Double Delight for Luxury New Forest Hotel in Southampton Hospitality Awards 2022

Staff at a New Forest hotel are celebrating this week having won two awards in the prestigious Southampton Hospitality Awards 2022.

Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa, nestled in the heart of the ancient New Forest – recently voted the best National Park in Europe per Tripadvisor – came up trumps against some of the region’s leading hospitality venues, scooping accolades in two of the three categories it entered.

Recognising the fantastic commitment and outstanding contributions of the hospitality industry, Balmer Lawn’s General Manager, Michael Clitheroe, was crowned ‘Lockdown Hero of the Year’, while Assistant Hotel Manager, Lucy Whittington, took home ‘The Rising Star of the Year’ accolade.

Michael played a major part in helping Balmer Lawn increase its turnover in 2021 despite the pandemic. With heavy losses sustained from closures and lost Christmas function revenue due to coronavirus restrictions, Michael moved fast to commission The Lodge, a COVID-secure, outside bar and kitchen, built specifically to welcome guests safely back during the pandemic. It safely served 7,812 people in its first five weeks of outside dining in April 2021.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s influence at Balmer Lawn has included increasing service standards, while providing safe work practice training for the return of staff from the national lockdown. This helped Balmer Lawn to be accredited with a ‘AA Covid-secure’ and V.E ‘Good to Go’ scheme on the day of reopening.

In addition, she volunteered to live in the hotel for four months during the first lockdown, where she oversaw security and staff welfare. Lucy also played a key role in arranging education and community days with Bournemouth University, where she promoted career possibilities to young adults.

The Hampshire hotel also saw co-owner, Alison Wilson, who has been running the hotel with her husband Chris for 25 years, receive a special mention in the Lifetime Achievement Award. Since taking over in 1997, Alison has been integral in the hotel’s transformation from a three to four-star venue, enabling it to boast 4 silver stars for its facilities, 2 AA rosettes for its kitchen, and become a leading destination for weddings and corporate conferences.

Speaking of the hotel’s triumph, Michael Clitheroe, General Manager at the Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won in two of the three categories we were shortlisted in at the Southampton Hospitality Awards 2022 – getting a special mention in the lifetime achievement award was a bonus!

“We are also immensely proud to also be shortlisted as a finalist in the Beautiful South Awards. The Lodge has been a great success and we look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength. On behalf of Balmer, I also want to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of Lucy, who has underpinned a career in hospitality with a meticulous focus on development and welfare. She is a real superstar in the making!”