For Immediate Release
February 22, 2018 – Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador hosted the annual Tourism Excellence Awards Gala on Thursday night as the grand finale to the 35th Annual Conference and Trade Show, held in St. John’s from February 20-22. 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.
“The provincial tourism industry is thriving with both new and long-time tourism operators who are working each and every day to develop this industry to its full potential,” says Dion Finlay, Hospitality NL Chair. “Newfoundland and Labrador’s tourism industry consists of innovative and hard-working professionals whose passion and enthusiasm is evident in the products and experiences they deliver to travellers. I would like to commend all the nominees and recipients of this year’s awards for the work that they do 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 Melissa Ennis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator Award of Excellence – Royal Inn + Suites, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL
Tourism Champion Award – John Norman, Bonavista, NL
CBDC Tourism Business Award of Excellence – Edge of the Avalon Inn, Trepassey, NL
Tourism Innovator Award – Port Rexton Brewing Company, Port Rexton, NL
Cultural Tourism Award – Bonavista Biennale – Encounters on the Edge, Bonavista, NL
Sustainable Tourism Award – Shorefast Foundation, Fogo Island, NL
Tourism Achievement Award – David Snow, Wildland Tours, St. John’s, NL
Cruise Vision Award – David Snow, Wildland Tours, St. John’s, NL
Due to the strong support of the local tourism industry, Hospitality NL’s Conference has sold out! In 2018, Hospitality NL celebrates 35 years of serving as the voice of tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador and working with the members to build amazing industry growth and progress. The 35th Annual Conference & Trade Show is the largest annual gathering of tourism operators within the province and is taking place in St. John’s, February 20-22, 2018. Visit www.hnl.ca/conference to learn more!
Melissa Ennis, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
P: 709-722-2000, ext. 231
H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator Award of Excellence
Presented to: Royal Inn + Suites, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL
The H. Clayton Sparkes Accommodator Award of Excellence, 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.
The Royal Inn + Suites was acquired by the Nunacor Development Corporation, the economic development arm of the NunatuKavut Community Council, in December 2016, making it the only Indigenous community-owned hotel in the province. Since that time, new ownership has made numerous improvements to the property to enhance the guest experience while demonstrating a commitment to supporting local businesses and leading tourism development in Labrador.
In the past year, the hotel has improved its Canada Select rating to 4-stars and has cemented its position as Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s #1 hotel according to TripAdvisor and Google hotel reviews. In addition, the hotel’s market share has skyrocketed from 19% to 25%, all while maintaining a year-round occupancy of over 80%.
This award was presented to the Royal Inn + Suites at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Judy Sparkes Giannou on behalf of Clayton Hospitality Inc.
Tourism Champion Award
Presented to: John Norman, Bonavista, NL
The Tourism Champion 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.
John Norman has dedicated his life and business interests to the economic and social development of Bonavista, and tourism has been a major component of his activities. His development philosophy is to enhance livability through place making to create an authentic and vibrant community, which in turn creates a viable destination that visitors want to experience. He operates his own businesses and tourism assets (Bonavista Living, Bonavista Creative, Russelltown Inn), volunteers in many capacities, and works tirelessly to connect the people and initiatives of the Bonavista Peninsula to each other.
He created a business support centre for the region with free business counselling services through his work with the Bonavista Trinity Regional Chamber of Commerce. His companies, Bonavista Living and Bonavista Creative, have partnered with the Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation and the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation to restore prominent landscapes and buildings within Bonavista and Port Union, with the next shared project being the Alexander Bridge House in Bonavista.
John also contributes his time to a variety of organizations that contribute to the tourism industry, including Bonavista Trinity Tourism Committee, Discovery Aspiring Geopark and Legendary Coasts of Eastern Newfoundland, just to name a few.
This award was presented to John Norman at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.
