The owners of an eco-friendly holiday cottage in Ringmer have won a national travel award.
Corina and Dominic Buckwell’s Tack Barn, at their country-house estate Upper Lodge, was named the Self-catering Accommodation Provider of the Year at the inaugural Staycation Awards organised by the national newspaper the ‘i’.
It beat Riverside Terrace, in Cumbria, a Corner of Eden, in Cumbria, and Hop Pickers’ House and Brook Farm, in Worcestershire to win the prize.
Corina says that she had convinced herself that she wasn’t going to win.
She said: “I was very, very surprised and really, really pleased because we were there to fly the flag for Sussex.
“That’s what we are really all about.
“I even wore an ‘I love Sussex badge’ to the awards.”
The Tack Barn was the only finalist from Sussex to win one of the 17 awards at last Thursday’s (November 21) ceremony at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, in London, hosted by television presenter Matt Baker.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, in Alfriston, and The Artisan Bakehouse, in Ashurst, West Sussex, were finalists for the Taste Award; Swallowtail Hill, in Beckley, near Rye, was in the running for the Rural Escape of the Year category; and Brighton and Hove was up for City Staycation of the Year.
“I think Sussex is a bit overlooked as a tourist destination,” added Corina. “It’s great to fly the flag for it.”
Corina and Dominic, who have two children, Dino, 15, and Winifred, 13, converted a redundant stable block five years ago to create Tack Barn, working with Ditchling-based architect Sally Williams.
The one-bed space, which sits in its own private woodland overlooking the estate’s pond, ‘does good business all year round’ says Corina.
It is run with a focus on sustainability – water is solar-heated, windows are triple-glazed, lighting is low-energy and electricity is photo-voltaic and there is reed bed drainage.
Guests are also welcomed with home-grown and locally sourced produce in the holiday cottage’s kitchen, including eggs from the estate’s hens, home-made jams and apple juice, and during the growing season they can help themselves to fruit and vegetables from the garden.
“We try to always use home-grown, local, second-hand before we consider any other option,” said Corina.
The Staycation Awards were launched to celebrate our country’s ‘thriving tourism industry’ and ‘shine a light on the nation’s hidden gems’.
The judging panel included representatives from The National Trust, Ramblers and Responsible Travel.