Best of British Getaways Awards 2022
2 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 SME News are proud to introduce the Best of British Getaways 2022 to its roster of nationally recognised awards, with the ambition to reward the dedication, determination and excellence of Britain’s best getaways, breaks, and holiday spots. There is no denying the impact the pandemic has had on the UK tourism sector, but with increased restrictions on international travel led to heightened levels of holiday-goers looking for a getaway closer to home. The Best of British Getaways 2022 will shine a light on the resilience and commitment of the nation’s finest retreats, as well as acknowledging the determination of these businesses through what has been a testing period for the industry. Taking part in an award programme can be hugely beneficial for any company, providing the chance to be recognised, positive influence on team and staff morale, opportunity to help grow your company and reach out to new potential clients, really helps build your company brand, gives you a competitive advantage and recruiting and retaining employees becomes easier Sif Brookes | Senior Editor
Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 | 3 Contents 4. The Wildings: Best Luxury Glamping Site 2022 – Cotswolds & Hospitality Excellence Award 2022 5. Watatunga Wildlife Reserve: Best New Ecotourism Destination 2022 6. Seamill House Hotel : Best Luxury Boutique Hotel - Ayrshire 7. Ironbridge View Townhouse: Most Picturesque Self-Catering Holiday Home - Shropshire 8. High Dalby House: Best Luxury B&B - North Yorkshire 9. Balcary House Hotel : Best Boutique Hotel - Scottish Borders
4 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 Tucked away in the tranquil landscape of the Cotswolds is a relaxing glamping retreat. Sustainable, friendly, and serene, The Wildings is an escape that offers peace and a connection to nature whilst maintaining comfort and luxury. Glamping, a portmanteau of glamour and camping, has become an increasingly popular holiday trend over the past few years. In 2019, one of the UK’s best glamping sites opened its doors to the public. The Wildings, located in the Cotswolds, is an eco-friendly getaway that endeavours to be ‘friendly, welcoming and kind on the pocket too.’ Moreover, it combines all the traditional aspects of camping with more accessible accommodation and facilities – and there’s no more worrying about being washed out! It offers a unique ‘build your own holiday’ experience, utilising pods, star tents, and yurts that are fitted with only a bed. Not only does this mean that The Wildings is able to keep its prices low, but it also means that guests are able to camp with the option to choose from a number of extras if they so desire. Such extras could include bed linen bundles, campfire cooking sets, a celebration hamper, or even an Ooni Pizza Oven bundle. Simply, each visit to The Wildings is entirely bespoke, with options available for every budget. There are a plethora of adventures to be had, and The Wildings supplies a wealth of information surrounding them. Indeed, it stocks welcome booklets filled with helpful advice and information in, for example, it recommends local walking routes and activities. Additionally, for those travelling with children, the accommodation provides colouring books filled with facts about the local area. For a little extra magic, The Wildings has fairy houses dotted around its grounds for children to find, and a lucky dip boredom jar full of ideas to keep little ones busy for hours, hunting bugs, cloud watching, or spotting birds. Best Luxury Glamping Site 2022 – Cotswolds & Hospitality Excellence Award 2022 Jul22214 However, the true excellence behind The Wildings can be attributed to its team. Consisting of likeminded, ethical individuals, the team is supported by a can-do attitude and a steady supply of positivity. They throw their hearts and souls into what they do, and this is evident throughout the retreat. In addition, much of the team stems from the local area, and are therefore equipped to provide expert advice on good days out – whether it’s a wildlife walk through a local National Trust estate, or a farm park tailored towards children. The five-star retreat has become a popular spot for travellers, and has garnered several awards and reviews, including TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice 2022. One visitor writes, ‘What an idyllic location! We’ve had the most wonderful time. It felt like a bit of tranquillity amongst the hustle and bustle of life. Our hut was just perfect and the owners and staff so friendly and welcoming. We can’t wait to return!” So far, 2022 has been a busy year for The Wildings; the retreat has introduced camping pitches, a relaxing, new bell tent village along with the Pamper Tent, and a BBQ Hut. Additionally, it has added a coffee shop fitted with a mechanical coffee machine (which has been named Carlotta), a milkshake bar, an old fashioned traditional sweet shop hidden behind a wooden fort, and many new goodies that can be found in its ethical farm shop. Yet its expansion has not stopped there. The Wildings has multiple plans in the pipeline which will further enhance the unique experience, including the potential addition of wellness retreats to its portfolio. Contact: Kimberley MacCurrach Company: The Wildings Web Address: www.thewildingscampsite.co.uk
