Thursday, May 11, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
An integral part of the Airlie Beach landscape for the past 55 years, The Airlie Beach Hotel is an iconic location that has evolved alongside its namesake and transformed from a classic Aussie pub of the past to ‘The Pub’ of the present.
The original hotel was built in 1968 by local identity, Harry Muller and then sold to the O’Neil Industries Group in 1982, where it stayed under this banner for the next 38 years.
During this time, it received an extensive expansion, but in 2017 Cyclone Debbie ravished the building, causing significant damage which resulted in the business closing for two years.
While this symbolised the end of one era, it also heralded the start of a new one for this quintessentially Aussie pub.
When ABH Operations purchased the leasehold in 2018, they embarked on renovations which totalled more than $20 million.
The vision was to amalgamate the three on-site food and beverage venues into one premium, modern facility and this vision became a reality when the doors to the new “The Pub” opened in April 2019.
The concept was to provide Airlie Beach with a neutral yet sophisticated entertainment and dining precinct that was both approachable and classy, seamlessly connected, and able to offer a complete recreational experience for customers.
From its four dining sections, al fresco cocktail bar with elevated entertainment stage, Sports Bar with over 30 screens, large Pokie Room, seven day a week courtesy bus, over 80 accommodation rooms from high-end to budget and a large food servery – the complex allows fast, easy access to thousands of customers each week.
The set-up and layout soon proved extremely popular with a range of clientele packing the tables and enjoying lively entertainment.
Its all-encompassing business model means that families can sit together to eat and relax next to lively groups and celebrations who are sitting next to regulars enjoying a cold drink on a bar stool.
Everyone is invited and the party is always on!
This feeling is largely achieved by the cleverly created ambience.
The interior design brings a modern twist to the ‘beach meets plantation’ theme with tropical influences generating a warm yet sophisticated welcome.
Strategically placed misting systems keep patrons cool, hanging garden chandeliers provide lush decoration, a series of speakers generate ultimate acoustics, and the open plan layout creates a smooth ocean to interior beach vibe.
Within six months of opening The Pub became one of the most popular leisure destinations in Airlie Beach.
But the experience did not stop there – the entire precinct offered much more – with the introduction of the Airlie Beach Hotel Liquor and Tobacco Merchants which opened in 2019.
Three buildings were removed and replaced with this 10-vehicle dual lane liquor superstore.
The following year, operations expanded again with the invitation to iconic local restaurant, Fish D’Vine, who joined the precinct as a tenant.
Airlie Beach Hotel understood the importance of bringing variety and diversity into the mix and a new partnership was formed between the two businesses.
As the Airlie Beach Hotel celebrates its fifth year under its current iteration, it also looks back through the years and into its history as one of the first pubs in the town back when bare chests and sandals were frequent attire.
Despite times (and dress codes!) changing, the Airlie Beach Hotel still speaks to the ‘everyday person’, inviting all people to come together and celebrate the quintessential Aussie Pub and this incredible town we live in.
This famous photo adorns the wall of The Pub and was taken in 1982 by renowned social observer Rennie Ellis
The Ruff as Guts (RAG) Social Club outside the old bottle shop in 1981
The entrance to the front bar and bottle shop in the 1980s
The Airlie Beach Hotel as it looks today