Hull's first four-star hotel has been revealed as the venue for one of the most prestigious events in the Hull and East Riding calendar - the gala dinner for this year’s regional tourism awards, the REYTAs.
The DoubleTree by Hilton in Ferensway is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the awards night on Thursday March 15 for what will be the new hotel’s biggest event to date.
And with space for up to 750 banqueting guests, awards organisers Visit Hull and East Yorkshire are looking forward to setting a new attendance record.
“We’re really excited to be bringing the awards dinner back to Hull after a gap of two years,” said VHEY tourism manager Andy Gray. “We’re going all out to make this a real night to remember in what is an absolutely fantastic location.
“For many people it will be their first chance to experience a gala dinner night at this new hotel, which is proving itself a real boon to the city and the county. We can promise people we have a few surprises in store - this is the ninth year of the REYTAs and we’re setting out to raise the bar to a new level,” he said.
Regarded as the region’s tourism “Oscars”, the REYTAs honour the very best, from major visitor attractions and events to hotels and accommodation providers, restaurants, pubs, cafes, food retailers and producers.
With 14 categories to be presented on the night, including best restaurant, pub, hotel and best tourism events, guests will enjoy a drinks reception, three course dinner and live entertainment plus a disco to round off the evening.
The setting will be the hotel’s ballroom, which is the largest space of its kind in East Yorkshire, able to seat 750 for a dinner event and 1,000 when set out theatre-style for a conference. When the REYTAs were last held in Hull, in 2015 at the KCom stadium, attendance was limited to 400.
“For the past two years the awards dinner has been held at the Spa in Bridlington and last year we set a record with more than 500 people attending. We hope we will be exceeding that number in 2018,” said Mr Gray.
With entries closing towards the end of January, interest in the REYTAs appears stronger than ever, with businesses large and small all vying for honours, which also gives them a route into the shortlisting process for the Visit England national tourism awards.
Businesses have also given their backing to the awards in the form of sponsorship. Humberside Airport, The Deep, St Stephen’s shopping centre, Strawberry Marketing and Design, Tickton Grange Hotel, Wykeland, VIP Worldwide, Hull Daily Mail and the East Yorkshire Local Food Network have all signed up to back individual categories.
Sarah Whitfield, general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton, Hull, is equally excited to be able to show off her hotel in all its glory.
“We have the ability of break the ballroom down into smaller spaces, depending on the size of the event, but for the REYTAs it will be set out in all its glory,” she said. “This will be our biggest event to date and we’re really proud to host such a prestigious night.”
The ballroom is totally pillar-free and boasts drop-down video projection screens so wherever guests sit they will enjoy uninterrupted views of the presentations.
The £25 million hotel boasts many firsts for the city, including Hull’s first rooftop bar, The Lexington, offering great views over the city centre, and the city centre’s first celebrity chef restaurant, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill.
And, of course, for the first-time ever guests attending the black tie awards dinner will be able to to stay over, should they choose to do so, at the venue, which boasts 165 bedrooms.
Andy Gray described the REYTAs as “a showcase for all the wonderful things Hull and East Yorkshire has to offer” and said media attention was higher than ever following city of culture. “Hull and East Yorkshire is proving itself to be one of the top choices for visitors from outside our region as well as offering fantastic choices for local people to enjoy all year round,” he said.
* Tickets for the 2018 REYTAs awards dinner will be available to book via the VHEY website, www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com
The full list of categories for the 2018 REYTAs are as follows:
1. REMARKABLE Hotel: Open to hotels of any size that offer a minimum of reception, bar, dinner and breakfast to provide the best overnight stay and the highest standards of accommodation in Hull and East Yorkshire.
2. REMARKABLE Bed & Breakfast/Boutique Guest Accommodation: Open to all types of guest accommodation including, B&Bs, guesthouses, boutique accommodation, farmhouses, inns, and restaurants with rooms.
3. REMARKABLE Self Catering Provider/Property: Open to all self-catering accommodation including serviced apartments, houses, cottages, flats, lodges, tepees, yurts and shepherds huts.
4. REMARKABLE Taste of East Yorkshire: This category is open to producers, processors or growers of local food and drink products, vineyards, breweries, farms, farm shops and co-operatives. Entries must demonstrate creativity in their use or production of local produce, consistent quality in the delivery and presentation of food and how the produce is made available to customers, perhaps with a visitor experience and creative marketing.
5. REMARKABLE Cuppa: Open to any tourism business such as tearooms, café, hotel or visitor attraction, that serves the best cup of tea or coffee and refreshments in Hull and East Yorkshire.
6. REMARKABLE Restaurant: The restaurant, hotel or pub that serves the best food in Hull and East Yorkshire.
7. REMARKABLE Pub: For the best pub in Hull and East Yorkshire serving the highest quality of bar food and beverages in the finest surroundings in the region.
8. REMARKABLE Business Tourism Award: This award acknowledges the huge importance of business visitors to the meetings, conferences and exhibitions sector in Hull and East Yorkshire. Open to any organisation in the business tourism sector including exhibition centres, convention hotels, country house properties, conference, banqueting and training venues.
9. REMARKABLE Holiday Park/Holiday Village: This award recognises Caravan and Holiday Parks, Touring Parks, and Camping and Touring Parks that have boosted business by making the most of their distinctive appeal.
10. REMARKABLE Newcomer: This award is for a newcomer to the Hull and East Yorkshire tourism industry. Individuals and tourism businesses may apply including attractions
experiences, food and drink providers and accommodation establishments that have set up between 1st January 2016 and 30th June 2017.
11. REMARKABLE Visitor Attraction/Experience: What is the best tourism attraction or experience in Hull & East Yorkshire that puts a smile on visitors’ faces and creates special memories? This award will be given to the tourism attraction/provider that delivers an outstanding and unique experience.
12. REMARKABLE Small Tourism Event (Under 30,000 visitors per year): What is the best event, experience or festival in Hull and East Yorkshire that takes place over a day, weekend, week, month or season? The event can be free or paid for; a one-off happening or a rolling series of annual events.
13. REMARKABLE Large Tourism Event (over 30,000 visitors per year): What is the best event, experience or festival in Hull and East Yorkshire that takes place over a day, weekend, week, month or season? The event can be free or paid for; a one-off happening or a rolling series of annual events.
14. REMARKABLE East Yorkshire Passion: The person is selected by the Visit Hull and East Yorkshire Advisory Board Group who in their judgement has made a significant contribution to tourism in our region. Nominations are invited from the local tourism industry.