Winners of The Go To Places Tourism Awards 2017

Attractions, accommodation providers, pubs and star tourism spots across Kent and Hertfordshire have been honoured in the first ever Go To Places Tourism Awards 2017.

A total of 13 businesses received awards at a gala ceremony in London on Friday 24th November, with big name venues and hidden gems in each county taking home trophies following a round of voting by the general public.

Devised by destination specialists Go To Places – who deliver Visit Kent and Visit Herts (Hertfordshire) destination management services – the new tourism awards were set up to recognise exceptional standards of customer service and outstanding visitor experiences within the local tourism industry.

Go To Places launched both the Kent Tourism Awards and Herts Tourism Awards in the summer, inviting nominations for a range of award categories from businesses across both counties. All applications were reviewed by a panel of independent tourism judges from outside the relevant county, and a shortlist was then put to the public vote via social media and the Kent and Herts tourism websites.

More than 4,300 people voted for the ultimate winners in the end.

All finalists attended an afternoon tea reception at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, with tea, cakes and sparkling English wine from Biddenden Vineyards, before the winners of each were finally revealed.

The Kent winners:

  • Rest Your Head Award (Small Accommodation Provider of the Year) – Elmley Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey
  • Happy Family Award (Family Friendly Business of the Year) – Penshurst Place & Gardens, Penshurst
  • Big Sleep Award (Large Accommodation Provider of the Year) – Eastwell Manor, a Champneys Spa Hotel, Ashford
  • Big Day Out Award (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year) – Leeds Castle, Maidstone
  • Hidden Gem Award (Small Visitor Attraction of the Year) – Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel le Ferne
  • Raising the Bar Award (Tourism Pub of the Year) – The White Horse, Dover
  • Lasting Impression Award (Ultimate Tourism Experience of the Year) – Canterbury Medieval Pageant, Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District, Canterbury

The Hertfordshire winners are:

  • Rest Your Head Award (Small Accommodation Provider of the Year) – Home Farm Glamping, Elstree
  • Happy Family Award (Family Friendly Business of the Year) – Willows Activity Farm, St Albans
  • Big Sleep Award (Large Accommodation Provider of the Year) – The Grove, Watford
  • Big Day Out Award (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year) – Knebworth House, Knebworth
  • Hidden Gem Award (Small Visitor Attraction of the Year) – Mill Green Museum & Mill, Hatfield
  • Raising the Bar Award (Tourism Pub of the Year) – Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

The winners can now also put themselves forward for the national England Excellence Awards operated by VisitEngland (subject to VisitEngland eligibility criteria).

Go To Places represents both Visit Kent and Visit Herts, and both destinations were represented at the awards reception.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, CEO of Go To Places, said: “We were thrilled by the response to these awards in their first year, from the number of applications and nominations to the huge response from the public to vote for the winners, all rounded off with a wonderful celebratory ceremony.

“We are the only officially recognised organisation delivering destination management services across multiple counties, and we created these awards to recognise the incredible talent across the tourism industry and to motivate businesses to create compelling experiences and adopt best practice.

“The tourism industry deserves to be championed, and we hope these awards inspire more people to explore the big and small gems on their doorstep.”

The awards were sponsored by Biddenden Vineyards, Brachers, Heart FM, M Assessment Services, Pillory Barn, Quality in Tourism, Quin Estates, Shepherd Neame, and Sleeping Giant Media.

ENDS

For images of all the winners, please visit our awards image gallery

For further media information, please contact Lana Crouch at lana.crouch@gotoplaces.co.uk or call 01227 812915. 

About Go To Places

Go To Places delivers innovative, effective and sustainable destination management services in the UK. Committed to improving quality and skills within the tourism industry, Go To Places has developed a unique destination management organisation (DMO) model, based on developing great locations through innovative marketing, public and private sector partnerships, and positively influencing the tourism industry.

This includes offering expertise on funding bids, helping tourism and leisure businesses to better understand their market and audience, and sharing proven, effective marketing campaigns. The Go To Places’ destination management model has been developed through its experience as Kent’s DMO, Visit Kent, which was created in 2002. This model is now being effectively delivered through other portfolio businesses, such as Visit Herts (Hertfordshire). For more information about Go To Places, visit www.gotoplaces.co.uk

List of the full Kent Tourism Awards finalists 2017

Rest Your Head Award, sponsored by M Assessment Services (Small Accommodation Provider of the Year)

  • Elmley Nature Reserve (winner)
  • House of Agnes
  • Coastal Mill Cottage – Mulberry Cottages

Happy Family Award, sponsored by Quinn Estates (Family Friendly Business of the Year)

  • Penshurst Place and Gardens (winner)
  • Diggerland
  • Nethergong Camping

Big Sleep Award, sponsored by Sleeping Giant Media (Large Accommodation Provider of the Year)

  • Eastwell Manor (winner)
  • Hotel du Vin
  • The Yarrow Hotel

Big Day Out Award, sponsored by Brachers (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year)

  • The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
  • Turner Contemporary
  • Dreamland
  • Leeds Castle (winner)

Hidden Gem Award, sponsored by Southeastern (Small Visitor Attraction of the Year)

  • Battle of Britain Memorial (winner)
  • Copper Rivet Distillery
  • Go Ape Bedgebury

Raising the Bar Award, sponsored by Shepherd Neame (Tourism Pub of the Year)

  • Buoy and Oyster
  • The Dog at Wingham (winner)
  • The White Horse

Lasting Impression Award, sponsored by Pillory Barn (Ultimate Tourism Experience of the Year)

  • Champing – Churches Conservation Trust, St Mary’s Fordwich
  • Canterbury Medieval Pageant – Canterbury BID (winner)
  • bOing! – Gulbenkian, University of Kent

List of the full Herts Tourism Awards finalists 2017

Rest Your Head Award Sponsored by M Assessment Services (Small Accommodation Provider of the Year)

  • The Camping & Caravanning Club
  • Emerald Cottages
  • Home Farm Glamping (winner)

Happy Family Award (Family Friendly Business of the Year)

  • Willows Activity Farm (winner)
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London
  • Natural History Museum, Tring

Big Sleep Award (Large Accommodation Provider of the Year)

  • Down Hall Hotel & Spa
  • The Grove Hotel (winner)
  • Cromwell Hotel, Stevenage

Big Day Out Award (Large Visitor Attraction of the Year)

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London
  • Lee Valley White Water Centre
  • Knebworth House (winner)

Hidden Gem Award (Small Visitor Attraction of the Year)

  • Henry Moore Studios and Gardens
  • Mill Green Museum and Mill (winner)
  • Standalone Farm

Raising the Bar Award (Tourism Pub of the Year)

  • Alford Arms, Frithsden
  • The Golden Fleece
  • Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (winner)