Awards

Published: February 6, 2020 | Updated: February 7, 2020

Night of triumph for Dorset at tourism awards with four golds and ‘outstanding contribution’

Exeter Cathedral was the stunning setting for this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards. Picture: Nick Williams Photography.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

What a night – and what a setting!

Dorset’s finest tourism businesses – from hotels and caravan parks to restaurants, pubs and visitor attractions – were celebrated at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Held in the magnificent setting of Exeter Cathedral it turned into a night of triumph with four golds, four silver, nine bronze and eight commendations for Dorset.

A special Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award was presented to Martin Cox, Director of West Dorset Leisure Holidays.

It was in recognition of his decades of support and innovation for the holiday park sector, Dorset and the wider South West region.

Martin Cox: Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.

Presenting the award, Alistair Handyside, Chair of the South West Tourism Alliance, paid tribute to Mr Cox’s “tireless efforts” to bring together the tourism sector in Dorset.

He added: “Running his award-winning family business, he has led changes in the holiday park industry across Dorset, the South West, nationally and across Europe.

“He has also been a significant advocate for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

“Crucially, he has put intentions into actions through the visitor giving programme that has, to date, raised over £80,000 for the Jurassic Coast Trust.

“Those that know him well, will know that he also served 31 years as a retained firefighter in Bridport and even has his own stunning vintage fire engine.”

The four gold awards were presented to:

  • Yellow Bicycle Café, Blandford Forum (Café/Tearoom of the Year)
  • The Grove Arms, Ludwell (Dog Friendly Pub of the Year)
  • Three Horseshoes Pub & Kitchen, Burton Bradstock (Pub of the Year)
  • Swanage Information Centre (Visitor Information Service of the Year)

More than 370 people attended this year’s awards, the biggest annual regional gathering of South West tourism businesses.

Three Horseshoes Pub and Kitchen: Pub of the Year.

A total of 107 awards were presented following a rigorous judging process involving a record 773 entries.

Winners were spread across the whole region from Dorset and Wiltshire in the east, to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the west, and from Devon in the south to Somerset, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire in the north.

All entrants underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 559 being visited by a team of 50 mystery shoppers.

Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback, valued by entrants as a top reason for taking part.

Top performers in matching categories will now go on to be nominated for the national VisitEngland Awards, with the potential to become national winners in summer 2020.

Awards organiser, Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, pictured right, said: “I never cease to be amazed by the innovation, dedication and imagination of our tourism businesses – not to mention their sheer hard work.

“It’s humbling to be part of this and I’d like to add my congratulations to all the winners.”

Lead sponsor of this year’s awards was St Austell Brewery.

All pictures courtesy of Nick Williams Photography.

The full Dorset results were:

ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE TOURISM

Bronze: Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve.

BUSINESS EVENT VENUE OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Marsham Court Hotel

Yellow Bicycle Cafe: Cafe/Tearoom of the Year.

CAFÉ/TEAROOM OF THE YEAR

Gold: Yellow Bicycle Café.

Bronze: The Gallery Café, Dorset.

ETHICAL, RESPONSIBLE & SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AWARD

Bronze: Bagwell Farm Touring Park.

The Grove Arms – Dog Friendly Pub of the Year.

FORTHGLADE DOG FRIENDLY PUB OF THE YEAR

Gold: The Grove Arms, Dorset.

HOLIDAY PARK OF THE YEAR

Silver: Highlands End Holiday Park.

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM AWARD

Commended: Jurassic Coast Guides.

LARGE HOTEL OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa.

LARGE VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Commended: Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park and The Tank Museum

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SOUTH WEST TOURISM

Martin Cox

NEW TOURISM BUSINESS AWARD

Silver: West Bay Discovery Centre.

PUB OF THE YEAR

Gold: Three Horseshoes Pub & Kitchen.

SELF CATERING ACCOMMODATION OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Greenwood Grange

SMALL HOTEL OF THE YEAR

Commended: The Green House Hotel.

SMALL VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Silver: Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum.

Commended: Langham Wine Estate, Dorset.

SPA & WELLBEING EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats.

Commended: Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa.

TOURING CAMPING AND CARAVANNING PARK OF THE YEAR

Silver: South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park

Commended: East Fleet Touring Park.

TOURISM EVENT/FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR

Bronze:  The Tank Museum – Tankfest.

TOURISM INNOVATION AWARD

Bronze: Yellow Buses.

Swanage Information Centre: Visitor Information Service of the Year

VISITOR INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE YEAR

Gold: Swanage Information Centre.

Commended: Bridport Tourist Information Centre.

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