The illustrious Awards for Excellence for the AHA WA were held on Monday night, crowning the latest stand-outs in the big State of hospitality.
As a State without gaming, Western Australian venues have to work harder than the rest of the country to attract patrons and compete in a shifting and remote environment of leisure-seekers and regulatory barriers.
Hotels, pubs, bars, restaurants and tourism venues were recognised for “hard work, innovation and outstanding service” across 42 categories at the gala function at Crown Perth.
The Hotel star of this year’s Awards was the Settlers Tavern, in Margaret River, owned and operated by Rob and Karen Gough for the past 14 years.
Rob originates from the US, growing up in California, and learned of the WA region through the wine industry.
The couple have introduced plenty of influences from the States, such as the BBQ pit and American-style cooking, and dedication to live music, hosting around 240 gigs each year. They also brew their own hop-driven can-conditioned craft ale, reminiscent of the other West Coast.
But they have also embraced their locale, and done their part to incorporate local strengths in the offering, with over 500 wines from around the world on their list to satisfy the hordes of wine tourists that visit Margaret River.
This has not gone unnoticed, Settlers the previous recipient of Gourmet Traveller’s People’s Choice Wine List accolade, and later inducted into the publication’s Hall of Fame for the Best Wine List in Australia.
Back in 2007 it was awarded Best Live Music Venue at the State and National AHA Awards, and in 2016 inducted into the AHA WA Hall of Fame in this category.
This year reflects some ongoing changes at Settlers; while the Wine List won (again) it was supported by accolades in Pub Dining, beating 16 other finalists, Workforce Development, and overall Best Regional Hospitality Venue.
“I think we did bring a little bit of the US with us,” offers Rob, who believes no-one ends up in Margaret River by accident and now considers himself a local.
“Once a decade has passed and you pretty much establish what you do, the real challenge and way forward is developing a really great staff culture.
“That’s where the workforce development comes into it. That’s what we’re really focused on now with our crew. We do a tremendous amount of training, working with the AHA, working with Eldred Hospitality training in Melbourne.
“It’s a huge commitment, but at the end of the day if you do have a strong team and a strong culture that’s what leads to doing well in other areas.”
AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods praised all Award recipients, and their investments of time and money into one of the State’s most valuable resources.
“WA’s hospitality leaders and employees who attended the gala ball all know what it means to work hard, to put in long hours and to go above and beyond delivering first-class food and beverage, accommodation and service.
“WA’s vibrant hospitality industry is a reality thanks to the courage and entrepreneurship of small to large business owners who have made significant investments in the future of our state.
“The hotel and hospitality industry supports our state not only at a macro level but right down to the grass roots – where businesses support local communities, the economy and jobs.”
THIS YEAR’S HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS
WA’s Best Community Service Venue
sponsored by St John Ambulance
Winner: Endeavour Tavern, Lancelin
WA’s Best Bar Presentation and Service Venue
sponsored by Lion Beer Australia
Winner: The Queens Tavern, Highgate
WA’s Best Draught Beer Quality
sponsored by BOC
Winner: Petition Beer Corner at State Buildings, Perth
WA’s Best Redeveloped Venue
sponsored by Mal Atwell Billiards & Bingo
Winner: Rose Hotel, Bunbury
WA’s Best Boutique Brewery
sponsored by Toxfree
Winner: Colonial Brewing Company, Margaret River
Outstanding Commitment to Workforce Development Practices Award
sponsored by FutureNow
Winner: Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
WA’s Best Steak Sandwich Award
sponsored by James Squire
Winner: Karalee on Preston, Como
WA’s Best Casual Pub Dining – Metropolitan
sponsored by Wattle Facilities Group
Winner: Currambine Bar & Bistro
WA’s Best Casual Pub Dining – Regional
sponsored by Buildcor Projects Pty Ltd
Winner: Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
WA’s Best Wine List sponsored by Miles from Nowhere
Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
Il Lido Italian Canteen, Cottesloe
WA’s Best TAB Hotel/PubTAB Venue
sponsored by TAB
Winner: Eaton Tavern
WA’s Best Sporting Entertainment Venue
sponsored by FOX SPORTS Venues
The Saint George Hotel, Innaloo
Paddington Alehouse, Mount Hawthorn
WA’s Best Live Entertainment Venue
sponsored by APRA AMCOS
Winner: Rosemount Hotel, North Perth
WA’s Best Food and Beverage Services Employee
sponsored by Sidekicker
Winner: Ryan Fraser – Greenwood Hotel, Greenwood
AHA – HGT Rising Star Award
sponsored by Australian Hotels Association (WA) and Hospitality Group Training
Winner: Mark Bingley – Greenwood Hotel
WA’s Best Group Venue Operator
sponsored by Kleenheat
Winner: Colonial Leisure Group (Colonial Brewing Co., Print Hall, Raffles Hotel, The Royal on the Waterfront)
WA’s Best Regional Hospitality Venue
sponsored by H&L Australia
Winner: Settlers Tavern
Perth’s Best Hospitality Venue
sponsored by Furniture Options
Winner: The Marina Mindarie