The winners of the 2017 Australian Hotels Association (Vic) State Awards for Excellence were announced on Tuesday 21 November.

The AHA (Vic) State Awards for Excellence program was established in the late 1980s, with this year’s judges noting an emphasis on investment in staff training and infrastructure, which resulted in the large number of overall finalists in many of the 40 categories.

The Overall Hotel of the Year (Metropolitan) was awarded to the Garden State Hotel while Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel in Cranbourne was awarded Overall Hotel of the Year (Regional). Best Pub Restaurant (Metropolitan) was one by The Railway Hotel Windsor while Sawyers Arms Tavern in Geelong was awarded Best Pub Restaurant (Regional).

Kelly’s Motor Club Hotel also took home the award for Best Casual Dining (Regional), with The Clifton Hill Brewpub winning the Metropolitan award and The Croydon Hotel winning Best Family Dining.

Best Pub Bar (Metropolitan) went to the Garden State Hotel, while the Somerville Hotel was awarded Best Pub Bar (Regional).

In the individual award categories, Chef of the Year was awarded to Ashly Hicks from the Garden State Hotel, whilst Kerrie Reynolds from the Cardinia Park Hotel (Beaconsfield) was acknowledged for her Excellence in Service and Brooke Guinane from the Westernport Hotel in San Remo was recognised as Emerging Leader of the Year.

In its second year, the popular People’s Choice Award was available to all 173 nominees. More than 2000 votes were received, with the award going to The Flying Horse Bar and Brewery in Warrnambool.

Tim Powell of Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) was awarded the Nikakis Award. Established in 1997 in memory of Nick Nikakis, recognises “an individual or organisation who by their sustained performance and commitment serve as an inspiration to all in the industry”.

A contributor who comes from generations of family publicans and who over the years has earned widespread respect from a broad cross section of our entire industry, Powell is the youngest ever recipient of the award.

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