The Isle of Wight has been recognised for offering some of the best experiences in the South East.
Last night (Wednesday 5 December), the Beautiful South Awards – organised by Tourism South East – celebrated the best the region has to offer visitors at an awards ceremony dubbed ‘the tourism Oscars’.
The Isle of Wight stood out, with nominations in four different categories.
The glitzy ceremony at Brighton’s Grand Hotel – supported by Visit Isle of Wight communications partner NFU Mutual – saw Tom’s Eco Lodge waltz away with gold for Glamping Business of the Year, and sister business East Afton Farmhouse take the top prize for Self Catering Accommodation of the Year.
Tom Turney from Tapnell Farm said: ‘It’s an incredible year we’ve had, another incredible year. It’s testament to all the amazing work that everyone’s done, so everyone at the farm deserves all the accolades and all the respect that we’ve got tonight.
‘We’re just a very small element of all the other bits that are going on, there’s so many other great places in the West Wight, on the wider Isle of Wight. I think the Isle of Wight is the place to be, not just now, but for the next five to ten years.’
Fiona Hamilton, Guest Experience manager at the Away Resorts’ Whitecliff Bay said: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to bits to win the awards. It’s a massive achievement for everybody at Whitecliff Bay, for everybody at Away Resorts and for tourism on the Isle of Wight.’
Andy Reece from Whitecliff Bay explains why he thinks they have been so successful: ‘They keep coming back because we are achieving excellent standards with our accommodation and everything we do, we’ve got a superb team.’
Visit Isle of Wight’s Visitor Information Centre took home the bronze award for the category of Visitor Information Service of the Year.
Will Myles, MD of Visit Isle of Wight said: ‘It’s absolutely amazing! The fact that Whitecliff Bay, East Afton Farmhouse, Tom’s Eco Lodges and the visitor information service for the Island are all there, looking for awards and getting awards is just amazing for the Island. To be the best you’ve got to be with the best, and we’re up there with the big boys!’
‘These awards are the Beautiful South Awards, they’re run by Tourism South East. That’s covering an area from just short of Bristol, all the way across to Kent and south of London. It’s a massive area and these are the tourism Oscars for the South of England.’
‘There’s a huge PR machine behind the Beautiful South Awards and behind our own activities here on the Island and off the Island, so it brings a huge PR value to people who can actually say ‘we’re the best, we’re gold, silver, bronze within that category’ and they can use on their website, they can use it to promote themselves it’s a great thing for people to have.’
Helen Goss-Philips, manager at Visit Isle of Wight’s Visitor Information Centre based at Newport Guildhall, explains what service it provides:
‘At the visitor information centre we’ve recommendations, days out, things to see, things to do, walking, cycling, we’ve got bike hire, anything you’re looking for souvenirs, gigs – anything you want to know, come and ask us!’
Helen added that sometimes the team at the Visitor Information Centre still get asked the most obvious question:
‘If it’s somebody coming into the shop via email or telephone calls, they ask if you need a passport or even if they need a visa to come over to the Island. They do not understand that we’re part of the UK mainland and it makes no difference.
‘It does give us a little giggle, however it is just one of those questions that we get asked a lot and some people don’t know, so we just take it on the chin and answer them as we would.’