Tea Gardens Hotel wins prestigious state accommodation award

Publican Ben Hanson shows off the award-winning rooms’ Dutch Doors.

EXCELLENCE has been recognised at the Tea Gardens Hotel, with the steadfast local establishment named the ‘Best Traditional Pub Accommodation (under $130)’ in the Australian Hotels Association NSW ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2023 on 31 October.

Publican Ben Hanson spoke with News Of The Area about the journey that this award vindicates, starting with the purchase of the Hotel back in 2017, followed by a year of redoing the place to their own, eclectic vision.

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“Lots of improvements have been made, as when we bought the hotel customer complaints about the accommodation were frequent and routine,” Mr Hanson said.

Among the improvements was tearing up the old, worn-out carpets to reveal beautiful floorboards underneath.

Ben’s wife, Emily, designed the look of the rooms with a friend, and came up with “a kind of nice, beachy, nautical feel”.

When the pandemic hit, they took full advantage of the worldwide lull in tourism to renovate all the rooms’ ensuite bathrooms.

Today, the rooms are clean, functional, practical, affordable, and just what guests would need to rest and relax in between trips to soak in the glorious natural beauty of the river and beaches.

Outside, a purpose-laid veggie patch augments the kitchen with fresh ingredients, especially for the pizzas, with the Hotel’s historical ‘What’s On’ sign watching over it now.

“Occupancy has increased massively,” Ben proclaims.

“We feel we have raised the class of the Hotel and are proud to rent the rooms out now.”

The Hotel’s affordable style means that a more family-oriented clientele, and ‘grey nomads’, are frequenting of late, and Ben is happy to acknowledge that the town will get some positive recognition out of this award, too.

“We are thrilled to bits that Tea Gardens Hotel won Best Traditional Pub Accommodation at the Australian Hotel Association Awards!” Ben said.

“All I care about is customer satisfaction, that people have a good experience; it is a privilege to be the local publican.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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