The awards, designed to promote and celebrate the best tourism businesses in England, took place at Lancashire County Cricket Club in Manchester last night and saw 17 businesses and individuals honoured with all finalists awarded either a Gold, Silver or Bronze award.
The Swan Hotel at Lavenham in Suffolk beat Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, Cedar Court Grand Hotel & Spa, Peckforton Castle and the Lowry to the Large Hotel of the Year award while Brownsword Hotels' Gidleigh Park in Devon was named Small Hotel of the Year.
Alkham Court Farmhouse near Dover was winner of the Bed & Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year category while The Feathered Nest Country Inn in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was voted Tourism Pub of the Year.
An Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award was also given to the 70,000 Olympic Games Makers by Olympic star Jonathan Edwards in recognition of the nine million hours they spent welcoming and helping visitors to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Previous winners of the award include the English pub, The National Trust and The Royal Shakespeare Company.
VisitEngland chairman Lady Cobham said: “The Games Makers were ambassadors not just for London 2012, but for the entire country. As the face of the Games, they showed great humour, grace under pressure and an amazing team spirit. The warm welcome and friendly assistance they provided will be remembered fondly by visitors from both home and abroad for many years to come, and I’m delighted that we are able to recognise their unique contribution to tourism with this award.”
The awards announcement comes as news from Travelodge shows that the Olympic effect has taken hold of UK holiday-makers as an estimated two-thirds are planning to spend their summer holiday in Britain this year with London the top destination.
VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said the awards, now in their 24th year, continued to help raise standards across the industry and helped establish England as a 'world-class destination'.
“The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence represent the highest accolade in English tourism, and this year’s winners have raised the bar higher than ever before," he said. "The awards champion the very best in quality and customer service, and continue to help to raise standards across the industry, establishing England’s place as a world-class destination and a brilliant place to visit.
"The competition was fierce so all our finalists are to be warmly congratulated for their success – particularly our Gold Award winners, whose passion and commitment to excellence is exemplary.”
Hospitality category winners in the VisitEngland Excellence Awards 2013:
Bed & Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year
Alkham Court Farmhouse, South Alkham, nr Dover, Kent
Business Tourism Award
ExCel London, London
Manchester Central, Manchester, Greater Manchester
Large Hotel of the Year
The Swan Hotel, Lavenham, Suffolk
Small Hotel of the Year
Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon
Tourism Pub of the Year
The Feathered Nest, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Taste of England Award
Overwater Hall, Carlisle, Cumbria