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.
Mari Balestrazzi is Director of Operations for the Environments team at Airbnb. Prior to her role at Airbnb, Mari was Vice President of Americas Design Services for Hyatt Hotels where she oversaw design for Hyatt's portfolio of full service brands. Previously, Mari was Senior Vice President of Design at Morgans Hotel Group where she was responsible for overseeing all design for the company and Director of Design for St. Regis Hotels at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Prior to her in-house roles, Mari was Studio Director for Aero Studios Limited in New York City where she oversaw new construction and renovation projects for both private residences and commercial projects, including 60 Thompson and Giorgio Armani’s private residence in New York.
Mark Boekenheide, AIA, is the Senior Vice President of Global Development for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. In this role, he oversees all design, development and construction activities for properties in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore and Japan.
Mark’s previous experience includes Senior Vice President of Design for the Related Companies, where he directed all design activities for Hudson Yards in NYC, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas; Vice President of Design and Construction for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts; and as Managing Partner for BBG-BBGM Architects and Interiors.
Mark is a graduate of Syracuse University, a licensed architect in 15 states, and a LEED-Certified design professional. A frequent speaker at hospitality-related events, Mark has taught Hotel Design and Development at Harvard University, and sits on the Advisory Board of the Syracuse University School of Architecture and the Editorial Advisory Board for Hospitality Design Magazine.
As Creative Director and Global Senior Vice President of Design for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Ave is responsible for the overall creative vision for the brand and is overseeing the design direction for the brand as it undertakes its international expansion.
Ave works closely with the development team in the evaluation of potential deals and establishes the high-level creative vision for projects by identifying trends, niches and opportunities in the marketplace. She engages the creative teams to help bring that vision to life and oversees day-to-day management of the design process. Collaborating closely with the marketing and brand teams, Ave helps cultivate a cohesive presentation across projects through the establishment of hotel names and the development of logos and graphics.
Ave started her hospitality career with W Hotels as Director of Interiors & Brand Development during the launch and expansion of the brand, opening the first 22 properties for W.
Sara Duffy graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and received her Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. With a background in art history and television, Sara crafts a unique, immersive narrative for each of her projects with a focus on thoughtful, classic design.
Sara's impressive variety of projects includes the Nomad Hotel and Bar in New York and its re-iteration in Las Vegas, the J.W. Marriott Nashville, and the iconic TWA Hotel at JFK Airport’s historic TWA Flight Center. She has worked with renowned hospitality developers such as the Sydell Group, Eleven Madison Park’s Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Marriott International, Turnberry Associates, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
Sam Gelin is an award-winning Hotel Developer and Founder of leading hospitality and experiential company, Craft Hospitality.
In September 2017, Sam opened MADE hotel in New York City, which was added to Condé Nast's Travellers Hot List as one of the Best Hotels in The World in 2018. Within the hotel, Sam created and launched three celebrated food and beverage concepts — Paper Coffee, Good Behaviour, and foodie favourite, Ferris. In April 2018, Michelin Guide announced that MADE's food and beverage program is the model for hotel restaurants based on quality.
Sam was included in Hotels Magazine's Rising Star List of Top 20 People in the Hotel Industry under 40 and recognised by Vanity Fair as having "a passionately personal understanding of today's traveller". In 2018, MADE was awarded the AHEAD Americas award for "Best Guestroom" in North & South America", and The Sunday Times announced Sam's hotel as "the best example of next-gen hotels".
Since 2011, Sam has lead the creation and execution of unique food and beverage experiences in over 11 cities around the world, which are regularly enjoyed by more than 30,000 people every year.
As co-lead of esteemed NYC atelier Tihany Design, Alessia embraces the mission of an ever-evolving industry, to elevate the luxury hospitality and leisure lifestyle with sensational custom interiors.
She has helmed projects for a variety of prestige hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruise, private clubs and estates, from the modern to the iconic. Her international body of work ranges from Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul, and Four Seasons Dubai DIFC, to Seabourn Cruise Lines and Hungary’s Sauska Winery in Tokaj; and she has collaborated with renowned chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Richard Ekkebus.
