David Bantoft recently made his 100th visit to Norfolk Island, which was made even more memorable when the locals caught him off-guard with a special honorary dinner.
Bantoft was smitten when he first visited more than 20 years ago as a guest of Norfolk Island Tourism.
“I forged a real rapport with the island and its people. A few years later I began looking after the sales and marketing in Australia for some of the destination’s key properties, and eventually my wife Kylie and I launched specialist wholesaler Norfolk Select, which we operate today from Tweed Heads (NSW),” said Bantoft.
Nine Travellers Choice members helped him celebrate his ‘ton at the surprise party, held at the pirate-themed restaurant The Jolly Roger.
The group, on a Norfolk Select famil, explored the destination on a car rally, walked through the national park for a cliff-top breakfast, survived a Murder Mystery Dinner, and floated over Emily Bay in a glass-bottom boat.
Bantoft said many of his 100 visits to the island have involved tour groups or agent famils, and the most rewarding element of any trip is seeing first time visitors experience the destination’s beauty and the warmth of the local culture.
“Some trips have, however, really stood out,” he says. “On one occasion, for instance, I escorted a group of seniors to the island and a lovely couple, aged in their 80s, decided to elope. I had to organise a reception on the island for them and the group. It was the quickest wedding I’ve ever organised.”
After 100 trips, what’s most surprising, he says, is that he is more enamoured than ever with Norfolk Island.
“I think it’s because over the years I’ve made so many friends and discovered so many new things, plus it’s always changing – it’s a beautiful part of the world.”