Sykes Cottages Gem Awards 2017

200-Year-old Converted Church Named Best Holiday Home in North East

Local entrepreneur and art historian Anne Monroe is celebrating after her converted church in Northumberland scooped two golds in a national travel awards scheme by Sykes Cottages, the UK's largest independent operator of UK holiday rental properties.

Taking the top spot in both the Best in North East England and Best Historic Property categories, Greystead Old Church was bought by Anne and her husband Bill as it was particularly special to the couple - it was the church where they got married.

Dating back to 1818, the former church is steeped in memories for the duo as it was also where their four children were christened. When the Monroes discovered the property was up for sale, they took on the challenge and embarked on a complete rennovation, working with heritage specialists to restore its historic charm for holiday guests.

Since being made available to holidaymakers back in 2013, the church, near Kielder Water, has become a popular bolthole for families wanting to explore the local area and large groups coming together for special occasions.

The Sykes Gem Awards celebrate excellence in holiday cottage accommodation and saw thousands of entries from accross the UK. Judged by a panel of leading travel industry experts, the Northumberland property was assessed on its style, suitability and facilities, as well as its occupancy rate and customer feedback on cleanliness, comfort, location and value for money.

Elaine Holt, regional property consultant for Northumberland, said "It's brilliant that a holiday home in Northumberland won not just one, but two , Sykes Gem awards. The accolades really are testament to the hard work put in by Anne and Bill.

"We've seen a 15% boost in staycation bookings to Northumberland in the last year and with such a high standard of holiday homes in the area, we're sure this will continue to rise"

Greystead Old Church owner, Anne Monroe, said "The church is a very special property for us, having been part of so many milestone moments in our lives, and it's so rewarding to see all the hard work pay off when our guests really appreciate their stay and give us such great feedback.

"What Bill and I wanted to do was to revive the church's beautiul period charm for people to enjoy again. We have been very pleased with the result and I was expecting it to be hugely popular, but the amount of bookings we've had has surpassed my expectations!"

Graham Donoghue, CEO of Sykes Cottages, added "The Sykes Gem Awards have given us the chance to celebrate unique properties like Greystead Old Church and their owners. We hope that people will see this year's award winners and change their minds about a holiday abroad next year - opting for a staycation instead!"

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