AHEAD Europe 2018


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


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

Javier Hortal – Chair

Regional Director of Technical Services EMEA – Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Javier Hortal is Mandarin Oriental’s Director of Technical Services for EMEA, leading the group’s luxury hotel projects and major renovations in the region.

A passionate advocate of design and its role in delivering extraordinary luxury experiences, Hortal is responsible for ensuring that every project brings together sophistication, a sense of place, flawless quality and trend-setting innovation. Arising from this dedicated approach, Mandarin Oriental’s recently completed projects in London, Paris, Bodrum, Marrakech and Barcelona have been met with acclaim and several prizes at the European Hotel Design Awards.

Fostering a culture of excellence through creative ambition, Hortal concentrates on encouraging design teams to develop a unique vision for every project and is focused on creating an outstanding guest experience. Gathering design talent and instilling collaborative working across a variety of teams, sophistication and cultural sensitivity define his personal approach.

An experienced judge of design, Hortal joined Mandarin Oriental in 2008 from global architectural practice RTKL, where he was head of hospitality EMEA at the group’s London headquarters.

Gordon Anderson

Director – Blue Moon

Gordon Anderson has spent over 25 years in hotel design, operations and procurement. He has worked for established global brands including Marriott, Radisson and Hyatt, in addition to smaller independents in Europe and the Middle East. In 2014, after 13 years as Director of Projects Procurement for IHG, he founded Blue Moon Hotels Procurement.

Blue Moon Hotel Procurement offers procurement services in newbuild and refurbishment programmes for international brands and entrepreneurial independents, working closely with boutique design teams and a global network of supplier

Mark Bruce

Senior Design Director – EPR Architects

Mark Bruce is a Main Board Director at EPR Architects, heading up the hotels and hospitality team. He holds particular expertise with listed buildings, refurbishments and resort hotels and brings a strong, practical and pragmatic commercial approach honed over more than 20 years in the hospitality construction industry. He further leads a dedicated team of experienced, motivated and talented hotel designers and deliverers.

A qualified Architect (RIBA), Bruce was educated at both the Mackintosh School of Architecture, at the Glasgow School of Art, and Edinburgh College of Art, where his passion for transformative and regenerative projects was first nurtured. He immediately found that a career in hospitality design allowed him to combine this passion with his love of remarkable buildings and interest in hotel architecture, within a sector that demanded bespoke and thought-provoking solutions.

Bruce has since dedicated his career to specialising in hotel design and delivery, working with many mainstream brands as well as having the opportunity to use his skills in undertaking a number of unique hospitality projects.

Whether designing efficient hotel and guestroom layouts, revitalising grand hotel buildings, repurposing a retired ship or designing an exclusive and homely 40-key ranch in the New Mexico Desert - Bruce brings to his work a refined flair with an informed, yet inventive, commercial approach.

He has developed project leadership skills through a proven track record in imaginative and sensitive refurbishment of existing building stock, and successfully delivered numerous complex hotel and resort refurbishments over the years, many within challenging multi-phased and live hotel environments for exacting stakeholders.

When re-purposing a Historic Department store into hotel accommodation or restoring a 330-year-old Country House for the modern expectations of the hospitality user – Bruce’s approach is always to equally consider the guest experience as well as the commercial aspirations of the owner/investor.

Patricia Holler

Senior Interior Design Director - Marriott International

Patricia Holler is the Senior Interior Design Director at Marriott Global Design Europe, based in Eschborn-Frankfurt. For nearly four years, she has been overseeing all interior design related works within the company throughout Europe.

Holler’s main role is to ensure the successful integration, implementation and execution of the respective brand visions and strategies into the design of each hotel, whether it is a new build, a conversion or a renovation project within the existing portfolio. Prior to joining Marriott, she lived in the Middle East and worked for WA international, Dubai, as Senior Interior Designer on luxury hospitality projects throughout the Middle East and East Africa.

Holler believes the highest accomplishment is to create authentic and unique experiences for the guest and to have them remember the place with a smile as well as leave with the intrinsic wish to return.

Jason Holley

Director – Universal Design Studio

Jason Holley directs Universal Design Studio, an award winning architecture and interior design practice based in London. It works internationally on private and public commissions including hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, galleries, workplace and residential. Through a process of research and experimentation Universal collaborate closely with clients, consultants, contractors and makers in the pursuit of creating finely crafted spaces that enhance the experience of the end users.

