- Published on Friday, 15 July 2011 15:28
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The award winning Byron at Byron Resort and Spa has an international reputation as a place to unwind and regenerate.
The resort has attracted celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Ben Harper, Moby, Barry Humphries, Pat Rafter, Bernard Fanning, Michael Klim, Kostya Tszyu, Tara Reid and John Mayer and more recently 51 audience members of Oprah’s Ultimate Adventure.
Under the guidance of seasoned hoteliers Lyn and John Parché, the resort has kept improving its specialised service and natural luxury for all its guests.
Prominent Australian retailer and long time friend, Gerry Harvey persuaded the Parchés to manage the $52 million resort complex at Byron Bay eight years ago. They were attracted to the position because John said they were given a free hand in the development of the resort in conjunction with the architect and project manager.
“We have had some great names stay here and the experience of meeting them for one-on-one chats and meals has been enlightening,” John said.
Lyn said their guests led busy lives and required intensive relaxation and rejuvenation during their limited holiday time. “We try and offer many opportunities for wellness and healing onsite, as well as a chance to have a local Byron experience,’’ she said.
The Parchés have spent 30 years in the hospitality industry. John was attracted to it because he said the industry appealed to him after he left school.
“When we first came to Byron Bay we were stunned by the beauty,” said Lyn. “The Northern Rivers is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery we have ever experienced. The mix of alternate, surfing and personal reinvention cultures here means there is always lively debate on a variety of issues. People are very passionate and everyone has an opinion.”
Last June the Byron at Byron had to temporarily close to replace the roof which was damaged during a severe hailstorm.
Ray Horwood, account director for the resort’s insurance brokers IC Firth and Associates, said having workmen and scaffolding on site when there were guests around did not fit with the philosophy of an eco-resort.
“It was a very complex insurance claim and had to be done right,” Mr Horwood said. “We brought in adjusters and business interruption specialists to calculate the losses and mutually agreed that the resort should close to get the work done within three weeks.
“It worked out well because the resort had been running for about seven years so it gave them a chance to upgrade the resort and replace things such as soft furnishings.
“It was a tricky, complex exercise necessitating a lot of meetings with the client but it worked out well.”
In the past year, the resort has undergone a refreshment that has brought the timberwork, and all external areas back to their original state. “The weather is very harsh on the surfaces of the resort,” said John, “and it is vital that a continual preventative program is underway.
This allows us to maintain the resort’s highly regarded visual appeal.”
A popular part of the resort is the Spa and Wellness Centre. Manager Naomi Quarrell is delighted with the increasing demand by both guests and the limited external memberships available for local residents. Treatments are inspired by the surrounding rainforest and the invigorating essence of the ocean.
The Byron at Byron Spa and Wellness Centre uses Australia’s own iKOU eco spa range, Pevonia Botanica products, Intraceuticals cosmaceutical range and Jane Iredale cosmetics. Many treatments encompass native Australian ingredients and healing modalities distinctive to Byron Bay.
Spa signature treatments include the Rainforest Body Ritual, an invigorating body scrub, scalp treatment, Vichy shower and body moisture. Or the Native Flora Journey, with deluxe foot restoration treatment, stimulating body brush and iKOU native clay hot oil treatment. Hot, therapeutic oil is flowed into a ring of native clay placed on the lower back to release tension from the sacrum, spine and hips and then massaged over the body. A scalp massage with quandong completes this restorative journey.
The six treatment rooms are crafted from rich timbers, including the Rainforest Room with Vichy shower. The spa’s relaxation area houses a deep heated spa and aromatherapy steam room, available for complimentary use by all spa guests.
The rainforest is central to the experience and history of The Byron at Byron. Home to an intricate web of endangered ecosystems, the resort supports more than 90 bird species including the great egret and bush turkey, native animals such as the black wallaby, Mitchell rainforest snail and echidna and unique forests including a paperbark, bangalow palm rainforest and coastal cypress pine.
The property was previously an animal and amusement park and was overgrown with introduced species. The Parchés and their restoration team have worked for many years to regenerate the native vegetation.
“Guests have shown a great interest in the abundant flora and fauna, so we have created a low key rainforest walk and a self guided meditation walk,” said John.
On the rainforest walk the different species are explained on non-obtrusive signage, including the endangered Mitchell rainforest snail.
The meditation walk is a series of interconnecting timber boardwalks to pagodas, creeks and ponds with places to sit and reflect on the way to Tallow Creek, a breathtakingly beautiful part of the Cape Byron Marine Park.
“Meandering on the timber boardwalks through our 24ha of rainforest to Lake Tallow is a treasured experience for our guests” said John.
Just as they are concerned about the environment, the Parchés are also concerned about the future of the hospitality industry.
Lyn, a former board member of Northern Rivers Tourism, was recently appointed to the Tourism NSW Board. Her previous experience covered managerial, operational and sales and marketing roles and establishing sales offices in Australia for both GHM Hotels and Aman Resorts in Australia and New Zealand. She said Byron Bay and the Northern Rivers was one of the most visited regions in New South Wales and this reflected the desire of modern travellers to get to know Australia and her people.
“They not only want to visit the icons such as the reef, rock and opera house, they wish to travel extensively and visit remote regions,” she said. “Whilst Byron Bay has long been recognised as an iconic Australian surfing destination, in recent years the Northern Rivers region, in which Byron lies, is being hailed for its unique food produce and award winning restaurants.
“The Northern Rivers offers a unique Australian experience for travellers of different ages.
We are seeking travellers who appreciate the diversity of our community and who also respect our precious natural resources.”
John said there should be greater emphasis on hospitality training at a tertiary and on the job levels. He has recently undertaken a role with Southern Cross University on the hospitality advisory board, where he hopes to have industry input and to use his many years of experience in assisting young students to plan a long-term career. He said regional areas of Australia often suffer with a skills shortage and it behoves leaders to ensure that graduates of hospitality courses are trained on the job and assisted in the many departments to ultimately reach senior management positions.
Set within a stunning 24ha rainforest just moments from the beach and a short drive or cycle to Byron Bay township, location doesn’t get much better than at The Byron at Byron.
The resort itself sits lightly in its environment. All activity centres around the 6m wide timber verandahs and heated infinity pool, with guests congregating to chat, conduct business or simply be.
The resort offers 92 luxury one bedroom suites, a sumptuous Spa and Wellness Centre, infinity pool, gymnasium, tennis court, sauna, restaurant and state of the art conference facilities for up to 180 delegates. Each spacious suite contains a separate bedroom, lounge and dining area, fully equipped kitchen and two separate enclosed balconies.
Luxurious bathrooms have deep free standing bathtubs and separate showers and California king beds ensure dreamtime really does exist. Every suite is private, offering your own unique rainforest experience.
The restaurant, with its soaring ceilings and wrap around bi-fold timber doors, produces locally sourced, largely organic fare. After complimentary daily yoga on the spa deck, guests can choose from a myriad of activities including a bike ride on Tallow Beach, a swim in the 25m heated infinity pool, tennis or visit the vibrant town of Byron Bay.
Resort guests take full or half day trips into hinterland villages, where they access the cultures of the region’s alternate communities. Closer are villages such as Bangalow and Lennox Head, with their upmarket eateries and boutique shopping.
Each Thursday head chef Gavin Hughes leads visits to the local farmers market.
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