AHEAD Asia 2021

2021 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.

Judging Panel Announced
14 April 2021
Shortlist Announced
10 May 2021
Awards Ceremony
16 Sept 2021

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.

Dirk Dalichau

Managing Director - Eaton HK

Dirk, a German National and hotel nomad, gathered experience across the globe in Europe, UK, USA, Australia and Asia and has been based in Hong Kong for the past 14 years, where he significantly contributed to a changing hotel landscape with projects such as the conversion from Hotel Miramar to The Mira Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s first warehouse conversion Ovolo Southside, as well as Ovolo Woolloomooloo in Sydney and now the Eaton HK transformation and launch as a new progressive Brand and purpose-driven company at the intersection of culture, content, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social and environmental change.

His management experience is complemented by a substantial background in creating lifestyle concepts for hotels and restaurants, running lifestyle hotels, holding Chief Operating Officer, Operational Vice President, Hotel General Manager, Regional Marketing and Sales positions for International/Global and family owned Entrepreneurial companies.

With a strong background in creating new concepts as well as re-positioning projects, overseeing renovations, opening hotels, driving culture change and design, motivating teams and with a profound understanding of both the Western and Eastern culture, operations and sales & marketing, Dirk is a recognized professional on trends and new developments.

Greg Farrell

VP of Design & Technical Services, APAC - Radisson Hotel Group

Greg Farrell is a hospitality design specialist, he is responsible for devising innovative new hotel and brand concepts and works with owners and developers to bring these designs to life.

A New Zealander with more than 30 years of experience, Greg has developed a strong reputation for his work in the hotel, F&B and residential sectors across the globe. Beginning his career in New Zealand he began his focus on hospitality design in 1989 at Richmond International in the UK. He has held key roles at renowned design firms across the APAC region including Executive Director at Aedas, where he collaborated with many of the major hotel brands.

Greg has established and maintained long-running relationships with many industry leaders. A confident public speaker, he is regularly invited to events to discuss topics ranging from design trends to development strategies and opportunities across the region.

Michael Goodman

Managing Director – EDG Design

Michael Goodman has a unique set of qualifications as a Restaurant Owner, an Interior Designer, a Brand Strategist and a former Executive Chef.

With nearly 25 years food and beverage experience in both operations and design, Michael approaches projects from a unique angle. As a partner at EDG he brings a strong culinary and operational focus to his work. Also the owner of three restaurants (Singapore’s Neon Pigeon, Fat Prince and Firangi Superstar), he is consistent in bringing a commitment to pushing the envelope creatively, and connecting with guests emotionally. Michael is a driving force in hospitality concepts throughout Asia and Australia, successfully integrating food and beverage concepts into public spaces and back of house.

Michael has lived in Asia and the Middle East for the better part of the past 20 years, with time spent in Bali, Dubai and Singapore. Having lived in Singapore for most of the last 11 years, he now calls the city home.

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.

Karen Hay

Founder & Creative Director - IN-dulge

With 25 years of solid design experience in the design industry, covering UK, Asia and the Middle East, Karen was formerly the co-founder and Director of Stickman Tribe Ltd, a Dubai and Hong Kong based design firm. In 2016 she established her own design clan IN-dulge in Hong Kong, with a cutting edge focus on luxury Interiors for Hospitality, working with many of the world’s leading hospitality and leisure hotels and resorts.

Harnessing her Scottish heritage, international experience, entrepreneurial spark and keen sense of sustainability, combined with a few years working in a reparatory theatre designing, building and painting sets. Today, she remains hands on and her theatrical story-telling flair certainly shines through her projects.

Recognised for her successful, and award winning projects Karen is regularly invited as a guest speaker at industry conferences throughout Asia, including talks to several of the hotels’ operation teams on F&B trends and strategies.

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.

Annalyn Hood

Director Portfolio Development APAC - Design Hotels

Annalyn joined Design Hotels in 2020 as Director Portfolio Development, APAC, where her focus has been growing the membership portfolio which today includes 300+ privately owned and operated hotels that reflect the vision of independent hoteliers—or “Originals”—with a passion for culturally-rooted hospitality and cutting-edge design and architecture.

In addition to a brief stint as General Manager of a luxury Spa in Manila, Annalyn’s hospitality experience includes 5 years as Regional Manager, Hotel & Villa Partnerships for Mr & Mrs Smith. She was responsible for the overall performance of the APAC region while handpicking hotels across the continents, with a particular focus on Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Having personally visited over 150 of these hotels, Annalyn possesses extensive knowledge of boutique hotel brands worldwide, with a deep appreciation not only for architecture and interior design but also the holistic guest experience.

