Tourism success again for Winchester!

Four tourism businesses in Winchester are celebrating after Thursday's success at the Tourism ExSEllence Awards.  The results were announced by television personality Angela Rippon at a special awards ceremony and gala dinner before an audience of industry colleagues and competitors.

The regional competition, run by Tourism South East, attracted hundreds of entrants this year from across the region, which stretches from Buckinghamshire to Kent.  The awards recognise tourism businesses for their service, innovation and quality.

Lainston House Hotel at Sparsholt, just to the north west of the city, beat off stiff competition from the Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury, to be proclaimed the winner in the Small Hotel category.  It was recognised by the judges as a hotel which "exudes quality without stuffiness, with friendly staff, enormous attention to detail and a real desire to get local produce on the menu." For further information log onto  As winners of the regional competition, Lainston House will now go forward to the national VisitBritain Enjoy England Awards for Excellence, the results of which will be announced in April 2007.

Signe Higgins, Visitor Assistant at the Westage Museum, was runner-up in the Outstanding Customer Service award.  This is the second year running that Signe has been successful in this category.  Good customer care comes as second nature to her.  Always striving to improve the experience for visitors, she recently suggested using a mirror to show the Westgate's famous ceiling, commissioned for the wedding of Mary Tudor and Phillip of Spain, to those who may have difficulty in looking up.  The museum, located in a fortified medieval gateway that served as a debtors' prison for 150 years, is open seven days a week during the summer months. 

Marwell Zoological Park was highly commended in the Large Visitor Attraction category.  The park covers 100 acres of glorious Hampshire countryside and houses over 200 different species, ranging from tropical frogs to big cats, from little lovebirds to awesome ostriches.  Open every day, except Christmas Day, tickets are available on-line from their website,

South Winchester Lodges were also highly commended in the Self Catering Holiday section.  South Winchester Lodges occupy a peaceful location at the heart of the South Winchester Golf Course.  These luxury Norwegian log cabins are equipped with modern facilities, one lodge even having a private outdoor hot tub.  The accommodation has been awarded five stars, the highest grading available, by VisitBritain. 

Winchester City Council's Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy and Tourism, Cllr George Beckett, commented, "This is great news for Winchester's tourism industry.  I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the finalists from our district for these very well deserved awards which help to reinforce the message that a visit to Winchester promises a really excellent and memorable experience.  We have our fingers crossed for Lainston House Hotel in the national finals."