Delight at top tourist titles

Sue Hugenholtz at Blacksmith Cottage, Alnham.
Sue Hugenholtz at Blacksmith Cottage, Alnham.

There was gold for a smithy, a caravan site and a forest park as north Northumberland took home five top regional tourism awards last week.

At last Thursday’s North East England Tourism Awards, Seafield Caravan Park in Seahouses won the Caravan Holiday Park/Holiday Village of the Year Award and Kielder Water & Forest Park took home the title for Tourism Experience of the Year.

Newcomer Blacksmith’s Cottage won the gong for Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year, followed in second place by the Gate Lodge, of Cheviot Holiday Cottages.

There was also a silver award for St Cuthbert’s House in Seahouses in the Bed & Breakfast category.

Sue Hugenholtz returned to the North East – her father ran an agricultural business in Shiremoor – in 2008 when she took on Blacksmith’s Cottage.

She lives next door which means that customer service is a high priority.

“I just couldn’t believe it because I had two big players who had won before and I really didn’t think I would up at the top,” Sue said. “It’s been hard work but I got there in the end. I wanted to have a cottage with extras that offered something not everybody has.”

Ken Britton, owner of Seafield Caravan Park, said: “We’re delighted to receive the award again. As much as anything, it’s a vote of thanks to the staff for maintaining the high standards both at the Ocean Club and the park. It’s not just about maintaining standards, but about improving them. We invest quite heavily in the park and in the staff.”

Heidi Mottram, chairman of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “We’re very proud of our spectacular destination but also our strong customer-focused approach and it has definitely paid off.

“It will be an honour to represent North East England at the national awards.”

And the county’s success was welcomed by the chairman of Northumberland Tourism.

Kate Priestley described the winners as e ones ‘who are providing the lead in innovation and creativity and who all others in tourism should be inspiring to follow’.