Tweed is tops
By BOB ANTHONY
FOR the fourth time in five years, the Tweed's Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat has been named as a winner in the 2005 Northern Rivers Tourism Awards.
At a gala function in Lismore on Tuesday night, Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat was named as joint winner in the Hosted Accommodation section along with Villa Del Sole at Tintenbar.
For the husband and wife team of Clive and Tracy Parker who operate the retreat, the award came as a "bit of surprise".
"We were up against some very beautiful places, so it is always a thrill to do well at these tourism awards," Mrs Parker said.
Located at Crystal Creek, the Retreat will now go into the Northern Rivers Tourism Hall of Fame for the next three years, an honour which recognises the achievements of the Parkers in this accommodation category.
Mrs Parker said that the standard of accommodation on the Northern Rivers was becoming far more sophisticated to cater for a more sophisticated type of guest.
"We find ourselves always upgrading our facilities or altering things from recommendations of our guests," she said.
And in this day and age of modern technology, the reliance on the Internet has become far greater.
"We find that around 75 per cent of our clientele come through the Internet with about another 22 per cent being return guests or from recommendations.
"Winning a tourism award also gives us a bounce, with people tending to opt for a destination which has won an award."
Mrs Parker said there was also a benefit for their business by entering the awards because when it came to putting in a submission, it was "like writing a business plan in retrospect".
"By having to compile what is a fairly comprehensive submission, it acts as a good way of reviewing the business and makes you look at ways of doing things. It can be very rewarding from that aspect," she said.
Now that Hillcrest Mountain View Retreat is going into the Hall of Fame, Mrs Parker said that the door is open for other Tweed accommodation businesses to step up and do their best to make sure the award stays in the district.
"We've created a bit of a habit in winning and it would be nice to see another Tweed business continue that," she said.
Also earning honours for the Tweed at the awards in Lismore were the Speed On Tweed Festival which, surprisingly, only earned an Award of Encouragement, with no winner being declared in its category of Significant Events and Festivals, and the BreakFree Paradiso at Kingscliff earned an Award of Distinction in the Deluxe Accommodation category.
Winners of this year's awards will be finalists at the NSW State Tourism Awards to be held in November.