Awards

Published: March 26, 2021 | Updated: March 27, 2021

Pride of Dorset as 16 businesses are finalists for the South West Tourism Excellence Awards

Exeter Cathedral was the setting for the 2019/20 awards. This year’s event is being held online. Picture: Nick Williams Photography.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Sixteen Dorset businesses are through to the finals of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2020/21.

They include:

  • Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth (Business Events & Wedding Venue of the Year)
  • Dorset House B&B in Lyme Regis and St John’s Guest House, Weymouth (B&B and Guest House of the Year)
  • Picnic Park Deli in Bournemouth (Cafe/Tearoom of the Year)
  • South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park (Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year)
  • Fish ‘n’ Fritz, Weymouth (Casual Dining Award)
  • The Cross Keys, Sherborne (New Tourism Business Award).

In addition, seven businesses have been commended.

In total, and after the longest awards season ever, 75 finalists and 33 commended have been named in this year’s regional awards.

There were 416 entries from across Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Sponsored by South West Water, the awards programme opened for entry in March 2020, with plenty of adaptations and extensions along the way.

Launched prior to the first lockdown, judging has taken account of business entries, digital presence and feedback along with evidence of Covid-secure measures.

Judges pored over entry forms, websites, social media and review sites prior to decisions taken by an independent panel.

The awards will be presented online on April 22, with a prior ‘Meet The Finalist’ event on April 13 when finalists and sponsors get the chance to share in their news and plans.

Up to five finalists have been announced in each category, but all will have to wait to learn whether they have won gold, silver or bronze awards.

Robin Barker, pictured left, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, which manages the awards, said: “We so nearly cancelled this year’s awards but are so glad we continued.

“The reaction from businesses, the stories they’ve told, and the innovation and inspiration we’ve witnessed amongst hundreds of small businesses has been humbling.

“We’re so pleased to be able to play our part in supporting such a deserving and important sector.”

Co-organiser Nell Barrington added: “I have been humbled to hear the stories from these amazing businesses overcoming adversity and to see their excitement about welcoming back visitors.

“I look forward to the time when I can celebrate with them all in person.

“They have all worked so hard and rightly deserve this recognition.

“Congratulations to them all.”

Jo Ecroyd, Customer Service Director of headline sponsors South West Water, said: “We’re delighted to be headline sponsors of this year’s South West Tourism Awards.

“As a top FTSE business in the South West, we see it as our responsibility to promote and contribute to the regional economy, in which tourism plays such an important role.

“It has certainly been a challenging year for businesses, and we applaud all our finalists for their perseverance in the face of the challenges from the pandemic over the past year.”

The Dorset finalists, and commended, are:

ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE TOURISM AWARD

 Commended

  • HolidayInDorset – Birchcroft.

B&B AND GUESTHOUSE OF THE YEAR

  • Dorset House B&B, Lyme Regis.
  • St John’s Guest House, Weymouth

BUSINESS EVENTS & WEDDING VENUE OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Clockwork Marketing

  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth

 Commended

  • Upton Country Park

CAFÉ/TEAROOM OF THE YEAR

  • Picnic Park Deli, Bournemouth

CAMPING AND CARAVANNING PARK OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Vickery Holman

  • South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park

CASUAL DINING AWARD

  • Fish ‘n’ Fritz, Weymouth

DOG FRIENDLY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Forthglade

 Commended

  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth

ETHICAL, RESPONSIBLE & SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AWARD, sponsored by South West Water

 Commended

  • Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth

EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR (ACTIVE OR LEARNING)

  • Jurassic Coast Guides
  • Shore Campers – Campervan Hire

 Commended

  • Fore / Adventure, Studland

GLAMPING BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

  • Farmstead Glamping, Sturminster Newton

 Commended

  • Dorset Forest Garden Glamping, Beaminster

LARGE HOTEL OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Hotel Perfect

Commended

  • Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth

LARGE VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Worldpay

  • The Tank Museum, Bovington

NEW TOURISM BUSINESS AWARD, sponsored by Soundview

  • The Cross Keys, Sherborne

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

  • Al Molo, Weymouth
  • Moose Kitchen, Bournemouth

SMALL VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Pear Communications

  • Nothe Fort, Weymouth
  • Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington

TOURISM EVENT/FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Met Office

  • Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington – Dorset Arts Festival 2020 
  • White Star Running – Run Jurassic 2019

TOURISM INNOVATION AWARD, sponsored by Quality in Tourism

Commended

  • The Grange at Oborne, Sherborne