AHEAD Americas 2024


AHEAD is the leading Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design. Each year, the series comprises four regional annual awards programmes, celebrating the achievements of those shaping the hospitality industry across the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and Europe.

Entries for AHEAD Americas 2024 are now closed.

The winners will be announced at the ceremony, held at Weylin, Brooklyn on 17 October. Get tickets now.

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Brad Wilson (Chair)

CEO & Co-Partner - Ace Hotel Group & Atelier Ace

Brad Wilson is CEO and Co-Partner of Ace Hotel Group and the brand’s in-house creative agency Atelier Ace, where he oversees growth and operations, develops new hotels and collaborative projects, and leads operational and creative teams. After attending Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Brad first honed his skills at major hospitality brands like Hilton International, Park Hyatt and Westin. He launched the first W Hotel and helped to guide the Starwood brand’s early days, rising to Vice President of Operations for W Worldwide. Directly prior to helming Ace Hotel, Brad helped build James Hotels from the ground up, serving as CEO.

Adriana Marianella

Principal - Mara Partners

Adriana is the Principal of Mara Partners, a full-service boutique hospitality advisory firm based in New York City. Adriana was formerly the Chief Development Officer for CultureWorks, the parent company for NeueHouse and Fotografiska, where she oversaw the brands’ global expansion and design development in new markets throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Prior to joining CultureWorks, Adriana was the Vice President of Brand Development & Experiential for Standard International (Standard Hotels, Bunkhouse Group & Peri Hotels) having commenced her 11-year tenure with The Standard and André Balazs Properties (Chateau Marmont, Chiltern Firehouse, Sunset Beach and The Mercer) as Chief of Staff to André Balazs.

Adriana is a Board Director for Altos Planos, the parent company behind the award-winning B-Corp sustainable tequila, Mijenta, and Tres Tribus mezcal. Philanthropically, she is a longstanding UNICEF NextGen board member, specifically dedicated to addressing clean water initiatives through leadership of the UNICEF Tap Project, and was a founding board member of Chefs for Impact. Academically, Adriana holds a B.A. from Brown University.

Philanthropically, Adriana is a longstanding UNICEF NextGen board member, specifically dedicated to addressing clean water initiatives through leadership of the UNICEF Tap Project, and is a founding board member of Chefs for Impact. Academically, Adriana holds a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University, and she is a visiting guest lecturer at SciencesPo in Paris and at Parsons in New York.

Amy Jakubowski

Principal & Managing Director - Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR)

Amy's enthusiasm for design is only matched by her passion for adventure and eagerness to inspire those around her. An award-winning hospitality design executive with nearly 30 years of experience, Amy developed her energetic leadership style while rising through highly-regarded design firms, including Wilson Associates, Puccini Group, BBGM, and JDA Associates. Attentive to client needs, Amy nurtures and invests in her client partnerships to ensure they yield success.

Having managed annual design revenues in excess of $10M and construction project budgets ranging from $25M to $500M, she has the experience, adaptable skills, and advanced understanding of process and prioritization to lead high-profile, complex design projects. Her diverse style is visible in signature properties across the globe, including The Intercontinental Barclay, Viceroy Morocco, and the branded triplex suites at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

While building an extensive portfolio, which includes mixed-use developments, hotel repositioning and renovation, new builds, restaurants, residential, retail, spa, gaming, corporate offices, and showrooms, as well as the development of brand prototypes and guidelines, Amy has partnered with global brands, such as IHG, Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton, to name a few.

Named one of the Top 30 Influential Women in Hospitality and a recipient of a Gold Key Award, the hospitality and design communities have recognised Amy’s hospitality design and leadership acumen on multiple occasions.

Amy's exuberant personality has allowed her to cultivate meaningful relationships across the hospitality industry. She's an active member of ISHC, IIDA, and NEWH. She has presented at various conferences, including the LA Tourism Market Outlook Forum, HD Expo, ALIS, and BDNY. And multiple publications, such as Hotel News Now, Interior Design, and Boutique Design, have showcased her thoughts in print and online.

Outside of the design studio, Amy pours her excitement and enthusiasm into exploring what the world has to offer. With a minor in Photography, she loves capturing moments through her camera lens. She also spends her free time listening to live music, exercising, cooking, knitting, reading, and gathering with friends. But when she needs an adrenaline boost, she glides down ski slopes and soars through the sky as an experienced skydiver.