A graduate of Italy’s Politecnico di Milano, Alessia began her career at Tihany Design’s Rome office in 2007, earning successive promotions for her talent, expertise, leadership and mentorship, culminating with her appointment to Studio Director 10 years later. In 2020, Founder & Principal Adam D. Tihany appointed Alessia as the first Managing Partner, ushering in a new chapter in the firm’s 43-year history.
Conde Nast Traveller named Alessia one of '12 People to Watch in 2022,' in recognition of her passion and international impact as a visionary force in custom design.
Verena Haller joined Standard International from Equinox Hotels, where she informed the creation of the Brand, Design Vision and Guest Experience for its new concept. She began her hospitality career with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, refining & honing her hospitality and design knowledge. For over a decade, Verena has worked with leading brands, designing for The W, Four Seasons, and James hotels. Verena went on to join Ian Schrager as EVP of Architecture and Design, working on and opening a variety of Edition Hotels and The Public Chicago. She later partnered with Morgans Hotel Group as SVP of Design, defining the brand’s next steps. She opened properties in London, Las Vegas, Istanbul etc., utilizing her expertise to help create the brand as it is today.
Currently Chief Design Officer for Standard International, she is helping to expand The Standard label and brand worldwide, with their first international property opening in London later this year. Verena’s unique innovative vision and refined eye for detail has greatly contributed to the overall success in the expansion and evolution of The Standard.
Gulla Jonsdottir is an Icelandic Architect, creating unexpected and poetic modern Designs from her eponymous Los Angeles & Paris based Design studios.
Known for her sensual and dynamic forms that work in harmony with their surroundings, Gulla's environmental compassion brings unique spatial experiences that respond to nature and surrounding site, always echoing the integration of organic beauty and function.
Gulla Jonsdottir studied mathematics & biology before moving to Los Angeles to study architecture at SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture). Before starting her own firm in 2009, she worked for Richard Meier & Partners, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Dodd Mitchell Design.
Gulla and her International team have a reputation for holistic work across the fields of hospitality, commercial & residential design, museums & wellness projects worldwide, as well as having her own furniture line. Gulla has in her career worked on renowned projects in Paris, Japan, Mexico, Iceland, Beirut, Bahamas, China and USA.
Being selected as one of Top 50 Firms in Interior Design’s Power Grid, LA, Gulla Jonsdottir has in her career received several awards including Interior Design’s Best of year winner 2017 for Resort design: The Macau Roosevelt in Macau, China. Architectural Digest Best Bar in America for La Peer Hotel, Interior Design’s Nomination for Best Urban Boutique Hotel for La Peer Hotel, Interior Design’s Gold Key Award for Best Spa Design: Paz Spa at Cabo Azul Resort, “Best design of the Year” by Esquire magazine for the Red O restaurant in Los Angeles, Boutique Design’s Best Hotel Design: Cabo Azul Resort, Best Lighting Design: Cabo Azul Resort, Los Angeles Architectural Award of excellence for Red O Restaurant, and Hospitality Design Magazine award for Roxbury and Cabo Azul, Restaurant & Bar Design nomination for the the Library bar at The Mayfair Hotel, Los Angeles and Hyde lounge, Miami, as well as a nomination for Surface magazine’s best new hotel suites for Hotel G penthouses in San Francisco.
Some of her most notable projects are: The 2 Michelin star Le Grand Restaurant, by Jean-Francois Piege in Paris, La Peer hotel in West Hollywood, CA, The Macau Roosevelt hotel in China, Comal at Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Los Cabos, Mexico, The Mayfair hotel, Los Angeles, Hotel G Penthouses in San Francisco, and the Renovation of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, with 15 more projects on the boards currently.
Greg Keffer is a Partner and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group, where he oversees a wide variety of project types, including hospitality, retail, residential, and workplace environments. Greg's combined strengths in architecture, interiors, graphics, and branding allow him to develop innovative and holistic design solutions for a global roster of clients.
Current projects include Moxy Chelsea in New York, Nobu Hotel Barcelona, 15 Hudson Yards in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Warner Music Group Headquarters in Los Angeles, W Nashville, and the Kempinski Hotel Chengdu. Greg also has extensive luxury residential experience, including 111 Murray in New York, Sky in New York, and Station House in Washington, D.C. Other notable projects include the iconic New York restaurants Nobu Downtown and Union Square Cafe, NeueHouse in New York and Los Angeles, Chefs Club in New York, The Time hotel in New York, Hotel EMC2 in Chicago, the MGM Cotai, the Doheny Room and Nightingale Plaza in Los Angeles, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Quebec City and Five50 Pizza Bar at the Aria in Las Vegas.
