AHEAD Asia 2020

2020 Judging

AHEAD Asia is adjudicated by an independent panel of experts, comprising leading hospitality architects, designers, owners, operators, developers and industry commentators.

The judging process for AHEAD Asia has been carefully developed to ensure a rigorous, robust and balanced procedure is followed to select the final winners in each category.

Call for Entries
05 Aug 2019
Judging Panel Announced
23 Oct 2019
Entry Deadline
31 Oct 2019
Shortlist Announced
10 Jan 2020
Judging Day
21 Jan 2020
Awards Ceremony
12 Mar 2020

The judges for AHEAD Asia are acknowledged industry leaders, who represent a wide spectrum of the disciplines involved in delivering new hotel projects across the region.

Guy Heywood

COO – Six Senses Hotel & Resorts

Nicholas Clayton

CEO - Capella Hotel Group

Mr. Nicholas Matthew Clayton has been the Chief Executive Officer of Capella Hotel Group since 2015. Mr. Clayton brings with him a depth of global experience in hotel development and operations with preeminent luxury brands.

A visionary leader with a proven track record, Mr. Clayton is leading Capella Hotel Group’s continued global expansion plan for Capella Hotels and Resorts and Solís Hotels and Resorts. With his strategic guidance, Capella Hotel Group will continue to increase brand equity and strengthen its position as one of the world’s leading portfolios of luxury hotels.

Mr. Clayton is an internationally acclaimed business leader in the hospitality industry. Most recently, he was the Chief Executive Officer, Operations, of Jumeirah Group and prior to that, he was the President of the Viceroy Hotel Group. Mr. Clayton’s solid foundation in luxury hotel development and operations is built upon three decades of an illustrious career with some of the world’s most respectable brands such as Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons. His professional journey has taken him across the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific.

William Harris

Founding Partner – AvroKO

New York-headquartered design-and-concept firm AvroKO, is equally adept at the varied disciplines of architecture, furniture, branding, graphics, and hospitality operations. Founded by William Harris and his 3 original partners - Adam Farmerie, Greg Bradshaw, and Kristina O’Neal - each contribute a unique vision to the company’s multifaceted design mission. AvroKO has established a new paradigm in the hospitality industry, encompassing a multitude of disciplines and creating thoughtful, provocative architecture, brands, products, and environments.

Since its creation in 2001, the company has grown to a staff of over 59 in its NYC office, 31 in its Bangkok office, 15 in its San Francisco office, and 8 in its recently-opened London office. Their active portfolio of architecture projects including restaurants, bars, and hotels, are currently taking place in 21 countries and 32 cities worldwide and have garnered them numerous awards and accolades: 3 James Beard Awards, 8 Hospitality Design Awards, 2 HA + D awards, 2 Gold Key Awards, 7 Sleeper AHEAD Awards, and the Lawrence J. Israel Prize.

AvroKO’s spirit of adventure and entrepreneurial curiosity has also inspired the principals to pursue their own “self-propelled” projects, such as residential development, furniture lines, and several restaurants and bars which are wholly conceived, designed, owned, and operated by the company. These include Saxon + Parole NYC, Saxon + Parole Moscow, Ghost Donkey NYC, Ghost Donkey Las Vegas, The Poni Room, and GENUINE Liquorette.

Troy Hickox (Chair)

Head of Hotels & Lifestyle Development – Galaxy Entertainment Group

Director, Société des Bains de Mer

Troy oversees hospitality, wellness, culture & lifestyle development across the international portfolio at Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG). GEG’s global footprint spans the US, Europe and Asia via strategic holdings in NASDAQ-listed Wynn Resorts, Monaco’s Euronext-listed Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), as well as projects in Japan and China’s exciting Greater Bay Area. He also serves as Director on the Board of SBM and various GEG subsidiaries.

Rowena Hockin

Curatorial Director - BAR Studio

Rowena Hockin is a registered Architect with over 20 years’ experience working across Perth, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne. Working on high-end hospitality projects has allowed Rowena to gain an understanding of the materiality of architecture and design, further refined through rigorous training in spatial planning and detailing, resulting in numerous award-winning projects.

In 2003 Rowena joined Melbourne-based BAR Studio and since then, her role has expanded to span several fields; from establishing conceptual frameworks to developing studio processes. She uses her diverse experience and skills to curate and communicate the design language for the studio. Her work with BAR Studio allows her to combine her passion for design with her communication skills.

Soo Jeong Lee

Senior Corporate Design Director – Rosewood Hotel Group

As Senior Corporate Design Director for Rosewood Hotel Group, Soo Jeong collaborates with Architects and Interior Designers from across the globe to create a unique vision for each of the hotel groups’ brands.

Soo Jeong has over fifteen years of experience in the Luxury sector spanning the hospitality and retail industries. Prior to joining Rosewood Hotel Group, she led CHANEL’s in-house Design Development Team for store design across their Asia Pacific boutiques as well as working as an Interior Designer with Yabu Pushelberg in their New York studio.

