More than 1,200 hospitality professionals and guests gathered this week at Crown Palladium to celebrate this year’s champions at the 2023 AHA Victoria State Awards for Excellence.

The annual awards are a celebration of the accomplishments of Victoria’s pubs and hotels. Paddy O’Sullivan, CEO of AHA Vic, says they recognise “outstanding hospitality service and delivery” at all stages of the game.

“We also express gratitude to the dedicated pub and hotel staff for their invaluable contributions to ensure the success of our industry.”

More than 100 finalists competed over 40 distinct categories in the gala event, sponsored by marquee partner Tabcorp.

The illustrious Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan was granted to the Kickon Group’s Terminus Hotel in Fitzroy North, beating contenders including The Bay Hotel Mornington, The Camden Hotel in Caulfield South, The Grand Hotel Warrandyte, and London Tavern Hotel in Richmond.

The Terminus also found its way to the trophy for Chef of The Year, which was awarded to the Group’s Jake Furst, for “fantastic food innovation” at the pub.

Regional counterpart for the best went to the Grovedale Hotel, picking up the Ian Larkin Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional, ahead of finalists including the American Hotel Echuca, the Middle Hotel Korumburra, and Torquay Hotel.

AHA Vic’s Local Legends award acknowledges outstanding community service and achievement in the industry. In 2023 it was given to Ben Fisher from the regional finalist, Korumburra’s Middle Hotel.

More than 76 pubs vied for the coveted People’s Choice Award, with the general public voting in the Star Hotel, of Sale.

One of the most prestigious trophies of the night is the Nikakis Benchmark Award, in honour of the late Nick Nikakis, recognising an individual or organisation that has been a sustained inspiration to the industry. This year it was granted to AHA Vic CEO and director of liquor licensing, Brian Kearney, for his “significant, positive impact” on the hospitality landscape.

2023 saw introduction of a new category, for the All Abilities Hotel, praising venues that offer inclusive experiences to people of all abilities, including those with physical or mental impairments. The inaugural winner was the Drouin Family Hotel, for their exceptional accessible dining and social practises, and commitment to creating an inclusive environment, which the AHA says is “truly inspiring”.

Major gong, Best Hotel Group Operator, acknowledges the most prominent players. The time around it was presented to JBS Hospitality Group, which keeps a diverse portfolio of venues throughout Melbourne, including Dick Whittington Tavern, Grosvenor Hotel, Hotel Brighton, Melbourne Central Lion, The Bank on Collins, The King Hotel and The Nixon Hotel.

Full list of winners for 2023 HERE.

All Abilities winner: Drouin Family Hotel
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