AHEAD Europe is adjudicated by an independent panel of experts, comprising leading hospitality architects, designers, owners, operators, developers and industry commentators.
The judging process for AHEAD Europe has been carefully developed to ensure a rigorous, robust and balanced procedure is followed to select the final winners in each category.
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.
Stuart manages the London development office for American hotel developer and operator the Sydell Group and was responsible for delivering the Ned in partnership with Soho House & Co. The Ned won 4 AHEAD awards in 2017 including the top accolade of best hotel. Sydell are currently developing the first NoMad hotel outside of the USA in Covent Garden and are actively looking for further opportunities and collaborations in London and Europe.
For nearly 25 years Stuart has held hospitality design and development management positions including for Hilton and Champneys as well as working on high quality residential and a holiday residence resort for a private estate in Suffolk.
Stuart’s broad experience of hospitality design and development allows him to examine not only the aesthetics of the design of hotel spaces but also to consider how a design works for operational function and efficiency and most importantly for the comfort and enjoyment of the hotel’s guests.
Joining the judging panel for 2019 Stuart is excited to be seeing, experiencing and debating the merits of each of the entries this year.
Guy Dittrich is happiest when he is either writing stories, getting people to tell theirs, or when he’s riding his bike.
An accomplished journalist focusing on hospitality and design, Dittrich has broadened his reach to encompass live, on-stage interviews with the talents of our time. Putting speakers at ease, he teases out the narratives and back-stories that bring speakers to life to entertain the audience.
His expertise is based on 15+ years of writing about properties and their designers around the world for magazines such as Wallpaper*, Condé Nast Traveller and specialist hotel design publication Sleeper, where Dittrich is Editor-at-Large. Utilising a vast database of knowledge and contacts, he is able to curate speaker line-ups for one-off events as well as longer conferences.
Clients using his skills include CitizenM, Design Hotels, Pandox, Bang & Olufsen, Herman Miller, Villeroy & Boch, Philips, Hansgrohe and Kohler. Key conference clients include Sleep (London), HI Design (Europe, Asia and MEA), Maison et Objet (Paris), 100% Design (London), HDE Expo (Shanghai) and the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Dittrich also hosts award ceremonies including the AHEAD Awards (Asia, Americas, MEA and Europe).
Geraldine Dohogne is a concept designer by passion, whose love for creating unique spaces has grown over the years. Involved in every phase of a new hotel project, she is in charge of conceptualizing, creating environments and bringing them to life.
Geraldine believes in the power of beautiful interiors to transform daily life. Her interiors are designed to be intimate. It is all about instinct and emotions. For this, she always aims to understand the history of the location, spending time in the country and meeting locals. Respectful of the culture and traditions of the area, the designs of her spaces are the result of intense sourcing (magnificent local materials, antique furniture, crafts and natural fabrics).
She prides herself on her attention to detail, her obsession with quality and her love for the designs of local craftspeople. The search for timeless minimalism and apparent simplicity are central to her work, as is the love of tactile and raw materials.
Rami Fustok is a businessman and hotelier; born in Beirut and educated in London. The Mandrake is his first hotel venture and fulfils a lifelong dream to create a truly unique space that celebrates life. Fustok's artistic roots in street culture alongside with undying passion and imagination and carefully selected collaboratives have shaped this multi-sensory immersive hotel.
Fustok's vision for The Mandrake is very much about orchestrating an alternate reality; one that balances darkness and light, hedonism and healing. In doing so, he has created a spiritual, otherworldly, decadent and sensual space in the heart of Fitzrovia.
With a focus on enticing the senses, making them dance, and creating a culture that would stand alone; Fustok pulled inspiration from everything around him; music, interactive theatre, design, cinema, art, spirituality and travel. The result of Rami's vision is a surreal and urban oasis, somewhere that is both soothing and enticing from morning until midnight.
The hotel was launched in September 2017 and has since won multiple awards throughout the industry, such as being the only UK venue to win the Global AHEAD Awards for best outdoor space.
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.
Fascinated by the soul of buildings from an early age, Nathan’s lifelong love of architecture, art, travel and adventure has inspired an approach to design that develops meaning through layering and a belief that thoughtfully crafted spaces help us to engage and connect with our environment. Nathan believes in quiet luxury with its sustainable and ageless quality, authentic values and power of discovery which stimulate, comfort and delight, and he is exacting in his pursuit of this in all his work.