Holley studied Architecture at Kingston and Westminster Universities and joined Universal Design Studio in 2005. He has led the studio to expand the portfolio of cultural, hospitality and retail projects. The studio has recently completed the At Six hotel in Stockholm, transforming a Modernist bank headquarters into an independent luxury lifestyle hotel, an experience centre for a leading international blue chip company, a flagship co-working project in London and a department store in Seoul. Landmark Projects include the design of Ace Hotel in London, and a permanent gallery at the Science Museum charting the history of modern communications. Holley has expertise in delivering high profile permanent and temporary projects to complex client bodies with multiple stakeholders.

A qualified architect, Holley has taught at the Architectural Association and Westminster University and is currently an external examiner for Interior Design at Kingston University. He has delivered talks and lectures internationally.

Tom Hupe

Director of Hospitality – Perkins+Will

Tom Hupe is Director of Hospitality at the global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will.

Hupe brings almost 20 years’ experience of working exclusively in the hotel and leisure sector to this role, and throughout his career has been responsible for the design and project delivery of a diverse range of hotel projects, alongside feasibility work, design audit work and hotel design consultancy.

The impressive array of hotel projects that Tom has been responsible for ranges from the economy to luxury sectors. He oversaw the conversion of Sea Containers House on the south bank of the River Thames into a 359-key Mondrian hotel for the Morgans Hotel Group, the delivery of the luxury hotel at Coworth Park for the Dorchester Collection, and was further responsible for the 600 guestroom Sofitel London Heathrow and the Marriott Hotel, Leicester.

Within Perkins+Will Hupe oversees hospitality projects whilst acting as a point of contact for operators, developers and agents, providing firm-wide specialist hotel design advice.

Emma King

Head of Interior Design, Design & Engineering, Europe - IHG

Emma King leads InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) interior design team in Europe and is responsible for the design, development and product quality of all new openings and refurbishments. Since joining IHG in January 2013, King has become an integral part of the Design & Engineering team. She is leading the design of IHG’s big capital investments including InterContinental London Park Lane, InterContinental Paris Le Grand and InterContinental Berlin. She is also tasked with the integration of the innovation program at IHG, and has worked on the repositioning strategy and implementation of the new generation Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn and the Crowne Plaza Brands. Emma and her team have been instrumental in positioning the Hotel Indigo brand with a “neighbourhood story” led design for each site. No brand has been left untouched, with IHG’s long stay offering, Staybridge Suites, also being redesigned with investment potential in mind.

Prior to joining IHG, King was Director of International Interior Design at Marriott International and focussed on providing specialist guidance for submitted designs across the Marriott Brand family. An Interior Architect by training at Cardiff University and despite over 20 years’ hotel design experience, King believes that there is always more to learn.

Florian Kollenz

Chief Development Officer - 25hours Hotel Company

Florian Kollenz has been part of the 25hours world since 2014 and works hard on the international growth of the group. Prior to his role with 25hours, Florian was a Senior Consultant with PKF hotelexperts in Vienna where he oversaw the fields of corporate finance and operator selection. Before that, Florian worked several years for the Austrian Hotel and Tourism Bank after graduating from the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna.

Serdar Kutucu

Vice President – Brand, Marketing & Communications – Design Hotels

Serdar Kutucu is Chief Operating Officer at Design Hotels, responsible for the overall strategy, qualitative growth of its hotel portfolio, and further evolution of its brand and community.

Kutucu joined the company in 2008 as Director of Business Development and played a pivotal role in shaping the fine collection of more than 300 privately owned member hotels for over half a decade.

The aesthete with a natural affinity for brands and design has always had a keen instinct for brand narrative, architecture and positioning. Consequently, he took over the leadership of the distinctive Design Hotels™ brand in 2014 contriving and conceiving the alignment of the company’s brand ideation with the vision to create original hospitality experiences.

With his deep understanding of the travel industry and hoteliers’ needs paired with his wealth of experience in marketing, communications and consultancy, Kutucu decisively contributed to the strategic development and the further evolution of the brand and the company as a whole.

Kutucu, who holds a master’s degree in international business administration from the University of Vienna, brings the fundamentals and the creativity to further drive innovation and consolidate internal processes while conveying the company culture and positioning Design Hotels™ as the distinctive brand in the industry.

Cristina Laurijssen

Director of Design and Project Services – Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Cristina Laurijssen is Senior Director of Design and Project Services for the Americas and Europe at Rosewood Hotel Group.

Based in London, she currently leads the design and construction element of the group’s pipeline in key cities across Europe.

Trained and certified as an architect in the United Kingdom, she has over thirteen years' experience in architectural practice, designing projects ranging from luxury residential and hotel resorts to Olympic stadia, from offices based in London, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, Athens and Andalusia, Spain.

