AHEAD Americas is adjudicated by an independent panel of experts, comprising leading hospitality architects, designers, owners, operators, developers and industry commentators.
The judging process for AHEAD Americas has been carefully developed to ensure a rigorous, robust and balanced procedure is followed to select the final winners in each category.
The judges for AHEAD Americas are acknowledged industry leaders, who represent a wide spectrum of the disciplines involved in delivering new hotel projects across the region.
Larry Traxler serves as Global Head of Design Services at Hilton Worldwide, overseeing the design of all of Hilton’s luxury, full and focused service hotel brands. Traxler and his global design team work closely with developers, architects, and designers to ensure that the unique style of each Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand is reflected across the properties within its global portfolio.
Traxler has amassed more than 20 years of international hospitality design experience working across luxury, boutique, full-service and focused-service hotel segments. Most recently he ran the Architecture & Design department for Hyatt Hotels North America & Caribbean, and prior to this served as the Design Director for Ian Schrager Hotels, Wilson & Associates, and Hirsch Bedner & Associates, focusing on hotel design and development operations.
His career began at the experimental architectural design office of Jordan Mozer & Associates, and Traxler holds a six-year professional Bachelor of Architecture degree with a minor Professional Practice award from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning.
Co-Founder and President Andrew Fay offers a diverse background in design, development, branding, finance and hotel operations that has helped propel The Gettys Group to the 30-year success story it is today.
By leveraging Fay’s breadth of experience, the firm has established a worldwide reputation for instituting a pragmatic and creative approach to hotel design and development. Championing innovations such as The Gettys Group’s leading-edge Integrated Solutions FF&E procurement model, as well as the exclusive Fast Forward Symposium, a think-tank driving futurism and thought leadership in the hospitality industry, Fay has maintained The Gettys Group’s focus on innovation, collaboration and delivering enduring projects with measurable investment return.
An honours graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Fay is a sought-after industry leader who is frequently engaged to share his expertise and insights on hospitality industry trends and development.
Matthew Goodrich is an award-winning interior designer and strategist known for projects that feature rich narrative content and foster interaction and human connection. In 2017, he began building a new design practice to create hospitality projects which fuse conscious, meaningful design with operational innovation.
Prior to founding his own studio, Matthew was Chief Creative Officer at AvroKO, where he led the design process for hospitality and retail projects, and provided creative leadership for the internal branding agency Brand Bureau. Before that, he was Senior Associate at Rockwell Group, where he developed a wide range of project types, including hospitality, exhibitions, and scenic design. Matthew’s projects have included designs for established hotel brands such as Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, brand creation for the new Arlo hotels, restaurants for clients including Garces Group and Boka Restaurant Group, food halls such as Gotham West Market, and innovative casual dining experiences for Dean and Deluca, Barnes & Noble, and Panera Bread.
Before working in design, Matthew worked in museums, galleries, and artists’ studios, helping them to fabricate works of art and assemble exhibitions. He draws on that experience in the work he does today, infusing art and artisan-made elements into the spaces he designs.
Ira’s adventure with design started with creating set designs for theatres and opera houses. Theatrical story-telling through design is visible in his award-winning work and he believes it is critical to hotel delivering unique and immersive guest experiences.
As the Senior Director of Interior Design for Marriott’s luxury brands Ira is managing a difficult balance between interiors reflecting hotel’s unique story and the local context while staying true to global brand standards. He is responsible for design of The Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis, The Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection and JW Marriott across Americas.
Prior to joining Marriott’s global design team, Ira has held design and leadership roles with Hirsch Bedner Associates, Aedas and HOK. Most recently, he spent a few years in Hong Kong leading hospitality design teams on projects across Asia-Pacific. In addition to a number of hotels and restaurants, he has developed award-winning new store design concepts for Starbucks in Korea.
Throughout 20 years of his career Ira has been a design lead for some iconic properties: St. Regis Abu Dhabi, St. Regis Saadiyat Island, The Peninsula residencies Yangon, and St. Regis Belgrade.
Ira has graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, Georgia and from Georgia State University with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts, Interior Design.
Matoula Karagiannis currently serves as the Vice President of Design at Sydell Group, a developer and manager of a diverse portfolio of award winning hotel brands including The NoMad, The Line, and Freehand. Karagiannis holds over 20 years of experience in hospitality design and is currently focused on the creation of the Park MGM hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, a $550 million transformation of the former Monte Carlo Resort.
Prior to joining Sydell Group, she held design and leadership roles with Wyndham Worldwide, Wilson & Associates (Singapore), Champalimaud Design, and Hirsch Bedner Associates.
