DORSET tourism businesses were handed a “much needed boost in tough times” at an emotional online awards ceremony.

The Dorset Tourism Awards saw 61 awards presented in 22 categories, with a final Winner of Winners prize at the end of the event.

The awards were held in five sessions online on Thursday at the end of an 11-month awards programme.

Entrants were judged on a combination of their entry submissions, digital presence, reviews and external evidence.

The Winner of Winners title went to Bournemouth’s Marsham Court Hotel, after it collected three gold awards: Hotel of the Year; Business Events and Wedding Venue of the Year; and Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

Managing director Rosie Radwell said: “I am so overwhelmed and delighted to have won three golds and being crowned Winner of Winners is just the cherry on top of the cake after such a difficult year.

“We have invested heavily in the structure and aesthetics of the hotel over the last few years and are proud of what we have achieved, but without a strong and passionate team behind us we would not be able to deliver the exceptional Marsham Court service to match. It has given the whole team a huge boost and is great recognition for all of their hard work.

“We have continued to plan and invest in the future of the hotel and are hopeful for a strong recovery when the time is right. This award gives the Marsham Court great kudos with our guests past and future and I am so pleased that they have been able to go ahead this year, in spite of the difficulties that the industry is currently encountering.”

Other top winners included The Tank Museum and Nothe Fort in the attraction categories, Dorset House, South Lytchett Manor Camping and Caravanning Park, Burnbake Forest Lodges & Campsite and Farmstead Glamping in accommodation categories and Bridport Tourist Information Centre.

Jurassic Coast Guides took two gold awards for Experience of the Year and International Visitor Experience, with HolidayInDorset – Birchcroft taking gold for Accessible and Inclusive Tourism and Pause Cat Café the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism title.

Another multiple-winner was Sculpture by the Lakes, taking a bronze and three silver awards. Food and drink golds went to Fish ‘n’ Fritz in Weymouth, The Half Moon in Melplash, Bournemouth’s Picnic Park Deli and Al Molo in Weymouth. There was a special New Business Award for the Cross Keys in Sherborne and the Tourism Innovation gold went to The Grange at Oborne, with the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year gold awarded to White Star Running – Run Jurassic 2019.

Three special Unsung Hero awards were announced for Heather Brown of Dorset Foodie Feed, Kellie Court of Tangerine Café & Gallery, and Yessica Falcon of Bournemouth Tourist Information Centre.

Organiser Robin Barker said: “It would have been very easy to cancel the awards this year. We did think long and hard about it, but the level of early entries we received in spite of everything, and the creativity and determination shown by entrants inspired us to find a way to make this happen – and your responses and feedback ever since have completely blown us away.”

Clare Bushby of headline sponsor Clockwork Marketing said: “We are incredibly proud to share this genuinely memorable day with the finalists of the Dorset Tourism Awards. Huge congratulations to all the winners – what a fabulous day of good news and celebrations for Dorset hospitality businesses.”

Professor Peter Jones, chair of the judging panel, said: “Dorset tourism, like tourism the world over, is demonstrating resilience and fortitude in coping with the impact and implications of Covid-19 in some amazing ways. Entrants demonstrated creativity and innovation, passion for the industry, and enthusiasm in providing a great experience for their customers in the most difficult of circumstances."

Sara Uzzell, deputy chair of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I’ve really enjoyed celebrating the success of Dorset’s tourism businesses. A much needed boost in these tough times. It has been inspiring to see the energy, innovation and positivity about the future from all the participants in the awards process. The Dorset LEP is proud to support the Dorset Tourism Awards again and we’d like to congratulate all the entrants, the winners and Robin and his team for making it happen.”

All of the winners will be automatically considered for the regional South West Tourism Excellence Awards later in the year as well as receiving feedback from the judging process. The 2021/22 awards due to be launched in April.

The full list of results is as follows:

  • Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award (sponsor: Yellow Buses). Gold: HolidayInDorset – Birchcroft, Ferndown. Silver: West Bay Discovery Centre. Bronze: Ellwood Cottages, Blandford, and West Bay Play Area – Bridport Town Council. Commended: Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth.
  • B&B and Guesthouse Of The Year (sponsor: Goadsby). Gold: Dorset House, Lyme Regis. Silver: St John’s Guest House, Weymouth. Bronze : Mory House Bed & Breakfast, Southbourne. Commended: Channel View Guesthouse, Weymouth.
  • Business Events and Wedding Venue Of The Year (sponsor: Saffery Champness). Gold: Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth. Silver: Upton Country Park, Poole.
  • Café/Tearoom of The Year (sponsor: Clipper Teas). Gold: Picnic Park Deli, Bournemouth. Silver: Seasons Kitchen and Coffee Barn, Ringwood. Bronze: Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth. Commended: Upton Country Park Tea Rooms, Poole.
  • Camping, Caravanning and Holiday Park Of The Year (sponsor: Tozers). Gold: South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, Dorchester. Silver: Durdle Door Holiday Park, Lulworth. Bronze: Swanage Coastal Park.
  • Casual Dining Award (sponsor: Dorset Food & Drink). Gold: Fish ‘n’ Fritz, Weymouth. Silver: Oriel on the Quay, Poole. Bronze: Peppina, Swanage.
  • Dog Friendly Business of the Year (sponsor: Forthglade). Gold: Marsham Court Hotel. Silver: Upton Country Park. Commended: Polygon Pets Ltd, Poole.
  • Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award (sponsor: Bournemouth Water). Gold: Pause Cat Café, Bournemouth. Silver: Farmstead Glamping, Sturminster Newton. Bronze: Bronze: Bridport Tourist Information Centre; Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington. Commended: English Oak Vineyard, Poole.
  • Experience of the Year (Active Or Learning) (sponsor: Dorset Tourism Association): Gold: Jurassic Coast Guides, Milborne St Andrew. Silver: Shore Campers – Campervan Hire, Bournemouth. Bronze: Fore/Adventure, Studland.
  • Glamping Business of the Year (sponsor: Tozers). Gold: Farmstead Glamping, Sturminster Newton. Silver: Dorset Forest Garden Glamping, Beaminster.
  • Hotel of the Year (sponsor: Saffery Champness). Gold: Marsham Court Hotel. Silver: The Bull Hotel, Bridport; The Grange at Oborne, Sherborne. Bronze: RNLI College, Poole.
  • International Visitor Experience of the Year (sponsor: Dorset LEP). Gold: Jurassic Coast Guides, Milborne St Andrew.
  • Large Visitor Attraction of the Year (sponsor: Pear Communications). Gold: The Tank Museum, Bovington. Silver: Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf, Bournemouth.
  • New Tourism Business Award (sponsor: Visit Dorset). Gold: The Cross Keys, Sherborne. Silver: Shore Campers – Campervan Hire, Bournemouth. Bronze: Hammoon Manor – Luxury Retreat ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, Sturminster Newton. Commended: The Tunnel Tree Tops, Charmouth.
  • Pub of the Year (sponsor: Lovegrove Essentials). Gold: The Half Moon, Melplash, Silver: The Cross Keys, Sherborne. Bronze: The Milton Arms, Blandford.
  • Restaurant of the Year (sponsor: Dorset Food & Drink). Gold: Al Molo, Weymouth. Silver: Moose Kitchen, Charminster. Bronze: Zim Braai Ltd, Poole. Commended: Shalims Indian Restaurant, Weymouth.
  • Self Catering Accommodation of the Year (sponsor: Quality in Tourism). Gold: Burnbake Forest Lodges & Campsite, Corfe Castle. Silver: Dove House and Swallows, Dorchester. Bronze: Hammoon Manor – Luxury Retreat ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, Sturminster Newton.
  • Small Visitor Attraction of the Year (sponsor: Resort Dorset). Gold: Nothe Fort, Weymouth. Silver: Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington. Bronze: English Oak Vineyard, Poole. Commended: Dorset Falconry Park, Dorchester; West Bay Discovery Centre, West Bay.
  • Tourism Event/Festival of the Year (sponsor: Hall and Woodhouse). Gold: White Star Running – Run Jurassic 2019, Bridport. Silver: Sculpture by the Lakes – Dorset Arts Festival 2020, Pallington. Bronze: Dorset Festivals Consortium – Dorset Moon 2019.
  • Tourism Innovation Award (sponsor: Worldpay). Gold: The Grange at Oborne, Sherborne. Silver: Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington.
  • Unsung Hero Award (sponsor: Clockwork Marketing): Heather Brown, Dorset Foodie Feed; Kellie Court, Tangerine Café & Gallery, Beaminster; Yessica Falcon, Bournemouth Tourist Information Centre.
  • Visitor Information Service of the Year (sponsor: Yellow Buses). Gold: Bridport Tourist Information Centre. Silver: Shaftesbury Tourist Information Centre.
  • Winner of Winners (Dorset LEP): Marsham Court Hotel.