The elite of Victoria’s hotel industry gathered Monday night to witness the unveiling of the winners of the AHA Victoria Awards for Excellence.

AHA Victoria Deputy CEO, Paddy O'Sullivan
AHA Victoria CEO, Paddy O’Sullivan

A stellar crowd of 1200 attendees graced The Palladium at Crown Casino to see who was crowned best of the year across 39 categories – including the new prize for People’s Choice.

The new People’s Choice award was open to all 134 nominees for 2016 and the Association notes its inaugural appearance was well received, with 3,000 votes cast by industry and the general public, resulting in a highly competitive battle and just 37 votes separating first and fifth place.

The coveted debut trophy went to Sale’s Criterion Hotel, described by one reviewer on Urban Spoon as “a lovely country hotel”.

Special mention also went to this year’s recipient of the Nikakis Award, “recognising an individual or organisation who by their sustained performance and commitment serve as an inspiration to all in the industry” in honour of the late Nick Nikakis.

This honour was awarded to AHA Victoria backbone member, Mark Robertson OAM. The Association reports that since joining the industry in the 90s, Robertson has “established a reputation as a no holds barred businessman and publican” – now boasting five Victorian hotels.

He was a driving force in establishing ‘HotelCare’ and his leadership in the HotelCare Golf Day has to-date raised over $2 million for some of the State’s most worthy charities and causes.

The AHA Victoria Awards for Excellence were established in the late 1980s, aiming to honour “hotels and pubs in Victoria that demonstrate excellence across a range of categories”.

(see full list of winners below)

The Zagame Group crew
The Zagame Group crew


Bobby Zagame and his clutch of awards for 2016
Vic Zagame and the Group’s clutch of awards for 2016


WINNERS for 2016

Nikakis Award

Mark Robertson OAM


Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional

Cardinia Park Hotel – Beaconsfield


Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan

Zagame’s Berwick


Hotel Industry Rising Star

Jessica Arnold – San Remo Hotel, San Remo


Excellence in Service – Administration

Marcia Larkan – Skyways Hotel, Airport West


Excellence in Service – Gaming

Donna-Maree Furnari – Watergardens Hotel, Taylors Lakes


Excellence in Service – Front of House

David Ellis – Lord of the Isles Tavern, Newtown


Excellence in Service – Back of House

Daniel Hillman – The Bridge Inn Hotel, Mernda


Best Menu & Wine List

The Malvern Hotel, Malvern


Best Pub Restaurant – Regional

Tinamba Hotel, Tinamba


Best Pub Restaurant – Metropolitan

The Railway Hotel, Windsor


Best Bistro – Regional

Cardinia Park Hotel, Beaconsfield


Best Bistro – Metropolitan

The Pumphouse Hotel, Fitzroy


Best Family Dining

Knox Tavern, Wantirna South


Best PubTAB – Regional

Windermere Hotel, Kangaroo Flat


Best PubTAB – Metropolitan

Newmarket Tavern, Flemington


Best Gaming Venue with 50 machines or less – Regional

Windermere Hotel, Kangaroo Flat


Best Gaming Venue with 51 machines or more – Regional

Grovedale Hotel, Grovedale


Best Gaming Venue with 50 machines or less – Metropolitan

Westmeadows Tavern, Westmeadows


Best Gaming Venue with 51 machines or more – Metropolitan

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg


Best Keno Venue – Regional

Mildura Gateway Tavern, Mildura


Best Keno Venue – Metropolitan

Zagame’s Boronia


Best Public Bar – Regional

The Western Hotel, Ballarat


Best Public Bar – Metropolitan

Temperance Hotel, South Yarra


Best Theme Bar

Elephant & Wheelbarrow, Melbourne


Best Presented Beer

American Hotel, Echuca


Best Live Entertainment Venue

The Westernport Hotel, San Remo


Best Sports Bar – Regional

Grovedale Hotel, Grovedale


Best Sports Bar – Metropolitan

Zagame’s Berwick


Best Outdoor Area

Precinct Hotel, Richmond


Best Redeveloped Hotel

Somerville Hotel, Somerville


Best Retail Liquor Outlet

Old England Hotel, Heidelberg


Best Hotel Accommodation

Taylors Lakes Family Hotel, Taylors Lakes


Best Hotel – Pub Style Accommodation

Royal Mail Hotel, Yea


Best Environmental Practice

Kings Creek Hotel, Hastings


Best Marketed Hotel

The Western Hotel, Ballarat
Outstanding Achievement in Training

Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel, Cranbourne


Outstanding Community Service

Rushworth Hotel, Rushworth


Best Hotel Group Operation

Zagame’s Corporation


People’s Choice Award

Criterion Hotel, Sale


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