07/11/2006 - 21:00

Awards keep rolling in for the Brisbane Hotel

07/11/2006 - 21:00

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A group of the most influential hoteliers in the country sat in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel recently and confirmed what many of Perth’s Sunday session devotees and midweek revellers already knew; the Brisbane Hotel is the best hotel in the country.

Awards keep rolling in for the Brisbane Hotel

A group of the most influential hoteliers in the country sat in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel recently and confirmed what many of Perth’s Sunday session devotees and midweek revellers already knew; the Brisbane Hotel is the best hotel in the country.        

The accolade at the National Bartenders Awards marks the pinnacle of industry awards for hotels and pubs in Australia, and this year the Brisbane team, led by owner Geoff Hayward, was delighted to bring the award back to Western Australia.

The win further cements the Brisbane’s position at the forefront of hotel innovation, following its naming as ‘new hotel of the year’ at last year’s awards.

Not only did the Brisbane poll ahead of its big name eastern states rivals to clinch the award; it now joins the likes of Establishment (Sydney), Transport (Melbourne), The Botanical (Melbourne), The Prince (Melbourne), Crown & Sceptre (Adelaide), and The Eastern (Sydney) as a winner of the top award.

This year’s win caps of an amazing turn of fortune for the venue, and also adds to Mr Hayward’s impressive list of achievements in the hospitality industry.

“I remember walking into the Brisbane four years ago and there was a naked barmaid pouring ponies for a bunch of blokes standing round the bar. That was only four years ago,” Mr Hayward told Gusto. “It was like stepping back in time.”

But Mr Hayward saw the venue’s potential and, having opened the nearby Luxe cocktail bar not long before, he snapped up the Brisbane and started major renovations.

“We closed the place for two years; we had to. It wasn’t so much a renovation as a complete remodelling. It was really sad because we couldn’t keep a single thing from the pub – it was to far gone,” Mr Hayward says.

But out of the ashes came a pub with a difference.

The Brisbane reopened in December 2004 and made an immediate impression, with its sleek design inside and lush green beer garden outside appealing to a cross section of patrons.

“I knew I didn’t want to create a ‘scene’,” Mr Hayward says. “I wanted a place, a pub with a difference. Somewhere where you would be welcome in flip-flops or an Armani suit.”

Now, with national recognition and a vibrant weekend crowd, the Brisbane has become the public face of Mr Hayward’s vision for hospitality.

It was a vision that began as a barman in the 1980s, when he served drinks at the Playhouse Theatre. From there he helped to grow and ride the ‘café culture’ wave of the 1990s with the phenomenal success of the Cino to Go chain.

In an industry where the path to success is littered with the hard-luck stories, Mr Hayward seems to have the Midas touch.

Monza and Bar One are among his popular creations, and when he opened Luxe Bar, the public embraced the venue as though it was the city’s first cocktail bar.

Those who work for him credit his success to an attention to detail that never falters, as well as a managerial style that breeds innovation and loyalty.

My Hayward says his vision for the WA hospitality industry is sometimes at odds with that of his eastern states counterparts.

“For this award it is usually dominated by Sydney and Victorian hotels. They have all the people, all the money and all the business,” he says.

“But for the Brisbane to win it, I think it proves that you don’t have to spend $50 million on a place in order for it to work.

“But more importantly I think it is so important that the hotel of the year is non-smoking and non-gambling. There is so much pressure from the industry at the moment to put a pokie machine here or a smoke machine there. But I don’t believe in it. We went smoke free two years ago and haven’t looked back.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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