Paired with Rosewood Hotel Group’s current ambitions to double their portfolio of hotels in the next five years, Soo Jeong is tasked with and passionate about discovering emerging design talent with a particular focus on Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Billie Khoo (Chair)

Senior Design & Projects Director, Architecture, Design & Construction, APAC excluding China - Hilton Worldwide

Billie Khoo is the Senior Design & Project Direct for Hilton Architecture, Design & Construction (AD&C), APACx It is a diverse region that spans North Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, Pacific Islands and the South-Asia subcontinent.

Educated in Singapore and a trained architect with a Master of Architecture, Billie has worked with established regional and international hospitality design firms such as SCDA, Maps Design and Wilson Associates during her career of 21 years. She has wide-ranging experience in both masterplanning, architectural and interior design aspects of hospitality creation.

Billie and her team are responsible for design overview of all Hilton’s 18 brands in the APAC for both pipeline projects and capital expenditure projects. This involves ensuring that the hotels and resorts achieve their brand equity and are relevant to the markets. It also includes a constant review of brand standards and designs for the regions and to have the finger on the pulse of the hotel developments and hospitality trends in globally.

Since joining Hilton in 2012, Billie has worked with the AD&C team to deliver successful openings and property rejuvenation across all brands, and she continues to be intimately involved in flagship hotels in gateway cities. Some of the hotels include market-leading ones such as such as Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, Conrad Osaka, Roku Kyoto and Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. She is currently working on Waldorf Astoria Tokyo Nihonbashi, Waldorf Astoria Osaka and Waldorf Astoria Jakarta which will be the next flagship properties for Hilton Worldwide.

Being in a region of high growth in the travel industry, Billie is also involved in Development for the technical review of new opportunities in the constant drive to grow the number of new hotels and rooms with an operator that has one of the largest pipeline in the world.

Dharmali Kusumadi

SVP - Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts / Architrave Design & Planning

Dharmali Kusumadi is the Senior Vice President, Projects and Business Development of Banyan Tree Group. He is responsible for the design and technical advisory services, projects and business development functions within the Group.

Being with the group for more than two decades, Dharmali has helped to create numerous iconic award-winning architectural and interior designs, which are the hallmarks of Banyan Tree and Angsana hotels and resorts. He was personally involved with the different hotel projects in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Maldives, China, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles and other countries for the four hotel brands namely Banyan Tree, Angsana, Cassia and Dhawa. Key milestone projects include Asia’s first integrated destination resort - Laguna Phuket in Thailand, Laguna Bintan in Indonesia and Laguna Lang Co in Central Vietnam under the Banyan Tree Group.

Jennyfer Lacroix

Director of Design and Construction – The Langham Hotels and Resorts

Chris Lee

Creative Director – Asylum

Chris Lee is the founder and Creative Director of Asylum, one of the most respected creative companies in Asia. Since its inception in 1999, the creative company has focused on cross disciplinary projects that include interactive design, product development, environmental and interior design, packaging, branding and graphic design. Featured in numerous magazines from around the world, Asylum is defined as an unconventional maverick in the creative world.

Chris’ work in the creative industry is recognised with more than 100 international awards. He is the recipient for the Designer of the year and Design of the year in Singapore’s President Design Award. He has served as a juror for many of the top International creative awards such as D&AD, Red Dot and Perspective awards. His recent Project The Warehouse Hotel won Hotel of the year (Asia) at the AHEAD awards and FRAME awards.

Chris is also a founding member and President of The Design Society, a non-profit organisation that aims to promote visual culture through exhibitions, workshops and education.

Christine McGinnis

Vice President of Property Development, Asia TSA & Design – Standard International

Christine McGinnis is the Vice President of Property Development - Asia TSA & Design for Standard International. Ms. McGinnis is responsible for the design strategy and overall technical excellence of Standard International’s projects within the Asia Pacific region.

Prior to joining Standard International, she was an Associate Vice President at WATG. As Studio Director leading the Wimberly Interiors studio in Singapore, she lead projects including: Aloft Seminyak, Four Seasons Hanoi F&B Strategy and Interiors, Belmond Eastern & Oriental Presidential Suites & Spa, Marriott Kolkata, Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay, and Swissotel Xiangtan.

While Managing Director of AvroKO’s Bangkok office, Ms. McGinnis was responsible for the development, strategic and overall performance of AvroKO projects within the Asia Pacific region. She lead an integrated team, charged with the launch of the division and successful development of the business which included Interior Design, Custom Lighting & Manufacturing, as well as Branding & Strategy.

Prior to joining AvroKO, she was with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. where she began as a member of the Westin design team, translating new brand positioning around

“Renewal” into memorable design expressions and global guidelines. Ms. McGinnis progressed to guide the design efforts in the launch of Starwood’s first eco-friendly brand Element Hotels. Successfully advancing to the Global Brand team for Select Serve brands, she shaped the creative direction for both Aloft and Element Hotels. Rounding out her tenure at Starwood, she returned to the Global Brand Design group providing direction for luxury brands St. Regis and The Luxury Collection.

She began her career in Hong Kong working with 0 1- a boutique architecture firm, and is thrilled to return to the region to expand Standard International’s design influence and global reach.

