itravel Staycation Awards 2020/21 host and judges revealed

This year’s itravel Staycation Awards winners will be revealed on 10 June. The award categories include accommodation, locations, experiences and two that reflect the challenges of the pandemic: green space and tourism hero.

Nominations closed earlier this month. We received more than 1,000 entries that highlight the wonderful opportunities the UK has to offer holidaymakers, as well as the hard work that has gone into welcoming visitors back since the Covid pandemic began last year. These include Blue Flag beaches, historic towns, dog-friendly cottages and cabins in spectacular wilderness locations.

Awards host: Sean Fletcher

Now, we can reveal our panel of expert judges and awards host. The judges will shortly begin considering the entries to decide the 14 winners, which will be announced by host Sean Fletcher on 10 June.

Sean appears on the BBC’s Countryfile and Sunday Morning Live as well as ITV’s Good Morning Britain. He was born in New York, grew up in the UK, is of British-Zimbabwean heritage and speaks fluent Welsh. Most recently, he has been following the English-Welsh border for ITV series, Wonders of the Border, in which he has swum in the River Wye and hiked Offa’s Dyke path. His favourite UK holidays have been on the Gower peninsula and Outer Hebrides.

The judges

Judges have been drawn from different sectors of the travel industry, as well as publishing.

Jane Knight

Jane Knight is editor of The Good Hotel Guide and was previously travel editor of The Times for a decade. Her articles have been published everywhere from The Telegraph to Tatler, the Daily Mirror to the Daily Mail. While she has travelled widely around the world, she can’t get enough of Britain, and particularly enjoys unearthing its more secret corners. The perfect weekend in her eyes involves escaping to one of the UK’s many fantastic hotels, B&Bs or pubs with rooms and exploring the local countryside and attractions. 

Tom Hall

A long-time writer, contributor and spokesperson for Lonely PlanetTom Hall is a well-known voice on travel and tourism. Tom has spent the past few months writing and speaking on how travel and tourism organisations can navigate the post-Covid world and is now planning Lonely Planet’s 2021 relaunch. He is a contributor to dozens of publications including the annual Best in Travel book, the new Low Carbon Europe title and Lonely Planet’s long-running magazine. He also writes for many other publications, magazines and websites. Tom is a regular voice covering travel on CNN, BBC News, Sky News and many other national and international broadcasters where he has given advice and context on issues affecting tourism from volcanic eruptions to economic crises.    

Richard Hammond (Photo: Visit Wales)

Richard Hammond is a writer/filmmaker and founder of Green Traveller, a media agency that promotes sustainable tourism and manages the green holiday website 

Ruth Hyde (Photo: Judith Parry)

Ruth Hyde joined the Woodland Trust as Director of Brand and Communications at the end of September 2014. Ruth has worked in marketing and communications roles for the majority of her career primarily in the tourism, cultural and leisure sectors. Her experience is wide ranging encompassing everything from the delivery and management of front line visitor services through to sector championing at a regional and national level. Outside work Ruth enjoys rowing and exploring the UK countryside by bike or on foot. 

Jamie-Lee Abtar (Photo: Eulanda Shead Osagiede
Provider: Eulanda Shead Osagiede)

Jamie- Lee Abtar is a tourism and marketing consultant who has worked in the travel industry for over 10 years with an expertise in helping brands to engage and attract diverse consumers. Jamie-Lee’s creativity and enthusiasm has seen her deliver long term and sustainable inclusion, outreach and community engagement initiatives for a number of organisations including the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. In her role as Executive Director, Women in Travel, BAME Programme she works with some of the travel industry’s leading brands (Google, World Travel Market, University of Surrey School of Hospitality and Tourism Mgmt) to cultivate an understanding around issues of racial diversity, as well as supporting a community of talented career driven and entrepreneurial BAME Women. Jamie-Lee was most recently named as one of Travel Pulse’s “20 Influential Women in Travel”.

Martin Dunford

Martin Dunford is one of the founders of the international travel guide series Rough Guides. He is the author of more than 10 guidebooks and was the publisher of Rough Guides for many years, before going on to found the UK digital and print specialist which features thousands of places to stay and things to do closer to home.   

Adrian Phillips (Photo: Andy Huntley)

Adrian Phillips runs Bradt Guides, the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher. Traditionally known for its guides to countries off the beaten track, Bradt also has an extensive list of domestic guides, including an award-winning Slow Travel series to special regions of the UK. Adrian is himself a travel writer and broadcaster specialising in adventure, outdoors and slow travel, and has four times been voted Travel Writer of the Year. 

