Chester Cathedral has been crowned the best attraction in the county at a celebration of the cream of the Cheshire’s tourism and hospitality crop at Chester Racecourse.

Beating off competition from Chester Zoo, which was highly commended, Cheshire Ice Cream Farm and Stockley Farm Park in Northwich, the cathedral was awarded Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the 11th annual Marketing Cheshire Awards.

The Falconry and Nature Garden which opened this year added to the already popular Cathedral at Height Tour has helped to establish the cathedral as a top city centre attraction.

The zoo won the award for Best Tourism Marketing Campaign for its work around the opening of Islands during the summer at the event, which was hosted by former political editor of Granada TV and BBC North West Jim Hancock.

Other gongs went to The Lion Salt Works, in Northwich, crowned Best Newcomer to the Tourism Industry following a £10 million pound redevelopment; Carden Park Hotel, named Large Hotel of the Year and The Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, crowned Tourism Experience or Event of the Year.

Marketing Cheshire Awards. Host Jim Hancock with staff from Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, winner of Tourism Experience or Event of the Year. Presented by managing director of Success Factory Graham Wilson
Host Jim Hancock with some of the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre team and managing director of Successfactory Graham Wilson

Related: Day in the Life: Carden Park Hotel manager Hamish Ferguson

'innovative, creative and dynamic'

Marketing Cheshire chief executive Katrina Michel said: “The awards were a true celebration of the wealth of innovative, creative and dynamic businesses which support Cheshire’s growing visitor economy. I’m very proud of the destination and reputation that it has built both nationally and internationally which we continue to work hard to promote.

“Many of the winner’s from tonight’s awards will go on to represent Cheshire at the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence and we wish them all the very best of luck.”

Earlier in the evening, at the racecourse’s Pavilion, Katrina Michel focused on other initiatives and developments which have contributed to the county’s success this year including a host of new shops at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, the city’s dining quarter, the cultural centre, which opens next year and the University of Chester’s business school in Queen’s Park.

She also made reference to the number of TV and film productions that have been shot in Cheshire including ITV’s Home Fires which has been filmed in Bunbury and Chester.

She had specific praise for the city’s Theatre in the Quarter saying: “I would like to give a special mention to Matt Baker and his Theatre in the Quarter who are able to create real magic from very little funding, let’s give them as much help as we can.”

Event sponsors include the University of Chester, KPMG, Hipswing Events, Precious Chocolates, Spiral Print and Glassblobbery.

Over £1,500 was also raised on the night for the Neuromuscular Centre in Winsford.

The winners of the Marketing Cheshire Awards 2015

Bed & Breakfast/Guest Accommodation of the Year

WINNER - Heald Country House Boutique Barns

PRESENTED BY – Kate Cox, Managing Director, de Winter

Best Newcomer to the Tourism Industry

WINNER - Lion Salt Works

PRESENTED BY –Ian O’Doherty, Chief Executive, MBNA

Best Tourism Marketing Project of the Year

WINNER - Islands at Chester Zoo

PRESENTED BY – Guy Butler, Chairman, Chester Renaissance

Excellence in Business Tourism Award

WINNER - Crewe Hall

PRESENTED BY – Will Baker, Partner, KPMG

Large Hotel of the Year

WINNER - Carden Park Hotel

PRESENTED BY – David Briggs, Lord Lieutenant - Cheshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Peckforton Castle

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year

WINNER - Chester Cathedral

PRESENTED BY – Ruth Ashford, Executive Dean Chester Business School, University of Chester

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Chester Zoo

Outstanding Customer Service Award

WINNER - Lesley Tait, Stockley Farm Park

PRESENTED BY – Angie Robinson, Chief Executive, Manchester Central

Restaurant of the Year

WINNER - Piste Wine Bar/Restaurant

PRESENTED BY – Stephen Wundke, Chief Executive, Taste Cheshire

Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year

WINNER - Heald Country House Boutique Barns

PRESENTED BY – Matthew Lanham, Chief Executive, Neuromuscular Centre

Small Hotel of the Year

WINNER - The Royal Oak Hotel

PRESENTED BY – Jamie Christon, Chief Executive, Chester Zoo

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year

WINNER - City Sightseeing Chester

PRESENTED BY – Rita Waters, Chief Executive, CH1 Chester BID Company

Team of the Year

WINNER - The Golf Team, The Mere Golf Resort & Spa

PRESENTED BY – Clive Sykes, Chairman, Marketing Cheshire

Tourism Experience or Event of the Year

WINNER - Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

PRESENTED BY – Graham Wilson, Managing Director, Success Factory

Tourism Pub of the Year

WINNER - The Cholmondeley Arms

PRESENTED BY – Jamie Brelsford, Print Manager, Spiral Colour