By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The Australian Hotels Association Victoria (AHA Vic) State Awards 2016 were held on Monday night at The Palladium at Crown Casino, with more than 1200 attendees on the night.

Peter Burnett OAM, president of AHA Vic, said that attendance had increased by 20 per cent from last year, and that the number of nominees for various awards had increased by 15 per cent, reflective of a vibrant Victorian hotels industry.

“The pleasing part about that is that so many more young people and their employers are getting involved, so it gives them something to aim for. It was a really relaxed and enjoyable evening.”

With over 40 awards presented on the night, one of the big winners was the Zagame Corporation, who took out four awards, including Best Hotel Group Operation and Overall Hotel of the Year – Metropolitan for Zagame’s Berwick.

Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield took out Best Overall Hotel – Regional, and also picked up Best Bistro – Regional. Frank Deegan, owner of the Cardinia Park Hotel was pleasantly surprised by the win.

“It was completely unexpected but we’re overjoyed – it’s fantastic.”

Deegan told Australian Hotelier that he believed the win came down to three aspects: “Our customer service most definitely, the quality of our food and the presentation of our venue.”

The Nikakis Award, established in 1997 in honour of Nick Nikakis, recognises “an individual or organisation who by their sustained performance and commitment serve as an inspiration to all in the industry”. This year’s recipient was Mark Robertson OAM, who has been an hotelier for more than 30 years. Robertson is involved in the Lower Plenty Hotel, Epping Plaza Hotel, Mail Exchange Hotel, Welcome Stanger Hotel and Watergardens Hotel, and is also the metropolitan vice president of AHA Victoria. He also established HotelCare, which has seen the AHA Victoria raise over $2 million for worthwhile causes.

"I feel humbled and privileged to have joined the previous winners of the Nikakis Award," stated Robertson. "I think the award reflects on a lot of people who work with me  – I have a terriffic management team and we run a  big family business where everyone is treated with respect."

Burnett was full of praise for the Victorian hotels industry, stating that it was vibrant and one of the best in the country – but that should not mean that the industry should get complacent.

“The beauty of Melbourne hotels is that we trade nearly up to 24 hours a day. We have small bars and street cafes, and it’s very vibrant. The good thing about us is that we don’t have the lockouts, and we respect that. But it’s not a given that we’ve got it forever. If we muck up, like a lot of states we’ll be closing down at 12 o’clock at night. You don’t want that – with tourism booming the way it is, you need to be able to compete with other countries around the world. I think Victoria does it as well, if not better, than anyone.”

The Shout Team

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

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