“A very attractive addition to the forest” – our Visit England assessment
We were really chuffed to receive a glowing report from Visit England after a recent accreditation visit, which singled out our new visitor centre and our fantastic team of staff for particular praise.
The inspection involved looking at all aspects of our site, from our website to social media platforms, our shop and cafe and out in the forest itself, so we were thrilled to be told by the experts that we’ve reached their exacting standards and received accreditation.
The report said: “High scores were achieved over the majority of the assessment with the toilet provision with its Changing Places room being particularly notable. Other features to note were the overall cleanliness of the facilities, the strength of the retail offer and the friendly and knowledgeable welcome provided by all staff encountered during the assessment visit.
The new Centre is a very attractive addition to the forest park and local scene.
The range of content is impressive, encompassing as it does information on the woodlands and natural history, legends associated with Sherwood and the woodlands, and the woodland trails through the stunning and valuable forest itself.
The appearance of the building and its decor and maintenance is all stunning, with the building and its materials fitting perfectly into the setting and the views of the woodland provided through the full height glass wall adding greatly to the visitor experience. The presentation of the displays and the interpretation in the visitor centre is impressive, catering for a range of ages and interests.
The ambience and first impressions are excellent, as is the internal decoration, with the views of the woodland through the floor to ceiling windows particularly striking and memorable.
A warm and friendly greeting was provided on entering the centre, with help and directions and the trails map readily offered and provided. The catering staff provided an efficient service on what was a relatively quiet day, and were noted as being particularly helpful with customers and their dogs wishing to escape the heavy rain showers while using the cafe service.
In the retail area the staff proved very knowledgeable when advising customers on the optical equipment, helping them to try and choose the appropriate equipment for their needs.”
There’s things to improve on, of course, but the areas highlighted for development were all things we’re aware of and already working on, like replacing the signage in the forest, which we have been waiting for permission to do, and improving the visitor journey from our car park.
After a hugely busy year for our staff, who have transferred jobs, got to grips with running a new centre, hosted a major festival within days of opening and generally done so with a smile on their faces – working alongside our wonderful, dedicated team of volunteers – this report helps to make all that effort worthwhile!
Our new centre is the start of our plans, not the end, and we have lots of exciting ideas for the future – building on the heritage and legends of the site, bringing people closer to its wonderful nature and protecting the forest for future generations to enjoy.