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