5 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is a family-run business welcoming wildlife enthusiasts to its stunning woodland, grasslands and lakes. The team have created a diverse and ideal habitat for animals to thrive, including over 20 types of ungulate and rare bird species. With the space and the freedom to roam, Watatunga is an environment that lets animals live as natural lives as possible. Access to the reserve is by guided tour only and must be pre-booked online, with guests being allowed to drive themselves in buggies while led by a tour guide who describes what they see. This enables guests to understand and interact with some truly magnificent species in a way that would otherwise be impossible. The range of species across the reserve is unique with all the animals roaming freely, it feels like an African safari. You never know what you might see, and the animals behave in a very natural way, as they would in the wild. The reserve is fully accessible too, with a dedicated wheelchair trailer available for those who require it. The Watatunga team is passionate about sharing the conservation work they do with a wide audience. Not only are guided tours available, but also self-catering accommodation in the form of two new holiday homes, which appeal to families looking for an exciting and unique experience to enjoy together. Anna Hamilton, responsible for accommodation and education at Watatunga, tells us, “We are proud to be a destination where children, parents and grandparents can access, learn and enjoy an experience on equal footing. We appeal to conservationists, bird-watchers, animal lovers and photographers, and our focus on accessibility has made us a popular destination for wheelchair users.” Particularly during lockdowns, people realised more than ever that the British holiday can be packed full of wonder and amazing attractions. With a wonderful array of restaurants, familyfriendly activities, landmarks, and places to visit, a UK staycation is ideal, and it of course helps reduce the carbon footprint of taking flights which are bad for the environment – something the team is very passionate about at Watatunga. Anna says, “We have been thrilled with the responses from guests who have enjoyed a Jul22061 Best New Ecotourism Destination 2022 British safari holiday and wouldn’t rush to go abroad again.” By providing the location and the experience, Watatunga Wildlife Reserve can inspire the conservationists and passionate naturalists of tomorrow. School groups are welcomed as well as standard guests, providing them with a day out that is absolutely unique in the U.K., but also educational and of the highest importance to the natural world – and all in a gorgeous corner of west Norfolk. Ultimately, the Watatunga team work incredibly hard for the animals, the customers, and each other. They also receive ongoing training to help them learn more about the animals that live at the reserve and their status around the world, as well as to engage with and inspire guests. Alongside this, each week, the team have the opportunity to read through any reviews or feedback received from guests, with Anna commenting, “It is amazing to read the compliments the team pay to each other whenever they get named.” Going forward, the Watatunga team is constantly working with partners in the U.K. and around the world to bring new wildlife to the site. They are always looking to evolve the reserve and ensure that guests have the best experience possible when visiting. Having recently introduced a picnic area as well as a shop and café in the reception area, they are now launching a forest school this autumn. Additionally, there are hopes to add a stretch tent to the site in order to hold events and host many more educational visits and tours specifically catered for photographers. Company: Watatunga Wildlife Reserve Contact: Anna Hamilton Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.watatunga.co.uk Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is a 170-acre nature reserve in West Norfolk, specialising in the conservation of deer, antelope, and rare birds, as well as providing education. It organises guided self-drive buggy tours for its guests which enable them to see the animals roaming freely whilst learning about them and the threats they face in their homelands. The reserve also collaborates with partners around the globe on breeding programmes to aid future survival of endangered and rare species. In light of Watatunga’s extraordinary awards success, we explore what makes this nature reserve so special.
