Rotorua's Sport of Kings Motel has scooped the Accommodation Host of the Year award at Hospitality New Zealand's 2016 Awards for Excellence gala dinner.

More than 450 people gathered at SkyCity Auckland for the black tie event, representing the full breadth of New Zealand's food and beverage, and accommodation sectors - from small town pubs, to luxury lodges, and everything in between.

Judges commended the Sport of Kings Motel's "home away from home" approach and applauded owners, Pete and Tristen Williams, for making guests feel "like friends from first point of contact, right through until departure."

Unique features such as free tours to local attractions, special treats for children and mountain bike facilities were just some of the examples of the owners continuously "going above and beyond" for their guests.


The motel, just off Fenton St on Peace St, is a two-time winner of the Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards customer service award, taking the honours in 2014 and 2015.

Overall, judges were unanimous in their praise for all of the night's big winners, across the 16 categories, noting the remarkably high calibre of entries, exhibited across the 64 finalists.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Vicki Lee was quick to echo the judges' comments, and said the standard of this year's entries was testament to the high levels of professionalism within the industry.

"In order to truly excel in hospitality, there needs to be an incredible level of passion, commitment and care.

"Each of our winners tonight, and indeed all our finalists, embody that dedication and professionalism completely - and rightly deserve to be celebrated for the superb customer experience they create for their patrons and guests each and every day.

"As always, it's fantastic to have the opportunity to honour such a broad range of businesses for their work, from up and down the country, and across all aspects of the industry. The awards underwent a significant revamp this year - so they are now, more than ever, a celebration of the very best across the entire sector," she said.

The night's Supreme Award winner was Northland's boutique, five-star Waipoua Lodge-which also took out the Best Accommodation (30 rooms and under) and Excellence in Customer Service categories.

All finalists were subject to a rigorous judging process, by a panel of independent industry professionals, which considered staff training and human resources, customer service, food and beverage offerings, marketing and promotional activities, and the demonstration of business growth.


Supreme Award Winner - Sponsored by Hospitality New Zealand: Waipoua Lodge, Northland
Accommodation Host of the Year - Sponsored by AA Traveller: Sport of Kings Motel, Rotorua
Best Accommodation (30 rooms and under) - Sponsored by Sleepyhead Commercial: Waipoua Lodge, Northland
Best Accommodation (over 30 rooms)-Sponsored by Hotel Magazine: Bolton Hotel, Wellington
Best New or Redeveloped Accommodation - Sponsored by Marsh Insurance: Mangapapa Hotel, Havelock North
Best Bar-Sponsored by SKY TV: Emporium Eatery and Bar, Napier
Best Cafe - Sponsored by Noel Leeming: Dog With Two Tails, Dunedin
Best Country Hotel - Sponsored by TAB: Omakau Commercial Hotel, Omakau, Central Otago
Best Music Entertainment Venue - Sponsored by About Print: Smash Palace, Gisborne
Best New or Redeveloped Bar/Restaurant-Sponsored by Pernod Ricard New Zealand: Papanui Club, Christchurch
Best Restaurant - Sponsored by Hospitality Business: Harbourside, Auckland City
Best Retail Off-Licence - Sponsored by Hospitality New Zealand: Super Liquor Ilam, Christchurch
Excellence in Customer Service - Sponsored by Spark New Zealand: Waipoua Lodge, Northland
Excellence in Gaming - Sponsored by IGT New Zealand: Edinburgh Street, Pukekohe
Excellence in Host Responsibility - Sponsored by Health Promotion Agency: Christchurch Casino, Christchurch
Excellence in Marketing - Sponsored by American Express: Rydges Wellington, Wellington
Excellence in Training & Staff Development-Sponsored by Service IQ: Delaware North Wellington Airport, Wellington
Hospitality New Zealand Hall of Fame Inductee: JohnMcHugh, Southland