Tourism Industry Honours Champions at Tourism Excellence Awards Gala

For Immediate Release

March 3, 2016 – Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador hosted the annual Tourism Excellence Awards Gala on Thursday night as the grand finale to the Annual Conference and Trade Show, held in St. John’s from March 1-3. The Tourism Excellence Awards Gala featured the presentation of the Tourism Excellence Awards, recognizing the outstanding tourism leaders and businesses that make great contributions to the provincial tourism industry.

“Every year, the Tourism Excellence Awards are presented as a means to celebrate the achievements of the tourism industry, the success of which would not be possible without the hard work and commitment from businesses, leaders and organizations,” says Dion Finlay, Hospitality NL Vice Chair. “This year’s group of nominees was filled with innovation and passion, all of which is reflected in their accomplishments and the considerable impressions they have left with guests year after year. I would like to congratulate all the nominees and recipients of this year’s awards and sincerely thank them for their contribution to Newfoundland and Labrador’s tourism industry.”

The following is a list of awards and award recipients. Detailed information about each award and recipient is available below. Photos are available by contacting Leslie Rossiter at lrossiter@hnl.ca.

H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator of the Year – Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites, Twillingate, NL

Tourism Champion of the Year – Wayne Hallett, Prints of Whales Inn, Sandringham, NL

CBDC Tourism Business of the Year – Doctor’s House Inn & Spa, Green’s Harbour, NL

Cal LeGrow Tourism Innovator of the Year – Old Salt Box Co., located throughout Central NL

Corporate Partner of the Year – Downhome Inc., Newfoundland and Labrador

Cultural Tourism Award – Battle Harbour Historic Trust, Battle Harbour, NL

Sustainable Tourism Award – Prime Berth Fishing Museum, Twillingate, NL

Doug Wheeler Award – Jill Curran, Lighthouse Picnics & Maxxim Vacations, NL

Cruise Vision Award – Dr. Latonia Hartery

Hospitality NL’s Annual Conference and Trade Show is the largest annual gathering of tourism operators within the province and is taking place in St. John’s, March 1-3, 2016. Visit www.hnl.ca/conference for more details.

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Media Contact:
Leslie Rossiter, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
P: 709-722-2000, ext. 222
C: 709-690-9227
E: lrossiter@hnl.ca

Background

H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator of the Year
Presented to: Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites, Twillingate, NL

The H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator of the Year award, sponsored by the Sparkes Family in recognition of the contribution their father made to the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, recognizes an individual or company in the accommodations sector within the province who exhibits a dedication to quality service, a commitment to the tourism industry, making a solid contribution to the communities in which they live. These are all qualities of Clayton Sparkes and the Sparkes Family deemed it fitting that an award recognizing these characteristics in others be presented in his name.

This year’s recipients lead by example; they recognize accommodations are only a part of being a successful hotel service, as culture, history and engagement complete the visitor experience. An accommodation is more than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day. It is a place that helps you interpret and experience your tourism destination. This is the mantra by which they operate.

They work tirelessly to not only improve their own business, but to improve tourism in their community and the surrounding area. The owners of Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites demonstrate a commitment to the long-term development of the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador through their extensive involvement and leadership at various levels of industry planning and development. From co-developing a regional map that lists and locates all tourism operators, to co-chairing local tourism committees developing new initiatives, including a digital arts festival, as a way to extend their tourism season, these owner/operators truly understand what’s good for the destination is good for them.

This award was presented to the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Judy Sparkes Giannou, Clayton Hospitality Inc.

Tourism Champion of the Year
Presented to: Wayne Hallett, Prints of Whales Inn, Sandringham, NL

The Tourism Champion of the Year Award is presented to an individual, company or organization that has worked diligently to ensure that the tourism industry prospers, and as such, has given freely of their time and energy to champion the interests of and enhance the tourism industry.

Since his retirement from teaching, Wayne Hallett, along with his wife Ruth, has operated multiple accommodations in central Newfoundland, starting with the Bear Sleeps Inn in 2009 and moving on in 2012, to the Prints of Whales Inn in Sandringham on the Eastport Peninsula. Wayne has been involved with numerous tourism organizations over the years including the Coast of Bays Tourism Committee, the Road to the Beaches Tourism Association, Tourism Quality Assurance of NL and the Bed & Breakfast Association of NL. In his current role as Chair of Adventure Central Newfoundland, Wayne also sits on the NL Tourism Board.

Through his involvement in all levels of tourism planning and development, Wayne demonstrates how a small tourism operator can play a significant role in determining the direction and success of the provincial tourism industry. His leadership style is a testament to his belief that a successful tourism industry is based on local/regional partnerships that are essential for sustained growth and longevity. Giving selflessly of his time and energy to support the efforts of industry and raise the bar for quality services and attractions, Wayne Hallett is a true tourism champion.

