Hobbit hole builder mourns loss of award

''My precious'' thought Barry Woods when he was presented with a prestigious tourism awards in Paris for the world's first hobbit hole themed motel.

But moments later the glass Worldwide Hospitality Award for the Most Innovative Hotel Concept, handed over at the organisation's 13th annual award at the InterContinental Paris-Le grand Hotel, was stolen.

''It was in a bag with my wife's wallet and camera and then it was gone,'' Mr Woods said. ''Somebody must have been peeved. I was downhearted.''

Organisers replaced his award on the night, earlier this month, and Mr Woods is now back in New Zealand.

Mr Woods built the hobbit motel at his Woodlyn Park attraction in 2005 two years after the last The Lord of the Rings film was released.

The Hobbits, as Mr Woods has called it, has two self-contained units available which sleep six.

''Each have specially designed furniture and decor and having been built using polystyrene blocks this has given them added warmth in the winter and cooling affect in summer,'' Woodlyn Park's website says.

They cost $250 per couple per night. with $20 extra per person.

Mr Woods said some of The Hobbit film crew had recently stayed in The Hobbits motel units during the filming of the trilogy on a farm at Piopio.

''That's a bit of a laugh,'' Mr Woods said.

Mr Woods, who presents Billy Black's Kiwi Culture Show at Woodlyn Park, received the award as the world gears up for the world premiere of Sir Peter Jackson's first film based on JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit in Wellington next week.

Mr Woods, who admitted tourism had taken a bit of a hit in the last few years thanks to the recession, said he hoped The Hobbit would create more interest in his motel.

''There seems quite a lot of interest with the Hobbit coming out.''

A panel of 50 judges made up of hotel, business and tourism executives selected the finalists and the audience voted for the winner in each category. Other winners of the awards organised by the MKG Group included the Ibis hotel chain which won the Best Communication Campaign award.

Woodlyn Park also boasts a train, a plane and a boat motel.

Waikato Times