Heritage Queenstown has won Employer of the Year at the Westpac Queenstown Business Awards and also received a Qualmark Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award.
“We are thrilled to win the employer category of these prestigious awards. In a seasonal town attracting the right team and retaining them is critical to the success of the hotel guest experience,” said Mike Garvey, general manager, Heritage Queenstown.
Garvey has worked as general manager at Heritage Queenstown since June 2016 and has vast industry experience working overseas in the Gold Coast and in Papua New Guinea. His approach to creating an award-winning workplace environment for his staff begins at the hiring stage.
“First of all, it starts with the culture of the workplace. We choose people who consciously want to work with us and understand our H.O.P.E. (honesty, ownership, passion and empathy) values, and it really pays dividends in the end.”
Retaining staff long-term can be difficult in the hospitality industry, but it is even more difficult in regions like Queenstown where renting and housing prices have skyrocketed.
“We’ve lost people who’ve been here for a couple of years but have left because it’s too expensive to buy property in Queenstown.”
On top of the Employer of the Year Award, Heritage Queenstown also received a Qualmark Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award for its practices. The award which only goes to the top operators in the field.
Some examples of practices the Heritage Queenstown team has introduced that helped work towards this award include their efforts cleaning up the nearby Fernhill, where the team puts in about 40 hours work per month, replacing plastic straws with sustainable options, and supporting local schools and colleges.
“We brought in a wellness month, we’ve brought in people to speak to the team, smoothie machines and healthy-eating, and even a vegetarian day once a week.”
These practices helped cultivate the hotel’s positive work environment, leading to them receiving both awards.