Queensland’s Comiskey Group and South Australia’s EDP Hotels were each named hotel of the year in their respective categories at the 2022 Australian Hotels Association Awards for Excellence in Hobart last week.

The Best Overall Hotel of the Year award at a metropolitan level went to Comisky’s Sandstone Point Hotel in Queensland.

The Comiskey Group took out three awards in all, and it’s the second time the group has won “Overall Hotel of the Year” at the national awards – the first being in 2016, months after Sandstone Point Hotel first opened.

The group also won the Best Marketed Hotel award for Sandstone Point Hotel and the Best Meetings & Events Venue award for Eatons Hill Hotel.

Comiskey Group Director, Rob Comiskey told Australian Hotelier that the national award was a surprise, given it last snared the award when the hotel was still new.

He noted, however, that a lot had changed at Sandstone Point since its previous win. “We’ve been investing in it and building on it the whole time with our new Oyster Shed and VIP areas.

“We love the hotel, it’s something special to us and it has unlimited potential in our eyes.”

Regional winner

The overall winner of Hotel of the Year at a regional level was The Bridgeport Hotel at Murray Bridge in South Australia which recently underwent a major redevelopment.

After winning the AHA|SA awards in 2021, The Bridgeport Hotel, owned by EDP Hotels (former Eureka Hotel Group), won Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional in the national awards.

The six-storey hotel re-opened last June after a $45 million transformation featuring 100 accommodation rooms, a 100-room hotel, dining rooms, a sports bar and extensive meeting and events facilities.

One of the Bridgeport’s owners, Ian Tregoning, described the win as “overwhelming” and expressed his pride in his team’s hard work and dedication to the redevelopment and running of the Bridgeport.

“Uniquely, we designed it in-house, we built it in-house and we run it in-house.” said Tregoning said.

Family focus

There were many other winners including the new Treendale Farm Hotel in Australind, near Bunbury in WA, which won Australia’s Best Family Dining experience.

The LocalsCo hotel recently celebrated the venue’s first birthday, and the purpose-built hotel features three children’s playground areas and a large family restaurant.

“We are really thrilled to get this national recognition during what has been a really tough climate with Covid-19 restrictions and all the challenges that brings,” said General Manager Addy Ribeiro.

“We love how the local community has embraced the Treendale and the team is very proud to be celebrating this amazing win with everyone who supports us.

“We’ve had some amazing feedback from the locals about winning the state and now the national awards which has given the team an incredible boost.”

A Rising Star

The Hotel Industry Rising Star award went to Ricci-Lee Wheeler of the Seabreeze Hotel, Nelson Bay, NSW.

Wheeler is the Operations Manager and Marketing Director at Hunt Hospitality, and she said of the award, “I am honoured to be amongst the list of hard-working Australians who continue to strive to make people’s days through these truly challenging times.”

Hunt Hospitality Managing Director Stephen Hunt said, “Ricci-lee has shown up every day to ignite Hunt Hospitality’s mission, vision and values to create a sustainable company culture that oozes excellence left, right and centre.”

Tassie highlights

As the host state of the awards, Tasmania saw four of its 22 finalists crowned the best in the country. The Ship Inn Stanley was voted Best Superior Accommodation alongside the Northern Territory’s Sails in the Desert, Ayers Rock Resort, while Launceston’s Cataract on Paterson won the Outstanding Achievement in Training category.

Alastair and Kerry Houston took over The Ship Inn Stanley in 2018 and spent two years restoring it, and Kerry told Australian Hotelier this was their first time at the state and national awards. “When we were shortlisted for nationals, we not expecting to win!”

Federal Group landed the state’s two other awards, with Saffire Freycinet voted Best Deluxe Accommodation and the Overall Hotel of the Year – Accommodation Division title going to MACq01.

A cause for celebration

The presentation dinner, with more than 500 VIPs and industry guests in attendance, was a significant and morale-boosting event according to AHA National President Scott Leach.

“While we took the opportunity to laud the stars of our industry, the occasion was just as much about an acknowledgement of the resilience and commitment of our members’ right across the spectrum,” he said.

The awards are about rewarding new ideas, excellence and old-fashioned hard work in venues ranging from mum and dad-run country pubs to huge, five-star accommodation hotels, according to Leach.

See the full list of winners here.

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