GRAND HOTEL Warrandyte has, once again, won big at the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) Awards.
The Grand was a finalist in nine awards, including Best Overall Hotel Metro.
On the night, they returned to Warrandyte with two awards, and, we must say, the Diary is not surprised they took home the goods in these particular categories.
Our host with the most, Manager Peter Appleby was awarded the Local Legend (Metro), while the Grand took the Best Outdoor Dining Experience (Metro) award.
Peter said to take the Outdoor Dining Experience award was “fantastic”.
“During COVID, with all the rules changing, we knew that outdoor dining was going to be a thing.”
Even before the lockdowns, they had already started developing the beer garden, the Grand Stand, but they put it on hold.
“Once we realised that it was going to be the way of the future, we got the guys back on deck and created the space and have continually added to it with our fireplace, and now a kiosk.
“We think it’s beautiful out there, all year round.
“We were fortunate that we had the foresight to do what we did, and then you know to get an award for Best Outdoor Dining Experience was great — we’re very happy.”
He said that due to COVID, people are more comfortable sitting outside, especially when there are large groups, and the Grand Stand space is great in any weather.
“We’ve got the heaters out there, the fire’s roaring, people are gravitating more outside than inside, whereas in the past, it was always an inside venue — it has been well received — and the punters are happy,” he said
What a legend!
Peter told the Diary to win the Local Legend award was a humbling experience.
“It’s the first year that this award has been up for grabs — it was in recognition of someone who’s put commitment into the community, commitment to their team, commitment to all the local sporting groups, and in schools and fétés and fairs, and all that.
“We took over 10 years ago, and we wanted to get the Grand back as a community partner because it had waned a little bit over the years before us taking over — so, that was the number one goal, to give the Grand back to the community, and coming up on 10 years later, and we’re pretty proud of what we’re achieved.
“And our team here have given 15-year-olds their first job — not just in our industry, but their first job altogether, they can create some life experiences.
“Our team is pretty proud of the amount of staff that they have put through at such a young age to gain some valuable experience, which will see them advancing their lives, in whatever field.
“We like to invest in the guys who want to learn, and I also guess, with myself getting that award, it’s the investment into our team.
“And, you know, I see myself as a leader who will teach anyone who wants to be taught to better, not just themselves, but better our industry.”
He said that despite staff shortages elsewhere, the Grand has been able to find staff.
“We are fortunate that we are an employer of choice — people want to work here — we pride ourselves on our team culture, and people want to be a part of that, which is pleasing.
“People are knocking on the door four, five, six times a week for a job, which is great.”
While the Grand has been jumping of late, Peter acknowledges COVID is far from over.
“People are very cautious — people want to sit outside in the open spaces, which is fair enough, and many people are still wearing masks.
“Back to normal? Not quite, but it’s heading in the right direction.”