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Drusillas Park Named the South’s Best Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Business

Drusillas Park was named the South’s best Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure business at the 2014 Business Matters Awards this weekend.

The popular Sussex visitor attraction picked up the prestigious accolade at a gala dinner on Friday 26 September, at the Grand Hotel Brighton. The evening celebrated business excellence across Sussex and Hampshire, announcing winners in a total of 19 categories.

Drusillas Park fought off stiff competition from Spinnaker Tower, Carr Taylor Vineyard, Worthing Birdman, Rox Music and Arts and The Dolphin, Eastbourne to secure the much coveted Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Award. Organisations in this category were judged on their ability to demonstrate exceptional industry success, innovation, strong growth and market leadership.

Five members of the Drusillas team attended the awards including Operations Manager Gareth Hutchinson, Estate Manager Peter Moon, Visitor Services Manager Caroline Steer, Education Officer Carla Dray and Retail Assistant Carol Lee. The group collected the award from television presenter, newsreader and host of the evening, Fred Dinenage.

Visitor Services Manager, Caroline Steer commented: “It is a real honour to win this award. We work exceptionally hard to bring our visitors new and exciting attractions each and every year and add value for our customers. The event was a spectacular affair and incredibly well attended. It was a real privilege to be part of and we are thrilled to receive this recognition of our efforts.”

Managing Directors, Laurence and Christine Smith acquired the award winning Drusillas Park in 1997 after selling a nationwide recruitment business. The husband and wife team have invested heavily in the zoo over the last seventeen years, securing a deal with HIT Entertainment to bring Thomas the Tank Engine to the Park and Sanrio in 2014 to open the first Hello Kitty attraction in Europe. 

The Park is now a true family run business with eldest daughter Cassandra Poland working at the zoo since 2005, alongside her sister Caroline Steer who joined the company in 2010. Next year Drusillas will celebrate their 90 year anniversary and the Smiths have a great deal planned to mark the auspicious occasion. 

This award is the latest in a long line of accolades achieved by Drusillas Park. Earlier this year the zoo won the Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Award in the 2014 Sussex Business Matters Awards. They also achieved Tourism South East’s highly acclaimed Visitor Attraction of the Year award in 2010/11, as well as receiving accolades for Business of the Year and Best Customer Service at the Sussex Business Awards 2009/10.

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