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Why Enter?

Would you like the chance:

  • To stand out from the crowd?

  • Have a raised profile with the media?

  • To reward your team and boost morale?

  • To raise the quality of your business
  • A cause for celebration

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should consider entering the Beautiful South Awards for Excellence.

But don’t just believe us, here is what some of the winners in 2018 had to say.

"Our awards always help us keep our heads above our competition, so we are as always proud to be award winners." Chris, Eco Chic Cottages www.ecochiccottages.com.

Howard Canning, General Manager www.thebellinticehurst.com

Why you entered the Awards? A prestigious award of note and one in which we felt a good chance of winning something

How you found the process? If anything that’s what would put people off from entering. It was time consuming and took two of us about 6 or 7 hours in total to complete. We worked on the principle that the more you put in the better your chances

Top tips to others - Persevere with the entry form and throw everything at it. Examine your organisation from top to bottom and shout about what you have done.  Above all, be honest – your words should reflect your true position.

Jacqueline Gibson, Sustainability Advisor, BLENHEIM PALACE HERITAGE FOUNDATION www.blenheim.org. You can read more about their sustainability award here

Why you entered the Awards? To celebrate the success of everyone at Blenheim doing their bit for a better world and show others, how they too can make simple changes to be more responsible and sustainable.

How you found the process? Very straightforward written entry followed by a very engaging tour of our Palace with the judges.

Top tips to others - Get as many good points in using bullet points and don’t think little actions should be omitted.  Talk through your journey and challenges with the judges and talk about what you are going to do in the future to address these. 

Vanessa Allen, Customer Services Development Manager, www.experienceoxfordshire.org

Why you entered the Awards? There are a few different reasons:  To give ourselves a good standard to work to, and try to constantly improve; to get feedback from Mystery Shoppers who know our industry; to boost staff morale and for good publicity when we are lucky enough to win; and to hopefully become eligible for the VE Awards for Excellence.

How you found the process? All went smoothly.

Top tips to others; Go for it, don’t be afraid to shout about your achievements however large or small!


2017 Winners

“We have worked hard on improving our Tourist Information Centre over the last couple of years, and were keen to get feedback from industry experts on what we have achieved.  Being confirmed as a finalist felt like proper recognition of our efforts, and made us all very proud.  We are funded by our local council and are grateful we have been able to keep going during these times of ever-decreasing funding.  This award helps justify our council’s confidence in our service.” Lara Bolch, Hastings Tourist Information Centre www.visitor1066country.com

Winning ‘Dog Friendly Business of the Year’ thanks to the hotels innovative ‘Woof’s Welcome’ package, ensured The Oakley Court finished yet another year on a high having also been nominated as finalists at the industry leading Cateys Awards, Hotel Cateys and AA Hospitality awards for ‘Sustainable hotel of the year’, as well as winning the Berkshire Life Food & Drink Awards 2016 inaugural ‘Green Company of the Year’ award. Sean Gleeson, Managing Director:  ‘It is fantastic that the whole team has been recognized for their hard work and continued achievements throughout the year. Being nominated for so many awards is testament to the team’s determination to provide continued service excellence. www.oakleycourt.co.uk

"Everyone at Mapledurham is delighted to have been recognised with two awards at the Beautiful South Awards.  It means a huge amount to us all that Tourism South East recognise and appreciate the hard work that goes into making Mapledurham a very special place for our lovely visitors.  Using the publicity that these awards bring with them is a great advertising tool for us and, even as important, is a superb way to let our loyal staff know how much they are appreciated and valued.  Thank you all at TSE for the work you put into this - especially Nell Barrington who worked tirelessly to make the awards evening so special." Lola Andrews www.mapledurham.co.uk

“We are so proud to have won the Tourism Pub gold at the Beautiful South Awards. The staff were so chuffed to be recognised for all their hard work, that we think the pub may have got even better!” Becky Salisbury www.royaloakmarlow.co.uk

