Awards for Excellence Winners 2019

The Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence 2019 Winner's have been announced!


New Zealand hospitality champions celebrate with coveted Lion Awards for Excellence

The Lion Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence 2019 are about celebrating excellence and recognising those in the industry who have performed exceptionally  throughout the year in a variety hospitality and accommodation roles and venues. 

Hospitality is fast-paced and constantly changing and adapting to deliver moments of joy to our customers and to the very creators of these industry experiences, so let’s celebrate excellence.  

Julie White – Acting Chief Executive 

An intensive judging process by a panel of independent industry professionals considered many aspects of the finalists’ businesses. These included staff training and human resources, customer service, food and beverage offerings, marketing and promotional activities, and the demonstration of business growth.

The 2019 Supreme Award winner was Tantalus Estate, situated on Waiheke Island. They also picked up the award for Restaurant. The judges were very impressed by the incredibly attentive staff who are all knowledgable on the fantastic food, wines and venue, through to every exquisite design and table top detail.

This year we welcomed the People's Choice Award 2019 won by the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell which must be in one of the country's most romantic settings. 

Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence honours the achievements of the hardworking and competitive people who make hospitality and accommodation throughout New Zealand exceptional.

The full list of winners is as follows:


Supreme Winner – Tantalus Estate, Waiheke Island

Everything about Tantalus Estate is at a level above. From start to finish, the experience the owners want visitors to have is of unadulterated quality and pleasure while enjoying the best cuisine offerings and wines possible. The owners have done a superb job in developing a beautiful, exceptional venue and property that undoubtedly exudes the WOW factor. 

People's Choice Award – Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell

In what must be one of the country’s most romantic settings, the Duke of Marlborough has been a favourite with many people for years. ‘The Duke’ proudly took out Duncan Cotterill’s People’s Choice Award at this year’s Hospitality NZ Awards, following a redevelopment that used the best historic architects in the country and they achieved a faultless result.


Excellence in Marketing – QT Hotel, Wellington

QT is a design-led hotel brand and QT Wellington is immersed in NZs art scene. Your Art. Our Rooms campaign invited local artists to create in-room artworks for nine new rooms. More than 260 artists submitted entries and the campaign was so successful, 25 rooms became canvases for 19 artists’ work and extra budget was found to pay for their time and talent. When the rooms were opened for online public bookings it was to instant success. 

Excellence in Gaming – Hennessey's Irish Bar, Rotorua 

One of NZs favourite Irish pubs, this refurbished gem arguably pours the best Guinness, offers fantastic pub food and an award-winning gaming room and has a  successful connection between all activities. There’s a rock solid commitment here to deliver the highest standards in gaming operations, compliance, harm minimisation and cash management; and these are only trumped by the excellent customer service.  

Best Redeveloped Food & Beverage– Top Hut Bar & Bistro, Twizel

Holiday home owners not keen to visit their local restaurant/bar saw an opportunity, purchased the property and carried out a complete revamp of all services and features. The new owners themed the restaurant as a 60s diner and garage, refitted the Sports bar, added a new TAB, Gaming Lounge, Garden bar, new kitchen, bottle store, added extensive landscaping, new parking spaces and a 1951 Chev is the venue’s drivable billboard. Just brilliant.

Excellence in Host Responsibility – Functionmaster, Wellington

A second win in a row for this venue, it is simply a notch above. Everything offered is so consistent with what’s required, the Council asked Functionmaster management to consult with other properties that also hold large scale events. For outside liquor licensed areas, bean bags, food and water are offered; safe zone standards are higher than required and the statistics are impressive: 15,000 people, 3 assessments, no arrests.

Excellence in Training and Development – The Trusts, Auckland

Because the ongoing well-being of any hospitality business relies on people, the Trusts’ training model empowers staff with knowledge to make informed decisions in their areas of work. Training is in four key areas: Front of House, Kitchen, Super Liquor and Admin in a style that’s inclusive and encouraging, and ‘Train, measure, then reward’ is the winning commercial mantra here that enables business owners to work on, not just in their business. 

Best Destination Venue – Fiordland Lodge, Te Anau

This one-of-a-kind luxury borders one of the world’s most impressive wilderness regions. Bestowed with World Heritage Status, exceptional beauty and the fiords of Milford and Doubtful Sound nearby, this Lodge is a “must see” for anyone travelling to or in NZ. Also one of the country’s best incentive destination properties, this ultimate escape package combines incomparable hospitality where guests also explore the region through the venue’s exceptional cuisine.    

