“Another great year” was the consensus as nearly 1200 hotel industry professionals and guests overflowed The Star’s Event Centre for the 2016 AHA NSW Awards for Excellence.
The record 42 awards garnered over 600 nominations, reflecting the health and vibrancy of the hotel sector in New South Wales.
While the crème rose to the top, with the big trophy recipients each picking up multiple awards across their dozens of nominations, competition produced an especially broad range of winners from across the State.
Arthur Laundy and partner Fraser Short enjoyed the honour of Hotel of the Year – City for their landmark Watson’s Bay Hotel, which also picked up Best Social Media (again). Laundy’s famous Steyne Hotel picked up Best Live Music venue, Short got Best Promotional Concept for The Morrison, and the pair got a Highly Commended for Northies as Best Sports Bar.
“I congratulate the AHA, the whole event was very good,” Laundy today told PubTIC.
“The Watson’s Bay was a fantastic effort by Fraser and James* and the boys – they’ve done a wonderful job there.”
Consolidating their prolific acquisitions and rebrands in the past year, Public House Management Group (PHMG) earned their way into a string of nominations.
The massive overhaul of the Narellan Hotel went on to pick up Best New Redeveloped Hotel – Country (joint winner with the Malouf’s Gregory Hills Hotel) and the legendary Bistro Moncur in the Woollahra snatched Best Fine Dining Restaurant.
But the big honour was recognition of PHMG as Group Hotel Operator of the Year, which Group founder and MD Mitchell Waugh told PubTIC was very much a Group effort.
“Public House Management Group are thrilled to be awarded Best Hotel Group Operator,” said Waugh.
“We owe this award to every single one of our dedicated staff and team members who work across the PHMG portfolio.
“We look forward to another great year in 2017!”
The sentimental favourite award for the industry old hands is always the annual induction of one legend into the AHA NSW Hall of Fame.
Unassuming as always, this year’s recipient reportedly spent much of the ‘guess who’ introduction by AHA NSW CEO John Whelan trying to figure out the winner, and wondering why Whelan seemed to be looking at him.
“I was trying to work out who it was as John was reading the introduction,” Gallagher admitted to PubTIC. “I never thought it was me! I also thought the winner was told before the night.
“It wasn’t until they said Brian and Pam Gallagher and seeing a photo of myself at age five the penny dropped.”
Gallagher went to stage and after chastising his wife for keeping the secret, told the hushed audience how embarrassed he was to be up there and that “many others” deserved it.
On his other big award, Best Traditional Hotel Bar for the Union Hotel, Gallagher – a self-confessed “big fan” of the traditional bar – said both the wins and missed nominations last night were great for keeping the spark in his loyal staff.
“The win for the Union was fantastic,” he reflected today. “Thanks and congratulations to all the staff on that.
“I might be biased, but I felt last night was a great event for the industry.”
