Best tourist businesses in Westcountry line up for top awards
The top tourist businesses in the South West have been unveiled with the publication of the finalists' list for the region's tourism awards.
Fifty-six winners are in line for an accolade but who walks away with gold, silver or bronze will be revealed at the South West Tourism Awards for Excellence presentation evening early next year.
The glittering ceremony takes place at The Eden Project near St Austell on February 8, celebrating some of the stars of the region's tourism industry.
Winners were selected after judges and "mystery visitors" made 164 secret visits to venues and held 16 meetings to thrash out who had made it on to the final list.
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Some 300 contenders were considered for the awards. Entry was free and even all will receive feedback on how they've done.
The aim is to give businesses the opportunity to hone their entry in future years and make improvements to their performance for the benefit of the Westcountry tourist industry as a whole.
This year's list of winners includes many former entrants whose past feedback has helped them develop and enhance their business.
Wendy Wright of award-winning Bodmin Visitor Information Centre said the awards had proved beneficial.
"We have learnt so much from the mystery visitor and every year we use this to make improvements to what we offer," she said.
Sixteen categories make up the awards ranging from best hotel, event, attraction, activity, holiday park and self-catering holiday to awards for customer service, access, sustainable tourism and business tourism. South West Water is backing the event.
Chris Loughlin, chief executive at the utility, said: "We are proud once again to be sponsoring awards which recognise the best of the best holiday region in the UK – our own beautiful South West.
"We look forward to meeting the nominees on the night and hearing how they are helping keep the South West the nation's favourite destination."
Robin Barker, director of Services For Tourism which co-ordinates the awards, said he was impressed with the standard.
"Five years ago the awards were a seasonal stand-alone activity, judged by a handful of mystery visitors and funded largely by the public purse," he said.
"They have now developed into a significant year-round quality development and marketing operation, with an increasing range of benefits both to entrants and sponsors.
"Standing still is not an option in this industry, as amply demonstrated by this year's winners, whose innovation and investment in difficult times never ceases to amaze me."
SHORTLIST OF FINALISTS:
Tourism Activity, Sport and Experience - Arundell Arms Hotel, Devon; Kneehigh Theatre, Cornwall; Razorcat Tours, Bath and Wiltshire.
Holiday Park and Village - Cofton Country Holidays and Oakdown Country Holiday Park, both in Devon; Gwel an Mor and Trethem Mill Touring Park, both in Cornwall.
Taste of the South West - Eastbury Hotel, Dorset; Outlaw’s Seafood & Grill Restaurant, Cornwall; Riverford Field Kitchen, Devon; and The Star Castle, Isles of Scilly.
Tourism Information Service - Visitor centres at Bodmin and Falmouth in Cornwall; Woolacombe & Mortehoe, Devon; Gloucester; and Lyme Regis.
Small Hotel - Gidleigh Park, Devon; The Manor House Hotel, Gloucestershire; The Scarlet and The Talland Bay Hotel, both in Cornwall.
Small Visitor Attraction - Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Cornwall; Exmoor Zoo; River Dart Adventures, Devon; and Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life.
All the Access for All - Access Seaside Holidays, Bournemouth; A Little Bit of Heaven, Cornwall; Calvert Trust Exmoor, Devon; and Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud, Devon.
Bed and Breakfast and Guest Accommodation - Atlantic House B&B and Pendragon Country House, both in Cornwall; The Salty Monk Restaurant with Rooms and The Somerville, both in Devon.
Sustainable Tourism - Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages, Devon; Mill on the Brue Outdoor Activity Centre, Somerset; and The Old Rectory Bed & Breakfast, Cornwall.
Large Visitor Attraction - Cotehele House and National Maritime Museum, both in Cornwall; The Roman Baths, Bath; and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Devon.
Large Hotel - Bedruthan Steps Hotel and Headland Hotel, both in Cornwall; and Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, Wiltshire.
Tourism Pub Award - Lazy Toad, Exeter; Pandora Inn and Rashleigh Arms, both in Cornwall; The Swan Inn, Wedmore, Somerset.
Self-catering Establishment - Boscrowan Farm, Bosinver Farm Cottages and Treworgey Cottages, all in Cornwall; and Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud, Devon.
Business Tourism - Arundell Arms Hotel and Best Western Tiverton Hotel, both in Devon; and Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, Wiltshire.
Outstanding Customer Service - Claire Preece of Kents Cavern and Tara Dare of Hedgehog Corner B&B, both in Devon; and the Hospitality Team at Gwel an Mor Resort, Cornwall.
Tourism Event - Agatha Christie Festival, Devon; Falmouth Oyster Festival, Cornwall; and RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day, Somerset.
Winner of Winners will be announced at the ceremony on February 8 at The Eden Project.