Winners announced at the 2019 Go To Places Tourism Awards

Attractions, accommodation providers, pubs and star tourism spots across Kent and Hertfordshire have been honoured in the 2019 Go To Places Tourism Awards.

A total of 23 businesses received awards at the Kent and Hertfordshire ceremonies on the 2nd and 5th December respectively, with big name venues and hidden gems in each county taking home trophies following a round of desk judging and a visit from a mystery shopper.

Devised by destination specialists Go To Places - who deliver destination management services for Visit Kent and Visit Herts - the tourism awards are designed 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, then a shortlist received a visit from mystery shoppers. All entrants receive feedback from the judges’ findings, giving tourism businesses the opportunity to make improvements for the future.

More than 200 entries were received across both counties and around 250 guests attended afternoon ceremonies at the Kent Cricket Grounds in Canterbury and Hotel Cromwell in Stevenage, making the post gala events a great opportunity to network with other industry leaders.

The Kent winners:

  • Business Events Venue of the Year - Leeds Castle, Maidstone
  • Camping, Glamping, Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year – Kits Coty Glamping, Aylesford
  • Experience of the Year – Vine + Country Tours
  • International Tourism Award – Hythe Imperial Hotel
  • Large Hotel of the Year – Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells
  • Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – Walmer Castle and Gardens
  • New Tourism Business Award - Vine + Country Tours
  • Pub of the Year – The Foundry Brew Pub, Canterbury
  • Small Accommodation Provider of the Year – Brambles Bed and Breakfast, Eythorne
  • Small Visitor Attraction of the Year – Balfour – Hush Heath Estate, Staplehurst
  • Taste of Kent of the Year – Hythe Imperial Hotel
  • Family Holiday Association – Rare Breeds Centre, Woodchurch
  • PROFIT International Award - Mijn Lievelingsplek, Netherlands

The Hertfordshire winners are:

  • Business Events Venue of the Year – Sopwell House
  • Camping, Glamping, Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year – Home Farm Glamping
  • Experience of the Year – Shepreth Wildlife Park
  • Large Hotel of the Year – The Grove
  • Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
  • Pub of the Year – The Old Cross Tavern
  • Small Accommodation Provider of the Year – Lawn House Hotel
  • Small Visitor Attraction of the Year – Leavesden Country Park
  • Taste of Hertfordshire of the Year – Lussmans Sustainable Fish and Grill
  • Family Holiday Association – Ventura Wildlife Park

Except for the Family Holiday Association and the PROFIT International awards, the winners will automatically feed up to the national England Excellence Awards 2019-2020 operated by VisitEngland.

National winners are determined by a comprehensive review of the application submitted to the local competition, including associated comments and feedback from judges, in conjunction with an updated appraisal of the online presence of each business.

National shortlisted winners are due to be announced in May 2020 and the national ceremony is due to take place in June 2020.

Deirdre Wells, OBE of Go To Places, said: “This is the third year that we have held these awards and it is fantastic to see the range and breadth of tourism businesses and talent in both Kent and Hertfordshire and also the huge response and support from the public who voted for the winners.

We created these awards to champion the tourism industry which delivers an estimated £3.8bn to Kent and £2.2bn to Hertfordshire and I hope that by showcasing top class tourism businesses that it will inspire more businesses to create compelling and innovative experiences for our domestic and international visitors.  Our talented tourism industry is a key reason why the UK is the 7th most visited country in the world.”

The awards were sponsored by Biddenden Vineyards, Brachers, InsideKent Magazine, Leftlion, Quinn Estates, MHA MacIntyre Hudson, NFU Mutual Tunbridge Wells, Pillory Barn, Sleeping Giant Media, and Southeastern. The event was also supported by Interreg 2 Seas PROFIT and Rubber Cheese.