South West Tourism Excellence Awards

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
Bath's Roman baths

The Roman Baths collected a gold award

Last week the tourism excellence awards for the south-west of England were handed out. A tourist information centre – Gloucester Tourist Information Centre – was not only named Tourist Information Service of the Year but also Winner of Winners.

Rewarding an information centre as Winner of Winners will help publicise the fact that visitors rely on these centres to pick up key information about an area. As many more – unlike Gloucester –  are being run by volunteers it might persuade people to become volunteers and keep these centres going.

Some of the winners you will recognise as having already won their area heats in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.

In other awards, Trebah Garden, near Falmouth in Cornwall, was named International Visitor Experience of the Year,   The Roman Baths & Pump Room in the city of Bath was named Large Attraction of the Year whilst the award for Small Attraction of the Year went to Screech Owl Sanctuary in the Cornish town of St Columb.

The Tourism Event and Festival of the Year Award was shared by Plymouth Armed Forces Day and the Shaun in the City Sculpture Trail in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital. The National Marine Aquarium in Devon collected the Sustainable Tourism Award whilst another award – that of Access & Inclusivity was shared between two Cornish ventures, the Eden Project and Mylor Sailing School.  The Bristol (guess where that is) picked up the Venue and Business Tourism Award and GoSkydive, in Salisbury was the winner of the Active & Sporting Experience Award.

as did the Eden Project

Lots of awards were shared like the Dog-Friendly Business of the Year which was split between the Deer Park Country House Hotel, Devon and Kernock Cottages in Cornwall. The same happened with the Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience Award which had, as equal gold winners, The Lodge at Bristol Zoo Gardens and The Old Kennels in Devon.

In the accommodation categories there werw also many joint winners. The Hotels of the Year were the Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa and the Manor House Hotel & Golf Club in Castle Combe. The Small Hotel / Boutique Accommodation of the Year was split between two Devonian hotels, Glazebrook House Hotel in Devon and Kentisbury Grange whilst the Ilsington Country House Hotel & Spa in Devon collected the Spa & Wellbeing Experience Award. Longlands in Devon won the gold award as Glamping Business of the Year, Trethem Mill Touring Park in Cornwall was Camping & Caravanning Park of the Year and Kaywana Hall in Devon was B&B of the Year. The Old Barn in the Cornish town of Tregonetha was Self-Catering Property of the Year whereas the award for Self -Catering Holiday Provider of the Year was split between Greenwood Grange in Dorset and Southview Lodges in Devon. Finally, in these categories, the Holiday Park & Village of the Year gold award was given to both Darwin Beach Cove Ltd in Devon and the Hendra Holiday Park in Cornwall.

That just left the food awards. Again, there were two gold winners in the Tourism Pub of the Year category, The Millbrook Inn in Devon and The Rising Sun in Cornwall. Michael Caines continued his habit of amassing awards by collecting the top Restaurant/Bistro of the Year award for The Coach House by Michael Caines and the Cox and Baloney Tearooms & Bar in Bristol was Café & Tearoom of the Year.

pod cabins at Corwalls Hendra Holiday park

and Hendra with its pods © Hendra Holiday Park

The only negative note that Just about Travel would raise is that there were no customer service awards per se.

Individuals were honoured. Brenden Howard from The Grove Hotel in Bournemouth and David Croft in Cornwall both received golds in the Unsung Hero Award category and three people, Graham Grose, Harry Murray and Robin Barker were all recognised with awards for their outstanding contributions to tourism.

What we did like about these awards as opposed to some is that it wasn’t just a case for the entrants of paying a fee and submitting the entrance forms. All entrants in the South West underwent a short-listing process with 380 being visited by a team of 36 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback on how they had done, giving them useful tips for future success. That should mean that, for us the visitor, there should be improvements – even amongst the gold award winners – that we should see in the future.

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