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Top tourism businesses celebrate at the 2017/18 Beautiful South Awards

The cream of the South East’s tourism industry celebrated success last night at the Beautiful South Awards – the highlight of the 2017 tourism calendar. Presented by TV and radio celebrity Toby Anstis and hosted by, headline sponsor, the Grand Brighton, the Awards saw 71 prestigious gold, silver and bronze trophies handed out along with 20 highly commended being awarded.

The Awards are run by Tourism South East to recognise and celebrate excellence in the industry. Apart from the prestige and profile for winners, they also inspire other businesses to reinvest and raise standards in quality, innovation and customer service. Where there are matching categories in the Visit England national Tourism Excellence Awards, the winners have the opportunity early in 2018 to represent the South East nationally.

One of the biggest winners last night was British Airways i360 in Brighton scooping gold for Business Venue of the Year and for its West Pier Tearoom in the Tearoom and Cafe category. Chichester Festival also doubled up with gold in the Experience and Accessibility categories. Another multiple winner was Tom’s Ecolodge/ Tapnell Farm on the Isle of Wight with silver in five different categories – Glamping Business, Small Attraction, Self Catering, Customer Service Superstar and Sustainable Tourism Business of the Year.

Other notable wins included Blenheim Palace, crowned Large Attraction of the Year and Oxford Castle Unlocked in the Small Attraction category. Cream of the crop in the Tourism Pub of the Year category was the Royal Oak, near Marlow in Buckinghamshire.

Amongst the outstanding accommodation providers were Alkham Court Farmhouse, Kent, which beat some very fine opposition to win Bed and Breakfast gold and The Vineyard, Newbury, Hever Castle and The Treehouses at Port Lympne in Kent between them winning gold in the Large Hotel, Small Hotel/ Boutique Accommodation and Self catering categories. One of the newer awards, for Best Glamping Business, was also won by a Kent business – Greenhill Glamping near Dover.

Demonstrating that when it comes to customer service small and personal can be best, Romsey Tourist Information Centre, Hampshire, was awarded gold for the South East’s best Tourist Information Provider.

Nigel Smith, Chief Executive of Tourism South East, said:

‘Last night reminded me again of the sheer quality of tourism businesses in the South East. Never mind the UK, some easily stand up to comparison with the very best tourism businesses in the world. All of the finalists can be very proud of what they have achieved through a commitment to reinvestment, training and a relentless drive to be the best. I hope their example will inspire others. I want to thank headline sponsor the Grand Brighton and the rest of our sponsors who made the Awards possible and our volunteer independent judges who gave their time and expertise so readily. Making decisions when the entries are so diverse and of such high quality is an unenviable task. I am looking forward to our winners taking on England’s best at the Visit England Awards.’

General Manager of the Grand Brighton, Andrew Mosley, said:

‘We were delighted to be this year's headline sponsor and it has been a real privilege to be the host venue once again. It was a wonderful evening and, as a hospitality operator, fantastic to join together the region’s best businesses for a night of celebrating successes. Congratulations to all the worthy winners on the night from all of the team at The Grand Brighton. Awards events like the Beautiful South Awards really help to shine a spotlight on the quality of the hospitality industry within the South East. It was fantastic to be a part of it.

A list of winners can be found here and photographs of the night here.