Karagiannis brings sharp design direction and branding expertise to her work, having completed a number of high profile national and international hotel projects including the Hotel Bel-Air, Four Seasons in Chicago and Sydney, and Rooftop Suites at The Dorchester, London. Her degree in Industrial Design from Université de Montréal and studies abroad at the Ecole National Supérieure de Creation Industrielle in Paris have further inspired her unique design career path, which also includes stints in industrial and textile design as well.
Aliya Khan is Vice President of Design Strategies at Marriott International. Focusing on AC Hotels, Aloft, Element and Moxy projects, she drives the efforts to define the design strategy for these brands and positions each with a distinct personality. Prior to joining Marriott International, Khan worked in numerous roles with Starwood Hotels & Resorts. She holds degrees in both architecture and industrial design.
She was responsible for several award-winning projects, including the opening of the W Montreal, renovations at the W Mexico City, and the Le Meridien properties in French Polynesia. She also lead the renovation of the iconic St. Regis New York and oversaw the design partnership efforts between St. Regis Hotels and Bentley Motors.
Most recently, before joining Marriot, Khan took a break from the hotel industry to lead Design and Development for NeueHouse, and was responsible for the opening of their award‐winning Hollywood location.
Margaret McMahon leads and manages Wimberly, Alison, Tong & Goo’s (WATG) interior design practice, with her 30 years in the design industry producing an impressive portfolio of projects and an equally impressive list of clients. Under her leadership Wimberly Interiors has launched studios in New York, Miami, Dubai, Shanghai and Los Angeles.
Prior to joining WATG, McMahon was Managing Director of Wilson Associates’ New York office, and former President of the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality’s (NEWH) New York chapter. McMahon was recently promoted to WATG’s first female Senior Vice President, and then elected to the Board of Directors of the employee-owned firm.
Margaret’s natural talent lies in pinpointing details, analysing conceptual designs, and integrating reality with emotion.
Anwar Mekhayech is co-founder of DesignAgency, a multi-disciplinary global design firm. He developed first-hand knowledge of the hospitality industry through his family business and later as a restaurateur.
Thriving on collaborations with clients and other designers, Mekhayech has helped to develop environments that reflect each unique brand he works with and from 2014-2016 acted as Global Creative Director for Generator Hostels, assisting the brand’s growth.
Anwar is also a partner at the Toronto-based Arthouse, a boutique photography agency and production house, where he has taken a behind-the-scenes role overseeing business development and strategy.
Cristian Rubio is an architect, interior designer and Principal of Hirsch Bedner Associates, Miami. He obtained his degree at the High Technical School of Architecture in Madrid, and won his first competition at 25. Rubio co-founded his own studio in 2002, named Rubio+Pozuelo, and served as Principal for a decade until joining HBA.
Since the beginning of his career Rubio has carried out numerous hospitality, interior design, residential and educational projects, taking responsibility for all phases of the development, from the initial sketch to its completion.
Since joining HBA Rubio has worked in the firm’s Singapore and London offices, developing projects for clients including Four Seasons, Hyatt, Hilton and IHG Hotels. HBA has now tasked Rubio with spearheading growth in Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America, and with producing a unique and sensitive response to each project.
Markus Schreyer is part of the senior leadership team at Design Hotels, a handpicked collection of over 300 design-driven luxury hotels across the globe. As Vice President, The Americas, he is responsible for developing the collection’s hotel portfolio, the business support of all member hotels, media and other potential partners, as well as expanding and building brand awareness and reach in North and South America.
Schreyer holds over 15 years of experience in global hospitality, including seven with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where he held several senior roles in Sales & Marketing. Before joining Design Hotels he was the Starwood’s Regional Director of Marketing, East & Central Europe, responsible for brand, digital, Loyalty and partnership marketing. He holds a Master of Business Administration and a PHD in Innovation Management, and is a regular contributor to industry and innovation publications.
Allan T. Shulman is the Director of Graduate Programs in Architecture and associate professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture. An author, editor, lecturer and curator, he is also founder of the award-winning Miami-based architecture and design firm Shulman + Associates. His work has been featured in major architectural reviews and national publications.
Vince Stroop joined Stonehill & Taylor as Principal in 2014, bringing with him over 20 years of experience leading the design of prominent public and private spaces including hotels, libraries, luxury residences, wineries, and restaurants. He specialises in New York hospitality, but has worked in countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Moscow, Hong Kong and England.
His projects include work for prominent hospitality brands including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Kerzner International Resorts, and the Las Vegas Sands Corp. He believes that design is a highly interactive and collaborative process, and that the best projects are those that embrace a collaborative approach to every challenge. His work extends beyond the art and science of architecture, covering elements such as urban planning, graphic identity, website design, and education, having served as studio instructor at the School of Architecture at Woodbury University.
