East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022: Meet the Experience of the Year finalists

A lifeguard overlooking the pool at Brightlingsea Lido in Essex

The judges felt that each member of the team at Brightlingsea Lido is totally involved in ensuring guests have a fantastic time - Credit: Nicole Martin

The finalists have been announced for the Experience of the Year award, sponsored by insight6, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.

The award recognises providers of truly memorable and immersive activities for visitors to participate in.

Brightlingsea Lido

Originally built in 1932, Brightlingsea Lido in Essex was relaunched in 2018 under the stewardship of the Brightlingsea Lido Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with the aim of providing a safe and inclusive environment for all.

In 2020, Storm Ciara caused significant damage to the site but, despite delays caused by the pandemic, volunteers rallied to restore the lido and it was able to reopen in June 2021.

The judges said that the charity demonstrates a thorough understanding of how the experiences of the team are hugely important to delivering a great customer experience, and each member of the volunteer team is totally involved in ensuring visitors have a fantastic and safe time.

The fully electric replicas of the famous 1910 Model T Ford at Cambridge Vintage Tours

The fully electric replicas of the famous 1910 Model T Ford at Cambridge Vintage Tours are all custom made - Credit: Bill Lawton

Cambridge Vintage Tours

Cambridge Vintage Tours in Cambridgeshire is a family business offering chauffeur-driven tours of the historic university city in fully electric replicas of the famous 1910 Model T Ford.

The business, which opened in 2019, has been seven years in the making, as the cars have all been custom built with extra seating to ensure groups and families can enjoy the tours together. 

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Eager to celebrate Cambridge and all of its breath-taking sights, Cambridge Vintage Tours’ aims to cater for visitors and residents alike.

The judges commended Cambridge Vintage Tours for developing a fantastic, educational experience. 

A particular strength that they praised was that the drivers are knowledgeable and able to answer questions in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.

A pair of kayakers and a person on a paddleboard at Mersea Island Watersports

The judges said that Mersea Island Watersports provides a fantastic range of water-based experiences - Credit: Mersea Island Watersports

Mersea Island Watersports

Mersea Island Watersports is an Essex-based activity business providing lessons, parties and corporate events for customers aged five and up.

Launching in 2013 with just six stand-up paddleboards, it now offers a range of watersports equipment and lessons, as well as bespoke experiences for clients.

A British Stand Up Paddleboarding Association (BSUPA) recognised school, Mersea Island Watersports’ team of highly qualified instructors strive to help customers have fun and gain confidence in their chosen activity.

The judges called Mersea Island Watersports a great business that engages with the community and provides a fantastic range of water-based experiences that work well with the nature of the tidal estuaries of Mersea Island.

The team at Premier Sailing in Essex, which runs sailing trips around the UK in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support

For the past six years Premier Sailing has run a sailing trip around Britain in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support - Credit: Bev Lloyd

Premier Sailing

Based in Chelmsford, Essex, Premier Sailing offers a range of bespoke sailing experiences, from family holidays to mile-building trips. 

Since being launched in 2009, the business’ focus has been to provide the experience of cruising under sail to as many people as possible.

For the past six years Premier Sailing has run a seven-leg sailing trip around Britain in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. This experience has raised over £30,000 for the charity so far.

The judges were impressed by Premier Sailing’s offering and felt that it was both incredibly memorable and highly engaging. They further praised the business for developing an experience for which all profits are donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

People in beekeeping gear at Sunnyfields Honey & Home in Bungay looking at a honeycomb

Sunnyfields Honey & Home aims to educate the public on some of our planets most important pollinators - Credit: Sunnyfields Honey & Home

Sunnyfields Honey & Home

Interest in the natural world has seen a dramatic rise in the past few years and, building upon this interest, Sunnyfields Honey & Home in Bungay, Suffolk aims to educate the public on some of our planet’s most important pollinators.

Born from owner Stacy Cronly-Dillon’s desire to help people have a positive impact on the environment, the business gives visitors the chance to see honey bees at work, understand how the colony works and the benefits that they provide.

The judges said that Sunnyfields is a great small business which is providing opportunities through the range of experiences offered, to learn how we can all make a difference and help these incredible creatures, whose work benefits us all.

The winners of the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022 will be announced at a black-tie event held at Imperial War Museum Duxford on Thursday, February 24.