfers from Bilbao staying with me.
“This week already I have had enquiries from golfers in Arizona, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and South Africa. I have golfers coming to stay right through September and October.
“About three weeks ago I was put in touch with a golf journalist in England and he said he was bringing a friend with him.
“It turns out the friend was Martin Ebert, the golf architect who has been helping to re-design Royal Portrush for the British Open.
“We are now getting that level of people coming over to inspect the course and check on its progress as well as people who want to play it before the Championship happens. Most of them will also play the other local courses like Portstewart so it’s fantastic for the area.
“Between Royal Portrush and the Irish Open in Portstewart it is going to be phenomenal for the north coast and tourism in the area.