Autumn turned into a truly golden season for the family owners of an Exmoor holiday park after it scooped a top accolade in the 2016 Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.
Waterrow Touring Park in Wiveliscombe received the gold award in the camping and caravanning category of the competition in which hundreds of other contenders took part.
Stepping up to receive the winning trophy at Bristol’s Cadbury Hilton hotel were Lynette and Jamie Cook who, with Jamie’s parents, are Waterrow’s owners.
The husband-and-wife team quit their successful careers in IT and customer services four years ago to take on the tranquil picture-postcard park on the fringes of Exmoor.
As keen caravanners themselves, the couple saw Waterrow as a chance to create the type of ideal surroundings which they sought out for their own holiday breaks.
Since moving in, Lynette and Jamie have invested much time and energy into caring for the natural surroundings and introducing many new wildlife-friendly features.
The park’s non-human guests include otters, deer, owls and many other bird species – plus butterflies and honey bees drawn to the many pollen-rich wild flowers in the 8-acre grounds.
Their environmental commitment led to Waterrow winning this year the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.
Professor Bellamy also designated Waterrow as an official “Honey Bee Friendly” park as part of his new initiative to help protect the threatened insects.
The park’s success in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards was achieved in the competition’s inaugural year, and attracted many entries from throughout the region.
During the rigorous three-stage evaluation process, Waterrow was “mystery shopped” by judges who also assessed it across criteria ranging from on-line reviews to its website.
In all respects, they decided, Lynette and Jamie’s park was the thoroughly deserving champion.
The award, said Lynette, was especially welcome as it came towards the end of a year which had been the busiest ever in the history of the park:
“One of the things we most value as caravanners is a welcoming and friendly atmosphere on the parks we visit, and that’s what we’ve tried to create here at Waterrow,” she said.
“I know the awards placed a big emphasis on the quality of hospitality and customer care provided, so we are particularly pleased that this came across.
“It’s wonderful to be able to live and work in such a beautiful part of Somerset, and to know that our efforts are enjoyed by both guests and judges!” added Lynette.
Not that the park is any stranger to accolades for its other honours include a maximum five-star VisitEngland grade, and a top five pennants award from the AA.
Waterrow Touring Park has also been named as a finalist in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in the camping and caravanning park of the year category.
Now Lynette and Jamie must wait until the awards night on 02 February next year to discover if they have won the overall title.
Waterrow Touring Park is also a member of the Best of British group of high quality independently-owned parks, and there is more information about Waterrow at www.waterrowpark.co.uk