Dartmoor new business wins two of Devon’s top tourism awards
- The Cottages at Blackadon Farm awarded Gold – the top accolade for New Tourism Business
- Also recognised in the top two businesses for being Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable
11 March 2021 – Today, The Cottages at Blackadon Farm based near Ivybridge on Dartmoor National Park has won two accolades in the prestigious annual Visit Devon Tourism Awards.
The Cottages at Blackadon Farm received Gold and officially now the top New Tourism Business in Devon. The business also received Silver for being an Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable business and one of the top two businesses in the county for this category.
Receiving two awards in one year from Visit Devon usually comes after working in the tourism industry for a long period of time. However, 2020 was the first year in business for owners Marcus Bailey and Ryan Lynch who have returned to Devon having lived and worked in major cities around the world.
Despite the challenges of setting up during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Marcus and Ryan were able to convert six cottages set around what was a courtyard of farm buildings dating back to the 1890’s. The location is unique. It used to be a working farm, providing meat, produce and milk for the area’s former hospital. Guests can walk directly onto Dartmoor from their cottages yet benefit from only being a few miles from the coast.
The farm was redesigned to attract the next generation of visitors to Devon and the South West. It brought in ideas Marcus and Ryan picked up whilst visiting over 130 countries across the globe. These ranged from introducing beds that are the same as those used by famous international five-star hotels and touches such as smart TVs and Amazon’s Alexa which can be used following the introduction of some of the fastest Wi-Fi in Devon.
In terms of being ethical, responsible and sustainable, they have prioritised working with local tradespeople, established partnerships with other small tourism businesses, providing skills to local people, introduced bees to encourage pollination on Dartmoor and use their rare-breed miniature donkeys to help mow the lawns. The farm also has its own spring water supply, electric car changing points, solar panels and glass tubes that heat water during the summer months.
Whilst the business has been closed to tourists during the latest lockdown, Marcus and Ryan have also been volunteering at their nearest vaccination centre a few days a week. It has been their way of contributing to getting the country ready to reopen.
During the first operating year, The Cottages at Blackadon Farm has become the highest ranked speciality accommodation in the area based on TripAdvisor reviews, with the overall score becoming a flawless five out of five. The Cottages at Blackadon Farm also has the Visit England ‘We’re Good to Go’ COVID safe certification which has now been expanded to include the World Travel & Tourism Council international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp of approval. This provide assurance to both domestic holiday makers and international travellers.
Many of the reviews and guest feedback highlight how safe they felt when visiting during the first year when COVID restrictions allowed visits. Reoccurring comments included how modern the cottages are and the friendliness of the owners. They also led the charge for being supportive to potential guests with favourable COVID related booking terms and conditions offering more options than major holiday companies.
Commenting on their awards success, Sir Gary Streeter, Member of Parliament for South West Devon said “I would like to congratulate Marcus and Ryan at The Cottages at Blackadon Farm on winning these awards. The last year has been challenging for so many and the Government has prioritised support to help businesses like The Cottages at Blackadon Farm come through the pandemic and get back on their feet, as well as benefit from the anticipated boom in staycations. Tourism and hospitality are major contributors to the Devon economy. They have my full support and this year look forward to seeing tourists enjoy the only county in England that has two coastlines, two national parks, the best attractions and wonderful accommodation.”
Marcus Bailey and Ryan Lynch, Winners of the awards and owners of The Cottages at Blackadon Farm commented “We are so excited that our progress has been recognised to make The Cottages at Blackadon Farm one of the best and most sustainable tourism businesses in Devon. To be one of the top tourism businesses in Devon in the Visit Devon awards is something we are proud of and really looking forward to sharing the cottages with guests this year. We’d like to thank our guests for staying with us and say how much we appreciate the many five star reviews they’ve given since we took ownership and renovated the farm.”
Awards organiser, Robin Barker of Services for Tourism added: “The past 10 months have been a challenge for everyone – to survive let alone prosper. We have heard so many stories from entrants – of innovation, adaptation and reinvention – and of course for many of desperation. Having considered abandoning the Awards for the year, I’m so glad we persevered, adapting and changing along the way to reflect the ever-changing situation. The delight we’re witnessing amongst finalists on being told of their success makes it all so worthwhile.”
Having been successful winners in the Visit Devon Tourism Awards, The Cottages at Blackadon Farm will now be put forward in the South West Tourism Awards New Tourism Business category.