Annalyn was born and raised in Manila, and holds a Masters Degree in Marketing from Durham University. She started her career in London working for a Brand Marketing Consultancy, servicing luxury lifestyle clientele that included fashion designer Osman Yousefzada, pioneering beauty brand Carol Joy, then emerging Qatari ready-to-wear Toujouri and also The Serpentine Gallery.

Billie Khoo

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.

Karen Kim

Continent Head / VP, Interior Design Global Design APAC - Marriott International

Karen is responsible for leading the Global Design team and projects for all Asia Pacific (except Greater China), as well as managing interior design discipline for all brands in APAC including new build projects and renovation of operating hotels.

Karen has been working for the company for over 30 years - 20 years in the Marriott Headquarter in Bethesda, MD and the last 10 years in the HK continent office. Through these years, she oversaw hundreds of projects for its opening and renovation in global market. Prior to relocating to Hong Kong office, her project experience expended over global market including US, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Karen graduated from George Washington University in Washington D.C. with a bachelor of arts in Interior Design.

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.

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.

Sun Mi Moon

Director of Design Management - 8M

Sun Mi is a designer and hotelier with a passion for unique, creative spaces. As the Director of Design Management at 8M, she oversees the development of such spaces – rejuvenating the iconic shop houses of Singapore for modern day use. These heritage buildings are respectfully conserved and transformed into boutique hotels, F&B, office, and retail spaces. Each individual in nature, with design inspiration coming from the property’s rich history.

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.

Isabelle Vergnaud

Associate - Kerry Hill Architects

Isabelle graduated from the Ecole Camondo in Paris, France in 1989. After gaining some experience in London, France & Singapore, she moved to Australia where she established her Interior Design company, Collins Vergnaud.

While there, she completed a number of luxury hotels as well as high end residential projects in India, Fiji, Oman, Dubai and Australia.

After an absence of 15years, Isabelle returned to Singapore to join the Kerry Hill’s team . She worked on exclusive projects in China, India and Japan and is now involved in projects in the Middle East.

Tracey Wiles

Principal & Regional Interior Design Leader - Woods Bagot

Based in Sydney, Australia, Tracey spent 18 years in London where she was a senior partner at Foster + Partners and later a partner at Make. Known for working at the intersection of interiors and architecture with a considered, intelligent approach, Tracey’s portfolio of work is world class, her design experience unparalleled. Her work includes London department store Harrods, Norman Foster’s private residences, the new QT Hotel in Sydney’s Parramatta, and the redevelopment of the landmark hotel InterContinental Sydney.

Highly skilled at leading complex programs, often with significant heritage components, Tracey’s work covers all sectors, including private residences, luxury hotels and restaurants, multi-residential developments and high-end retail projects.

Tracey joined Woods Bagot in 2019 where, as a principal and design leader, she champions the firm’s People Architecture credo to make an impact beyond design by appealing to the human condition.

Maria Wong

Design Director - WOW Architects

As Design Director and co-founder of Warner Wong Design and WOW Architects, Maria sets strategic objectives and oversees the development of the WOW team. Under Maria’s direction, WOW’s extensive portfolio of work has been governed by a commitment to creating spaces of extraordinary sensory experience rooted in culture, memory and place.

Maria leads the design and implementation of bespoke residences, health and wellness facilities and hotel and restaurant architecture and interior design. Projects include the Singapore High Commissioner’s Residence in London, the Bishopsgate House, Sentosa Cove House and Chiltern House in Singapore. A long held commitment to promoting creative collaboration led to the adaptive reuse of the Niven Road Studio into WOWHAUS.

Committed to promoting sustainable design and education, Maria has taught sustainable architectural design at the National University of Singapore, and served on the NUS/RIBA Accreditation Committee. She has published on the topic of sustainability and represented WOW as a founding member of the Singapore Green Building Council. Maria served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Singapore American School from 2008-2015. Maria and her Partner Wong Chiu Man were recognised with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Southern California School of Architecture in 2020.

Born in Australia, raised and educated in Mexico City, Maria began to study Architecture at Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California. Maria earned a Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 1991.

Prior to founding Warner Wong Design and WOW Architects in 2000, Maria founded multidisciplinary design consultancy Parallax Design. She worked in Japan for Nikken Sekkei before moving to Singapore in 1992. In 2007, Maria was the recipient of the prestigious Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Award, an international award that recognizes exceptional women in business who have made a significant contribution to their profession.

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.


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.