Regional pubs shine at QHA Awards
By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
Last night the QHA Awards were held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, with a record 1130 industry members in attendance.
Forty-four awards were handed out, including three inductees into the Hall of Fame. The awards winners were spread out across Queensland, and regional and country areas had a particularly good night last night, indicative of the excellence of Queensland’s pubs in all areas.
Tom McGuire, president of the Queensland Hotels Association, had much praise to give the Queensland hotel industry. He shared facts such as that Queensland hotels serve more than 55 million meals a year, hosts 42,000 live music acts in its venues and employs 80,000 people. He also made mention of the significant role that country pubs play.
“It would be remiss of me tonight if I didn’t mention the importance to the association and to the industry in general of the Queensland country pub. Country pubs are part of the rural communities and a very important part of the rural economy. When you go out to country Queensland and enjoyed there hospitality, you know they do it very tough. And if we don’t have country pubs in Queensland we’re going to be in a very sad place.”
McGuire then mentioned the Robbie Kattter’s Rural Hotels Concession Bill, and the hopes that it would be passed in Queensland Parliament soon.
Fittingly, the night was dominated by pubs in regional and country areas, with the two major awards of the night going to venues outside of Brisbane. The Grand View Hotel in Bowen was named Overall Hotel of the Year, and also won Best Outdoor Facility and Best Redeveloped Hotel Up To $2 million. The venue had taken out the major award three years ago.
John McLean, co-owner and operator of the Grand View Hotel was modest in his acceptance of the award.
“I’m quite humbled to be in the same room as so many great hoteliers. We’re off the beaten track so we’re always trying to give people a reason to come to the hotel.”
The other big winner of the night was the Victoria Hotel in Goondiwindi, with owner John Klein taking out Hotelier of the Year. The pub also took out the Best Traditional Hotel Bar and Best Pub-Style Accommodation awards.
In another act of modesty, Klein said the award was due to his pub staff, and asked for a standing ovation in honour of all pub staff.
“I really appreciate this. But seriously, it’s all about the staff, it really is. None of us would be here without unbelievable staff. They make our jobs so easy,” stated Klein.
Bruce and Wendy McFarlane, the owners and operators of New Royal Hotel in Rubyvale, were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Their venue has won Best Bush Pub three times in previous years.
But in one of the final speeches of the night, Klein shared some simple advice that a colleague gave him, that is indicative of what Queensland hotels do best.
“If you want to be successful, listen to what the customer wants, and give it to them.”