Family and staff at a Dorset holiday park are celebrating after being named as the county's overall park winner in the keenly contested 2016 Dorset Tourism Awards.
Wareham Forest Tourist Park scooped the top gold accolade in the competition, coming up against other eligible parks in the county to the title. The announcement of Wareham Forest Tourist Park success was made at the Dorset Tourism Awards' final, held at the Bovington Tank Museum.
For the Birch family, the honour completes a hat-trick of awards received this summer by the park which is based in the picturesque town of Wareham and has direct access into Wareham Forest.
In July, the park joined a small elite of UK touring caravan sites flying the coveted AA Gold Pennant, the most prestigious award given out by the AA to its highest rated parks. In order to qualify for the award, Wareham Forest Tourist Park was subjected to a rigorous inspection regime which scrutinised almost every aspect of its facilities and services. The verdict was that Wareham Forest Tourist Park could truly be described as a caravan and camping park right at the top of its game.
Next came the news that the tranquil 55-acre park had once again received the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its maximum gold level. The award was made in recognition of the raft of initiatives taken by the family owners to protect its wildlife-rich natural environment.
Wareham Forest Tourist Park was bought by husband-and-wife team Tony and Sarah Birch 13 years ago, and is today run by the couple with help from their daughter Chrissy and managers, Adam and Nicky Wake.
From the start they have invested much time and energy into creating first-class surroundings for holidaymakers with their own touring caravan, motorhome or tent. Their reward has been to see a continual increase in visitor numbers from the UK and overseas, and levels of loyalty which result in some 75% of guests each year making return visits.
As well as acres of unspoiled wooded parkland to explore, holidaymakers also enjoy a popular heated outdoor pool and first-class shower and toilet facilities. The park also recently invested in refurbishing and creating a fantastic children's play area, new waste disposal points, and a "pooch pampering" facility where guests can treat their dogs to a warm shower.
Tony Birch said that achieving the gold distinction in the Dorset Tourism Awards was especially pleasing as the park had never before entered the competition:
"This is a fantastic honour to win because the awards are judged across a wide range of criteria, including the hospitality provided and the quality of welcome enjoyed by guests. That's why a large share of the credit should go to our staff, as they help to create the relaxed and friendly atmosphere here which guests so often mention in reviews. We have always tried to put our personal stamp on Wareham Forest Tourist Park, and to run the park along sustainable lines – which is why all three awards are a wonderful encouragement. I hope the resulting publicity will benefit all tourism businesses in the region by highlighting what a great place Dorset is for family holidays."
The park is a member of the Best of British group which comprises some 50 independently owned holiday parks in UK which have all achieved recognition for their high quality standards.