Nelson’s winners from left; Ken and Tracy Banner of the Sprig & Fern Milton St, Ron and Tracey Taylor of Little Rock Bar and Nightclub, Clare Davies and Nicole Garthwaiteis from Grand Mecure Monaco Resort and Hospitality NZ’s Jeanette Swift.

Simply the best – Local hospitality businesses win national awards


Nelson was recognised for its hospitality excellence last week with three businesses winning major awards.

Nelson can lay claim to the best bar in the country after the Sprig & Fern Milton St won the category, while the Little Rock Bar and Nightclub won outstanding host responsibility for the second year in a row and Grand Mecure Monaco Resort won best marketing at the Hospitality Assocation of New Zealand annual awards for excellence.

Managing director of the resort, Clare Davies, was also the first woman in 110 years to be elected onto the HANZ board and the first board member from Nelson in “a very long time”.

Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Jeanette Swift was glowing in her praise of the three businesses and the rest of the industry in Nelson. “I’m incredibly proud, not only of the finalists and the winners here but of all the entries from Nelson. Three winners in one town, I mean it’s completely showing off isn’t it?”

Owners of the best bar in the country, Tracy and Ken Banner, say they were still coming to terms with the win on Friday. “I think it’s just started sinking in,” says Tracy. “It’s been a whirlwind since we won. But we’re now realising just how big and how significant this is and we can’t quite believe it”

Tracy says the regulars at the Milton St pub have been basking in the glory.

The success for the bar comes hard on the heels of the Sprig & Fern Brewery, where Tracy is head brewer, finishing runner up in the champion brewery section at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards.

Littlerock owner and Nelson HANZ president Ron Taylor praised the success. “I think this shows the excellence in hospitality in this region for getting three national awards, this is absolutely huge.”

He says work with Nelson City Council and Nelson Police is making Nelson safer and he praised the hard work of his staff and wife Tracey.

Grand Mecure Monaco Resort is a multi-award winner at the HANZ awards and this year took home the award for best marketing, which has seen thousands of tourists come to Nelson. The resort’s assistant manager Nicole Garthwaiteis says it’s the first time they entered the marketing category and are rapt to have won it. “We didn’t think we’d get anywhere so this is amazing,” she says.

“It’s reinforcing that we’re doing something right.”