HOTEL staff are celebrating being awarded a four star rating by the national tourist board for England.

The Ocean Hotel and Spa Retreat on Portland was given the rating by Quality in Tourism, which provides an official assessment service on behalf of Visit England.

The accolade makes the hotel, which is at Southwell Business Park, only the second four star rated hotel between Lyme Regis and Sandbanks.

Guests from the local community and local businesses were invited to a celebration of the rating in the hotel’s restaurant.

Managing director Verna Herry said: “We are so excited to have achieved such a prestigious rating, which general manager Simon Ainsworth, his entire management team and our superb staff have strived so hard towards.

“Our guest comments book and Trip Advisor reviews of the hotel and spa contain many wonderful tributes and are proof of the very high standards we maintain.

“However, formal recognition from Visit England is the professional accolade which provides confirmation of the superb four star service and facilities that our guests can expect during their visit.”

The official Visit England four star accreditation emblem was presented to the hotel management team by Dorset deputy lieutenant Jeremy Pope OBE.

He said: “It gives me great pleasure to make this presentation. We saw during the Olympics that Portland was so much more interesting in terms of a venue than the Olympic Park in London.

“That was picked up by the press and beamed to the rest of the world.

“If we can’t do something about that then that’s pretty poor.”

The hotel and spa business were merged into a combined business operation in January last year.

The spa was expanded with a new sauna, steam room and jacuzzi facilities.

Also attending the celebration was Weymouth and Portland Mayor Ray Banham.

He said: “It’s a great honour for me to be here today. This is absolutely excellent and is long overdue. This is the only four star hotel in Weymouth and Portland.

“It shows what they have achieved here. You can see all the hard work that the staff and everybody has put in here.”

At the end of last year the hotel was awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence – awarded to the top 10 per cent of accommodation on the website as rated by users.