Amy is a Licensed Interior Designer in New York (#000280) and Nevada (#119-ID) and holds NCIDQ certification #0020425. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design.

Audra Tuskes

Vice President, Design - Marriott International

Audra Tuskes serves as the Vice President of Design, for Marriott International’s luxury tier. This includes the iconic brands of St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Edition, JW Marriott Hotels, W Hotels and The Luxury Collection. A design professional focused on hospitality & lifestyle development, Audra leads a team of designers who drive the creative charge behind new & evolving brands. In her role, she ensures that the vision, quality, operational excellence & voice distinctively defines each brand through the development of a strong design strategy.

Audra concurrently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for Hospitality Design Magazine. With nearly 20 years of experience in the field, Audra's past positions include VP of Design for Neuehouse, VP & Creative Director for Lightstone, VP of Design for Commune Hotels, Director of Design for Starwood Hotels, and Associate Design Professor at Pratt Institute. Audra holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia University.

Audra is located in Marriott’s New York office.

Ayesha Khan

Vice President, Design, Hospitality - Brookfield Properties

A prolific Sleeper contributor for over seven years, Ayesha is also VP of Design for Brookfield Properties’ hospitality division. As the daughter of a diplomat, Ayesha grew up in hotels and her earliest memories are of making her family members ‘check in’ to her make-believe ‘hotels.’ She has worked and lived in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Saudi Arabia, and now calls New York home.

Bashar Wali

Founder & Chief Executive Officer - Practice Hospitality

Bashar Wali is a founder, a father, and a hotel fanatic. He’s a pragmatist—hungry to experience life not as it is packaged and sold, but as it is. His vested interest in hospitality, culture, and design, is cut with curiosity of what’s possible, beyond the status quo.

Bashar is always looking for that spark—that perfect symmetry of an idea and its physical manifestation—to make human experiences as we know them, better. He’s the consummate Host of the Soirée—ever in pursuit of a shared humanity among friends, colleagues, and total strangers. This is perhaps his greatest gift: bringing together a group that’s more inspiring than the sum of its parts.

As founder and CEO of This Assembly and Practice Hospitality, Bashar draws upon expertise honed over a 30-year career in hospitality. An expert in the lifestyle space, Bashar is known for pushing limits in his philosopher-meets-hotelier kind of way. Whether helming the TEDx stage, hosting a Global YPO event, or collaborating on Clubhouse, Bashar’s message is unwavering: service is what you deliver, hospitality is how you make people feel.

Bashar has done every job in a hotel—from frying an egg to negotiating a deal—working for Starwood Hotels before leading acquisitions and development globally at Grand Heritage Hotels. Prior to launching This Assembly and Practice Hospitality, Bashar served as President/CEO of Provenance Hotels, where he remains a partner, for 15 years, growing the company from five to 15 hotels, 1,500 team members, and expanding the collection from the Pacific Northwest to an award-winning national brand, with annual revenue in excess of $150 million.

When Bashar isn’t traveling to 50+ countries and 45+ states, he’s home in Portland, Oregon with his wife and kids, dreaming up the hotels of tomorrow.

Christopher Alvarado

Senior Vice President, Design - SH Hotels & Resorts

Hemanshu 'HP' Parwani

CEO - Olson Kundig

Hemanshu – or “HP” as he is called by friends and colleagues – is responsible for directing operations at Olson Kundig, including the firm’s business and organisational development. In this role, HP supplements the firm’s design-first strategy with effective operational resources.

HP has worked in international operations, capital markets, and strategic development for over 30 years. He started his career in hospitality operations with Pannell Kerr Foster Worldwide, a specialised financial advisory and consulting services firm, where he led the practice in strategic planning for hospitality markets. Since then, HP has gone on to hold CEO, COO, and CFO roles for various international firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry, delivering projects on almost all continents. Throughout this time, he has stayed engaged within the hospitality sector, expanding his expertise to asset development and asset management, project feasibility assessments, and site and operator selections—working with brands including Aman, One&Only, Six Senses, Montage, Auberge, Fairmont, Rosewood, Armani, and Four Seasons.

Under HP’s leadership, Olson Kundig has experienced significant growth in hospitality work, with over two dozen active projects in development across the globe. Looking towards the future, his focus is continuing to prioritise sustainability and building performance as part of the guest experience.

