Tantalus takes top Kiwi honour as Grand Windsor wins international acclaim

The nation’s hospitality stars have been honoured in a series of awards ceremonies this week.

Auckland’s Hotel Grand Windsor, MGallery by Sofitel scored a New Zealand record of seven excellence awards at the global Haute Grandeur Awards in Kuala Lumpur.

The heritage hotel won gongs for Best Boutique Hotel in Oceania, Best Historical Hotel in Oceania, Best Luxury Boutique Hotel in Oceania, and Best Luxury Hotel in Oceania.

And its Cooke’s Restaurant and Bar took out awards for Best Head Chef in Oceania (Jinu Abraham) Best Hotel Restaurant in Oceania and Best Interior Design/Architecture in Oceania.

The Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards emphasise guest feedback in deciding winners, the Hotel Grand Windsor receiving votes from 400 guests in the 2019 awards.

“Amongst the many awards we have received, these are certainly our most prized accolades because of the true nature of the judging, by our guests,” said the hotel’s general manager, Christopher Dickinson.

“We strive to create the most memorable stay for each of our guests and it’s wonderful to know that our accommodation as well as our restaurant has been recognised at such a global level.”

Hospitality New Zealand’s 22st annual Lion Awards for Excellence gala held in Napier last week honoured the nation’s finest hospitality venues.

Following an intensive judging process by independent industry professionals, the 2019 Supreme Award winner was announced as Tantalus Estate on Waiheke Island, which also picked up the gong for NZ’s Best Restaurant.

The judges considered staff training, customer service, food and beverage offerings, marketing and promotional activities, and demonstration of business growth in their deliberations, according to Hospitality New Zealand’s acting chief executive Julie White.

“The judges all agreed that the standard was exceptionally high this year – not only from the winners, but the finalists as well,” she said.

The judges said of Tantalus: “The venue is simply a level above anything else we’ve experienced. Everything is polished.

“This year’s Supreme winner epitomised excellence in all areas of their business. The owners have developed a wonderful product and the team they’ve put together to manage the delivery, is exceptional and deserves to be scored at the highest level.

“While the restaurant isn’t trying to position itself as a five-star destination, they certainly provide a full five-star experience.”

Basil Diack, the trailblazing former proprietor of the iconic Victoria Hotel in Napier and a founding director of Hawkes Bay Independent Brewery, was inducted into the Hospitality New Zealand Hall of Fame.

The 61-year industry veteran told attendees: “Hospitality has been in my blood all my working life and it’s wonderful to be recognised in this way.”

QT Wellington, recently named in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards as one of Australasia’s top ten hotels, won two Hospitality NZ awards for Excellence in Marketing and Best Redeveloped Hotel.

Bolton Hotel in Wellington was named Best Hotel, while Best Luxury Accommodation went to  Wharekauhau Country Estate in Featherston and the Best Destination Venue was named as Fiordland Lodge, Ta Anau.

Best Motel winner The St James at Hanmer Springs and Best Country Hotel the Cardrona in Wanaka both took out their awards for the second year in a row, and the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell won the public vote as People’s Choice awardee.

Other winners in the The Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence were:

  • Best Café – Neo Café & Eatery, Wellington
  • Best Bar – D4 on Featherston, Wellington
  • Best Neighbourhood Bar and Eatery – No. 4 Bar & Restaurant, Christchurch
  • Excellence in Gaming – Hennessy’s Irish Bar, Rotorua
  • Best Redeveloped F&B – Top Hut Bar & Bistro, Twizel
  • Best Environmental/Sustainable Business – Hobbiton, Matamata
  • Best New Business – Food & Beverage – White + Wong’s, Queenstown
  • Excellence in Host Responsibility – Functionmaster, Wellington (2nd year in a row)
  • Excellence in Training and Staff Development – The Trusts, Auckland

Also recognised by the organisation in a separate ceremony this week were the industry’s rising stars, with the Emerging Accommodation Professional named as Rydges Wellington duty manager Sam von Hartitzsch, and Up and Coming Duty Manager going to Melanie Campbell from Auckland’s The Riverhead, at Riverhead.

Tarsh Versey, function co-ordinator at Zenders Café and Venue Waikato, took out the Up and Coming Front of House award.

Julie White said: “These awards, now in their third year, are our way of giving our up and coming industry leaders some well-deserved recognition.

“Through initiatives like the rising stars awards, we aim to promote within the hospitality industry a spirit of striving for excellence and foster a culture of celebrating achievements.”


Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions:

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