CBDC Tourism Business Award of Excellence
Presented to: Edge of the Avalon Inn, Trepassey, NL
The CBDC Tourism Business Award of Excellence 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.
In 2014, the Trepassey Motel transferred to new ownership and by 2016, Edge of the Avalon Inn was formed, ready to welcome the world as Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Edge of the Avalon Inn completely renovated all rooms and interiors, added suites, reinvented their restaurant and added significant programming to ensure visitors can experience more during their stay in the Trepassey area.
Committed to customer satisfaction, Edge of the Avalon Inn was able to maintain its TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, even through the periods of renovation. Care and attention to detail for each individual party staying at the Inn has allowed the staff to ensure excellence stays at the Inn itself and help visitors have complete and thorough experiences as they explore the furthest reaches of the Avalon Peninsula.
The Edge of the Avalon Inn is the largest employer in Trepassey, and has attributed its success to recognizing the value of local character and individual personalities while aspiring to high levels of professionalism and customer service. It is through training and empowerment that they can use their staff to complement and alleviate the customer experience, all while providing meaningful and satisfying work for their employees.
This award was presented to Edge of the Avalon Inn at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Maryanne Boland, NL Association of CBDCs.
Tourism Innovator Award
Presented to: Port Rexton Brewing Company, Port Rexton, NL
The Tourism Innovator 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.
Beer is nothing new, but Port Rexton Brewing Company’s approach to beer-making is new to the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism industry. They were the first brewery to open outside of the metro St. John’s region, and immediately became a massive success as a tourism asset and have become an integral part of the visitor experience in the Trinity Bight area. Owners Sonja Mills and Alicia MacDonald have turned an idea into one of the most talked about businesses in the province.
Mills and MacDonald opened the first craft brewery outside of St. John’s in Port Rexton, a town with a population of 350. While this could have been seen as a limit to their customer base, they saw opportunity. They opened a taproom in 2016 and brew beer year-round, and they have turned their seasonal taproom into a community hub where locals and visitors can mingle and socialize over high quality beers. They were the first in what is quickly becoming a movement, with two more having opened since the beginning of their operation, and another 10 micro-breweries to open across the province in 2018.
Port Rexton Brewing Company use innovation in how they work with business community and non-profit organizations of the area. They have hosted the pop-ups for local businesses and have also recently hosted the Ales For Trails fundraiser with Hike Discovery Trail Network, raising thousands to help sustain the trails of the Bonavista Peninsula.
For a tourism destination that has based a lot of its appeal on the unique culture and characters that inhabit the province, Port Rexton Brewing Company offers an opportunity for the visitor to really become a part of community outside of formal tours and experiences.
This award was presented to Port Rexton Brewing Company at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.
Cultural Tourism Award – presented by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Presented to: Bonavista Biennale, Bonavista, NL
The Bonavista Biennale – Encounters on the Edge, was an innovative, rural-based, month-long contemporary visual art exhibition, presented at 23 indoor and outdoor sites throughout the Bonavista Peninsula in the summer of 2017. Works by 26 Canadian artists, including 10 from Newfoundland and Labrador, were installed at non-gallery sites throughout a region stretching from Trinity Bight to Bonavista, from Elliston to Keels. These sites included historic buildings, community halls, local buildings that have fallen out of use and the striking natural landscape of the Bonavista Peninsula.
The event brought more than 1,500 unique visitors to the area, resulting in more than 35,000 visits to the sites around the Peninsula. It succeeded in engaging community residents and visitors in the experience while positioning Newfoundland and Labrador artists within the broader Canadian context.
This award was presented to the Bonavista Biennale at the Provincial Tourism Luncheon by The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.
Sustainable Tourism Award – presented by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and Parks Canada
Presented to: Shorefast Foundation, Fogo Island, 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.