A true global citizen, HP has lived in Asia, the Middle East and North America. He is an avid mountaineer and has climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Everest. HP often climbs to raise money for causes close to his heart, including the American Cancer Society and Autism Speaks. Mountaineering reflects HP’s larger approach to business and operations: he believes in fostering a team mentality where trust emerges as colleagues work together towards a common purpose. For him, progress is measured not so much by reaching the summit, but rather by the daily steps taken and the relationships and personal bonds created along the way.

Jon Kastl

Vice President, Global Interior Design - Las Vegas Sands

Jon Kastl, LEED AP, brings to his role as Vice President of Global Interior Design at Las Vegas Sands, over 30 years of experience in hospitality, restaurant and residential design.  Initially joining Marina Bay Sands in 2020, Jon focused on the repositioning of the iconic Marina Bay Sands integrated resort through the implementation of Las Vegas Sands’ initiative of “Design Excellence”.  This award-winning repositioning remains ongoing and has established a new benchmark for luxury gaming and guest experiences in Southeast Asia and beyond.

In his new global role Jon remains focused on design leadership and development across all regions including Sands’ expansion plans in Singapore, Macau and the United States.

Prior to joining Sands, Jon was a Partner and Studio Director with Champalimaud Design where he worked on several signature projects including the historic renovation of Raffles Singapore, the relaunch of the iconic Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles, and the Halekulani Okinawa.

Jon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati’s acclaimed College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Kellie Sirna

Principal & Owner - Studio 11 Design

As Principal and Owner of Studio 11 Design, Kellie Sirna’s entrepreneurial acumen and creative perspective has been honed throughout two decades of traveling the world and designing some of the hospitality industry’s most inspiring spaces. Since founding the firm in 2011, Kellie has led global projects across boutique and renown nameplates such as Caesars Entertainment, Hyatt, Starwood, Thompson Hotels, and countless award-winning concepts in Food & Beverage, Lifestyle hotels, and luxury resorts.

A tastemaker in her own right, Kellie serves on the Hospitality Design Magazine board, as well as judged the HD Awards and Wave of the Future Awards. She’s a recipient of the American Business Awards’ Woman of the Year along with the DCEO 500 acknowledgement, and has been covered as a prominent female entrepreneur by media outlets such as Boutique Design, Hospitality Design, CNN, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes, and Inc. Magazine among others.

Lauren Rottet

Founder & President - Rottet Studio

Lauren Rottet is a highly accomplished architect, interior designer, product designer and art curator with an extraordinary record of awards, publications, lectures, juries and honors. Lauren is the Founding Principal and President of Rottet Studio, an international architecture and interior design firm, and is the first woman in history to be elevated to Fellow status by both the American Institute of Architects and International Interior Design Association. Ms. Rottet also holds the titles of Interior Design Hall of Fame, Interiors Designer of the Year, Boutique Design’s Designer of the Year, and Hospitality Design Platinum Circle inductee. Ms. Rottet’s furniture and product designs have earned her four gold medals for Best of NeoCon and a Chicago Athenaeum Award. Her new furniture company, Rottet Collection, was introduced in 2017 and was met with rave reviews garnering significant awards including an Interior Design Best of Year.

Rottet Studio is consistently ranked among the corporate and hospitality Top 100 Design Giants and recognized as one of the Top 3 Most Admired Design Firms in the World by a jury of our peer professionals. The firm has an extensive portfolio of corporate, hospitality, residential and maritime projects for the world’s leading companies and brands, including: Goldman Sachs, Disney, Viacom, New York Stock Exchange, United Talent Agency, Paul Hastings, Kirkland & Ellis, Target, NW Mutual, Comcast, Hines, Howard Hughes Company, Langham, Brookfield, Loews, DHG, Valencia, BGI, Extell, JMB, Four Seasons, Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Belmond, Wheelock Viking and more.

Markus Schreyer

Chairman – META Foundation

Markus is a global hospitality executive and experience-architect at the forefront of business development, innovation, experience design and technology. His career encompasses roles across 40 countries and 20 luxury brands in global hotel chains like Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts; as well as leadership positions in lifestyle brands, including Senior Vice President Global Innovation at Design Hotels, a Marriott brand, and Chief Development Officer at Proper Hospitality.

His passion for fostering growth, accelerating startups, and developing new revenue streams in retail, experiences, and membership models for lifestyle brands through strategic innovation and human-touch points across multiple digital platforms has earned him recognition across industries.