Best Redeveloped Hotel – QT Hotel, Wellington

Few accommodation experiences come better than this. Design-driven Wellington hotel offerings have been redefined here, as guests enjoy a delicious parade of vibrant colours, stunning art, superb design and rich textures, surrounded by a building bedecked with vivid vines of ivy, all within a stunning harbourside location. This venue has just won the Trip Advisors Hall of Fame Award, 2019 as well. Need we say more.

Best New Business – White & Wong's, Queenstown

White + Wong’s Queenstown impresses like its award-winning Auckland sibling. On a lakefront site, it quickly became the talk of the town, winning Outstanding Ambience and Design at the local Hospitality Awards and was a finalist for Best Front of House team. The East meets West concept is exciting and flamboyant, melding the best of both cultures for a diverse and pleasurable dining experience. Dining options transition from intimate and seductive to communal, vibrant and fun.

Best Restaurant – Tantalus Estate

Everything about the Tantalus Estate restaurant thrills the diner, from the online booking experience which is clever, quick, easy and responsive; the incredibly attentive staff who are all knowledgeable on the fantastic food, wines and venue, through to every exquisite design and table top detail. The restaurant doesn’t position itself as 5-star, but it certainly presents a 5-star experience that’s not to missed.

Best Environmental/Sustainable Business – Hobbiton, Matamata

The Alexanders have been farming this land for generations. They feel responsible as caretakers to carry out environmentally sustainable practices that also live up to the 100% Pure New Zealand brand by promoting the concept of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship. They want guests to know they’re minimising their impact on the environment, they’re helping restore it too. They’ve signed the TIA Sustainability pledge, developed an Environmental Commitment to guide all decisions and have employed an advisor to run their “Go Green” project.

Best Cafe – Neo Cafe & Eatery, Wellington

From the moment customers walk in, to the moment they leave, the Neo team is welcoming and eager to get to know their customers and make their time here feel energised and memorable. Every effort ensures the environment, product and service are on point to enhance the customer experience and paying attention to detail is where this venue stands out: music, lighting, ambience, aesthetics, menu, flavour, presentation, signage and service are all spot on.


Best Country Hotel – Cardrona Hotel, Wanaka

A popular heritage icon, the Cardrona consistently provides excellent contemporary hospitality along with accommodation in 17 ensuite hotel rooms. A superior room was recently added for premium stays. As guardians of a Kiwi classic, the owners honour the hotel’s essence while offering guests country cuisine classics and comforts for enjoyable, memorable experiences. This team reads the market well and delivers what guests are seeking. 

Best Motel – The St James, Hamner Springs

This stunning 5-star luxury boutique motel in Hanmer Springs won this same award last year, is the #1 local property on Tripadvisor, made the top 10 in 3 Trip Advisor category awards in 2018 and helped set up a local providers’ group. There’s a loyalty discount programme for returning guests and a “save a service – plant a tree” scheme. When guests say no to a room service, St James donates $10 to the Conservation Trust who plants trees in the forest nearby.   

Best Bar – D4 on Featherston, Wellington

D4 trains its staff to greets guests on arrival, establish what they’re seeking, whether dining, drinking or both, guide them to the right spot and then explain the offering. Some find this bar loud but the owners believe this makes it special. Their aim: to be Wellington’s local living room and retreat and it’s not only locals who agree. Out of towners come back time and again too.  

Best Neighbourhood Bar & Eatery – No.4 Bar & Restaurant, Christchurch

No.4 stands out for excellent service. It aims for guests not to lift a finger or have to ask for what they want because the staff already knows. No.4 is famous for its welcoming, relaxed vibe supported by consistent, friendly service and a solid local following. Locals say entering No.4 feels like they’ve arrived home and guests return because this venue delivers: regulars are remembered and the gastropub style food is always top notch.

Best Hotel – Bolton Hotel, Wellington

With the largest average room sizes in the city, Bolton Hotel offers stylish, spacious suites where service drives the hospitality offering and guests find sanctuary. The staff champion the city with their vast knowledge of what’s on offer, and art and technology merge here. Owned and operated by the Angus Family, The Bolton proudly features Rita Angus artworks; and generous to its core, iPads are provided in every room.

Best Luxury Accommodation – Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston

The entire Wharekauhau experience exudes luxury-defining, hyper-personal hospitality. From first contact via the booking process through to departure, guests’ every need is attended to while they experience exquisite  accommodation in a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by awe-inspiring landscapes. Wharekauhau is a full-service property that offers its hospitality in tandem with rural NZ experiences. Evenings are always hosted and stories told around the fireplace.