Natasha Foges

Natasha Foges is the Editor of BRITAIN, the official magazine of VisitBritain. She has travelled the length and breadth of the country both on research trips and family holidays, and after a very quiet year is excited about rediscovering her favourite haunts. 

Bernard Donoghue

Bernard Donoghue is the Chief Executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), the umbrella body for the UK’s most popular, important and iconic palaces, castles, museums, galleries, heritage sites, stately homes, cathedrals, churches, gardens, zoos and leisure attractions. Bernard has been Chairman of the award-winning London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) since 2010. In May 2017 he was appointed to be a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board and is the Mayor’s Ambassador for Culture. He has been a member of the UK Government’s Tourism Industry Council since 2014. In January 2021 he became Co-Chair of the London Tourism Recovery Board, to plan and deliver the strategic recovery of London’s visitor economy, and sits on the GLA’s Covid Business Forum and various London Mayoral cultural and business recovery taskforces. In October 2020 Bernard was named by Blooloop, the world’s leading online resource for professionals working in visitor attractions, as one of the world’s 50 most influential people in the museum sector. 

Dr Dafydd Trystan Davies

Dr Dafydd Trystan Davies is the Chair of the Active Travel Board for Wales and independent advisor to Welsh Government, a board member of Sport Wales and works as a Registrar in Welsh Higher Education for the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. He is a long-standing advocate for sustainable and active travel and has promoted sustainable tourism and leisure as part of Welsh Government plans for active travel. He is a keen long distance runner and has Chaired the social running programme Run Wales for the past five years. 

Xavier Brice

Ever since childhood, Xavier Brice has been fascinated by transport’s impact on society. Since 2016 Xavier has been CEO of Sustrans, the charity which works with communities and partners across the UK to realise its vision of a society where the way that we travel creates healthier places and happier lives for everyone. He first came across Sustrans many years ago whilst planning a cycling holiday from Padstow to Taunton on the National Cycle Network. Xavier is particularly proud to be leading an organisation that as custodian of this Network, helps people discover and enjoy different parts of the UK, whether by cycle or on foot. Xavier joined Sustrans in June 2016 from Transport for London where he held a variety of roles. This included leading the modernisation of London Underground’s stations, and developing a new walking and cycling strategy for the city.

Jayne McClure

Jayne McClure is CEO of The Travel Chapter, home of, one of the UK’s leading holiday letting agents and staycation specialists. She joined the company as Finance Director 10 years ago and in that time has helped the company grow from 1,500 properties and 40 staff based in the West Country, to now being the third largest agency in the UK, with just under 7,000 properties and 350 staff based in 11 offices spread across the UK. Jayne has always had a passion for UK holidays, whether that be a cottage break enjoying the diversity and culture that all the different regions have to offer, exploring the great outdoors on a camping trip with friends, or the many weekends spent in her caravan with her family and, most importantly of course, her Golden Retriever Reggie, who is always by her side! 

Jonathan Knight

Previously a travel writer for Lonely Planet and Rough GuidesJonathan Knight established his own travel publishing series, Cool Camping, in 2006 and has been instrumental in raising the profile of UK camping and glamping ever since. The Cool Camping website is now the UK’s leading booking platform for camping and glamping holidays, and has won a British Travel Award for the last 2 years. Jonathan also launched the specialist website in 2018, a curated collection of premium outdoor accommodation.   

Caroline McGinn

Caroline McGinn is global Editor-in-Chief of Time Out – an international city media and hospitality brand dedicated to arts, culture, events, food and lifestyle – and live markets which curate the best of the city. After graduating from Oxford with a double first in English and History, Caroline worked for the Labour Party as a researcher, advisor and speech-writer, contributing to the development of education policy and access to education. Caroline’s media career has spanned print, TV and digital and – as an expert in arts, culture, food and metropolitan life – she has contributed to the BBC, Sky, The Economist, The Times and more. Caroline lives in Hackney with her three sons. 

Carole Hiley

Carole Hiley has worked in travel and tourism since graduating from the university of Bath with a degree in European Studies (French and Italian). Before becoming a Blue Badge London Guide in 1988, and a City of London Green Badge Guide in 1990, she worked throughout Europe, Scandinavia and the Soviet Union as a Tour Manager. Today she lives in London and guides regularly in French and Italian. Carole has been a director of the Institute of Tourist Guiding since 2018 and the President since 2020. The Institute of Tourist Guiding is the regulatory body for the guiding profession in England, Northern Ireland and Jersey, responsible for training, examinations and maintaining standards in the guiding profession. 

