In Awards by Clyde Mooney

Click here to share this article with a friend

‘Tis the season, and this week the AHA Victoria Awards for Excellence named this year’s best and brightest at a gala dinner at The Palladium at Crown.

1200 professionals and guests gathered to hear the champions of the 40 Awards, recognising excellence in hospitality since the 1980s. (FULL LIST BELOW)

An important new category is the People’s Choice Award, available to all 173 individual nominees, some appearing in multiple line-ups. In just its second year, the People’s Choice attracted more than 2,000 votes, with just 22 votes separating first and second place to crown the Flying Horse Bar & Brewery in Warrnambool.

Pegasus Leisure picked up the Award for Best Hotel Group Operator, after narrowly missing out on another six trophies.

Pegasus Leisure Group

Topping the nominee count with seven and recipient of four titles including Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan, Sand Hill Road’s (SHR) the Garden State led the way for the room of industry professionals.

“The acknowledgement is awesome, we’re really proud of that,” SHR director Matt Mullins told PubTIC.

“I’m so proud of what we do and what the industry does – the way we take care of and look after people, and we’ve been doing that for 200 years in this country.

“To be in a room like that, with great mates and people who I’ve learnt from and respected and loved over the years, it was seriously humbling.”

Travelling Australia and the world, the SHR directors recognised the potential for improved service and the need for training to achieve that, particularly in a country where over-and-above service is not often seen by people growing up.

The Australian Hotels Association (Vic) judges noted “an emphasis on investment in staff training and infrastructure” this year across all nominees, but Garden State also captured the prize for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Training’.

“It’s about investment,” offers Mullins. “It costs time and money, which are the same thing in many ways. For us it’s about finding the right people, but thinking even the best people in Australia can be better.

“The award was a really cool acknowledgement of it, but when I walk in the public bar and see a member of staff who doesn’t know me, and they look up and they smile and say ‘g’day’ and they want to help you, and I know they do that for everyone else as well – that’s when it pays off for me.

“Australians are built for hospitality. It’s in our nature to be giving and generous and caring, but none of us grew up watching the best servers on earth. It’s just not second-nature to us like it is in America. There’s no doubt we can get there, we just need the example set.”

Matt Mullins, Sand Hill Rd

Overall Performance Awards

Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional: Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel (Cranbourne)

Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan: Garden State Hotel (Melbourne)

Individual Employee Awards

Chef of the Year (CV required): Ashly Hicks – Garden State Hotel (Melbourne)

Excellence in Service: Kerrie Reynolds, Cardinia Park Hotel

Emerging Leader of the Year (CV required): Brooke Guinane, The Westernport Hotel, San Remo

Dining Awards

Burger of the Year: 505 Cellar, Bush Inn, Toorak

Best Casual Dining – Regional: Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel, Cranbourne

Best Casual Dining – Metropolitan: The Clifton Hill Brewpub

Best Family Dining: The Croydon Hotel

Best Pub Restaurant – Regional: Sawyers Arms Tavern, Newtown

Best Pub Restaurant – Metropolitan: The Railway Hotel, Windsor

Best Pub Bar – Regional: Somerville Hotel

Best Pub Bar – Metropolitan: Garden State Hotel, Melbourne

Gaming & Wagering Awards

Best PubTAB – Metropolitan: Cramers Hotel, Preston

Best Gaming Venue – with 50 machines or less – Regional: Kings Creek Hotel, Hastings

Best Gaming Venue – with 50 machines or less – Metropolitan: Racecourse Hotel, Malvern East

Best Gaming Venue – with 51 machines or more – Regional: Zagame’s, Ballarat

Best Gaming Venue – with 51 machines or more – Metropolitan: Castello’s Daisey’s Hotel, Ringwood East

Best Keno Venue – Regional: The Middle Hotel, Korumburra

Best Keno Venue – Metropolitan: Kealba Hotel

General Awards

Best Outdoor Experience: Lower Plenty Hotel

Best Rooftop Experience: Transit Rooftop Bar, Melbourne

Best Hotel – Pub Style Accommodation: Glenferrie Hotel, Hawthorn

Best Innovative Retail Space: Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, Apollo Bay

Best Sports Bar – Regional: The Grovedale Hotel

Best Sports Bar – Metropolitan: Rosstown Hotel, Carnegie

Best Specialty Bar: The Quiet Man Irish Pub, Flemington

Best Presented Beer: Belgian Beer Café, Melbourne

Best Environmental Initiative: Rye Hotel

Best Hotel Accommodation: Taylors Lakes Family Hotel

Best Redeveloped Hotel – Food & Beverage: Sawyers Arms Tavern, Newtown & Ranges Hotel, Gembrook

Best Redeveloped Hotel – Gaming: Lower Plenty Hotel

Best Hotel Group Operator: Pegasus Leisure Group

Outstanding Achievement in Training: Garden State Hotel, Melbourne

Performance Awards

People’s Choice Award: Flying Horse Bar & Brewery, Warrnambool

Best Marketed Hotel: Platform 28, Docklands

Best Live Entertainment Venue: The Corner Hotel, Richmond

Heart Of The Community: Delatite Hotel, Mansfield