A HEALTHY crop of Dorset businesses were among those honoured at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
Sixty-six awards were given to attractions from across the region during a ceremony at Plymouth’s Holiday Inn.
The awards broke the record for entries, with a new awards scheme in Dorset attracting entries from the east of the region and an increasing number of entries from the Isles of Scilly in the west.
Nearly 350 entries were considered, with 213 visited by a team of mystery shoppers. All entries received feedback to give them tips for future success.
Up to four winners from each category will go on to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in May.
Alistair Handyside, chairman of the judges, said: “Once again the entrants have surpassed themselves in showing that investment, innovation and creativity remain at the heart of the visitor economy in the region.”
Launceston Farm B&B of Blandford received bronze in the Bed and Breakfast Guest Accommodation of the Year category. The gold winner was Pentille Castle of St Mellion, Cornwall.
Highlands End Holiday Park of Bridport took Dorset’s only gold award, in the Holiday Park of the Year category. South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park in Lytchett Minster was highly commended in the same category.
Poole Welcome Centre and Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre both won bronze in the Tourism Service of the Year category, with gold going to English Riviera Visitor Information Centre of Devon.
National Trust Brownsea Island won the silver award for Tourism Activity, Sport and Experience of the Year, won by Calvert Trust Exmoor of Kentisbury, Devon.
Brownsea’s Geoff Curtis also won joint silver in the Tourism Superstar Award for Customer Service. The gold went jointly to Dickon Allen of Montacute House in Somerset and Matt Druce from Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud in Westward Ho! Devon.
The Inn at Cranborne was highly commended in the Tourism Pub of the Year category, with the Pandora Inn in Mylor, Cornwall, taking gold.
Mortons House Hotel in Corfe Castle won silver in the Access for All Award, with gold going to Calvert Trust Exmoor in Kentisbury, Devon.
Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne won joint silver in the Taste of the South West Award, with two businesses sharing gold – Byrbrook Restauant at the Manor House, Castle Combe in Wiltshire, and River cottage Canteen and Deli, Plymouth.
Greenwood Grange of Dorchester won bronze for Self-Catering Establishment of the Year. The gold went to Headland Hotel of Newquay, Cornwall.
The Dorset Seafood Festival in Weymouth won silver in the Tourism Event of the Year category, with Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival taking gold.
The BridgeHouse Hotel in Beaminster was highly commended in the Small Hotel of the Year category, won by the Old Rectory Hotel in Martinhoe, Devon.