Suffolk hotels toast success

TWO hotels in north Suffolk were crowned the best in the region at the East of England Tourist Board's annual Excellence in England awards.The Swan Hotel in Southwold won the final of the Small Hotel category with the Ivy House Farm Hotel in Oulton Broad receiving a highly commended award, at an awards ceremony in Hertfordshire this week.

TWO hotels in north Suffolk were crowned the best in the region at the East of England Tourist Board's annual Excellence in England awards.

The Swan Hotel in Southwold won the final of the Small Hotel category with the Ivy House Farm Hotel in Oulton Broad receiving a highly commended award, at an awards ceremony in Hertfordshire this week.

Both hotels had to put together a proposal on how their establishments fulfilled certain criteria such as positive social and environmental programmes, events, and staff training before judges secretly visited to test their customer care standards.

Francis Guildea, general manager at The Swan, believes the secret of the 17th century hotel's success was not just looking after guests, but also the 70 staff.


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He said: "We're in the lucky situation of being able to treat our customers and staff as individuals. It's a double-edged thing. If we treat our staff well, they feel more inclined to treat the guests well."

He said in his 14 months at the hotel, he has found how central it is to the Southwold community and cited examples of holidaymakers writing or visiting the hotel wanting help on all sorts of things, from plumbing to local tourist attractions.

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He has also accommodated a lot of celebrities in the hotel's 43 bedrooms but did not want to name names because he said the reason they come to Southwold is to get away from it all.

Although the Swan has been a hotel since 1659, a more recent addition to the list of hotels in the area is Oulton Broad's hidden gem, the Ivy House Farm Hotel, which opened off the Beccles Road in 1996.

Manager Emma Beamish said: "We are quite proud. I think the secret of our success is that we're different. We're half-a-mile off the beaten track in a rural setting near the Broads and it's our attention to detail as well."

The Swan will now go forward to the national finals in April 2004.

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