AHA (Vic) held its 2024 State Awards for Excellence on the evening of Monday 20 May, to a sold-out crowd of 1200 attendees at Crown Palladium.

The dinner and awards ceremony were buzzing with the industry coming together to celebrate the finest of Victoria’s hotel industry.

AHA (Vic) CEO Paddy O’Sullivan remarked on the electric atmosphere at the ceremony, noting the incredible work of Victoria’s hoteliers in the past year.

“At the 2024 AHA (Vic) State Awards for Excellence we celebrated the hospitality delivered through Victoria’s remarkable pubs and hotels. The Awards recognised the significant commitment and dedication of our publicans, hoteliers and their staff.”

As Marquee partner of the event, Tabcorp’s CEO Paul Carew also noted the incredible lengths the Victorian pubs sector had gone to, to revive hospitality post-pandemic.

“A few years back we were dealing with the pandemic, and more recently we see pubs working through economic challenges like inflation and cost of living. Despite these challenges that you all face, you still show up for your customers day in and day out, and for that unwavering dedication you should be recognised,” stated Carew.

Awards were handed out in 40 distinct categories on the night, including the prestigious Nikakis Benchmark Award, named after the late Nick Nikakis, which recognises an individual or organisation who by their sustained performance and commitment, serve as an inspiration to all in the industry.

This year’s recipients were Pat Sheehan and Marilyn Bell, long-time operators of the Rising Sun Hotel in Bendigo.

Marilyn Bell and Pat Sheehan of the Rising Sun Hotel, Bendigo, were the recipients of the 2024 Nikakis Benchmark Award.

“Receiving this award was unexpected. It was a real surprise  to Marilyn and myself, so it makes it even more special,” Sheehan told Australian Hotelier.

“My parents opened the Rising Sun on 6 July 1953, so we celebrated the 70th anniversary last year. I’ve been working here for many decades, and Marilyn my partner has been running it with me for the last 30 years.

“I love Bendigo, I love the involvement with people and running my own small business.”

The other big categories of the night were the Hotel of the Year awards, with The Notting Hill Hotel, better known as The Nott, taking out the Metropolitan award, while the Middle Hotel Korumburra was named Hotel of the Year – Regional.

Both pubs also won their respective Best Outdoor Experience categories, with Notting Hill Hotel also winning Best Retail Liquor Outlet, while Middle Hotel Korumburra took out Parma of the Year.

Kickon Group took out Hotel Group Operator of the Year, operating The Terminus Hotel Fitzroy North; The Continental in Sorrento; and it’s latest venue, Pincho Disco in Collingwood. The group also won Best Pub Restaurant – Metropolitan for Audrey’s at The Continental, as well as Best Presented Beer at The Terminus for the second year in a row.

“We were thrilled to be represented across so many categories as a finalist in the AHA awards last night. The Terminus winning back-to-back Best Presented Beer was a wonderful result and reward for the hard work that the team put in across all facets of the venue,” stated Kickon Group founder and director Craig Shearer.

“Kickon Group winning Best Group Operator was an award we set our sights on a couple years ago, and I’m so proud of our whole team who have committed to our vision.  We are extremely thankful to all of our key partners for their ongoing support, and loved celebrating the night amongst so many amazing hospo industry legends.”

You can view the full list of winners here.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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