* James Wicks (GM – The Sydney Collective)
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
BEST TRADITIONAL HOTEL BAR
WINNER: Union Hotel North Sydney
BEST COCKTAIL/LOUNGE BAR
WINNER: Henry Deane, Hotel Palisade Sydney
BEST SPECIALITY/EMERGING BAR
JOINT WINNERS: Bar Florian Port Macquarie, Huxley’s Caringbah
BEST DRAUGHT BEER QUALITY
WINNER: The Oaks Neutral Bay
BEST INNOVATIVE WINE LIST
WINNER: The Dolphin Hotel Surry Hills
BEST RETAIL LIQUOR OUTLET
WINNER: Harrigans Irish Pub & Accommodation Pokolbin
BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY HOTEL
WINNER: Moonee Beach Tavern Moonee Beach
BEST OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE
WINNER: Kooringal Hotel Wagga Wagga
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Kingscliff Beach Hotel Kingscliff
BEST ROOFTOP BAR
WINNER: The Glenmore The Rocks
BEST INNOVATIVE REFURBISHMENT
WINNER: Rose of Australia Erskineville
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sydney Junction Hotel Hamilton
BEST NEW/REDEVELOPED HOTEL – COUNTRY
JOINT WINNERS: Gregory Hills Hotel Gregory Hills, Narellan Hotel Narellan
BEST NEW/REDEVELOPED HOTEL – CITY
WINNER: Crows Nest Hotel Crows Nest
HEART OF THE COMMUNITY AWARD
WINNER: The George Tavern Green Hills
BEST PROMOTIONAL CONCEPT
WINNER: The Morrisons Bar & Oyster Room Sydney
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY
WINNER: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel Watsons Bay
BEST RESTAURANT – COUNTRY
WINNER: Graze At The Willow Tree Inn Willow Tree
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sprout Dining, The Crown and Anchor Hotel Newcastle
BEST RESTAURANT – CITY
WINNER: Charing Cross Hotel Waverley
BEST FINE DINING (MAJORITY OF MAINS $35+)
WINNER: Bistro Moncur, Woollahra Hotel Woollahra
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE COUNTRY – NORTHERN
WINNER: Sydney Junction Hotel Hamilton
HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Lucky Hotel Newcastle
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE COUNTRY – SOUTHERN
WINNER: Coniston Hotel Coniston
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE COUNTRY – WESTERN
WINNER: Oriental Hotel Mudgee
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE CITY – CBD
WINNER: Cruise Bar Circular Quay
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE CITY – EASTERN
WINNER: The Sheaf Double Bay
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE CITY – SOUTHERN
WINNER: Taren Point Hotel Taren Point
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ugly Pizza Caringbah
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE CITY – WESTERN
JOINT WINNERS: Rose of Australia Erskineville, Town Hall Hotel Balmain
BEST CASUAL DINING VENUE CITY – NORTHERN
WINNER: Hunters Hill Hotel Hunters Hill
BEST STEAK VENUE
WINNER: The Sackville Hotel Rozelle
BEST BURGER VENUE
WINNER: Bayview Hotel Gladesville
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Goodtime Burgers, The Eastern Bondi Junction
BEST CHEAP EAT MEAL UNDER $15
WINNER: Village Green Hotel Grafton
BEST LIVE MUSIC
WINNER: Hotel Steyne Manly
BEST NIGHTCLUB/NIGHTLIFE VENUE
WINNER: Proud Mary’s, The Sunken Monkey Hotel Erina
BEST SPORTS BAR
WINNER: Agincourt Hotel Haymarket
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Northies Hotel Cronulla
BEST GAMING VENUE – COUNTRY
WINNER: Gregory Hills Hotel Gregory Hills
BEST GAMING VENUE – CITY
WINNER: El Cortez Hotel Canley Heights
BEST PUB TAB – COUNTRY
WINNER: Central Hotel Shellharbour
BEST PUB TAB – CITY
WINNER: Blue Cattle Dog Hotel St Clair
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Hunters Hill Hotel Hunters Hill
BEST KENO VENUE
WINNER: Central Hotel Shellharbour
BEST PUB STYLE ACCOMMODATION TRADITIONAL/STANDARD EXPERIENCE
WINNER: Prince of Wales Hotel Gulgong
BEST PUB STYLE ACCOMMODATION DELUXE OVERNIGHT EXPERIENCE
WINNER: Caves Beachside Hotel Caves Beach
INDUSTRY RISING STAR
WINNER: Matt Clifton, Donnys Manly
BARTENDER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Kurtis Bosley, Woollahra Hotel Woollahra
CHEF OF THE YEAR – COUNTRY
WINNER: Cheryl Pavey, Town Green Inn Port Macquarie
CHEF OF THE YEAR – CITY
WINNER: Sam Bennett, Cricketers Arms Hotel Balmain
SINGLE HOTEL OPERATOR OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Oriental Hotel, Mudgee Des Kennedy
GROUP HOTEL OPERATOR OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Public House Management Group
HOTEL OF THE YEAR – COUNTRY
WINNER: The Sunken Monkey Hotel Erina
HOTEL OF THE YEAR – CITY
WINNER: Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel Watsons Bay