Rory Boland

Rory Boland has been a travel journalist for 15 years. From a start trying out hostel bunk beds in Poznan to pillow menus in the five star hotels of Hong Kong for the inaugural Zagat guide to the city, he has authored, edited and contributed to guidebooks for National Geographic, Time Out and Moon. As the editor of Which? Travel magazine he champions the best travel providers and best places to travel, while also campaigning to improve the services holidaymakers use. In ordinary times, as part of the Which? Travel review team, he anonymously inspects dozens of hotels, B&Bs, pubs and restaurants across the UK.. Which? Travel accepts no freebies – no free flights, no free meals, no free anything – so reviews are always honest and unbiased. Rory is the current British Society of Magazine Editors travel editor of the year. 

Sophie Griffiths (Photo: Steve Dunlop)

Sophie Griffiths joined Travel Trade Gazette in March 2010 as a news reporter, covering cruise, agents, interviews and industry analyses, before working her way up to the position of editor in January 2017. She is also the founder of TTG LGBT – a network for LGBT people and allies within the travel industry – which champions diversity within the sector. In 2019 Sophie was awarded Editor of the Year – Trade & Professional by the British Society of Magazine Editors. She was also named Editor of the Year for the second year running at the 2019 Independent Publisher Awards, where TTG Media was also named Independent Publishing Company of the Year. 

Paul Nunny

Paul Nunny set up Cask Marque in 1997 to improve beer quality standards and help reverse the decline in cask ale sales. The company has more than 50 assessors undertaking over 25,000 visits per year. There are 10,000 pubs with the Cask Marque award and the company sets standards within the industry, covering the handling of beer from brewery to glass. Paul created in 2013 to give pubs with accommodation visibility online. The site currently lists 1,700 pubs. 

Robin Sheppard

Robin Sheppard has been an hotelier for 40+ years winning many Hotel/Hotelier of the Year awards. In 2000 he co-founded Bespoke Hotels which has grown into the UK’s latest independent hotel group with over 200 properties, including the multi-award winning Hotel Gotham. He has already won the Hotel Catey and then the Oxford Brookes awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry. Most recently he won the AA Lifetime Achievement Award to the Industry. He is also the Government’s Hospitality Sector Champion for Disabled People. 

His greatest achievement, though, has been to fight back from GBS, a totally paralysing illness. His slow recovery inspired him to launch the Blue Badge Access Awards in conjunction with RIBA encouraging better design and empathy from architects, interior designers and hospitality professionals alike. 

Tim Williamson is Customer Director at Responsible Travel. He served as a Non-Exec Director on the company’s board before starting his current role in 2014, which he describes as ‘enjoying proving that you can make money selling responsible holidays and trying to restore our planet’. Previous roles include Customer Experience and Marketing Director at Monarch Airlines; CEO of The Travel Department; and Customer Director at TUI UK, during which time he also served as a director on the ABTA Board. He is also chair of the board of trustees for Sussex Nightstop, a Brighton based homelessness charity and served for 4 years as chair of governors for one of the largest schools in the UK. 

Alastair Dick-Cleland

Alastair Dick-Cleland read Experimental Psychology at Oxford and then spent 10 years in several different roles within the John Lewis Partnership. But with his love of historic buildings undiminished, he changed career and studied architecture and the building arts at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture, followed by a post-graduate diploma in building conservation at the College of Estate Management, part of Reading University.  He has worked for The Landmark Trust since 1996 including many years in the Historic Estate Department managing a significant number of new restoration projects. He now works as part of the History team concentrating on assessing potential future Landmarks. 

Rebecca Dawson

Rebecca Dawson is Chair of the Ramblers. She is an enthusiastic hiker and loves exploring new places on foot. She has visited many different areas of the UK with family, friends, and her Ramblers walking group, and what she loves about walking holidays is the opportunity to explore an area slowly, whether it’s walking from place to place each day on a long-distance trail, or creating a home-from-home base for a week and getting to know a local area in more detail. And of course, all those calories burned on a long day’s walking means she can sample all of the local food and drink without feeling guilty! 

Alex Fisher is Editor-in-Chief of Coast magazine and its bi-monthly sub-brand, Saltwater Living. Alex is an expert on British travel and staycations and is also Staycations Editor for Psychologies Magazine.

Sophie Lam

Sophie Lam is i‘s Travel Editor; she began her career in travel journalism at The Independent in 2004. Her most memorable trips have been in Central America, Sri Lanka and India, but she now spends most of her travelling time the UK, where she is happiest on the coast.