Quality boost on Orkney!

Press release   •   Jun 12, 2017 10:18 BST

Quality on Orkney is continuing to rise as three accommodation providers on the mainland have recently received high-end Quality Assurance awards from the national tourism organisation.

Drawing on impartial and expert advice from highly experienced VisitScotland Quality & Tourism Advisors, the businesses have all achieved significant enhancements in their gradings: Skaill House Apartments’ Quality Assurance award was doubled, jumping from two stars to four; The Grainstore B&B has been awarded the coveted ‘Gold’ status to add their impressive 4-star award; and Northlight Apartments has achieved a 4-star award at their first grading.

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.

Lee Inkster, Industry Relationship Manager at VisitScotland said:

“It really is fantastic to see Orkney businesses drawing on VisitScotland support to enhance Orkney’s tourism offering through such quality accommodation.

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Northlight Apartments, The Grainstore B&B and Skaill House Apartments on attaining such outstanding awards from VisitScotland – well-deserved.

“Businesses on Orkney continue to impress me, each in an individual way - whether its achieving an added ‘Gold’ award in light of the extraordinary customer service and special touches, whether it’s putting in outstanding hard-work and effort to improve the quality of the business and managing to double the standard in just two years or whether it’s being passionate about providing top quality to visitors from the very start and achieving a top of the range award at the first ever grading visit.

“These businesses have reached such a high standard and are meeting and exceeding customer expectations which is crucial to Orkney becoming a must-visit, must-return destination. I hope it inspires others to strive for such results.”

Located close the stunning bay of Skaill and the extremely popular Skara Brae, Skaill House Apartments has undergone major refurbishments with extensive cosmetic and structural improvements. This significant increase in the quality of the apartments has led to them jumping from two stars to four.

The property has two beautiful apartments which are ideal for couples or families. Guests can also be granted free access to Skaill House (by arrangement out of season), and they receive 10% discount in the gift shop.

Major Malcolm Macrae, Owner of Skaill House Apartments said:

“I am absolutely delighted that we have been awarded a 4-star Quality Assurance award for our two Self Catering holiday apartments at Skaill House. This has been a major investment in providing top quality accommodation with ensuite facilities and has also helped preserve the fabric of this amazing ‘Grade A’ listed building. We can now provide visitors with a unique experience, staying beside Skaill House, which in itself is a 4-star Visitor Attraction, and being within walking distance of the world famous Skara Brae and the beautiful sandy Bay of Skaill.

“VisitScotland has been a great help throughout the planning process of this major refurbishment.Their advice and ongoing support has been invaluable in helping us to achieve the end result and ensuring we were making decisions that were right for our visitors.”

The Grainstore B&B added ‘Gold’ status recognises the continuing attainment of outstanding customer service and hospitality for its guests.

Owner Ione Swift is committed to the ongoing development of her B&B, and is always continuing to look for ways to improve the quality of the property and experience for her guests. The business as a Taste Our Best Award - a joint initiative between VisitScotland and the Scottish Government, which is designed to recognise businesses that not only offer a quality food and drink experience, but include and promote Scottish produce on their menus, to give consumers choice.

The Grainstore also recently joined the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme, through which the national tourism organisation works in partnership with businesses to recognise the work they are already doing in enhancing the visitor experience and bringing the Spirit of Scotland to life, including the provision of quality visitor information.

Ione Swift, Owner of The Grainstore B&B said:

“The Grainstore is a one bedroom B&B, with private facilities. When I started offering B&B last year, I wanted from the outset to offer not just high quality accommodation at The Grainstore but also for the guests to experience something unique by staying with us that would enhance their ‘Orkney experience’.

“Last year, our VisitScotland Quality Assurance Advisor encouraged me by recognising what I was trying to achieve and the facets individual to our property’s characteristics and location. I was given very helpful suggestions to enhance what was already on offer, and this has enabled me to achieve the 4-star ‘Gold’ QA award this year, much to my absolute delight.”

Northlight Apartments offers two luxury apartments: ‘The Lookout’ – ideal for couples, with one king-size room and one double room, and ‘The Loom’ – which reflects the heritage of the building as a tweed factory, sleeping up to four people with one king size ensuite room and a twin room.

The two luxury apartments are situated in Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall. These town centre apartments are finished to an exceptionally high standard, in the former ‘Tower Building’, offering something quirky and unique on the island.

Northlight Apartments is also now bookable online, having received advice on the digital customer experience through the QA scheme and recently launching its all-new website.

Karen Groat, Owner of Northlight Apartments said:

“Northlight Apartments is delighted to have been awarded a 4-star award from VisitScotland.The comprehensive grading process guarantees our guests a superior level of accommodation and we look forward to fulfilling their expectations.

“A number of months before opening our doors to welcome our first guests, we sought advice through Quality Assurance regarding additional marketing opportunities.It was a hugely enjoyable and beneficial experience, not least because of the enthusiastic and honest approach of the staff.”

For more information on VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme, please visit

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