6 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 each month are treated to the small business market allowing local people to sell their wares and expand their market segments. Taking over a small chunk of Ayrshire for the duration, locals and hotel guests alike love it, and visitors are always guaranteed to walk away with something one of a kind. Furthermore, it uses local suppliers where possible, to stock its hotel rooms and pantry. This was especially important during the pandemic, as so many found it a struggle to keep afloat due to shop closures and the serious reduction in in-person sales being made. Thus, it used local suppliers to support its community, having sponsored or donated thousands of pounds to local and UK wide charities to continue this dedication to helping its community on an even wider scale, showing the true love for looking after people that runs through the veins of the business. The lifeblood of commitment, respect, and dedication that forms the foundation of Seamill House Hotel has been an inspiring thing to see for the people of Ayrshire, who have benefitted hugely from its community and workplace togetherness initiatives. Indeed, another way in which it accomplished this was ensuring young people would continue their learning even when schools are shut through local Spanish teaching group, Kidslingo. Empower Me workshops, by Sue Butcher, focus on mental health assistance and so much more, it recognises the importance of looking after one’s mental health, especially during such unprecedented times where outside stressors are more intense than ever. Therefore, it has also turned this inward towards its staff. None of its team were let go during lockdown, each of the retaining their jobs and being given all the support and assistance they needed to feel comfortable to return to work, A boutique hotel nestled in the picturesque region of south-west Scotland, Seamill House Hotel is located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde in Ayrshire. Welcoming guests into a comfortable, safe, and relaxed environment where everyone can find a second home, it prides itself on its individuality, magnificent location and attention to detail. There is having plenty of parking, with individual parking spaces for its executive rooms, and located within easy distance of public transport and enough off the beaten path to allow for the peace and tranquillity that its guests enjoy. Having won a vast number of awards for all round excellence, Seamill House Hotel has won the above award for continuing to impress guests from near and far alike. Found in the heart of Scotland and working to make each guest thoroughly comfortable from the moment they walk through the door, its rooms are well-furnished and well-imagined, spacious in design and comfortable by nature, with all the amenities a guest might need for the most relaxing and comfortable stay. All rates include breakfast, including Full Scottish, Smoked Salmon and much more. All of the Rooms boast a super king-sized bed, ensuite with walk-in shower, Elemis Toiletries, Coffee Machine, Tea and coffee making facilities and so much more. The Executive Rooms offer guests the experience of their own private, covered balcony to watch the sunset over the Firth of Clyde’s shimmering waters in all weather conditions. Nominally, its goal has always been to provide the very best experience at a fair price at every turn. Its clients come from all over the world, and all walks of life, and it is proud to serve each one of them with the accommodation that they deserve; something of the utmost quality, maintained by friendly people, and with great links to everything they might want or need. It is thusly about ensuring it can help its community always put its best foot forward, to show its guests the best elements of its region, of which it so proud to be part of. Whether a guest is visiting for business, leisure, or any number of other reasons, it works hard to treat them with a warm Scottish welcome. Approachable, cheerful, and capable, its staff are happy to talk guests through what’s happening nearby. Guests visiting on the first Sunday of Best Luxury Boutique Hotel - Ayrshire Jun22495 aiding them by making sure they each felt stable and looked after. Seamill House Hotel gives each employee access to the MIND website in order to help them access mental health services. In particular, MIND is a very helpful tool for those who wish to seek mental health help without having to talk to someone face-to-face, as for many people, the thought of having to talk things through in person with someone else is just another stress factor. Recently, another facet of this dedication has been its mental health awareness week. During this time, it implemented an open-door policy, welcoming its staff to come and speak to the general manager about anything bothering them. As a boutique hotel – and one that cares so deeply about its community, guests, and staff – Seamill House Hotel has built a reputation for offering a deeply tailored experience with a highly personable touch, where everyone is an individual guest that the staff look forward to getting to know rather than just a door number. Its food is fresh, its prices are genuine, and its rooms are built with the utmost guest comfort in mind, from its fresh milk in the rooms for coffee and tea – no UHT in sight – to its walk-in waterfall showers, coffee machine, desk, and armchairs. Guests can even find a fridge, iron, and luxury Elemis toiletries and so much more in their rooms. What’s more, the staff will always go above and beyond to provide whatever they might feel is missing. Indeed, its impeccably conducted staff and beautiful rooms are what has developed it the reputation that has pulled it through the pandemic, with its passion and attitude making it a favourite of Scottish travel and a gem of the local community. Company: Seamill House Hotel Contact: Dan Rant Website: seamillhousehotel.co.uk
