Just 12 months after taking over the Linga Longa at Gundy, hoteliers Dan and Maxine Bennett were thrilled to find out the hotel had been voted winner of Power FM's recent Best of the Best Upper Hunter Pubs competition.
The accolade was awarded as a result of public voting via the radio station's competition.
"We feel very humbled to have even been nominated, let alone take out the award after only 12 months from taking over the pub," Dan said.
"We are all over the moon about the award and recognition and it would not have been possible without the loyal support of our amazing staff and customers. They are our family."
"We are all over the moon about the award and recognition and it would not have been possible without the loyal support of our amazing staff and customers. They are our family..."
Since taking over the hotel, Dan and Maxine have dedicated their first year to diversifying the clientele base by providing quality food and beverage service.
"This has been a successful strategy so far," Dan said.
"We have worked hard on our food to cement a solid reputation for quality and consistency and we have also worked on the quality of beer and drink service. Making sure we continue to be considered a destination hotel is also important in ensuring a diverse and continual client base."
Providing high-quality food and beverage is key to Dan and Maxine's strategy going forward
According to Dan, ensuring staff are well trained and feel as though they are part of the family is also an important part of the hotel's success.
"The best attributes about the hotel in our eyes would be our family atmosphere and vibe, our food, our beer and our staff," he said.
"Our philosophy of training our staff to go "above and beyond" is hugely important to us and is so often missing in the service industry."
The Linga Longa has a focus on providing high-quality food, including this Crispy Salt & Pepper Squid dish
Local fundraising and sponsorship also plays an important role in keeping the hotel connected to the community.
"We are heavily involved in local fundraising through sporting sponsorship, donations, hosting events and monthly charity trivia nights. Our social club is also very involved in fundraising for the local community also," Dan said.
A recent recipient of the hotel's monthly trivia night was local Australian High School Rodeo Association Queen, Tyler Palmer who qualified to compete in both barrel racing and reining cow horse in the United States. The night raised $500 toward Tyler's goal of making it to compete in America.
Local rodeo competitor Tyler Palmer was a recent recipient of the hotel's fundraising. Image by Andrew Roberts
Nikki Taylor is the Australian Hotels Association, Newcastle Hotels Representative