July 30, 2020 @ 10:11 by Richard Dawson
Three North East businesses have been shortlisted for the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2020, an event that champions the best of the country’s tourism industry.
Seahouses bed and breakfast, St Cuthbert’s House was recognised alongside Northumbrian and Scandinavian fusion restaurant, Hjem, and luxury spa hotel, Seaham Hall.
The trio will represent the region at the national awards, which take place virtually on August 17.
St Cuthbert’s House, which is owned and run by Jeff and Jill Sutheran, has been shortlisted in the B&B and Guest House of the Year category.
Mr Sutheran said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted in the prestigious Visit England Awards once again.
“Such an accolade will certainly provide a valuable boost to our business in these very difficult times. But as important, for us, is the opportunity that these awards provide to raise the profile of the North East and Northumberland in particular.
“We’re pleased to be able to highlight the fact that staycationers experience standards of service which are rigorously and independently judged as being the best in the whole country.”
Hexham’s Restaurant Hjem is up against some of the best food operators in the country for the Taste of England Award.
Restaurant manager Ally Thompson and head chef Alex Nietosvouri said: “We’re delighted and honoured to have been shortlisted in these national awards.
“Having only opened in May 2019, it feels like a real achievement to be named as finalists alongside these established and Michelin-starred restaurants and as ever, we’re incredibly proud to be flying the flag for Northumberland and the fantastic farmers, producers and growers we’re lucky to have on our doorstep.”
County Durham five-star Seaham Hall has been shortlisted in the Small Hotel of the Year category.
The hotel previously won gold at the regional awards after impressing a panel of industry experts and a visit from a mystery shopper.
Ian Thomas, director of leisure tourism at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We are really proud of our regional businesses who will go on to compete in the national awards next month.
“These represent some of the finest examples of our country’s tourism industry and show off the amazing coast and countryside that we have on our doorstep in the North East.”
Visit England chief executive Sally Balcombe added: “These awards celebrate businesses and individuals in tourism across England who have exceeded expectations and delivered excellence during the last 18 months and it is fantastic to see such an outstanding list of finalists.
“The impressive list reflects the sheer scale of innovation, quality and experiences across our tourism landscape and I congratulate all the finalists and wish them the very best of luck.”