Award-winning Devon businesses

Want to find the best places to stay, eat and visit in Devon? The winners of the 2013 Devon Tourism Awards have been announced, with awards going only to those achieving absolute excellence in their field. Read our guide to this year’s gold award winners to learn more about some of Devon’s best hotels, camp sites, holiday parks, attractions, pubs, restaurants and TICs.

Find more award-winning businesses from the 2013 Devon Tourism Awards
Find more award-winning businesses from the 2012 Devon Tourism Awards

Places to stay

award winning devon businesses seahorse apartmentsSeahorse Apartments & Westward Living, Westward Ho!
The winners of three awards this year, the luxurious Westward Living cottages and Seahorse Apartments are in fantastic locations and beautifully appointed. The cottages are in the grounds of a stud farm and also offer great riding opportunities, whereas the apartments are right on the seafront in Westward Ho!, and extremely popular with watersports enthusiasts. Find out more
Owners Kathy and Chris Murdoch were thrilled to see their and their team’s hard work recognised. ‘It was such an honour to win these awards; there are so many excellent tourism businesses here,’ says Kathy. ‘We’re constantly improving our accommodation and facilities, which goes a long way towards being able to offer such a great customer experience, and we have exciting plans for 2014, including £1m worth of investment into Westward Living at Duckhaven Stud and another land mark tourist development.’
What the judges said ‘Astoundingly good accommodation and service that is truly dedicated’

Hedgehog Corner, Uplyme 
The four-star Hedgehog Corner offers top-notch guest accommodation with a real focus on service, locality and community, and is the nearest recommended guest accommodation to River Cottage HQ near Axminster. There’s no arguing with Hedgehog Corner’s credentials; it was also recently named national guest accommodation winner in the 2013 Gold Star awards, gold winner in the Taste of the West awards and holder of VisitEngland gold and breakfast awards. Find out more
Owner Joy Raymond says she believes she won because she set herself apart from the herd. ‘Guest accommodation is the hardest fought in all competitions, but I set myself high standards,’ she says. She’s also extending her expertise into self-catering, and already has a pretty holiday cottage in the grounds and a luxury apartment planned for next year.
What the judges said ‘Very personal with good customer service and a home from home atmosphere’

Cofton Country Holidays, Dawlish 
This large, four-star holiday park with a wide range of year-round accommodation last year added an indoor leisure complex with club room, cafe, indoor pool, sauna, steam room, gym and arcade. Find out more
Cofton’s Helen Scott was pleased to see that the continuous improvements the park has made are paying off. ‘We’ve recently invested a huge amount into the park which has dramatically improved customer experience,’ says Helen. ‘Our new entertainment venue means we can now host events, conferences and even weddings. We had our first wedding here a few months ago and it was a huge success.’
What the judges said ‘A lovely holiday feel, excellent atmosphere, and great new pool’

Compton Pool, Marldon
Compton Pool has won many regional and national awards, culminating in National Gold for Self-Catering Holiday of the Year 2012 in the Visit England Awards. It offers eleven beautiful holiday cottages on a site surrounded by South Devon countryside, plus fantastic facilities including heated indoor pool, sauna, tennis court, games barn and children’s play area. This year, its green energy initiative  won the award, with improvements reducing annual carbon emissions from 72 tonnes to just 2. Find out more
What the judges said ‘Excellent promotion of local services’

The Old Rectory Hotel, Martinhoe
The Old Rectory Hotel’s mix of stylish boutique country house coupled with an unstuffy, relaxed atmosphere has proved to be a winning formula when it comes to creating an excellent and award-winning hotel. Its beautiful country-chic décor, deep baths, comfy beds and excellent food made with lots of Exmoor produce provides all the luxury you’d expect from a top hotel, but you’re almost obliged to bring your muddy boots so you can explore the wildness of the moor and coast on the doorstep. This is a haven in which to unwind – no crowds, no traffic; just birdsong and jaw dropping scenery. Find out more
What the judges said ‘A superb country house retreat’

Arundell Arms Hotel, Lifton
This fantastic country hotel, pub and restaurant has long been recognised as one of the best country sports hotels in the UK; the hotel has 20 miles of private fly fishing in rivers and the lake, and visitors can choose from a range of activities including golf, shooting, and riding. And now it’s winning awards for its conference, wedding and sporting facilities too. Situated in mid Devon and reached by fast roads from all directions, with a range of room sizes including the large and elegant dining room, it’s an ideal venue for lots of occasions. Find out more
What the judges said  ‘An excellent rounded offering … great food, good sporting and good sustainable credentials’

Places to Eat

award winning devon businesses start bay innStart Bay Inn, Torcross
This pub dates back to the 14th century and was used by local fishermen who worked their fishing boats from the village beach. Now, it’s a wonderful pub owned and run by two generations of the Stubb family, sitting in a spectacular coastal location, and which has a reputation for serving excellent seafood. Paul and Stuart catch and dress scallops destined for customers’ plates, and a local crabber drops his catch to the back door to be cooked and dressed immediately. Find out more
What the judges said ‘Very attractive with great views over the beach’