This award was presented to Wayne Hallett, Owner/Operator of the Prints of Whales Inn at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Joe O’Brien, Hospitality NL Board of Directors.

CBDC Tourism Business of the Year
Presented to: Doctor’s House Inn & Spa, Green’s Harbour, NL

The CBDC Tourism Business of the Year Award recognizes businesses that have built a reputation for excelling and continuously improving upon all areas of operations – customer service, human resources and business results. Not only does the business excel in its operations, but they see themselves as having an important role in improving the tourism industry of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since opening in 2013, the owners of the Doctor’s House Inn & Spa have committed countless hours to the restoration of the property, transforming it into a premier destination for remarkable getaways, weddings, and corporate retreats. With special experiences hidden around every corner, including a vegetable garden, an animal sanctuary and an art gallery, this business is focused on building unique and unforgettable guest experiences and continually goes above and beyond expectations to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture and heritage is part of the hospitality experienced by their guests.

By investing in their staff and ensuring they have access to professional development opportunities, they have built a dedicated team of employees who work hard to carry out the company’s vision and deliver an elevated level of quality services and experiences. Their creation of business-to-business partnerships not only enhances the guest experience, but contributes to the local economy and helps to foster a spirit of collaboration amongst business owners in the community.

This award was presented to the Doctor’s House Inn & Spa at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Roseanne Leonard, NL Association of CBDCs.

Cal LeGrow Tourism Innovator of the Year
Presented to: Old Salt Box Co., located throughout Central NL

The Cal LeGrow Tourism Innovator of the Year Award recognizes an individual or company that demonstrates ingenuity and creativity in their business activities. The recipient will have developed a tourism business, market, product, process initiative or an unconventional approach to an existing market, product or process. This may be a new business or a long-standing business that is doing things in a new way and having a positive impact on the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A significant feature in the preservation of our provincial cultural identity is, without a doubt, found in our architectural heritage scattered along rugged coastlines. The uniquely beautiful architecture of Newfoundland and Labrador has served to draw many tourists to the province with all stakeholders agreeing that the preservation of individual structures is crucial to the tourism industry, and the subsequent economic well being of communities. Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have fond memories centered around such heritage, and thanks to the innovation of the Old Salt Box Co., many travellers are now enjoying that same experience with a modern twist.

The element of surprise is apparent when a guest walks into a rustic and traditional guest house that features contemporary furnishings and artwork in the form of a lobster trap! The end result of this pairing is a winning formula for business growth and tourism development, not to mention bookings made years in advance. The mixing of modern furnishings and luxuries with the charm of a traditional salt box nestled in a cove is indeed a success story that is contributing to the cultural identity of the Central Region and having a positive impact on the tourism industry.

This award was presented to the Old Salt Box Co. at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Rod Vatcher, Cal LeGrow Insurance Ltd.

Corporate Partner of the Year – presented by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
Presented to:  Downhome Inc., Newfoundland and Labrador

The Corporate Partner of the Year Award recognizes a business-to-business partner that has been successful in developing creative and effective alliances within the tourism industry that improve Hospitality NL’s ability to meet its mission.

Downhome Inc. is a group of companies that includes magazine and book publishing, retail operations, book publishing, product creation, website design and hosting, fundraising and more. Their mandate is to promote, sustain and celebrate the Newfoundland and Labrador lifestyle.

The company stimulates tourism and economic activity in a variety of ways, but mainly through the distribution of the Downhome Magazine and Explore travel guide publications, making efforts to ensure that advertisers and featured tourism operations are participants of the provincial Tourism Assurance Plan. They are the official on-board and in-flight magazine of Marine Atlantic and Provincial Airlines and the annual Downhome Expo features tourism operators from across the province.

Downhome Inc. celebrates Newfoundland and Labrador’s lifestyle and traditions via their publications and products. They are a homegrown company, dedicated to serving and promoting the provincial market both economically through tourism and retail and culturally by documenting and sharing our heritage and stories.

This award was presented to Downhome Inc. at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Scott Hillyer, Hospitality NL Board of Directors.

Cultural Tourism Award – presented by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development
Presented to: Battle Harbour Historic Trust, Battle Harbour, NL

The Cultural Tourism Award is presented to an individual or organization that recognizes and promotes the pursuit of cultural expression within the tourism industry.

Committed to conserving, protecting and promoting the living heritage integrity and natural environment of Battle Harbour, the Battle Harbour Historic Trust provides visitors with a deeply personal, world-class experience to be rivalled anywhere. A working fishing premises until 1990, Battle Harbour was donated to the newly-formed Battle Harbour Historic Trust. Working relentlessly to promote the site’s heritage and tourism value, this group led the restoration of the fishing community’s buildings, wharves and flakes to their original state and in 1997, Battle Harbour was recognized as one of Canada’s National Historic Districts – the only one where a visitor can spend the night.