Stroop was the founding partner of A2 Studios, a multidisciplinary architecture firm in California. He then oversaw the architecture and interiors department as Principal at BBG-BBGM, and was later a Studio Leader at Jeffrey Beers International.
Randa Tukan is a Senior Vice President and Global Director of hospitality, based in HOK’s Toronto Office. With over 25 years of experience in interior architecture and design, both in Canada and around the world, her expertise extends far beyond the world of interiors, encompassing architecture, urban planning, landscape, and branding.
Tukan holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Fine Arts from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a member of the advisory board for Humber College’s interior design program, and a site visitor for the Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
With a strong focus on innovative design, Tukan’s projects have included work for hotel brands including Intercontinental, Marriott, Shangri-La, and Hyatt. Her visionary hotel of the future concept, Driftscape, was the winner of the Radical Innovation Award for 2016.
Kenneth Allen Villamil is Global Vice President: Product & Brand Development, Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, & The Unbound Collection Hotels.
Combining his background in brand strategy and interior architecture, Villamil is responsible for the comprehensive global design strategy for Hyatt Hotel's luxury, premium, and lifestyle brands. He provides leadership and creative direction to advance each brand, ensuring they translate into memorable guest experiences around the world.
Prior to his role at Hyatt, Villami specialised in creative solutions and strategies for retail, hospitality and luxury lifestyle brands. He has spent the last 16 years honing his skills at a number of branding and architecture firms, including Gensler's Lifestyle Design Studio and most recently with Starwood Hotel's Luxury Brands Studio; overseeing St Regis, W Hotels Worldwide, Le Meridien and The Luxury Collection Hotels. Kenneth has been recognised for his accomplishments in both Interiors and Architecture winning numerous awards including the Gold Key.
Brad Wilson is President of Ace Hotels, and has previously worked with major hospitality brands including Hilton International, Park Hyatt and Westin. He was recruited to launch the first W Hotel and help guide the fledgling Starwood brand's early days, before rising to Vice President of Operation for W Worldwide, overseeing twenty properties and a corporate team of support and creative staff. From here, he helped build James Hotels from the ground up, serving as CEO and introducing sophisticated, warm, modernist design principles focused on organic materiality and authentic craft details.
Today, Brad is President and co-partner of Atelier Ace and the Ace Hotel Group, where he oversees growth and operations, and helps create new hotels and collaborative projects. Now back to his creative roots, and surrounded by innovative energy, he guides the Atelier team in developing projects, culture and processes that seek to transform the industry.
The application of design and architecture to deliver great guest experiences are at the heart of AHEAD.
The criteria for success are based not only on creative excellence, but also on commercial viability.
As well as projects that are aesthetically impressive, the judges will be looking for evidence that winning designs have also met the needs of client and customers alike.
The judges will be looking for submissions showing rigorous and appropriate design, demonstrating a sensible use of budget to contribute to the guest experience as well as the 'theatre' of hotel life while satisfying the client brief.
Submitted material should demonstrate clearly why the project is thought to be worth an award in its chosen category and how the design sets the project at an award winning level.
Click here to see our AHEAD Checklist, which guides you through the entry process.
Hotel projects completed between November 2016 – December 2017 are eligible for entry to AHEAD Americas 2018.
A hotel is defined as a commercial building, or combination of buildings, primarily dedicated to the provision of lodging / accommodation. Please note privately owned accommodations exclusively rented out for lodging via peer-to-peer sites such as Airbnb are not eligible for AHEAD.
AHEAD is unique in its celebration of the key collaborators in hotel projects: the developer / investor; operator; architect and interior designer.
Anyone can enter an award, but we recommend that the designers / architects responsible for the hotel compile the entry.
Hotel owners, operators, developers, investors, PRs and other representatives are encouraged to co-ordinate entries for the hotels they represent with the relevant designers/architects.
Further guidance on specific criteria for individual categories is given here and during the entry process.
Entry costs for AHEAD Americas are £250 per entry.
Photography should clearly show the design and / or architecture of the area of the property relevant to the category in which it is entered.
If entering more than one category please submit different photographs that reflect the category you are entering.
Before and after photos, CGIs and renderings, floor plans and / or CAD drawings can be included as supporting material where relevant.
Please do not submit CGIs / renderings in place of actual photography.
Please try and avoid use of advertising or marketing photographs e.g. posed models, elaborate table settings etc.