Tony Machado is Senior Vice President of Design for the hospitality leader and innovator, SH Hotels & Resorts, an affiliate of global private investment firm Starwood Capital Group, where he is leading all aspects of design for the company’s fast growing 1 Hotel, Baccarat Hotel, and SH Collection brands. 2022 hotel openings will include 1 Hotel San Francisco, 1 Hotel Nashville and 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay Kauai.
Prior to SH Hotels & Resorts, Tony was with Morgans Hotel Group where he served as Global Vice President and Head of Design and Construction for the expansion of all brands including Delano and Mondrian.
Tony attended Syracuse University’s School of Architecture in Florence Italy and San Diego State University where he received a BA with an emphasis in Environmental Design. Tony is a California state licensed architect.
Chad Oppenheim is a Miami-based architect whose work is praised for its ability to transform the prosaic into the poetic. A graduate of Cornell University and a Fellow of the AIA, Oppenheim has lectured widely and has taught at various architecture schools, including most recently at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
In 1999, he founded Oppenheim Architecture (Miami, Basel, New York). The international practice has received over 80 awards and distinctions, including the AIA’s highest distinction, the Silver Medal, and featured in numerous publications around the world. In 2018, Oppenheim Architecture was the recipient of one of the National Design Awards by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Markus is Chief Development Officer at Proper Hospitality. Proper Hospitality designs, operates and brands high-end hospitality experiences; each is a distinctive reflection of the vibrant community surrounding it, yet as a group, they share a common belief in uncommon luxury, convenience of location, and world-class amenities provided by locally vetted innovators. Proper Hospitality’s diverse portfolio of award-winning properties includes luxury lifestyle properties under the Proper brand in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Austin, Downtown L.A.; and accessible lifestyle properties under the Hotel June brand in Malibu and West L.A.
Markus has held various leadership roles in brand development, sales, loyalty and innovation, working for leading hotel chains such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Worldwide across five continents and 20 lifestyle and luxury brands. His passion for sustainable business growth, designing premiere guest experiences and building global communities has been part of Markus’ 20+ year career in global hospitality.
As Senior Vice President of the Americas and Business Innovation at Design Hotels, Markus was responsible for identifying the most forward-thinking hospitality concepts, as well as expanding the brand in North and South America. He led the Global Innovation efforts for the organisation and developed new unique revenue streams in retail, experiences, and membership models for luxury lifestyle brands across multiple digital platforms.
Ilan Segal has a relentless flair for innovation. His 24 years' experience as a highly successful hotelier spans two continents and is characterised by a daring creativity and innate knowledge of operations.
Born and raised in the hospitality world, Ilan was exposed to all aspects of the industry. Both a musician and photographer, Ilan has developed a profound understanding of how to enhance vibe and style, capturing the senses and spirit of our guests. He has introduced concepts that elevated the standard of hospitality, reflected in his impeccable track record.
A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Ilan’s path includes Standard International, where he was Managing Director, The Leading Hotels of The World Headquarters, Starwood Hotels’ first W Hotel in New York City, Hotel Victor, The Tides and Marlin Hotels in Miami Beach, among other distinguished roles.
In 2008 Ilan took it a step further forming Soulity, a hospital consulting boutique firm. His first project was creating the iconic Tcherassi Hotel + Spa in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, followed by other hospitality and food and beverage experiences in The Americas, including Hotel Matilda, one of Mexico’s best boutique design hotels. Most recently, Ilan has led activations at Miami’s Design District as well as providing creative direction for Brookfield’s Hospitality’s division.
Jayson Seidman is the Founder and Principal Managing Partner of Sandstone and its various affiliates, Drifter Hotels and The Basic®. Jayson has accumulated years of experience working for Goldman Sachs, LNR Property (now Starwood Capital), Credit Suisse, and most recently as the Head of Development for SHVO in New York. He has gained key knowledge concerning the financial implications and methods for developing ground-up or repositioning a property through pragmatic creative approaches, smart sustainable design, and problem mitigation.
