In Awards by Clyde Mooney

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Around 500 industry VIPs and guests gathered this afternoon in the Gold Coast to witness the crowning of the winners of the Australian Hotels Association’s 2018 Awards for Excellence.

Austere winners of state titles congregated with invitees and a strong contingent of suppliers for a ‘long lunch’ at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort. TV doyen Sofie Formica led the animated crowd through the 42 award presentations.

In a break from tradition, the ceremony took place over a lunch serving of seafood, cold meats and cheeses, and a duck main course. Attendees then filed outside for the second half of the event, enjoying the drinks sponsors and networking around the Sheraton’s expansive pool area.

Repeating a tradition that began just last year, a triumphant display of fireworks erupted overhead to end the event.

The results saw a competitive spread of winners throughout the states and territories, reflecting AHA President Scott Leach’s comments that the hotel industry is the most dynamic in the nation.

“In a time of great change – when every customer is a potential reviewer – our industry continues to set the standard internationally and I congratulate all nominees and winners.”

The honoured Hall of Fame induction went to liquor industry icon of the Northern Territory, Michael Burns, who has steered some of Darwin’s most successful pubs and been a long time executive of the AHA NT.

The prestigious and important Chef of the Year award saw joint winners, going to Ashly Hicks from the Garden State Hotel in Melbourne and Nancy Kinchela from Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley (NSW).

Victoria’s Pegasus Leisure Group took out Best Hotel Group Operator, while the flagship awards of Hotel of the Year went to the Headlands Hotel in Austinmer (NSW) for Regional, and Julie and Ed Peter’s Crafer Hotel in the Adelaide Hills took the Metropolitan prize.

Full list of 2018 winners:

Best Bar Presentation & Service – Metropolitan: Garden State Hotel, Melbourne – VIC

Best Bar Presentation & Service – Regional: Sporties Tavern, Port Pirie – SA

Draught Beer Quality Award (New category for 2018): The Cathedral Hotel, North Adelaide – SA

Best Bistro – Metropolitan: The Prince, Kirawee – NSW

Best Bistro – Regional: Formby Hotel, Devonport – TAS

Best Deluxe Accommodation: Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley – NSW

Best Entertainment Venue: Eatons Hill Hotel – QLD

Best Environmental & Energy Efficiency Practice: Little National Hotel, Barton – ACT

Best Gaming Venue – Metropolitan: Lakes Resort Hotel, Adelaide – SA

Best Gaming Venue – Regional: Zagame’s, Ballarat – VIC

Best Hotel Accommodation – General Division: Taylors Lakes Hotel – VIC

Best Hotel Bar – Accommodation Division Champagne Bar: Sofitel Sydney, Darling Harbour – NSW

Best Keno Venue: The Middle Hotel, Korumburra – VIC

Best Marketed Hotel – Accommodation Division: Rydges South Bank Brisbane – QLD

Best Marketed Hotel – General Division: The Rose of Australia, Erskineville – NSW

Best Meeting & Events Venue: Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas – QLD

Best Mid-Range Accommodation: Largs Pier Hotel, Adelaide – SA

Best Outdoor/Non-Enclosed Area: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Sydney – NSW

Best Redeveloped Hotel – Accommodation Division: Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas – QLD

Best Redeveloped Hotel – General Division: The Crafers Hotel – SA

Best Restaurant – Accommodation Division: Nobu, Crown Perth – WA

Best Restaurant – Metropolitan: Apothecary, Adelaide – SA

Best Restaurant – Regional: Frogmore Creek, Cambridge – TAS

Best Retail Liquor Outlet: Warners at the Bay – NSW

Best Sporting Entertainment Venue: Beachfront Hotel, Darwin – NT

Best Suite/Apartment Hotel: Fraser Suites, Perth – WA

Best Superior Accommodation: MACq01 Hotel, Hobart – TAS

Best TAB Licensed Venue: SKYCITY Darwin – NT

Best Tourism Initiative: Curtin Springs – NT

Chef of the Year – JOINT WINNERS Ashly Hicks, Garden State Hotel, Melbourne – VIC and Nancy Kinchela, Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley – NSW

Employee Excellence in Service – Accommodation Division: Robin Power, Crowne Plaza Melbourne – VIC

Employee Excellence in Service – General Division: Katie Chan- Long Chim at the State Buildings, Perth – WA

Front of House Employee of the Year – General Division: Nicholas Stanton-Cook, Toms Tavern, Aitkenvale – QLD

Front of House Employee of the Year – Accommodation Division: Ashleigh Macdonald, Crown Towers, Melbourne – VIC

Hotel Industry Rising Star: Amelia Benjamin, Hilton Sydney – NSW

Johnnie Walker Hall of Fame: Michael Burns – NT

Outstanding Achievement in Training: Grand Hyatt Melbourne – VIC

Outstanding Community Service & Achievement: Settlers Inn, Port Macquarie – NSW

Best Hotel Group Operator: Pegasus Leisure Group – VIC

Overall Hotel of the Year – Accommodation Division: MACq01 Hotel, Hobart – TAS

Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional Headlands Hotel Austinmer – NSW

Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan: The Crafers Hotel – SA