An iconic hotel was honoured at a glittering ceremony to celebrate a record year in the North Wales tourism industry.
Portmeirion, in Minffordd, near Porthmadog, was among the winners from Gwynedd to be honoured at Go North Wales Tourism Awards when it was crowned the best wedding venue in the region.
The hotel is the centrepiece of the glorious Italianate village created by the visionary architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
It gained international fame as the location for the cult 1960s television series, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan and has since become a must-visit destination for tourists from all over the world.
At the same time it is a sought-after romantic venue for couples wanting to tie the knot in style.
According to organisers North Wales Tourism, places like Portmeirion were the backbone of the region’s booming visitor economy.
Revenue from tourism had rocketed to £3.2 billion, visitor numbers were at an all-time high and £100 million of investment was being ploughed into the region to make it an even more attractive destination.
The judges described Portmeirion and its two AA rosette restaurant as the ideal wedding venue.
The hotel’s location manager, Meurig Jones, said: “Everyone works incredibly hard to ensure we are the perfect wedding venue. It’s an award we hoped but never expected to win.
“We employ 165 people throughout the year and that figure rises to around 300 in the summer months. The award is testament to all our staff and the wonderful village designed by Clough Williams-Ellis.”
The team from Forest Holidays, in Beddgelert, were doubly delighted when the picked up two gongs, the Go Pet Friendly and the Go Self Catering Award.
Spokesperson Richard Bosworth said: “One award would have been special but to win two is beyond our wildest dreams. We have 25 members of staff and this is truly a team effort. Everyone at Forest Holidays is committed and right behind what we do and what we are trying to achieve.
“I’m so delighted the judges recognised what we are doing and how hard we work to achieve our goals.
“To win two awards and to be the only attraction this year to do so is very special and will push the team forward as we continue trying to improve our visitor experience.”
Meanwhile, the Go Attraction of the Year Award went to Blaenau Ffestiniog’s Llechwedd which judges recognised had undergone huge changes in the past 12 months.
Its brand new Slate Mountain Adventure Tour has seen an additional 10,000 visitors beating a path to the attraction in the first year.
Commercial manager Bleddyn Williams said: “The whole team is thrilled, it’s incredible. We employ as many as 90 people peak season and up to 40 in the winter months. Everyone has worked so hard to ensure we have achieved this success.
“We are one of the original North Wales attractions having started in 1972. And we have won many awards which is always satisfying but also shows that we continue to develop. No-one at Llechwedd is going to be sitting on their laurels anytime soon.”
Forest Holidays in Beddgelert won in two categories, the Go Self Catering Award and Go Pet Friendly Award.
The Go B&B / Inn Award was won by the Taldraeth guest house in Penrhyndeudraeth.
Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism which represents more than 1,500 members, said: “The sheer volume and quality of entries this year has underlined why North Wales is increasingly being recognised as a truly world class destination.
“I would like to congratulate all the winners but I would also like to stress that all the nominees have played an absolutely vital role in wat has been a phenomenally successful year for tourism in North Wales.
“This event really showcases the very best of North Wales and we have seen so many amazing entries.
“It is a clear indication to me that the quality of the tourism offer here is improving every year.
“We already had the raw material in the form of our breath-taking scenery and stunning coastline and now we have the infrastructure to match.
“We are not resting on our laurels though. The competition will not stand still so we must always strive to get better year on year.”
The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, was delighted to be there.
He said: “I’m delighted to join the north Wales tourism industry in celebrating the best of what the area has to offer – the winners and finalists for the awards do an exceptional job of putting Wales on the map and giving people reasons to choose Wales as a holiday destination. Da iawn bawb – Llongyfarchiadau.”