By Wendy Johnson
It’s a place where the nation meets. It’s held 229 events, meetings and conferences in the past 12 months. Its kitchen team dishes up gala dinners for up to 1,400 guests. And in a year, it’s contributed more than $60.6 million into the Canberra economy. It’s no wonder that the National Convention Centre Canberra picked up two top awards at the 2016 Australian Hotels Association (AHA) ACT Hospitality Awards held earlier last week.
The awards were for Best Meeting and Events Venue and Best Restaurant Cookery Employee (both General Division). They’re the latest in the growing list of awards being regularly won by the Centre, which also include a prestigious Australian Tourism Award.
If the National Convention Centre Canberra has done anything over the past few years, it has worked hard to boost its position in the highly competitive national and international convention centre market, bringing as much business to the capital as it can. The ripple effects are impressive for Canberra, with guests of injecting funds into the accommodations, hospitality, tourism and retail markets while here.
The AHA Best Meeting and Events Venue Award—the second year the National Convention Centre Canberra has won this category—celebrated the Centre’s services and facilities, which include an auditorium with 2,460 seating capacity, four tiered-seat theatres, an exhibition hall, ballroom, and workshop rooms.
It also celebrated the major renovations that have brought a new look and feel to the Centre and provide a stylish backdrop that suits the caliber of events it holds, including, in 2016, FASHFEST for the second year in a row.
“The $5.4 million in funding over two years from the ACT Government to improve customer experience has created tremendous opportunities for us,” says Stephen Wood, General Manager. “It also provides great opportunities for Canberra as a whole.”
The renovation project has delivered new carpet, upgraded the star dressing room, reception, foyer and conference office, and other projects to be completed by the end of 2016 include upgrading digital signage and other technical and security components.
Best Restaurant Cookery Employee Award went to Nikhil Jain, Executive Chef, who has worked in Australia, India and the UK for some of the best hotels in the world. Nikhil’s team of 10 designs creative culinary experiences showcasing all Canberra has to offer, including award-winning produce and wines. He team scored 90 per cent on guest satisfaction in 2015.
The Centre also runs a sustainable kitchen, processing organic waste, using certified sustainable fish, recycling fryer oil, managing food wastage (including through vermicomposting) and providing rescued food to OzHarvest. The kitchen has been recognised five years running by the ACT Government for Actively Recycling.
“The strength of team members was integral to the Centre winning two top awards, as was the Centre’s commitment to being very much a part of the Canberra community,” says Stephen. “We don’t operate in isolation here. We support the local community in a myriad of ways and are proud to be part of the capital’s innovation and growth.”
This thinking holds true of the Crowne Plaza Canberra, which along with the Centre, is part of global Intercontinental Hotels Group. The Crowne Plaza was also a multiple winner at this year’s AHA awards, taking out four awards—Outstanding Community Service and Achievement, Best Restaurant Service Employee (Accommodation), Best Front of House Employee and Best Environmental Practice.
Other 2016 AHA ACT Hospitality Award winners include:
Best Hotel Restaurant: Monster Kitchen & Bar, Hotel Hotel
Best Wine List: Mezzalira
Best Restaurant: Pomegranate
Best Meetings and Events Hotel (Accommodation): Hyatt Hotel Canberra
Best Local: The George Harcourt Inn
Best Mid-Range Accommodation (3-3.5*): The Brassey Hotel
Best First Class Accommodation (4*): Little National Hotel
Best Superior Accommodation (4.5*): QT Canberra
Best Deluxe Accommodation (5*): Hotel Hotel and Jamala Wildlife Lodge