Her love for travel, culture and the adventurous spirit drove her to specialise in hotel design, and since joining the operating side of the industry at Hyatt Hotels International, and being appointed as Design Director for EMEA at Fairmont Raffles International, she has developed an expertise in the conversion of heritage buildings into luxury hotels.

Laurijssen favours a collaborative approach to hotel design and seeks to weave narrative threads throughout her projects. Inspired by stories drawn from history, she infuses her work with an innovative dimension that stays in the minds of Rosewood guests.

With an international background and a creative spirit, she is passionate about the opportunities there are in hotel design to create treasured experiences for guests, and simultaneously make valuable contributions to the communities around them.

Catherine Martin

Editor – Sleeper

Catherine Martin is Editor of Sleeper, the leading magazine for hotel design, development and architecture.

With a degree in journalism and a passion for travel and design, Martin joined Mondiale Publishing in 2007, starting as Editorial Assistant before progressing through the ranks to Editor. In her current role, she manages the day-to-day running of Sleeper and its affiliated website (www.sleepermagazine.com), guiding the editorial content and creative identity. She also finds time to review some of the most exciting hotel developments worldwide and interview those who designed them.

In recent years, Martin has led a major re-brand of Sleeper – the results of which were unveiled in 2014 – and moderated panel discussions at a number of international trade exhibitions and hotel investment conferences. She also supports Sleeper’s portfolio of events including Sleepover and AHEAD.

Hans Meyer

Co-founder and Managing Director - Zoku

Hans Meyer is co-founder and managing director of Zoku, an aparthotel concept facilitating global living and working for the independent travelling professional. Launched in 2015, Zoku has created a new category in the hotel industry – a home-office hybrid, with the services of a hotel and the social buzz of a thriving neighbourhood. Meyer is responsible for concept development, branding, marketing, operations and strategic partnerships within the brand.

A firm believer of value creation and innovation, Meyer founded HotelsAhead in 2003, an Amsterdam-based consultancy that develops new hotel concepts and business models.

Before Zoku and HotelsAhead, Hans worked for international hotel chains including NH Hoteles, Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns and Resorts and citizenM, for which he was the initial creator. He has held senior corporate positions in operations and development, where he was responsible for projects throughout Europe, Africa, The Middle-East and Central America.

Meyer is also a mentor for the Rockstart Accelerator start-up programme, and a member of the advisory board of The Hub Amsterdam. He was educated at Hotelschool The Hague and Cornell University in The United States.

Elisa Rodríguez

Design Director - Rockwell Group

Elisa Rodriguez is Design Director at Rockwell Group, where she has worked from 2005-2007, returning in 2012. Throughout her career, Rodriguez has worked with brands such as NH Hotels, W Hotels and Raffles.


The judging process for AHEAD Europe has been developed over the past 20 years to ensure a rigorous, robust and balanced procedure is followed to select the final winners in each category.

Call for Entries
03 Apr 2018
​Judging Panel Announced​
14 May 2018
Entry Deadline
30 Jun 2018
Shortlist Announced
31 Jul 2018
Judging Day
18 Oct 2018
Awards Ceremony
19 Nov 2018


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.

Eligibility / Entry

Hotel projects completed between June 2017 – May 2018 are eligible for entry to AHEAD Europe 2018.

A hotel is defined as a commercial building, or combination of buildings, primarily dedicated to the provision of lodging / accommodation. Please note privately owned accommodations exclusively rented out for lodging via peer-to-peer sites such as Airbnb are not eligible for AHEAD.

AHEAD is unique in its celebration of the key collaborators in hotel projects: the developer / investor; operator; architect and interior designer.

Anyone can enter an award, but we recommend that the designers / architects responsible for the hotel compile the entry.

Hotel owners, operators, developers, investors, PRs and other representatives are encouraged to co-ordinate entries for the hotels they represent with the relevant designers/architects.

Further guidance on specific criteria for individual categories is given here and during the entry process.

Entry costs for AHEAD Europe are £250 (+ VAT) per project, per category.


Photography should clearly show the design and / or architecture of the area of the property relevant to the category in which it is entered.

If entering more than one category please submit different photographs that reflect the category you are entering.

Before and after photos, CGIs and renderings, floor plans and / or CAD drawings can be included as supporting material where relevant.

Please do not submit CGIs / renderings in place of actual photography.

Please try and avoid use of advertising or marketing photographs e.g. posed models, elaborate table settings etc.

Please ensure that you have the appropriate copyright clearances for all photography submitted (see terms and conditions)