His wide-ranging real estate knowledge includes a strong background in hotel finance, operations, design development, asset and portfolio management. He also possesses insight of acquisitions, as well as the structuring of capital for complex real estate transactions. Recent projects include 3 hotels in New Orleans; The Drifter, The Frenchmen and the Hotel Saint Vincent. In addition to this are The East Austin Hotel and The Basic Marfa; both based in Texas.
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.
With 25 years of experience in luxury hotel and residential design, Anne Wilkinson brings an unparalleled amount of knowledge to each new project.
A New York native, Anne earned her Design degree from Cornell University, alongside interests in theatrical lighting, classical and modern dance. Named Principal of BAMO in 2017, she has contributed to the growth and success of the firm since its inception.
Working around the globe in vibrant urban or resort destinations, including some of the most pristine and sensitive environments, Anne has the ability to create settings that not only speak to the destination but also respect the people and place. Her strong understanding of the complexities of hotel design allow her to develop creative and innovative solutions that improve the overall guest experience and add to the client’s success. Anne infuses a marked sense of style and place into her elegant and cohesive designs.
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.
The brand Lasvit, founded in 2007 by Leon Jakimič, sheds new light on Bohemian glass and takes it into the next millennium. Lasvit combines the authenticity of glass craft with innovative technologies and creative craftsmanship. In a few short years, Lasvit has established itself as the authority delivering bespoke lighting sculptures and art installations made from hand-blown glass.
Collaborations with renowned designers and artists produce also unique glass collections. Nendo, Ross Lovegrove, Daniel Libeskind, Maarten Baas, Czech legends René Roubíček and Bořek Šípek are among those who choose Lasvit in order to embody their unconventional artistic vision, endow it with the precision and mastery of our glassmakers, and produce impressive creative oeuvre. This is a manifesto of Lasvit’s uncompromising mission: To transform glass into breathtaking light and design experiences.Visit site
TOPHOTELPROJECTS is the heart of a global community of suppliers and decision-makers which initiates and supports the communication relating to building, design, furnishing, and operation of hotels.
We are a German research firm covering global hotel constructions, that over a decade branched out into hospitality events, media, and hotel design.
No other company comes close in supporting the hotel industry by efficiently combining different business areas into one integrated solution.
Ever since the hotel industry veteran Rolf W. Schmidt founded the company in 2009, our core activity is building the world’s most comprehensive directory of:
We took the complex, ever-evolving global hospitality industry and introduced it to our German sense of efficiency and sheer hard work.
Our research team of some 25 experienced professionals spends 1,800 hours a month researching hotel projects around the world.
Our database has been 10 years in the making, during which we gathered information on over 24,000 hotel projects and 120,000 related companies. Currently, our database has information on more than 6,500 ongoing hotel projects worldwide – important details included.
TOPHOTELPROJECTS today represents an exhaustive, ever-growing network of professionals from all major sectors of the hospitality industry: owners, developers, investors, brands, operators, architects, designers, and suppliers.
In 2019, TOPHOTELPROJECTS and Sleeper Media signed a strategic partnership with mutual co-investment. This partnership combines digital expertise and in-depth data of TOPHOTELPROJECTS with Sleeper Media’s leading hospitality offerings. It is all about synergy and a win for all sectors of the industry.Visit site
KALDEWEI – your worldwide partner for iconic bathroom solutions shaped from superior steel enamel. KALDEWEI’s extensive range of bathtubs, shower surfaces, and washbasins are ideally suited to the demands of the hospitality industry delivering an increased level of health and wellbeing awareness for your hotel. The smooth, non-porous glass surface not only gives you security against germs and dirt but is also the material of the future. KALDEWEI steel enamel is made of 100% natural materials and is 100% recyclable, so it’s good for your guests and the planet too.
To learn more visit KALDEWEI.comVisit site
Founded in 1892 in Switzerland, LAUFEN has become one of the world's leading companies for sanitary ceramics. Today LAUFEN Bathrooms provided integrated bathroom concepts with high-quality products, ranging from sanitary ceramics to bathtubs and shower trays, furniture, faucets, and accessories.Visit site
Villeroy & Boch, formed in 1748, is a leading ceramics manufacturer steeped in European culture and history, and one of the biggest international premium brands in the areas of bathrooms and wellness.