River Cottage Canteen & Deli, Plymouth
The River Cottage Canteen and Deli is not only housed in a beautiful location – in The Grade I listed Brewhouse building, part of Plymouth’s historical Royal William Yard scheme, and right on the waterfront with views of the River Tamar, looking towards the Sound and across to Cornwall – but serves excellent local food too. Of course, it follows the principles of all of Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s ventures (Hugh’s River Cottage Canteen & Deli in Axminster won joint silver in the same category), and uses top-quality seasonal and locally sourced produce, changing menus on a daily basis. Find out more
Head chef Joe Draper says, ‘We offer diners great value for money in serving them local, organic and wild food in the most sustainable way possible, and this reflects in our food and service. There are some great restaurants in the south west, which makes it all more the rewarding to get this award.’
What the judges said ‘Doing a great job of promoting tourism into a special part of Plymouth – with creativity and uniqueness’

Places to Visit

award winning devon businesses the big sheepThe Big Sheep, Bideford
This famous North Devon attraction is firmly established as one of the UK’s most innovative and exciting family attractions providing unique farm-based entertainment for all the family. As well as train and tractor rides, animals to pet and a large indoor soft-play area, there are excellent shows (all presented with great humour – its motto is: ‘A great day out baa none’!) about sheep and milking, the world famous sheep racing, plus horse whispering, sheep shearing, dog and participating duck trials. Find out more
Director Rick Turner Rick Turner, who this year is celebrating the attraction’s 25th birthday, is already planning more additions for 2014, and commended North Devon’s performance in the awards overall: ‘This year has been an excellent one and we are immensely proud that two North Devon attractions, ourselves and RHS Rosemoor, won the gold and silver awards. We try to create a wonderful environment for our visitors to relax and be entertained in, and build the very best team of people.’
What the judges said ‘A very well led and well run attraction’

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, Tiverton
The extensive displays on local history and lively events programme of guided walks, talks, activities and themed days makes this a vibrant and award-winning museum. With temporary exhibitions varying from the history of underwear to local farming memories, this attraction continues to surprise and delight locals and visitors alike, year after year. Find out more
Pippa Griffith, Director and Museum Development Officer sees the award as an endorsement of the hard work, passion and enthusiasm of the museum’s volunteers and staff.  ‘For a local museum with very limited resources, we manage to offer a wide range of displays, events and services,’ she says. ‘Devon’s full of fantastic museums and visitor attractions, so there’s lots of competition in this category, which makes our win extra special for us.’
What the judges said ‘The team’s passion and enthusiasm for the museum bring the many objects to life’

Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink
This hugely popular three-day festival is a celebration of the region’s very best food and drink, and is held annually in the courtyard of Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens, in central Exeter. Find out more
Co-founded and spearheaded by Michael Caines MBE, the festival has great support from local food and drink producers, and offers tastings, stalls, demonstrations from top local chefs, foodie activities for children, and great live entertainment in the evenings too. Commenting on the huge amount of work from so many people that goes into making the festival such a success, Michael Caines said, ‘It’s a great result for a festival that is close to my heart. Well done, team Festival!’
What the Judges said ‘The ultimate foodie event’

Calvert Trust Exmoor, Kentisbury
Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the edge of Exmoor and a short distance from the North Devon coast, this fantastic centre runs fun-packed activity holidays for disabled people, their families and friends. Accessible activities on offer include horse riding, climbing, cycling, archery, canoeing, sailing, zip wire and group challenges. Find out more
This is the third year in a row that the Trust has won an award in this category, demonstrating its constant improvement. The Trust’s Rob Lott says, ‘We nearly didn’t enter this year, but once we sat down and listed all of the changes and improvements we had made we realised we had a lot to talk about! It’s such an achievement and an honour to win the gold  award; there are so many great activity, sport and experience providers out there.’
What the judges said ‘A unique experience and an extraordinary place’

English Riviera Visitor Information Service, Torquay
Whilst many destinations across the UK are seeing their tourism information outlets closed, the English Riviera has innovated, forming an extended year-round service which helps many thousands of people get the most of this beautiful area every year. Through a combination of new ideas, technology and working with partners, the English Riviera is now able to meet the ever more diverse requirements of visitors and locals alike, with several new Visitor Information Points (VIPs) established. And clearly this hard work and excellence comes from the top too: Carolyn Custerson, Chief Executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company and Chair of Visit Devon, was awarded this year’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Devon Tourism award. Find out more
What the judges said ‘The staff show commitment and resilience far beyond the call of duty’

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Find more places to stay in Devon
Find more great places to eat and drink in Devon
Find more great places to visit in Devon