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Murray Bridge Hotel owner has made the Women in Hotels Hall of Fame

GENERATIONAL WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Karen Milesi with Josh Milesi, is the owner and operator of the Murray Bridge Hotel and has made the Women in Hotels Hall of Fame.
GENERATIONAL WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Karen Milesi with Josh Milesi, is the owner and operator of the Murray Bridge Hotel and has made the Women in Hotels Hall of Fame.

She's the owner of an iconic Murray Bridge establishment and with generational passion for the hotelier industry in her blood, that love and care has seen her make the hall of fame.

Karen Milesi is the owner and operator of the Murray Bridge Hotel and a fourth generation hotelier.

Creating the generational chain of hotelier passion, Milesi's great-grandmother owned the Retreat Hotel in Abbotsford Melbourne.

The hotel ownership was passed down in the generations to her grandmother then her mother and featured prominently in a 1970s television series.

It was one of her first memories being around the business.

"My great-grandmother inspired me to get into the industry," Ms Milesi said.

"I did not get to know her, but I certainly felt that strong presence from her that travelled through all the women in my family.

"My grandmother who I knew, as a kid growing up, owned the Retreat Hotel. I believe it was called The Great Northern then and it was featured on the television series The Sullivans.

"The show had very similar characters to the real life set up my grandmother had. She had a barman called Jack, as did the show. There was a lady publican in the show, well my grandmother was the publican also.

"It basically mirrored what was going on with our family at the time. We've always worked in the industry and it's always going to be in our blood."

Milesi went on to own her first establishment, The Customs House Hotel in Hobart with family members.

While applying for the bank loan to purchase the hotel, which had been verbally agreed on, she arrived at the bank to find that the manager had reversed his decision when he saw she was a young woman.

Eventually the loan was approved, but Milesi used these experiences and promised to always teach young women in the business to believe in themselves and not be pushed around.

"At the time I was incredibly upset as I had committed myself to the Customs House Hotel partnership," Ms Milesi said.

"It made me more determined to never let that happen again and to always stand up for myself.

"Men can be bullish when negotiating, which is great, but if you know what you're talking about and they know that, they're great and can create excellent working relationships.

"That was a particularly nasty experience, but it gave me the determination to never let anyone walk over me again.

"I pass down that kind of information and learnings to younger women in the industry.

"I love nothing more than to give good guidance to younger kids who need a bit of help. One of my managers began with me at 15, she's now 34 and a manager."

I'm very proud of the success of the Murray Bridge Hotel and have no plans on retiring anytime soon.

Karen Milesi.

With strong women in her family paving the way for future careers, she has taken their teachings and forged her own pathway, along with helping others form their own.

Now Milesi's path has led her to the Women in Hotels Hall of Fame.

It was a night full of wonderful surprises and topped off by being surrounded by family and friends.

"It was a total and utter surprise! I was completely gobsmacked to be inducted into the Women in Hotels Hall of Fame," Ms Milesi said.

"I did wonder why my sons had come to pre-dinner drinks. They claimed to be only popping in as they had dinner down the road, but as we had dinner I asked again why they were here and they replied "mum, just stay calm."

"It was a really lovely night. My friend Anna Hurley got up to induct the inductees.

"As one of the older inductees began her speech, she started to talk about me and I was taken by complete surprise. Vicky Chapman congratulated me too which was wonderful.

"It was a great night that I'll always remember."

Just like the women in Milesi's family did for her, now she will pass on the teachings of the business to her children.

"I love this industry and being a part of it," Ms Milesi said.

"I love being a part of Murray Bridge and people knowing that I'm the publican of the pub. They love that I provide a personal service.

"I'm very proud of the success of the Murray Bridge Hotel and have no plans on retiring anytime soon.

"I'm currently mentoring my son Nick which is good. Watching him mature to be able to manage that business has been wonderful.

"But, I'm certainly not going anywhere, because I absolutely love it."

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