By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier 

The New South Wales chapter of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA NSW) hosted its night of nights on Monday, with a record 338 finalists across 32 categories.  

More than 1000 business and community leaders gathered at The Star to pay homage to the hospitality’s brightest stars, highlighted by a standing ovation for John and Justin Hemmes for their induction into the AHA Hall of Fame for contributions to the industry. 

The recently overhauled Clovelly Hotel took out Overall Hotel of the Year – City, from a hot field of ten venues, and backed up the judges’ accolades with Best Casual Dining – City/Eastern too. 

Iris Group director Sam Arnout, owner of the Clovelly, told TheShout it was a fabulous night with an amazing vibe – made better only by the unexpected wins.  

“We were very excited to receive the award(s). There were a lot of other well-deserving hotels on the finalists list. It was certainly a surprise on the night.”

Merivale largely dominated the evening, taking home seven awards including the coveted Group Operator of the Year. Accepting his place into the Hall of Fame, Hemmes dedicated the achievement to his talented family.  

“A special tribute to: my dad [John] – without him I certainly wouldn’t be where I am and we wouldn’t have the business we have today; to my mum [Merivale] for her continued support; and to my sister [Bettina] for her impeccable taste and partnership.”

Other noteworthy wins included Shellharbour’s Central Hotel, which took both Overall Hotel of the Year – Country and Best New/Redeveloped Hotel – Country, and Arcon building – specialist to the hospitality industry, which collected an impressive six wins from a staggering 22 nominations for its projects. 

“We’re stoked to have come away with such a haul, and want to congratulate all our clients involved,” Arcon director Rory O’Brien told TheShout. “And we’re proud to be involved with the always-changing hotel industry and its direction in today’s market.”  

AHA NSW CEO Paul Nicolaou said the Awards for Excellence set the standard for the nation’s hotel industry. 

“Our 1800 premises across NSW are the backbone of the tourism and hospitality industry and set the benchmark for quality service,” said Nicolaou. 

“That was on display last night – the independent judges agreed on one thing – the quality of all finalists was extremely high. 

“I congratulate not only the winners, but all hoteliers big and small on their community spirit and their dedication to the industry and their patrons.” 

A full list of winners is available here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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