DORSET businesses picked up a handful of prizes at the 2017/18 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

This year entries were up by 7% and winners were spread across the whole of the region from the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall in the west to Bournemouth, Dorset and Wiltshire in the east, and from Devon in the south to Somerset, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire in the north.

Taste Cafe on Chesil Beach won the gold award for Cafe/ Tearoom of the year, and Swanage Information Centre picked up the gold award for Visitor Information Service of the Year. 

The awards ceremony was held in the Arena at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay yesterday, and was hosted by BBC news presenter Victoria Graham.

The event had a fantastic turnout with 451 guests booked and is the biggest regional gathering of South West tourism businesses.

An inspiring opening address was given by travel journalist Alison Rice, who is also Chair of Family Holiday Association. She outlined the work of the charity for which more than £4,300 was raised during the evening.

Visitors were then treated to spectacular performances by Bristol-based acrobats Tumbellina and an introductory presentation from Benjamin Mee, whose role as owner of Dartmoor Zoo was taken as inspiration for the film ‘I Bought a Zoo.’

Many finalists of the awards were also nominated to represent the region in the VisitEngland awards, the finalists for which will be announced in March.

All entrants in the South West underwent a rigorous short-listing process with 416 being visited by a team of 45 mystery shoppers. Entry was free, and all entrants received feedback, giving them useful tips for future success.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of Title Sponsors, South West Water Business, said: “As headline sponsors for the South West Tourism Awards, South West Water Business continues to be fully committed to the prosperity of this important and thriving industry – helping businesses save money, improve their green credentials and capitalise on their long-term sustainability.

“We’re privileged to be sponsoring the Tourism Awards again this year and wish the very best of luck to all the finalists.”

Here is a list of the winners in Dorset.

Active & Sporting Experience of the Year: Loose Reins, Dorset (Gold)

Artistic, Cultural & Learning Experience of the Year: All Hallows Farmhouse and Cookery School (Gold)

Bed and Breakfast of the Year: Dorset House (Silver) Home Farm House (Bronze)

Café / Tearoom of the Year: Taste Café at Chesil Beach (Gold)

Dog Friendly Business of the Year: Golden Acre Holiday Bungalows (Bronze)

Glamping & Alternative Accommodation of the Year: Loose Reins (Bronze)

Holiday Park of the Year: Rockley Park (Silver)

Large Attraction of the Year: Moors Valley Country Park and Forest (Gold)

Outstanding Customer Service Award: Katie Davies, Moors Valley Country Park & Forest (Gold)

Restaurant / Bistro of the Year: Guildhall Tavern (Bronze)

Small Attraction of the Year: The Town Mill (Silver) Small /Boutique Hotel of the Year: Green House Hotel (Silver)

Spa and Wellbeing Experience of the Year: Mellulah Therapy & Yoga Retreats (Silver)

Tourism Event / Festival of the Year: Sherborne Abbey Festival (Silver) Tourism Pub of the Year: Acorn Inn, Dorset (Silver) 

Venue & Business Tourism Award: The Italian Villa (Silver) Visitor Information Service of the Year: Swanage Information Centre (Gold) 

For a full list of winners visit