Devon’s top tourism businesses were celebrating last night (Nov 10th) at the 7th annual Devon Tourism Awards in the Great Hall of the University of Exeter, sponsored by Hoseasons.
Hosted by Judi Spiers and with special guest Jo Pavey, 75 awards were presented to winners in categories as diverse as Glamping, Spa & Wellbeing, Hotels, Restaurants, Pubs and Attractions.
The National Marine Aquarium took the prestigious Winner of Winners award along with category awards for Sustainable Tourism, Access & Inclusivity and Venue & Business Tourism. There were also special awards for Outstanding Contribution presented to Rosie Bates, formerly of Devon County Council, and Victoria Hatfield of Exeter City Council.
In the serviced accommodation categories Gold awards were presented to Kaywana Hall, Bovey Castle, Lewtrenchard Manor, Glazebrook House Hotel and Kentisbury Grange, whilst Crealy Meadows, Larkbeare Grange, Southview Lodges, Longlands and Darwin Beach Cove took the top awards for self catering, glamping and holiday parks. Attraction and experience Golds went to the Milky Way, Canonteign Falls, Reach Outdoors, the Old Kennels and the Ilsington Country House Spa. Food and drink Gold awards went to Home Farm Café, The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange and Millbrook Inn.
Thelma Hubert gallery took Gold for Access & Inclusivity, with Unique Devon Tours taking the top award for International Visitor Experience. The Deer Park Hotel took Gold for being dog friendly and Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centres for tourism information. Beverley Holidays’ Drew Baker won an Unsung Hero award for his outstanding customer service.
The host venue, Event Exeter was awarded Gold for Venue and Business Tourism and the final award of the night went to Plymouth’s Armed Forces Day for Tourism Event of the Year.
Chairman of the Awards Panel, David Fursdon, says: “I know how important the tourist industry is to Devon. The wonderful reputation that this very special County enjoys in this area depends on maintaining the highest standards and this year’s winners across a wide range of categories illustrate just that and personify one word; “Excellence”.”
Speaking after the awards were presented, Luke Hansford, Hoseasons Business Development Manager for Devon, said: “Tonight clearly belongs to our award winners, but the standard of entries was so high this year that each and every finalist on the shortlist deserves a huge pat on the back. Not just for the passion and dedication they put into their own businesses, but also for the huge collective contribution they make to ensuring that Devon remains such a popular destination.”
Rhys Roberts, Chair of the newly formed Visit Devon community interest company congratulated the finalists: “I am full of admiration for this year’s finalists, leading lights in Devon’s tourism industry who continue to enhance the visitor experience on offer across this wonderful county.”
Awards organizer Robin Barker was delighted by this year’s awards: “This year’s winners exemplify so much of what is great about Devon. Innovation, outstanding service and superb experiences. Many congratulations to everyone involved.”
The full list of Finalists and Highly Commended is below or can be viewed at www.devontourismawards.org.uk