CUTTING water and energy use has helped Blenheim Palace scoop a top tourism award.
The 300-year-old stately home was amongst nine Oxfordshire businesses and organisations which won prizes at Tourism South East’s awards for excellence.
The Woodstock palace picked up a gold medal for sustainable tourism and also took home a silver medal in the large attraction of the year category. Head of operations at Blenheim Palace Heather Carter said: “We are delighted.
“It is a huge achievement, recognising our ongoing efforts towards sustainability and the challenges we have faced introducing green practices at a large heritage property.
“We have significantly reduced our energy and water consumption at Blenheim Palace, and we have implemented many green and sustainable initiatives across the whole business, and in the recent building of our new visitor centre.”
The palace wants to replace its old steamship boilers with efficient modern gas condensing boilers and reduce its water consumption by identifying leaks in the miles of historic pipework around the estate.
Last year, Blenheim Palace won a silver medal in the sustainable tourism category, and silver in the sports tourism category for its Bike Blenheim event. Other winners from Oxfordshire included the Weber Grill Academy in Marsh Baldon, which runs courses on barbecueing, and the Wallingford Food Festival. The Bay Tree in Burford was also given a silver medal in the small hotel/townhouse of the year category.
General manager Quintin Fisher said: “This is fantastic, a great achievement which we won because the whole team pulled together. “I think The Bay Tree is like a home away from home. It is a perfect setting for relaxing, and when you step inside our 16th century building it is almost like taking a step back in time.”
The Lamb Inn, in Burford, also won a silver medal in the same category. The Wallingford Food Festival was highly commended as a tourism event of the year in the South East. Paul Chambers, 54, organised the first festival two years ago in just 10 days, and attracted 1,500 people. This May he doubled the number of producers to 43 and brought in 2,500 visitors.
He said: “I am absolutely ecstatic.
“We were in very good company, and we were surprised and delighted to get some recognition.” Chimney Farm Barns in Bampton won a silver medal in the self catering and serviced apartments category, while the Juicy Juicy cafe at Newington Nurseries was highly commended in the flavour of the South East category.
Burford Visitor Information Centre and Witney Tourist Information Centre were both highly commended in the tourist information services.
At the awards on Wednesday, managing director for Tourism South East Peter Colling said: “These award winners are truly the best in class, and we look forward to seeing them on the national stage at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2013.”