RECORDS tumbled at the annual South West Tourism Excellence Awards finale, with local businesses among the winners.

The presentation evening at Ashton Gate, in Bristol, was hosted by ITV news presenter Kylie Pentelow and featured jugglers, a presentation by adventurer Alastair Humphreys and opening address from travel journalist Alison Rice.

She said: "Yet again the South West leads the way in tourism excellence.

"Whatever 2017 throws at this very special region of Britain, the award winners will excel at what they do best - offering all comers the best possible visitor experiences.”

Robin Barker, of Services for Tourism, said: “Achieving excellence is one thing, maintaining it in a world of ever-rising expectations is an even greater challenge.

"So well done to all of this year’s winners – you are at the cutting edge of this region’s top industry and are genuine business icons.”


*THE Dunkery Beacon Country House, in Wootten Courtenay scooped two awards, taking silver in the Restaurant/Bistro section and bronze in the Small Hotel/Boutique Accommodation category.

Jane Bradley, who runs the business with husband, John, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have picked up silver and bronze awards.

"We are extremely proud of our restaurant and accommodation facilities we provide so to have these recognised is brilliant."

*IT was a family affair as Waterrow Touring Park picked up bronze in in the Camping and Caravanning Park category.

Jamie Cook, who bought the site with his wife Lynette, and parents Maureen and Graham in 2013, said: "It is fantastic news that we have received the bronze award.

"We’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of the fantastic holidaymakers who visit us through the year.”

*TAUNTON'S Visitor Centre, run by Taunton Deane Borough Council and based in the town's Market House, followed up gold in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism awards with bronze in the Tourism Information Centre class.

Cllr Mark Edwards, the Deane's executive member for business development, said: "To win an award when you are competing against the very best in the South West – a tourism hotspot – is a tremendous achievement."

Manager Andrew Hopkins added: “To win bronze at such a prestigious event is fantastic and a real accolade for our team - we are delighted Taunton is being recognised as a centre of excellence in the South West."

*HESTERCOMBE had a 20th birthday present, receiving silver in the Small Attraction of the Year group.

The attraction, started in 1997, attracts 80,000 visitors a year to see its historic gardens, house and art gallery.

Chief executive Philip White said: "Hestercombe is committed to developing both its world-class gardens, and the house to bring together art and the landscape, and this year also sees the launch of a fundraising initiative to further improve the attraction.

“We are delighted that we’ve been chosen as the recipients of this prestigious award and congratulate all the other fabulous and well-deserving venues that were nominated.”

*BRIDGWATER Guy Fawkes Carnival made it a hat trick of awards in the past year, winning silver in the Tourism Event and Festival category, following success in last year's event and also the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.

Carnival president Malcolm Cattle said: "This award demonstrates just how much impact Bridgwater Carnival and the Somerset Carnivals have on the South West and to tourism in the area, and I would like to say a big thank you to the carnival committee, the entrants and to the spectators for making this award possible."

Cllr Gill Slocombe, Sedgemoor District Council's carnival representative, said: "Our carnival gives a real boost to tourism and it is so wonderful that at last the carnival is getting the recognition it so deserves.”

*DIMPSEY Glamping, based near Combe St Nichols, in the Blackdown Hills, was presented with silver in the Glamping Business section.

The business, run by husband and wife Emma and Andrew Warren, combines heritage and luxury, offering guests en-suite facilities and a double bed in a shepherd's hut, plus a wood-fired hot tub, garden oven and firepit.

*IT was silver for The Cottage Beyond, in Kittisford Barton, in the Self-Catering Property category.

The accommodation set in a secluded landscape garden on a 260-acre organic farm and featuring a spa hall with indoor heated pool, hot tub and sauna and the freedom to explore the entire farm, which boasts ponds and woodlands, eggs to collect, animals to make friends with and fields with stunning views.