Villeroy & Boch offers the finest and most innovative bathroom products and furnishing concepts for both private customers and property developers. The company is a pioneer in the realm of ceramic product design and innovation. Villeroy & Boch beautiful, high-quality products are hallmarks of French design flair and German engineering efficiency.Visit site
Designing and manufacturing everything in bathrooms.
Roca began life as a family business manufacturing cast iron radiators at a factory in Gavà, near Barcelona in 1917. Over the years, the portfolio gradually expanded and by 1929, Roca entered the bathroom environment for the first time. With an attentive focus on social changes, Roca has since been pioneering when tackling issues surrounding sustainability, design, and technology, and remains at the forefront of these innovations today. Today, Roca reaches over 170 countries, supplied by 76 production plants with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. After one hundred years, Roca is still proud to call itself a family business.Visit site
Preciosa Lighting elevates the heritage of Bohemian crystal through contemporary lighting designs since 1724. The company is built on centuries of tradition and the unique art of master glassmakers from Crystal Valley. We honour this heritage and craftsmanship by creating innovative lighting products that stand the test of time.
Our lighting styles range from individual luxury lighting to dynamic and interactive installations. As a global company, Preciosa cooperates with designers worldwide to create exclusive lights that reflect our spirit. Our historic chandeliers and contemporary projects can be found in hotels, resorts, fine restaurants, luxury residences, cultural institutions and on board yachts and cruise ships in locations as varied as New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Moscow or London.
Preciosa Lighting can create unrivaled emotional experiences by combining the traditional art form of chandelier craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. This knowledge is what drives our intention to unveil the symbolic as well as the aesthetic power of decorative lighting. It led us to create Preciosa’s Signature Designs which are highlighted by countless customization possibilities to perfectly fit the owner’s desires.
Signature Designs are authentic, timeless, and celebrate design. We are inspired by the allure of crystal combined with light. Creative craftsmanship is evident through the versatility of each light; customizable for space and its uses. Preciosa’s advanced use of technology is seen in every element of the design. They present contemporary styles with a timeless quality.Visit site
Founded in 2011, Saatchi Art is a gallery and art consultancy that has disrupted the art-buying process by making art widely accessible to all kinds of buyers – from collectors to designers.
We strive to support historically excluded groups of artists and provide them with a platform to showcase their work. Since we started our gallery over 50% of sales each year are by women.
Saatchi Art represents artists in over 100 countries, providing our clients with an unparalleled selection of paintings, photography, sculpture, and works on paper, enabling us to support projects with both local and international artists. We also work with design studios and artisans internationally to create unique pieces, from ceramics to bas reliefs and woven textiles.
Our art advisory services are offered free of charge, and we curate bespoke art packages for hospitality, multifamily and residential, commercial, and healthcare projects. Currently, we are working on projects in the US, UK, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
We have recently curated art collections for Four Seasons New Orleans (Bill Rooney Studio), tommie Hollywood and tommie Austin (Studio Collective), Hotel Barriere Fouquet’s New York (Martin Brudnizki Design Studio), The Boca Raton (Rockwell Group), Dream Doha (Meyer Davis), Thompson Hollywood (Tara Bernerd & Partners), 1 Hotel Toronto (Rockwell Group and SH Hotels & Resorts), and Aria MGM (Rottet Studio).
Our team of art advisors is dedicated to contemporary art and design, and to working with the finest designers in the world to create elevated, sophisticated, and memorable experiences.
We look forward to working with you!
Chief Curator & VP, Art Advisory
Established in 2002, FOH® is a women-owned global foodservice and hospitality company that manufactures smart, savvy, commercial-grade products including plateware, drinkware, flatware, hotel amenities, and more. Driven by innovation, FOH® is dedicated to delivering that WOW experience that restaurants and hotels crave, all while maintaining a competitive price. All products are fully customizable, and many are also created using sustainable, eco-friendly materials, such as straws and plates made from biodegradable paper and wood and BPA-free drinkware. FOH® has two established brands: Front of the House®, focused on tabletop and buffet solutions, and room360®, which offers hotel products. Check out our collections today atVisit site