TWO holiday venues in the New Forest are celebrating after entering a national awards scheme known as the tourism Oscars.

Michael Green, chairman of the Southern Tourist Board, has announced the regional winners of the annual England for Excellence scheme.

The Cloud Hotel in Meerut Road, Brockenhurst, has been named joint winner in the Hotel of the Year category.

And the award for best self-catering venue has gone to the picturesque Culverley Old Farm Cottage in Lyndhurst Road, Beaulieu.

Mr Green visited both establishments yesterday to present the owners with their plaques and certificates.

The Cloud Hotel is run by former dancer Avril Owton, who took over the reins eight years ago following the death of her husband Tom.

She said: "Customer care is the key to running a successful business.

"I used to be involved in the theatre and I think the training I received in that profession has helped me a lot.

"We always have a smile on our faces and try to provide our customers with somewhere where they can simply relax."

Culverley Old Farm Cottage is owned by Vivien Heathcote-Hacker.

She said: "My mother was going to live in the property, but felt it was rather remote and she never moved in.

"Someone said I should let it out - and I've been welcoming guests ever since.

"It's in an unrivalled position in a very tranquil part of the Forest where the only sounds are those of owls, foxes and pheasants."

Mrs Owton and Mrs Heathcote-Hacker will now go forward to the national final of the awards scheme, run by the English Tourist Council.

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