Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bringing Visitors from Far and Wide

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bringing Visitors from Far and Wide

Article excerpt

Winner:

An outstanding business idea for Vivien Lee has given North East tourism a boost and the mum her own successful company.

After an operation for cancer three years ago, Vivien, from Wardley, Gateshead, decided to set up her own business providing homely accommodation for business people and holiday makers visiting the region.

Now, 18 months later the business, called Property Unique, is booming, providing apartments and houses to visitors wanting something out of the ordinary. Vivien, 55, said: "I really wanted to offer people visiting the North East, a home away from home, as an alternative to a hotel.

"With all the regeneration making Newcastle and Gateshead one of the most vibrant areas in England and all the new developments, I felt confident I could offer beautiful accommodation.

"Nothing is too much trouble to me or any of my team in making our guests feel important and there is a 24-hour mobile phone service so we are always on hand for them."

On a day-to-day basis, Vivien will collect guests from the airport or train station as they arrive from countries as far afield as Egypt and Australia.

One family from Canada loved the region after staying in Gosforth so much they ended up buying an apartment in Jesmond.

Vivien said: "It's a really nice feeling to know that because of our warm northern hospitality, overseas visitors are not only returning for a holiday, but are also investing in the North East."

Spanish-speaking Vivien, who worked for 25 years as a personal assistant, has been given a helping hand with her business by husband Ramon and their 22-year-old son Ishmael.

She received a staggering 14 nominations for the 2005 Alive Award, from clients in London, Lincolnshire, York, Essex, Belfast, Canada and Bermuda.

Vivien added: "It's a real honour even just to be nominated for the award, especially as people have taken time out of their busy day to vote for me."

Area's full of beauty

Runner-up:

You would be hard-pushed to find a tour guide who feels as passionately about the North East as Jan Williams.

The Durham Blue Badge guide has been showing tourists the delights of the region, from Teesside to Cumbria.

Jan, 48, from Durham city, said: "We've got a fantastic product in the North East and it's great to be able to share it.

"I can feel enthusiastic about everything in the North East and it doesn't matter if I'm going to Hadrian's Wall or Lindisfarne ( there is always some fresh approach I can take with each new group.

"I'm passionate about the job of guiding and there is a huge variety in the region to offer, so it's starting to take a place on the world stage."

Jan, who lives with husband Jon, a land agent for Durham Cathedral, will tell tourists about the facts of a historic site on coach tours or walkabouts at attractions such as Hadrian's Wall and the Farne Islands. …

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