As the co-founder and chairman of the META Foundation, a visionary hospitality innovation lab established in 2020, he accelerates global projects in cultural, social, and sustainable development. The foundation collaborates with governments, universities, and technologists across industries introducing impactful business models in living, travel, and community building enabled through AI, web3 and spatial computing.

Markus holds an MBA and a PhD in Innovation Strategy from the University of Dresden, Germany. He teaches competitive strategy at New York University (NYU) and lives in the city with his family.

Meghann Day

President - HBA Americas / Partner - HBA San Francisco

Meghann carries a dual role as HBA’s President of The Americas and Partner at HBA San Francisco. During her 17-plus-year career at HBA, Meghann has been instrumental to the foundational success of HBA San Francisco with her mastery of skill, expertise in design and business management, and convivial nature. Under her leadership, the boutique studio has expanded its reach into Mexico and continues to earn national and international acclaim for its portfolio of work. As President The Americas, Meghann leads nationwide efforts to drive synergistic collaboration and ongoing innovation in design, further strengthen HBA Americas’ brand position globally, and mentor future generations of designers.

Her extensive global design portfolio encompasses five-star hotels & resorts, spas, wineries, luxury residences, and new-build developments. A student of the world, Meghann’s distinct sense of style and design is informed by her intrepid travels and curiosity of culture, which results in poetic spatial experiences that blend form with function. Meghann holds a degree in Interior Design from Kansas State University. She has been named to Boutique Design’s B18 and serves on the Hospitality Design Editorial Advisory Board.

Paul McElroy

Executive Vice President, Design & Construction - LUCID | Highgate Hotels

Paul McElroy oversees all aspects of LUCIDs Design and Construction activities across the globe (LUCID is Highgate Hotels in house Design and Construction Division). Prior to joining LUCID, Paul was the Vice President of Design and Construction for Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts and oversaw all of their portfolio renovations and redevelopments for its Hawaii region properties and The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco.

Paul began his construction career at Rider Levett Bucknall and during this 11 years with the construction consulting firm, he managed notable construction projects including the ground up construction of the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations Club, restoration of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon, renovation of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort and redevelopment of the Sheraton Waikiki.

Over the course of his 25 year career, Paul has worked on projects in excess of $4 billion and is currently responsible for $1 billion in active projects across the LUCID platform. Paul’s leadership philosophy is rooted in methodically building the right teams, creating the right chemistry and environment, and empowering those teams to be the best they can be. Paul’s creative eye is the perfect complement to his core expertise of cost control, risk management and value creation.

A native of Donegal in the northwest region of Ireland, Paul earned a Bachelor Degree with honours in Quantity Surveying from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

Paulo Mancio

Managing Director - REM Constructura

Paulo Mancio graduated as a Civil Engineer with a Master of Business Administration at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). He has been at the forefront of the most important hotel properties and project designs for Accor for the last 19 years. Since 2013, he has held the position of Senior Vice-President D&TS Accor South America.

Throughout his career, he has attended several international conferences on hospitality, sustainability and innovation in the USA, Europe, and Asia.

Recognised for implementing innovative solutions and pioneering initiatives, he is also the curator of the Design & Technical Summit, the biggest forming event in hospitality sector.

In addition, Paulo is a professor of a post-graduate course in Architecture and Interior Design in the Luxury Segment at UNIVALI/SC. He has led classes and lectures in the USA, Italy and Chile.

Paulo is also part Advisory Boards including the Board of Green Building Council Brasil (GBC), the Board and Investor of BR Angels (Startups), the Advisory Board WTC Smart Cities, and the Board Decor Social (NGO).

Sabine Vessnow

Co-Founder - Weldon

Sabine Vessnow has more than 25 years of experience across the hospitality industry- focused on development, product and
design, and asset management for global lifestyle brands. Having experience working with some of the larger boutique brands and
names worldwide- Kimpton, Sydell, AJCP and Chip Conley, to name just a few, she prides herself on thoughtful, beautifully
executed design immersions, making ordinary extraordinary, and she was one of the early forces involved in environmental practices.
Sabine's industry curiosity led her to Airbnb, where she headed hospitality and development for Airbnb/ Samara, the experimental
research and development design lab focused on the future of design and technology for Airbnb globally. Together with a variety of collaborators (including SOUNDWaves) they pushed boundaries for the Backyard (Samara's socially responsible drive to put an ADU in every backyard) and Cabin (how to host in remote glamping environments) projects.