In recent years, the Battle Harbour Historic Trust further enhanced the site’s heritage and tourism value by showcasing Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture. The inaugural Fire and Ice Culinary Weekend in 2015 featured some of the province’s best chefs preparing traditional foods with artistic creativity. Leading musicians and visual arts are featured prominently in the site’s visitor programming, showcasing the province’s vibrant arts and culture.

This award was presented to the Battle Harbour Historic Trust at the Provincial Tourism Luncheon by The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development.

Sustainable Tourism Award – presented by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and Parks Canada
Presented to: Prime Berth Fishing Museum, Twillingate, NL

The Sustainable Tourism Award recognizes an industry operator who has made strides in sustainable tourism practices and continually works toward the protection of our natural and cultural resources.

At Prime Berth visitors can experience fishing stores, fishing stages, an underwater camera showing live shots of the fish around the stages, a fish store and net loft with all the artifacts of inshore trap fishing, a blacksmith shop with all the tools of the trade, the Whale Tale Building, and a gift store carrying local crafts.

The visitor experience is rooted in the context of the people who lived and worked in such a fishing village. Owner/operator, David Boyd, gives people the opportunity to watch as he demonstrates cutting, heading and splitting the cod as his father taught him. He shows them cod liver oil, the cod tongue, and breeches, and he also demonstrates the assembly line of the splitting table. To top off their experience, guests can enjoy the gallery where David’s historic photos and own poetry is on display.

David and his wife Christine have found an engaging, respectful way to celebrate what has been the historic social, cultural and economic backbone of our province. In 2015, the Prime Berth Fishing Museum was rated by Trip Advisor travellers as the number six museum in Canada!

This award was presented to the Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Geoffrey Hancock, Parks Canada Western Field Unit.

The Doug Wheeler Award – presented by the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development
Presented to: Jill Curran, Lighthouse Picnics & Maxxim Vacations, NL

The Doug Wheeler Award is presented annually to a person or group which has made a significant contribution to the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. The award honours the memory of Doug Wheeler, a provincial civil servant, and a passionate advocate for tourism, who passed away in 1981.

Lighthouse Picnics started out as a dream and a keen understanding of the value that Newfoundland and Labrador holds. At the center of this tourism business success story is the person who built it, Jill Curran. Describing herself as a “hands on owner/operator”, who believes in providing every customer with the kind of conversation you would like to have with a friend, she truly lives up to those promises. With her glowing and witty personality, Jill can always make you laugh or tell you a story that will lighten your day. For travellers, it’s the vacation memory of a lifetime.

Aside from her tremendous success with Lighthouse Picnics, Jill has broadened her business and is applying her winning formula to Maxxim Vacations, where she is earning a solid reputation as a leader among vacation planners and tour operators. As a business person and ambassador for Newfoundland and Labrador, Jill has built a brand of excellence, which is embroidered in all elements of her businesses.

This award was presented to Jill Curran (accepted on her behalf by Julie Curran) at the Provincial Tourism Luncheon by The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development.

Cruise Vision Award – presented by Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador
Presented to: Dr. Latonia Hartery

The Cruise Vision Award is presented by Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador to an individual, group or business that has demonstrated a commitment to the provincial cruise industry and has contributed significantly to the growth of the cruise industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

An expert in everything Newfoundland & Labrador (including archaeology, heritage, and culture), Dr. Hartery has acted as field guide, interpreter, and facilitator on 27 trips for Adventure Canada including 10 circumnavigations of Newfoundland, as well as 3 voyages up the Labrador coast to Greenland.

During this time, she has given countless guest lectures, interpreted hundreds of cultural sites, helped to develop onboard programming, and assisted in training resource staff to appropriately represent the people and culture of our province. Being from Bay D’Espoir, Dr. Hartey is intimately familiar with the bays and communities of the south coast. As such, she has helped Adventure Canada establish programs and visits along this isolated coastline, a previously underrepresented cruise region in our province.

As a Metis person, she promotes ancient and contemporary aboriginal heritage, and feels no true Newfoundland & Labrador cruise can occur without experiencing native culture. She also works to ensure that homegrown businesses benefit from visiting cruise ships, helping to grow the industry’s reputation as one that aims to benefit all levels of the economy.

An archaeologist first and foremost, Dr. Hartery has worked with multiple industry partners to help protect our sensitive cultural sites, thereby minimizing tourism’s footprint and increasing sustainability.

This award was presented to Dr. Latonia Hartery at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Claire Sullivan, Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador.


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