Shorefast’s fundamental mission is to be conscious that we exist in relationship to the whole: the whole planet, the whole of humanity, the whole of existence. They believe it is our job to find ways to belong to the whole while upholding the specificity of people and place. Shorefast believes in the inherent value of place, and that all businesses can be social businesses. Business is a system, a social and economic instrument, and a tool that can be used to support place and shape relationships. Shorefast aims to serve as a model showing how to preserve and grow small communities everywhere.
Shorefast has pioneered the practice of economic nutrition labelling as a means to help increase buyer awareness of the economic impact of their purchasing decisions while also spotlighting seller accountability. Modelled after the food labels we are all accustomed to reading, their economic nutrition labels simply show how much of the purchase price of any particular item goes towards production processes including labour, materials, or operations. They also show the geographical impact of the purchase by noting which places benefit most significantly from the purchase. They have created economic nutrition labels for most of the items in the Fogo Island Shop and for a stay at the Fogo Island Inn. Because their businesses are social businesses, their labels show that surplus earnings go back to Shorefast. And because they optimize for maximum economic benefit for Fogo Island in everything they do, their labels show that the majority of the price paid for an item made by the Shop or time spent at the Inn stays on Fogo Island, right where it belongs.
This award was presented to Shorefast Foundation at the Parks Canada Luncheon by Geoffrey Hancock, Parks Canada.
The Tourism Achievement Award – presented by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Presented to: Dave Snow (November 1, 1959 – April 15, 2017), Wildland Tours, St. John’s, NL
The Tourism Achievement 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.
As founder and owner of Wildand Tours, David Snow was pioneer in the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the course of a 33-year career, he drew continuously on his love for and knowledge of this province’s natural and cultural history to create and present innovative experiences to visitors from around the world. A lifelong learner and teacher, he built on a love of science and education and pioneered environmental tourism in the province. His family-owned and operated tour business has grown to become one of the largest receptive tour operators in the province and can be credited with helping establish Newfoundland & Labrador as a cruise destination. He was the winner of awards such as the Governor General’s Award for Conservation and the Heritage Canada Sustainable Tourism Award as well as multiple National Geographic awards for his company Wildland Tours.
This award was accepted by Alan, Alex and Angela Snow on behalf of their father David Snow at the Provincial Tourism Luncheon and presented by The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.
Cruise Vision Award – presented by Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador
Presented to: David Snow (November 1, 1959 – April 15, 2017), Wildland Tours, St. John’s, NL
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.
Dave was a naturalist and educator who first fell in love with the seabirds of the North Atlantic in 1979 while living and working as a researcher on Gull Island, part of the Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary. He started Wildland Tours in 1984 to help protect the seabird sanctuary and the province’s many other wildlife resources by demonstrating their economic value to business-oriented politicians. David was passionate about all creatures great and small and for their well-being. David pioneered environmental tourism in the province and helped establish Newfoundland & Labrador as a cruise destination. Winner of past awards such as the Governor General’s Award for Conservation and the Heritage Canada Sustainable Tourism Award and multiple National Geographic awards for his company Wildland Tours.
Dave was an avid whale watcher who taught in Canada and the U.S. about whales and their environment. Dave frequently wrote about Newfoundland, whales, aquaculture, wildlife, history, archaeology, and the environment. Each year Dave led as many holidays as time permitted including our Whale Study Weeks and Southern Labrador Adventure programs. Dave was also the project leader of our efforts to census the orcas of Newfoundland and Labrador. Look for Dave and former Wildland Tours holiday leader, Dr. Sean Todd (now Director of Allied Whale in the USA) on the award-winning 2000 video Whale of a Tale, which is still getting airplay around the world. Dave leaves behind three children Alan, Angela, and Alex and they are all animal lovers who enjoy the whales, wildlife, and great outdoors of Newfoundland and Labrador. David is missed dearly by all who knew him and his company continues on in his memory.
This award was accepted by Alan, Alex and Angela Snow on behalf of their father David Snow at the Tourism Excellence Awards Gala and presented by Cruise Newfoundland and Labrador.