“I was completely bowled over to receive this prestigious award for the Castle and to be voted amongst the very best of visitor attractions in the South of England – even to have been selected as a Finalist had been beyond my wildest dreams!  Chiddingstone Castle is a private charitable trust and receives no public funding to keep this unique historic house and its remarkable museum collections open to the public.  To think it was only eight years ago that the Trustees were within hours of making the decision to close the doors and disperse the collections forever.  The small team that runs the Castle have worked tirelessly to turn its fortunes around and this accolade is testimony to their creativity, tenacity, commitment and sheer hard work!” Ali Ditzel, Director Chiddingstone Castle www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk

"Wow! We genuinely didn’t expect to receive another Gold award, especially up against such stiff competition! We are all thrilled with our latest accolade making it our 3rd Beautiful South Gold Award! Thank you Tourism South East - A fantastic night was had by all, and we are truly overwhelmed with our latest GOLD Award. A great way to round off another beautiful year” Kelly www.monkeyhaven.org

Amy Dobson, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery added, “It’s such an honour to win this award for the second year in a row, it’s a great testament to the hard work of all our staff that we can maintain such a prestigious position within the industry.” www.bombaysapphire.com

Operations Director James Hilley-Jones said “We were absolutely delighted to receive these amazing awards on behalf of all those who work so hard to make Careys Manor, SenSpa and The Montagu Arms the places they are. We’ve always known our staff were something special but it’s wonderful to see it acknowledged and that we are so consistently meeting and surpassing the kind of standards expected for our guests." www.careysmanor.com www.montaguarmshotel.co.uk www.senspa.co.uk 

"We truly love what we do and are passionate about sharing all that The New Forest has to offer whilst supporting local producers, artisan and crafts people. We are very proud to have received this prestigious award and we have had a huge response to all our social media coverage. We look forward to welcoming many more guests to Daisybank in the future". Ciaran & Cheryl Maher, Daisybank Cottage Boutique Bed & Breakfast www.bedandbreakfast-newforest.co.uk

"We are delighted to have been awarded in two categories at the Beautiful South Awards last night.  I am immensely proud of the commitment we have shown as a team to delivering excellence in all that we do and overjoyed to have had our hard work recognised so highly". Katie Savage, www.langshottmanor.co.uk

'Winning Gold for not just 1, but 2 awards is such a big achievement for us, especially Tapnell Manor in its first year of entering. Attending the awards evening every year is always so much fun, and provides a brilliant opportunity to meet other businesses alike and catch up with those we have met previously. Recognition from winning Gold at Beautiful South is not only a great way of promoting what we have, but also a great boost in confidence and morale after the end of a busy season.' Tom Turney, www.tapnellmanor.com

Katie Brothers, General Manager at Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest, said: “We’re thrilled to have been recognised as not only one of the top self-catering providers, but also as one of the best dog friendly business in the South East. The whole team at Forest Holidays is dedicated to ensuring our customers (and their dogs!) have a memorable experience, connecting with both nature and the local community, so it is wonderful to gain this recognition.” www.forestholidays.co.uk


Tracy Nash, Commercial Manager of Hampshire Fare “The fact that the Hampshire Food Festival continues to reach the top three at the awards year after year shows just how successful and dynamic the festival is. We love organising the festival and we are really proud to be here this evening accepting a Bronze award.” www.hampshirefare.co.uk


"Being shortlisted for the second year in a row having won Silver at last year’s ceremony was an achievement in itself for the team here at Eastbourne TIC, and the news of Angela being shortlisted for a customer service award was excellent news. To say we were shocked when we realised we had won not one but TWO gold awards is an understatement. We were up against some really great contenders this year and these awards have gone a huge way to congratulating and commending both all the team here in Eastbourne and Angela for the outstanding work she has put in over the last 26 years" Jack Brownell Information Centre Manager www.eastbourne.gov.uk

“To win Gold in the prestigious Beautiful South Awards means a lot to Waddesdon, as it is a fitting tribute to all the hard work that the entire team have put in to ensure our visitors enjoy a unique experience when they come to Waddesdon.“ Kim Hallett www.waddesdon.org.uk

"We are incredibly proud to have won (& we were really genuinely surprised). We have only been doing this for 4 years and have no previous experience of tourism or hospitality. We love where we live and have no problem promoting it. If I had to say one thing it would be 'blown away to have won B&B of the year." Ian & Cathy Miles www.fieldgreenoast.com