Most recently Sabine handheld the development and the move for the luxe private membership club CORE: to one of the most prominent blocks in the world, 711 5th Avenue, New York, the Coca-Cola building, working closely with building owner SHVO.  Sabine is currently working with CORE: and SHVO in San Francisco to open up CORE: in the iconic Transamerica Pyramid.

In 2022 Sabine, together with her two partners Damon Lawrence and Stephen Satterfield, co-founded Weldon, a human centred multi-faceted hospitality company advocating authenticity, innovation, social impact, environmental sustainability, and a deep commitment to cultural inclusivity. Weldon's intentions and regenerative developments will be both in impeccably executed rural agriturismo and urban locations, starting in VA and CA.

Sabine was awarded Hospitality Design's Wave of the Future Award in 2017, and she is a current editorial advisory board member at Hospitality Design, a board member at Catalyst Partners (an impact focused real estate developer), and a partner at Black Hoteliers & Investors Association.

Virginia Thomas Gray

Vice President of Development - Collective Retreats

With an artist's spirit and a mind for strategy, Virginia Thomas Gray's work seeks to capture and inspire the zeitgeist of contemporary hospitality. Virginia led development for Design Hotels in the Americas for several years, supporting hoteliers from ideation through to opening, positioning, and community building. A Jill-of-all-Trades, she directed Design Hotel's cultural happenings to drive brand awareness. Later, as the Director of Community & Culture for Neuehouse, she led the group's growth at the intersection of the creative and strategic through cultural programming, partnership procurement, and "the scaffolding of soul." More recently, as the Vice President of Development for Collective Retreats, the sum of her multifaceted expertise and vision coalesced in the creation of The Conservatory, the first collective for design-forward hotels in nature. The former CEO of CultureWorks and Equinox Hotels once said, "Virginia is all things culture. We love her energy, spirit, talent and ideas."

Tatiana Sheveleva

Co-Founder & Partner - Chapi Chapo Design

Born and raised in Kazakhstan, Tatiana is Co-Founder and Partner of Chapi Chapo Design, one of the world’s leading hospitality interior design firms. After leaving her homeland to pursue education in the United States, Tatiana followed her ambitions to Canada where she immigrated in 2003.

Throughout her career as an international designer, Tatiana has led large-scale projects for the world’s most renowned five-star luxury hotel companies including Four Seasons, St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Aman, Park Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Baccarat and more.

A creator of experiences, Tatiana believes that every new project is an invitation to embark on an immersive journey through storytelling. Her work tells evocative stories, honouring the culture of each location and the people who call it home, crediting her heritage as inspiration. Tatiana's work challenges convention, creating timeless spaces that leave a lasting impression.

Most recently, Tatiana designed The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City (October 2021) and two upcoming St. Regis Resorts in Mexico's Riviera Maya and Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic (2023 and 2024).

Kimberly Jackson

Managing Director & Associate Principal - AvroKO (Miami)

Kimberly Jackson is an associate principal at AvroKO and serves as the managing director for AvroKO’s Miami studio. In her role as both manager and mentor, she leads AvroKO’s multidisciplinary teams throughout the life of a project—from concept & design through construction administration.

Kimberly has spent over 25 years managing projects at all scales. She brings design projects to life by developing strong relationships between AvroKO and the larger project team of owners, consultants, vendors, and contractors.

Prior to her work at AvroKO, Kimberly was responsible for architectural design in a variety of typologies including hospitality, retail, residential, and corporate interiors. She developed and maintained design and documentation standards for multiple international brands. She’s also designed furniture, textiles, fixtures, and lighting products for national and international retailers.

Kimberly studied architecture and visual arts at MIT, minoring in Music, and holds a graduate degree in architecture from Georgia Tech. She is a registered architect and a founding board member of the Hospitality Diversity Action Council. Previously, she served on the AIANY Diversity + Inclusion Council and was a core organizer for the Design as Protest collective.


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24 JAN 2024
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17 OCT 2024



We encourage attendees to take public transport if possible. Weylin is located off the Williamsburg Bridge at 175 Broadway – a 5 minute walk from Marcy Avenue subway station.


We recommend the new Moxy Williamsburg – a 4-minute walk from Weylin.

For 2024 bookings you can benefit from a special rate, use code L27 at checkout, or use this direct link.