Please ensure that you have the appropriate copyright clearances for all photography submitted (see terms and conditions)
Published six times per year, Sleeper features unrivalled coverage of the latest projects, products, practices and people shaping the industry. Its core circulation encompasses all those involved in the creation of new hotels, from owners, operators, developers and investors to interior designers, architects, procurement companies and hotel groups.
Our portfolio comprises a beautifully presented magazine, an affiliated website and regular email newsletters, as well as industry-leading events including AHEAD, the awards for hospitality experience and design. Sleeper is also the organiser of Sleepover, a networking event for hotel innovators hosted in a different city each year, and has recently launched a sister publication – Supper– focusing on global hotel F&B.
Sleeper is the only media brand to reach all the individuals and disciplines throughout the supply chain involved in the delivery of new hotel projects worldwide. As such, it is the perfect partner for brands looking to target the multi-billion pound hotel sector with design-led products and services.Visit site
GROHE products can be found in iconic hotel developments all over the world. Thanks to unique versatility in design and functionality, innovative technology and endless possible applications, GROHE products are perfectly placed to meet the rigorous demands of the hospitality sector.
We want guests to feel at home. When they visit a hotel, they expect a standard beyond that of a normal domestic bathroom. They want to be inspired. This is what we do.Visit site
The Definitive Source for Site, Garden, and Casual Furnishings ®
An industry leader in design-driven furnishings for more than 35 years, JANUS et Cie serves hospitality, contract and residential clients with a dedicated focus on outstanding quality, superior craftsmanship and unparalleled service. In the years since the company's founding in 1978, CEO Janice Feldman and her exceptional team have transformed JANUS et Cie from a single showroom in Los Angeles to a comprehensive global design resource with sixteen flagship showrooms throughout North America and in Singapore and Sydney, as well as field offices and select dealers throughout the world.
The company's namesake—the Roman god JANUS, whose two faces look both forward and back—is the foundation of a unified mission rooted in tradition, heritage and craft, yet equally dedicated to innovative materials and progressive engineering. This inspired long-term view is realized through the lens of a unique corporate culture that encourages curiosity, creativity and collaboration in the pursuit of excellence.
JANUS et Cie offers a diverse catalog of over 6,000 pieces—each design remarkably distinguished in concept and form. Acclaimed by the most discriminating designers, architects and juried competitions, this powerful body of work has inspired for decades a demand for beautifully imagined casual furnishings to be used both indoors and out, and has influenced an entire industry in the process.Visit site
The Laufen Bathrooms AG is a Swiss company specialising in premium complete bathroom solutions. Established in 1892 in Laufen/Switzerland, it operates internationally manufacturing bathroom ceramics and faucets and distributing bathroom furniture, accessories for the bathroom, bathtubs and shower trays.
But Laufen has never forgotten its roots – founded as a pottery factory, ceramics have always played a central role in the drafts of the designers and architects Laufen work with partners like Kartell, Alessi, Konstantin Grcic, Stefano Giovannoni, Wiel Arets, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, Toan Nguyen and others. The products combine Swiss quality with a free spirit and the idea of extracting new forms from the traditional ceramic material to new and independent bathroom concepts.
Laufen is proud to be a part of the global hospitality community, working with specification partners around the world on inspirational hotel projects. We are also well-known for being a highly innovative company with 125 years of expertise in ceramics. It is no coincidence, that Laufen invented the revolutionary SaphirKeramik, which possesses all the hygienic advantages of traditional bathroom ceramics, but is thinner, more defined, and extremely robust.
Furthermore the bathroom specialist has solutions and modern materials at its disposal to realise the made-to-measure bathroom. For example to fulfill the exacting requirements of architects, planners and engineers who design high-quality private residences as well as public and semi-public buildings, such as hotels.Visit site
Restoration Hardware Contract has a unique position in the hospitality, commercial and residential sectors. We offer the broadest range of product categories, and our culture of innovation, superior product development capabilities, in-house interior design services, integrated supply chain and significant purchasing scale enables us to offer an unmatched combination of design, quality and value to our business customers.Visit site
Roca is a company engaged in the design, production and commercialisation of products for the bathroom space, as well as ceramic floor and wall tiles for architecture, building and interior design. Its origins date from 1917, when the Roca family started building their first production plant in Gavà (Barcelona). In the centenary of its establishment, the company employs over 22,600 workers and has 78 production plants, with presence in more than 170 markets in five continents.
Thriving on its pioneering approach to bathroom manufacturing, Roca offers solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and issues faced by designers. Roca also collaborates with prestigious architects and designers including Armani, David Chipperfield and J. Mariscal, among others. Additionally, the company works to promote environmental initiatives; developing new products focused on water conservation, including the award-winning W+W combined washbasin and WC product.
