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Leading business from across Devon have been celebrating their success in the 2017 Devon Tourism Awards at a prestigious event hosted by travel journalist Simon Calder and arctic explorer Ann Daniels.  View video of evening HERE

After a rigorous three-phase judging process involving 120 judging visits to businesses the winners of this year’s Devon Tourism Awards have been announced.  Now in their 8th year the awards saw a record 205 entries entering 25 different categories, with 76 awards announced on the night. The event was enhanced by illuminating presentations from Simon Calder on global factors in tourism and an uplifting talk from Arctic explorer Ann Daniels, who lives in Devon.

The night saw three special awards, with 25 Boutique B&B from Torquay taking the Winner of Winners and B&B Gold awards with judges describing them as a ‘beacon’ to the industry.  There was a special Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award presented to Esther Pearson and the South West Coast Path team for their innovative Discover England project.  There was also surprise all round as a further Outstanding Contribution award was presented to journalist Martin Hesp for his contribution in highlighting Devon’s wildlife, food, drink and walking experiences over 20+ years.

Commenting after the Awards, organiser and VisitDevon Director Robin Barker commented: “I am so elated that we made the decision to launch these awards 8 years ago.  The investments in excellence, and especially in outstanding service we’ve seen since are literally flabbergasting. And the delight we see each year from winners, along with their feedback, tells me that we are making a difference to Devon and to its number one industry.  Well done to all.”

Mark Warnes, Property and Portfolio Director of headline sponsors Hoseasons, said: “We want to congratulate every one of our award winners and finalists. We had a record number of entries this year and the standard was so high that all of them should feel very proud. It is this level of commitment to Devon that ensures visitors have the best experience and the county remains such a popular destination.”

Award categories covered a huge range of visitor experiences from accommodation, activity centres and attractions to restaurants, pubs and cafes. Two special awards on the night went to Stephen Eddy from Exmoor Zoo for Outstanding Customer Service and to the Great Big Rhino Project for its Community Engagement.  Torquay’s Haytor Hotel took top place for Access and Inclusivity, with Umberleigh’s Millbrook Estate taking Gold for Sustainable Tourism and Bulleigh Barton for Dog Friendly Business.  Food and Drink Golds went to The Elephant Restaurant, Guardhouse Café and The Swan in Bampton. The two Self Catering Golds went to Westward Living in Westward Ho, who also took Gold for International Visitor Experience, and The Milkshed in Honiton. Golds also went to River Dart Country Park and Oakdown Holiday Park in the Camping and Caravanning and Holiday Park category, with Longlands taking Gold for Glamping.

In the Experience categories Golds went to Skern Lodge for Active & Sporting, Plymouth Gin for Learning Experience, Unique Devon Tours for Guided Tours and Cary Arms and Spa for Spa and Wellbeing.  Attraction Golds went to Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Plymouth Gin.

Hotels were also amongst the big winners with Cary Arms & Spa winning Gold for Small/Boutique Hotel and Bovey Castle for Large Hotel.  The Deer Park Country Hotel took Gold for Venue and Business Tourism with Kingsbridge Information Centre taking Gold for Visitor Information. The Tourism Event and Festival Gold went to Bovey Tracey’s Contemporary Crafts Festival.

The full list of Winners and Highly Commended can be seen HERE

Photos from the night can be downloaded free of charge from http://nickwilliamsphotographer.co.uk/p516938571  Click HERE for short kayaking video shown on the night