It took more than four years of seriously hard work and commitment from the owners and team at the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre, but the graft paid off in spades earlier this year when it won the title of Best Business Event Venue at the 2017 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
The venue’s general manager, Victoria Fox, along with owners Brian and Lynn Schirripa, accepted the national award on the night. “This award recognises the hard work that our dedicated team has put in for the last three and a half years to build a quality meetings and events product that’s putting Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills on the map,” said Fox. “I thank the Schirripa family for having the passion and vision to invest in and develop our state of the art venue.”
Located within the Hahndorf Resort, the purpose-built function and event centre overlooks 32 acres of manicured grounds. The Schirripas purchased the property in 2013, and immediately set about elevating both the facilities and reputation of the venue. Work that has evidently paid off with the venue welcoming over 10,500 guests for 142 events in 2017.
“I remember when the Schirripa family and I did a site tour before they purchased the property, I was walking around with my four-week old baby thinking they were crazy,” says Fox. “The property needed so much time, attention and money I thought it would be impossible to turn around. Four months later we were in there pulling up the carpet.”
The challenges in undertaking such a huge project were significant, especially as they project managed the renovations themselves. They also had the added challenge of marketing and selling a venue in different stages of completion.
“Working with a strong family and team we knew what we wanted the end result to be and I think that’s what was delivered. It’s very easy to get swayed into the cheapest product and the quickest result but our vision was a state of the art venue,” says Fox.
Another challenge outside of the redevelopment logistics was the fact they were not in the CBD.
“People think we’re on top of a mountain,” says Fox. “This is my biggest challenge, you mention you’re out of the CBD and you’ve lost them. So we say we’re 20 minutes away, it’s against the traffic and free parking.”
However, being outside the CBD does have other advantages, namely in being so close to world-class food and wine.
“We are big advocates of the iChooseSA campaign, we’ll source what we can from the Adelaide Hills before sourcing further afield.” says Fox. “Supporting local is important to us. I only employ local staff that have a passion for the region and industry, that want to learn from it and grow in it. We’ve a strong team, no one ever leaves.
“We’re privately owned and funded, we’ve redeveloped without any government grants, so to achieve what we have in four years is an amazing accomplishment, and being recognised for that at a state and national level is something we are so proud of.”