Ms. McGinnis received her BA (Interior Design) from Ryerson University, and became professionally accredited in 2003. She has served as a Committee Chair of the International Interior Design Association, New York Chapter, and is a frequent juror on international panels for design and global culinary arts.

Ed Ng

Co-founder & Principal – AB Concept

One of Hong Kong’s foremost creative designers, Ed Ng is one-half of multi-disciplinary international design studio AB Concept alongside co-founder Terence Ngan.

Born and raised with both Asian and Western influences in Hong Kong, Ed’s childhood experiences have heavily shaped his design principles and aesthetic, enabling him to understand different cultures and fuse them together in his design approach.

Through his work with AB Concept, Ed has spent the last two decades creating innovative spaces for the most prestigious clients in luxury hospitality, wellness and F&B, including the Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, and Ritz Carlton.

Fabio Ongarato

Co-Founder & Creative Director – Studio Ongarato

For over twenty-five years, Fabio Ongarato has led his studio to create impactful art direction, branding and environmental outcomes. Responsible for spearheading the shift towards brand storytelling in design, Studio Ongarato’s expertise in creating immersive hospitality brand experiences has been recognised at an international level, with the studio winning the 2018 AHEAD Asia-Pacific Awards and 2019 AHEAD global award for Visual Identity for its work on luxury Australian hotel Jackalope.

Fabio champions the unique cultures of brands, which he believes should form the basis of their individual narratives. His carefully considered, highly creative process has resulted in acclaimed brand and environmental projects for clients including W Hotels, Ritz Carlton, QT Hotels, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Unbound Collection, The Sharjah Collection MEA, Four Seasons, Potato Head Seminyak, and Jackalope Hotels.

As one of Australia’s preeminent creatives, Fabio’s work has been featured in leading publications internationally, including Creative (London), Eye (London), Grafik (London), and IDEA (Tokyo), as well as the Phaidon publication Area alongside the work of the world’s most innovative graphic designers.

Overseeing the studio’s creative process across offices in Melbourne, Hong Kong and Dubai, Fabio continues to pursue excellence and innovation in creative design.

Jinou Park

Founder - Normal

Normal . creates spaces and experiences that shake us out of the routine, raise consciousness of the moment and deliver belonging to a greater purpose. Normal . uses materials that are real and lasting, develops products and services that are modern, elegant and gives peace.

Jinou Park is the founder of Normal . , a hospitality and lifestyle expert in trends forecast, creative concepts and direction and brand development. Jinou brings 20+ years of experience in leading global brands from Disney, Hilton and InterContinenal Hotels. Immediately prior to launching Normal . , Jinou was Asia Pacific leader of Design Hotels AG, hand-selected curation of 300+ privately owned and operated hotels globally.

Jinou was born in Seoul, Korea and has Master's of Management in Hospitality from Cornell Hotel School, Ithaca, New York.

Toby Smith

Deputy Chairman – Swire Hotels

Born and brought up in the U.K., Toby joined the Swire group as a Management Trainee in 1991 after graduating from the University of Bristol. During his tenure at Swire, Toby has held positions within the group’s shipping and aviation sectors, which has taken him to countries as diverse as Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Australia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, France, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In 2017, Toby joined Swire Hotels as Managing Director, overseeing the day to day responsibilities of Swire Hotels and its two brands, The House Collective and EAST. He has now been promoted to Deputy Chairman and leads the growth and development of the group.

Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Toby was the General Manager of Sales and Distribution at Cathay Pacific Airways.

Su Seam Teo

Partner – LTW Designworks

As a partner of LTW Designworks, Su Seam is the lead design principal based in the Singapore office. She is primarily responsible for creating the unique vision and interior concept of each project to ensure that it meets the client’s brief, budget and schedule, and the operator’s brand requirements. Su Seam has tremendous experience in luxury hospitality design throughout the region, and works very closely with her teams in each phase of the project from initial concept through final installation on site.

Prior to joining LTW in 1994, Su Seam worked with renowned interior design firms in the US where she handled numerous notable projects before being recruited by Hirsch Bedner Associates in Singapore. At H.L.Lim & Associates, Su Seam oversaw a number of the firm’s landmark design projects across Asia and steered the company’s growth. She was named Partner in 2001.

Paul Wiste

Principal - Design Assembly

Designer, traveller, and writer, Paul Matthew Wiste is one of Asia's foremost luxury hospitality design experts.

Paul currently leads a boutique Hospitality Design Consultancy providing bespoke solutions to discerning private owners and operators. He has previously worked for IHG as Head of Design and Engineering SEA+K and the Jumeirah Group as Vice President Development Design Asia Pacific. He was first professionally employed in the Asia Pacific region in 1996; and had his introduction to hotel design on Ian Schrager's Sanderson Hotel in London in 1998.

Paul has presented keynote speeches and. participated in panel discussions at various Hospitality and Architecture conferences within the Asia Pacific region. He is active in researching and publishing future trends and theory in design, drawing upon the professional experience he has accumulated across the globe. A true citizen of the world, his passion for design and the built environment is constantly being applied to the Asia Pacific portfolio of projects he leads.


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.