Emma 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, Emma 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 Regent Berlin. She is 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.
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.
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.
Elodie brings to Accor over 18 years of hospitality experience with her demonstrated background in interior design and architecture, with a passion for luxury and lifestyle. Since she joined Accor Luxe team, she oversees all design and project development with over 15 brands, shaping international luxury, lifestyle, and full service hotels for a wide range of owners and developers.
Most recently as Area Director Design, Construction & Technical Services with the Radisson Hotel Group in Paris she was responsible for the whole repositioning of existing properties and technical pipeline in Western Europe. Graduated from Camondo Design School, Paris, she started her international career as Interior Design Director in Prague. Back in Paris, she led complex hospitality projects with design Studio Francois Champsaur, further with Elliott Barnes Interiors, with a constant search for excellence. Through close collaboration with luxury hospitality brands, she has helped to deliver signature projects in the Western Europe and North West Africa region.
With a 360° approach on design, guest experience, sustainability, Elodie was rewarded for creative campaigns joining design journey and brand positioning.
Her vision is constantly seeking to deliver outstanding tailor made experiences and genuine emotion to the Guest.
Stefan Rier graduated in interior design from Centro Studi "AndreaPalladio", Verona, Italy, and in architecture from the Technical University Ferrara, Italy. He first worked as an architect and project leader with Arch.Demetz, then moved to Bergamo to work with Prof. Massimiliano Mandarini and finally in Milan with Matteo Thun. He received his professional qualification as an interior designer and architect from the Universita di Genova. Stefan has been focusing on a series of projects from sustainable housing to hotels, extending to interiors, landscaping and bespoke furniture design. He is now a member of the Architectural Chamber of Bozen/Bolzano.
Iain is a founding member of David Collins Studio. Over the course of three decades, he has helped to steer The Studio from its original incarnation – a staff of two, David and Iain, working from David’s living room – to a 60-strong globally-recognised brand and a leader in the design and delivery of architectural and interior design projects.
From the outset, Iain played a key role in establishing the foundations of The Studio. He brought commercial rigour to the mix, complementing David’s creative ideas and vision, while acting as the guardian of the David Collins Studio brand and helping to develop the three core strands of the business: hotels & restaurants, retail, and residential.
Under Iain’s stewardship, David Collins Studio has steadily expanded its scope and scale: from designing a single retail space, to overseeing the delivery of the Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo worldwide store roll-outs; from creating a destination restaurant like Pierre Koffmann’s La Tante Claire, to realising a 253-bedroom hotel in Seoul.
Throughout, Iain has never lost sight of The Studio’s guiding principles: creativity, craft, collaboration, and a near-obsessive attention to detail –
“I have always been passionate about protecting our Studio, playing a part in both its commercial and creative aspects,” he says. “Maintaining the Studio’s financial independence has enabled us to be strategic in our choices. We have always striven to take on creatively rewarding projects with clients who share our vision.”
Outside work, Iain’s great love is fashion, and his profound understanding of beautifully made objects has given him an innate understanding of the world of luxury –
“We’re in the business of delivering a feeling. We have always understood the importance of providing a series of touchpoints for people who move in the world of luxury. You might buy a handbag in Alexander McQueen, drink a cocktail at The Wolseley and then spend the night at The Apartment at The Connaught. As the David Collins Studio brand has evolved, we have created our own unique ecosystem within the world of luxury.”
For Iain, one of the most rewarding and compelling aspects of his work is being able to support exceptional artisans -
“We love working with talented people who are as passionate about creating beautiful things as we are. Now, as we look towards developing product ranges, this is even more relevant. It’s a very exciting time for David Collins Studio.”
Chris Webb leads Hilton’s Architecture and Design team across multiple offices, overseeing and guiding design projects across Hilton’s Europe, Middle East & Africa region. He has been designing and shaping international luxury, lifestyle, and full service hotels for a wide range of owners, developers, hospitality companies, celebrities and brands for over 20 years. Directing the design of all Hilton branded hotels in the region, he lead the design of the first Waldorf Astoria, as well as most recently the category defining Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre, Hilton’s first lifestyle hotel.
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.
Hotel projects completed between June 2018 – May 2019 are eligible for entry to AHEAD Europe 2019.
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 per entry.
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).
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