7 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 Situated in the most excellent location in Ironbridge, which just so happens to be a World Heritage site, Ironbridge View Townhouse is the perfect setting for a romantic getaway or a blissful escape. With the Iron Bridge visible from the property, guests can wake up to the incredible view of the structure alongside the River Severn, or spend evenings lounging on the sofa in the cosy living room with a fabulous illuminated view. Sitting in a small courtyard, the townhouse is surrounded by quaint tearooms, family-run restaurants, antique shops, book shops, toy shops, souvenir shops, and wonderful walks, all in addition to being in walking distance of most of the ten Ironbridge Gorge museums. Ironbridge is a magical village that is wonderful to visit at any time of the year, the only problem being finding enough time to fit everything in – the perfect excuse to return! And for those days that guests would like to spend just kicking back and relaxing, they can book and enjoy a luxurious visiting spa service which delivers five-star beauty and massage treatments in the comfort of the townhouse. This is thanks to Sue and Mick’s partnership with Lydia from Love Pamper Company. The townhouse couldn’t be more comfortable or stylishly furnished and decorated, featuring a living room, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom which sleeps three, including a sumptuous king-size bed and one single with pocket sprung mattresses, guaranteeing a great night’s sleep. Sue and Mick strive to make guests feel at home, having thought of everything when it comes to making each stay memorable. Guests are greeted with a welcome card, tea tray, and flowers, and for those who are celebrating a special occasion, wine or bubbly along with a personal card – Did you know that the sixth wedding anniversary is ‘iron’? What could be perfect than spending it in Ironbridge with views of the first iron bridge in the world? For younger guests, Tommy the coracle mouse, a teddy bear, and books will be waiting on the bed. Then, during December, the house is adorned in festive decorations, with a present left for Christmas guests to unwrap. Sue comments, “We genuinely care that every guest feels welcome and enjoys their holiday in Ironbridge.” Ultimately, it’s easy to see how Ironbridge View Townhouse has achieved such outstanding awards success, with guests being unable to stay away and one couple returning ten times, as well as many more being not far behind. The townhouse receives consistent high guest ratings and wonderful comments, with a 9.9 rating on Booking.com, and five stars all-round on TripAdvisor and its own website. Jun22512 Most Picturesque Self-Catering Holiday Home - Shropshire The couple on their tenth stay, Andy and Julie say, “Our tenth stay, as immaculate as our first stay. Thanks Sue and Mick.” The late Princess Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell stayed at the townhouse with his husband, Graham, and comments, “We had a wonderful stay with beautiful weather. You have thought of everything – A perfect five-star stay.” Chris and Ruth, who were also delighted with their stay, share, “A fantastic house – just beautiful. Fantastic views and the house is actually better than the pictures – which was amazing.” Company: Ironbridge View Townhouse Contact: Sue and Mick Email: email@example.com Website: ironbridgeviewtownhouse.co.uk Run by husband and wife team Sue and Mick, award-winning Ironbridge View Townhouse is a beautifully furnished five-star holiday home with stunning views of the world’s first iron bridge and River Severn! Guests cannot get enough of the charming townhouse and its surroundings, including the late Princess Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell. Photo Credit: The Skycam Shropshire
8 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 Dalby House is located in the midst of the newest Dark Sky Reserve in England, and its specific area is the darkest place recorded in the reserve. Consequently, High Dalby House offers dark sky experiences and has a star viewing dome and telescope available for those interested in exploring the magnificent night sky. For those who enjoy an adventure, High Dalby House is conveniently situated near several popular tourist attractions and villages. After the turbulence of the Covid-19 pandemic, retreats like High Dalby House have grown in importance. There is a need for calmness, peace, and quiet. People have spent over two years being bombarded with negative news – not only due to Covid-19, but also thanks to political instability and the worsening climate crisis. Anxiety, stress, and depression are on the rise, and places such as High Dalby House can help. They provide a place to shake off the pressure of modern life whilst reconnecting with nature, the inner self, or a higher power. Ian explains, ‘we are seeing a trend towards taking time to slow down and be with and in Tucked away in the sprawling nature of the Dalby Forest, High Dalby House provides a space to escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Spirituality is practiced within the fundamental structure of the accommodation – from its design to how it operates – which is why High Dalby House welcomes everyone, no matter what their background may be. The 1600s were many years ago – but for High Dalby House, the 17th century marks the beginning of its story. Starting life as a single-roomed farmhouse, the property came into the possession of the Boddy family who farmed the land for over 250 years. During this time, the house began its evolution. Passing through numerous hands, High Dalby House had various incarnations, being used as holiday accommodation, a base for the Forestry Commission’s senior officers, and as a country house. In March 2018, Ian and Linda Robinson purchased the property, and have since undertaken the task of improving the home and the surrounding land, for which they have fulfilled numerous