The brand is expressed in the Roca Galleries, a network of showroom spaces designed by acclaimed architects such as Zaha Hadid, which demonstrate Roca’s enthusiasm in shaping the future of bathroom spaces. Roca has been involved in hospitality projects for Sheraton, Four Seasons and Hilton hotels, amongst others.Visit site
Villeroy & Boch is one of the world's leading premium brands for ceramic products. The family business, which was founded in 1748 and is headquartered in Mettlach/Germany, stands for innovation, tradition and exceptional style. As a renowned lifestyle brand, Villeroy & Boch offers products from the sectors Bathroom and Wellness and Tableware, and is active in 125 countries.
As a proven partner for high-quality bathroom solutions, Villeroy & Boch works with architects, planners and interior designers – from the first draft to the final version. Its modular PROJECTS system offers collections and products for individual project requirements with clear pricing and thematic-area segmentation. Working across the globe, the company can point to numerous completed installations across a range of design briefs with different project requirements.Visit site
Established in 1993 as the first of its kind, with a portfolio of only 10 iconic member properties, Design Hotels™ today represents and markets a hand-selected collection of privately owned and operated hotels – each a wholly unique creative expression – in hundreds of destinations around the globe, from world capitals and exclusive mountaintops to hidden beaches, off-the-beaten-path escapes, and beyond. Far more than a loosely affiliated assortment of properties, Design Hotels™ unites hotels that reflect the vision of independent hoteliers – “Originals” – with a passion for genuine, culturally rooted hospitality and cutting-edge design and architecture.
As a global lifestyle brand and full-service marketing consultancy, Design Hotels™ offers its members customised B2B services, including global launch campaigns, sales representation, revenue management, strategic marketing, public relations, and branding. Design Hotels also brings together an engaged community of followers who seek out travel inspirations and original experiences and find them in hotels that are new, established, transformative, and unexpected.Visit site
Dezeen’s mission is simple: to bring a carefully edited selection of the best architecture, design and interiors projects and news from around the world. Dezeen was launched at the end of November 2006 and has grown rapidly ever since. Its audience has grown each year and by February 2017 it reached 2.5 million unique visitors per month, making it one of the 5,000 most popular websites on the planet according to Alexa, as well as the most popular website about architecture and design.Visit site
Music changes how people think, lifts their mood and influences their behaviour. Music Concierge specialises in using background music to create unique atmospheres and distinct brand identities for clients all over the world.
For over 10 years, we’ve been working with some of the most respected global names in hospitality, retail and more, crafting memorable signature playlists that surprise, delight and engage their audiences – and which are rooted in the personality of the brand and the aesthetics of the space.
Radical Innovation welcomes big ideas for the guest experience – from inside and outside of hospitality, from any country, and from professionals and students alike. Our criteria? Show us what the hotel environment can be. Wow us with creativity and feasibility. Finalists are selected by a jury and flown to New York City to compete on the Radical Innovation stage.Visit site
LE Miami is much more than a trade show. We create a unique context for connection that mirrors how modern brands do business, where you will make meaningful relationships, hear from inspiring thought leaders and celebrate in style.
Kalisher is a team of more than 100 artists, eccentrics, and engineers who create, commission and manufacture comprehensive art collections for properties worldwide. For over 15 years, we have been privileged to partner with brands, designers, owners and communities to make art visions reality. We’re renowned in the world of Hospitality Art for our commitment to collaboration and our dedication to providing engaging art at any budget.Visit site
Headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, Oriental Weavers and its subsidiaries have continually delivered products synonymous with quality and value for more than 40 years. From pellet production and fibre extrusion to design and weaving, Oriental Weavers celebrates complete supply chain autonomy and maintains absolute quality control from concept to completion.
Innovative designs and production technology enable us to transform the highest quality materials into a wide selection of products that can be enjoyed for years, but are affordable enough to replace as often as you redecorate.
SNS Group is a manufacturer of high-end furniture for the hospitality industry, with branch offices in Europe, Dubai, Asia and USA, having its production facilities in Turkey and Indonesia, while keeping well established partnerships with Italian design enterprises.Visit site
For over 20 years TUUCI has been creating the most innovative, unique and stylish shade platforms in the industry. Founded with a passion by Dougan Clarke, TUUCI was born from the marine industry. This means every single parasol, lounge and cabana we create has been meticulously engineered to perform without question, in any environment. Beyond simply performing, they also turn heads as TUUCI products are built with an unparalleled sense of style and design not seen anywhere else in the world.Visit site