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CIE Tours International 30th Annual Awards of Excellence

Ireland’s best holiday destinations and experiences recognised based on feedback from over 25,000 visitors. Company predicts increased tourist visits as it launches Winter Tours to Ireland from North America for first time.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020:  Ireland remains an attractive tourism destination for visitors from North America drawn by the diversity and richness of the experiences offered and the warmth of the traditional Irish welcome which should not be underestimated, according to Elizabeth Crabill, CEO, CIE Tours International. 

Speaking at the presentation of CIE Tours International Annual Awards of Excellence Elizabeth Crabill said; “30 years ago CIE Tours International introduced its annual Awards of Excellence to recognise Ireland’s hospitality ambassadors – the people and businesses throughout the country who put Irish tourism on the global stage through the warmth of welcome and quality of service provided to our international visitors. 

“Since then Ireland’s tourism sector has changed utterly and grown in reputation but the demand for excellent experiences remains constant.  The Irish holiday experience is unique and continues to grow in popularity, so much so that we’re launching new winter tour holidays to Ireland for the first time in 2020.  This growth is driven in no small part by our Tour partners, many of whom we are recognising tonight, who are continuously improving their offering.  I warmly congratulate tonight’s winners on their achievements and I thank all our partners who work closely with us throughout the year”.

Award Winners

The CIE Tours International Awards of Excellence were first launched in 1990.  The awards are presented based on feedback received from over 25,000 customers surveyed throughout the year.  The data and information obtained from these surveys is invaluable to CIE Tour partners who use it to continuously improve their offering to their clients.  

Each of the CIE Tour partners who qualified for an award, delivered an exceptional quality experience and welcome to visitors, achieving a customer satisfaction rating of over 92%. 

Fourteen overall award winners were announced, who each achieved the highest customer rating in their category:

Best 5 Star Hotel: Dromoland Castle (Clare)

Best 4 Star Hotel: The Lodge at Ashford Castle (Mayo)

Best 3 Star Hotel: Clew Bay Hotel (Mayo)

Best Hotel Accommodation: Kilronan Castle (Roscommon)

Best Hotel Dinner: Cabra Castle Hotel (Cavan)

Best Hotel Service & Hospitality: Cahernane House Hotel (Kerry)

Best Event Dinner/Entertainment: The Crosskeys Inn (Antrim)

Special Dinner Feature: Killeen House Hotel (Kerry)

Best Tour Feature: Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours (Kerry)

Best Walking Tour: Westport Walking Tour (Mayo)

Best Visit: Teeling Whiskey Distillery (Dublin)

Best Lunch: The Glyde Inn (Louth)

Best Sheep Dog Trial: Atlantic Sheepdogs (Sligo)

National Heritage Award: Shannon Heritage (Clare)

Merit Awards were also presented to 71 hotels and tourist attractions who achieved a customer rating of 92% or higher (see full list below).

Positive Outlook for 2020

CIE Tours International is the largest specialist tour operator bringing visitors from North America to Ireland, booking over 350,000 bed nights during the year.  Crabill is predicting a better year in 2020 based on advanced bookings received.

“We’re very pleased with the level of bookings received from clients travelling to Europe in 2020 which is up on this time last year.  We launched a new website which has been a huge success and with the launch of our new Winter Tours, we will increase visitor numbers further this year.  These new tours will extend the season which will benefit rural communities, many of whom are not covered by other operators”.

For further information please contact:

Laurie Mannix, MKC Communications:  01 7038620 / 086 8143710 / [email protected]

2019  CIE Tours International Awards - Merit Winners:


Leinster Hotel Merit Winners



  • Clayton Hotel Burlington Road
  • Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel
  • The Gibson Hotel
  • Academy Plaza Hotel
  • Croke Park Hotel
  • Clontarf Castle Hotel
  • Maldron Hotel Pearse St.
  • Radisson Blu St. Helen's
  • Radisson Blu Royal Hotel
  • Ashling Hotel
  • Herbert Park Hotel
  • Shelbourne Hotel



  • Knightsbrook Hotel & Golf Resort


Munster Hotel Merit Winners



  • Armada Hotel, Spanish Point
  • Old Ground Hotel, Ennis



  • The River Lee Hotel



  • Killarney Plaza Hotel
  • Killarney Avenue Hotel
  • Killarney Towers Hotel
  • International Hotel Killarney
  • Great Southern, Killarney
  • Dingle Skellig Hotel
  • Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa
  • The Brehon , Killarney
  • Ballygarry House Hotel and Spa
  • The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens



  • Granville Hotel


Ulster Hotel Merit Winners



  • Stormont Hotel
  • Europa Hotel
  • Grand Central Hotel Belfast
  • Culloden Estate and Spa


Connaught Hotel Merit Winners



  • Galway Bay Hotel



  • Hotel Westport


Leinster Visit Merit Winner



  • Clonmacnoise



  • Malahide Castle
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin
  • Glasnevin Museum
  • EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
  • Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre
  • Cooks Academy
  • Kilmainham Gaol



  • Irish National Stud & Gardens



  • Brú na Bóinne Newgrange & Knowth



  • Glendalough Visitor Centre



  • Dunbrody Emigrant Ship



  • Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny
  • Kilkenny Castle
  • Greta Power Bungalow B&B


Munster Visit Merit Winner



  • Cliffs of Moher



  • Jameson Experience Midleton
  • Charles Fort Kinsale
  • Blarney Castle



  • Foynes Flying Boat Museum



  • Muckross House and Gardens
  • Tangney Tours Jaunting Car
  • John B Keane's Pub



  • House of Waterford Crystal
  • Marine Bar Waterford


Ulster Visit Merit Winner



  • Donegal Castle
  • Glenveagh Castle & National Park
  • Slieve League Cliffs



  • The Causeway Coast Discovery Centre
  • Giant's Causeway



  • Hillsborough Castle
  • Down Cathedral


Connaught Visit Merit Winner



  • Dún Aonghasa
  • Connemara Celtic Crystal
  • Dan O’Hara Homestead
  • Kylemore Abbey



  • Westport House
  • Ballintubber Abbey


About CIE Tours International:

CIE Tours International (, a member of the CIE Group, is one of Ireland’s longest established speciality tour operators, celebrating 88 years in business this year.  In 2019, the company booked over 350,000 bed nights throughout the country. Employing 150 people, with offices in Dublin, London and New Jersey, it operates all-inclusive coach tours and fly-drive programmes to Ireland as well as coach tours of Britain and mainland Europe. It also provides combined tours of Ireland and the UK. In 2019 the company introduced new tours to Italy and Iceland.  

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