landscaping and conversion projects. The couple have restored much of High Dalby House and its grounds, transforming it into a peaceful, spiritually rejuvenating retreat. It is now a space for reflection – a place to escape to – in a busy and everchanging world. As such, no matter who you are, or what your background may be, there is a place for you at High Dalby House. Providing a base for both ‘holidays and holydays,’ High Dalby House is a proud member of The Retreat Association and The Quiet Garden movement, emphasising the focus upon providing a place to be truly free. Of course, this is what makes High Dalby House unique; spirituality is at the epicentre of the business. There are many places on site to reflect, meditate, or pray, including the comfortable and quite chapel, the Quiet Garden, the Unique Labyrinth, and the forest. Moreover, as members of the Anglican clergy, Ian and Linda are around to provide a listening ear. Nestled at the heart of the Dalby Forest in the North York Moors National Park, there is no better place to reconnect with your spiritual side. High Best Luxury B&B - North Yorkshire Jun22280 nature but also to have special experiences to enhance and extend the sense of time. There is an increase in short breaks with people seeking something special to take them out of the everyday and experience something new. People are particularly visiting our area to enjoy the peace and quiet, being surrounded by beautiful countryside with the benefit of both forest, moorland, and coast within easy reach.’ High Dalby House is continuing to develop and is currently focused on one area of the grounds, for which it plans to develop more locations to sit, reflect, recuperate, and re-envision life. The current plans include a zen garden, an elevated tea house, and wild flower meadow and wilderness, which will all developed around the theme of a triquetra. In addition, High Dalby House hopes to introduce several secluded outdoor rooms with purpose prepared seating. Contact: Ian Robinson Company: High Dalby House Web Address: www.highdalbyhouse.com
9 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 The Balcary House Hotel was originally built as a luxurious family home for the prestigious Laing family. Designed by the acclaimed local architect James Pearson Alison FRIBA, the site dates back to 1888, and originally boasted 17 bedrooms. Indeed, the home was the height of Victorian opulence – and now you have the opportunity to relax amongst the restored elegance of the Balcary House Hotel. In 2015, Balcary House – which had been requisitioned by the war office for WW1 and WW2 officers to convalesce. The house became a Doctor Barnardo’s from 1944 to 1974 for children who were evacuated from the south. It then became a Christian conference centre until it was purchased by its current owners, David and Susan Watson in 2015. Following an 18-month renovation project, the Balcary House Hotel opened its doors in 2016. The team worked to create an environment that invokes a sense of peace whilst ensuring quality, be it through food, furnishings, or the ambiance. Perfect for a relaxing escape, weddings, or events, the Balcary House Hotel prides itself on its welcoming atmosphere. The hotel is both family and pet friendly, offering a plethora of unique room options that cater to all requirements. For example, rooms six and eight are equipped to handle pets and, with over 3 acres of land on site, there is plenty of room for guests and their pets to exercise. Moreover, the Balcary House Hotel has an Easy Access Suite available for those with accessibility needs. Located on the ground floor, the suite is comprised of bedroom with sitting area, a small self-contained kitchen, and a wet-room that is fitted with an emergency alarm. It is complete with a television, comfortable furnishings, complementary Wi-Fi access, and, of course, space for well-behaved pets. The team, who regularly undergo in-depth training, are always on hand to provide assistance. They are attentive, friendly, and approachable. Encouraged to think outside the box, the Balcary House Hotel team strives to exceed customer expectations, as such, reviews are regularly fed back to the team so that they know what they’re doing well, but also where to improve. There are a handful of amenities available onsite, including a dining room and a bar. In addition, the hotel is conveniently located in Hawick (the centre for Cashmere), a town that is bursting at the seams with history. Hawick is perhaps best known for its ties to genealogy. Home to The Heritage Hub, which serves as the key source of over 800 years of archives, it is a fascinating location for those wishing to gain insight into their Scottish backgrounds. 21 golf courses are within driving distance, and the hotel boasts quick links to popular tourist Jun22461 Best Boutique Hotel - Scottish Borders destinations, such as Drumlanrig Tower and the eerie Hermitage Castle. The Borders Distillery is also in the centre of the town. For families, the hotel is located near to the magnificent Wilton Lodge Park, which has just undergone a £3 million facelift. Furthermore, the Balcary House Hotel is 55 miles away from Edinburgh, making it the perfect base for a fun filled day trip to the city. Balcary House Hotel’s success serves as no surprise – it offers a premium standard of accommodation. Henceforth, in order to continue this success, the hotel has a number of plans in place for the future. It will be adding two more pet friendly rooms to its offerings, resulting in five of its 11 rooms being open to pets. Contact: David Watson Company: Balcary House Hotel Web Address: www.Balcary-House-Hotel.com Surrounded by 3.5 acres of plush landscapes, the Balcary House Hotel is a hub for calmness, enjoyment, and relaxation. Both pet friendly and accessible, the hotel and its rooms are steeped in Victorian glamour, resulting in a spectacular accommodation experience.
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