"It was so wonderful to have won silver at the beautiful south awards for best Glamping site. It was really interesting to see the different scores we achieved against each criteria and to meet fellow Glamping businesses.  We will draw on this to further improve our business. We are proud of the service we deliver and  it was great to have the recognition from the judges".  Louise www.plushtentsglamping.co.uk

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are so thrilled to have received this Gold award for our milestone 50th Brighton Festival. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events next May with the extraordinary Kate Tempest as Guest Director.” www.brightonfestival.org

The Beautiful South award application was an excellent opportunity to showcase my business to a wider hospitality audience. I used the process to health-check all aspects of the business, and it was a creative teambuilding exercise, where all staff members had input.  Applying was straightforward, and the questions helped me give focused and relevant answers. For what from the outset, seemed like a relatively uneventful year, I quickly learned that we had attained certain successes, whether it was in marketing campaigns or customer services, that we could be truly proud of and share as best practice.  Since winning the Gold Award in the Guest Accommodation category, we have earned substantial press coverage, and probably more humbling, our local community and former guests rejoiced and shared our achievement.

Top tips: Keep your answers focused.  Approach your written submission as a means to attaining the next stage, which is a mystery-shop visit. You can then elaborate and provide further evidence accordingly. It may seem obvious: proofread your submission, or get someone else to do it.

Brendan McDonagh Swan House www.swanhousehastings.co.uk

Why did I enter the awards? Because it is a great opportunity to showcase the excellent customer service, the professional and friendly advice Tourist Information Officers provide to visitors on a daily basis.

How did I find the process? The process was really straightforward and not too time consuming.

What were the results? We were very pleased with the results as we won the Gold Award this year. We felt really proud to be recognised in the wider tourism world.

My top tips to others: Just keep it simple. Do not overthink it. Work as a team when putting the evidence together as each one of you bring something different to the table. Show why you are the best in your field, don’t be shy.

Virginie Whittaker, Tourism and Town Twinning Manager, TOWNCENTRIC, Gravesend Town Centre Regeneration & Information Centre www.gogravesham.com

Previous years winners said

Visitor Centre Manager, Graham Hukins, said, “We are delighted to have made the shortlist for this prestigious competition. We are passionate about sharing the unique history of Britain’s oldest brewer and it is great for the dedication and enthusiasm of our staff to be recognised in this way. (Small Visitor Attraction)

Hoburne’s Chairman, Rosie Kennar, said: “This is the most wonderful news and gets our 2014 season off to the best start imaginable. Being named as one of the top five Holiday Parks is a great and well deserved acknowledgement for our hugely talented teams and all our loyal guests and holiday home owners.” (Holiday Parks)

Tony Timmer from The Feathered Nest Country Inn said "In trying times endured over the last few years in tourism and hospitality, it is vital that we try and exceed our customers’ expectations.  The awards organised by Tourism South East are a testament to individuals and businesses whom strive to embrace training and investment to ensure that the ever more demanding customer receives value for money. To recently having bestowed upon us 2 golds and 1 highly commended awards in TSE has given all of us more energy to continue and improve what we are doing." (Tourism Pub)

Derek & Monique Wright, joint proprietors of Kester House B&B say "Hearing news of being a finalist across the whole of England, put a smile on our faces and a thrill in our hearts - being recognised in this way is just so exciting". (B and B)

Judith Madox from Beaulieu said “We are delighted to have been selected as a finalist in the Tourism Event of the Year category at the VisitEngland Awards 2014 for our annual International Autojumble, particularly as the competition within the category is of such a high standard. These national awards are highly regarded within the tourism industry, so it is a great honour to have our Autojumble, now in its 48th year, recognised as one of the leading tourism events in England.” (Event)

Sue Shave said "The staff and volunteers at Chiltern Open Air Museum are delighted to be shortlisted for the Small Attraction of the Year category in the VisitEngland Awards. We are proud that this nomination has recognized the national significance and fantastic visitor experience provided by our unique rescued historic buildings, beautiful Chilterns landscapes and the vision of our dedicated volunteers and staff, which have helped to create this unique visitor attraction in the heart of the South East". (Small Visitor Attraction)