DESPITE the economic recession, and the inevitable toll it has taken on the hospitality industry, The George at Buckden has had a successful year.

DESPITE the economic recession, and the inevitable toll it has taken on the hospitality industry, The George at Buckden has had a successful year.

General manager Cynthia Schaeffer won the Judges Award at last year's Hunts Post Business Awards, 12 months after the boutique hotel won Business of the year.

Cynthia said: "Winning the 'Judges Award' has given us a great sense of pride and achievement, both for me personally and for everybody who works at the George and thrives to make it the best in the area.

"With the marketing potential that comes with winning such a prestigious award, 2009 finished on a high with the number of diners and residents having grown another four per cent despite the economic recession."

The George has won extensive accolades, including being named by influential writer Paddy Burt as one of her top five hotels of the year in the Sunday Telegraph.

Rebecca Furbank, managing director of Anne Furbank Group, which includes The George, said: "I have to say we have been absolutely delighted this year. The group has grown in the last two years. Turnover and footfall both up, which considering the horrible times we have seen is quite incredible. It's credit to Cynthia, who runs the team at The George.

"Going to the awards and for Cynthia to win, I was so chuffed for her. It was completely out of the blue and highlights the commitment and work she has put in, she deserves it; she's a little gem!"

Rebecca explained that The George's success lies in its broad-ranging appeal.

"We get the Friday afternoon drinkers coming for a pint after work, the 'ladies that lunch' and business people. We get people who pop in because they don't want to cook and for others we offer a real treat."

The judges have made a special Judges Award for the last four years. Led by John Bridge, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, the accolade goes to one of the non-winners they felt merited special recognition.

Previously, the award has gone to companies that, while not quite the best in their categories, were still regarded as outstanding.

Cynthia's award was the first time an individual had been honoured.

The judges said: "Hospitality has been one of the industries most severely affected by the economic slowdown but you would not think so on a visit to the George Hotel.

"Cynthia has worked with and managed her people to maintain business at levels that competitors can only envy. In an industry where staff turnover is notoriously high, Cynthia has a steady stream of people applying to join the George team, a fitting tribute to both her people skills and her business-management skills."