AHEAD Global 2020

2020 Process

The AHEAD Global shortlist is determined by an exhaustive two year judging process to identify the very best new hotels to have opened worldwide.

In each region (Asia, Americas, MEA and Europe) initial entries were voted for online to determine a shortlist of 4-5 projects in each of approx. 16 categories.

Judges then met for a final day of intense debate and deliberation before selecting the regional winners.

Each of these winning projects has now been longlisted for AHEAD Global, with an aggregate of all votes cast in the earlier rounds deciding a final shortlist of six projects in eight brand new categories to be announced on Tuesday 17 November 2020.

All shortlisted projects will then be presented at AHEAD Global from 8-10 December before the final votes are cast. Our global judging panel comprises over 60 leading hospitality architects, designers, owners, operators, and developers – many of them AHEAD winners and nominees from previous years.

Please Save The Date and keep an eye out for further details in the coming weeks.

Larry Traxler

Senior Vice President, Global Design Services - Hilton Worldwide

Larry Traxler serves as Global Head of Design Services at Hilton Worldwide, overseeing the design of all of Hilton’s luxury, full and focused service hotel brands. Traxler and his global design team work closely with developers, architects, and designers to ensure that the unique style of each Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand is reflected across the properties within its global portfolio.

Traxler has amassed more than 20 years of international hospitality design experience working across luxury, boutique, full-service and focused-service hotel segments. Most recently he ran the Architecture & Design department for Hyatt Hotels North America & Caribbean, and prior to this served as the Design Director for Ian Schrager Hotels, Wilson & Associates, and Hirsch Bedner & Associates, focusing on hotel design and development operations.

His career began at the experimental architectural design office of Jordan Mozer & Associates, and Traxler holds a six-year professional Bachelor of Architecture degree with a minor Professional Practice award from the University of Cincinnati's

Ilan Segal

Co-founder - Soulity

Ilan Segal has a relentless flair for innovation. His 24 years' experience as a highly successful hotelier spans two continents and is characterised by a daring creativity and innate knowledge of operations.

Born and raised in the hospitality world, Ilan was exposed to all aspects of the industry. Both a musician and photographer, Ilan has developed a profound understanding of how to enhance vibe and style, capturing the senses and spirit of our guests. He has introduced concepts that elevated the standard of hospitality, reflected in his impeccable track record.

A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Ilan’s path includes Standard International, where he was Managing Director, The Leading Hotels of The World Headquarters, Starwood Hotels’ first W Hotel in New York City, Hotel Victor, The Tides and Marlin Hotels in Miami Beach, among other distinguished roles.

In 2008 Ilan took it a step further forming Soulity, a hospital consulting boutique firm. His first project was creating the iconic Tcherassi Hotel + Spa in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, followed by other hospitality and food and beverage experiences in The Americas, including Hotel Matilda, one of Mexico’s best boutique design hotels. Most recently, Ilan has led activations at Miami’s Design District as well as providing creative direction for Brookfield’s Hospitality’s division.

Sam Gelin

Founder - Craft Hospitality

Sam Gelin is an award-winning Hotel Developer and Founder of leading hospitality & experiential company, Craft Hospitality.

In September 2017, Sam opened MADE hotel in New York City, which was added to Condé Nast's Travellers Hot List as one of the Best Hotels in The World in 2018. Within the hotel, Sam created and launched three celebrated food + beverage concepts — Paper Coffee, Good Behaviour, and foodie favourite, Ferris. In April 2018, Michelin Guide announced that MADE's food and beverage program is the model for hotel restaurants based on quality.

Sam was included in Hotels Magazine's Rising Star List of Top 20 People in the Hotel Industry under 40 and recognised by Vanity Fair as having "a passionately personal understanding of today's traveller". In 2018, MADE was awarded the AHEAD Americas award for "Best Guestroom" in North & South America", and The Sunday Times announced Sam's hotel as "the best example of next-gen hotels".

Since 2011, Sam has been regularly engaged in some of the largest companies and countries in the world to concept and create unique, sensory driven experiences. Craft Hospitality now hosts food + beverage events in over 11 cities in the world.

Chad Oppenheim

Principal - Oppenheim Architecture + Design

Chad Oppenheim is a Miami-based architect whose work is praised for its ability to transform the prosaic into the poetic. A graduate of Cornell University and a Fellow of the AIA, Oppenheim has lectured widely and has taught at various architecture schools, including most recently at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

In 1999, he founded Oppenheim Architecture (Miami, Basel, New York). The international practice has received over 80 awards and distinctions, including the AIA’s highest distinction, the Silver Medal, and featured in numerous publications around the world. In 2018, Oppenheim Architecture was the recipient of one of the National Design Awards by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Caitlin Zaino von During

CEO - Porter & Sail

Porter & Sail’s CEO and co-founder, Caitlin Zaino von During is a creative technologist and entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to hospitality and travel.

Since founding Porter & Sail in 2014, Caitlin has developed the Company into a leader in transformative hospitality, growing the team globally from a fledging startup to a tour de force in the industry. She has appeared at events from Design Hotels’ Arena* to LE Miami to the Future of Travel, where she advocated for the power of technology to architect a new guest experience for today’s digital age.

Prior to Porter & Sail, Caitlin created and led the popular online food pop-culture magazine, The Urban Grocer, which she later produced and hosted as a television show on the Cooking Channel. She has led a monthly column and digital series for BBC Travel, as well as authored thousands of travel and lifestyle pieces for leading publications, including Lonely Planet, BBC Food, Nota Bene, and Lost At E Minor, amongst others.

Greg Keffer

Partner / Studio Leader - Rockwell Group

Greg Keffer is a Partner and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group, where he oversees a wide variety of project types, including hospitality, retail, residential, and workplace environments. Greg's combined strengths in architecture, interiors, graphics, and branding allow him to develop innovative and holistic design solutions for a global roster of clients.

Current projects include Moxy Chelsea in New York, Nobu Hotel Barcelona, 15 Hudson Yards in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Warner Music Group Headquarters in Los Angeles, W Nashville, and the Kempinski Hotel Chengdu. Greg also has extensive luxury residential experience, including 111 Murray in New York, Sky in New York, and Station House in Washington, D.C. Other notable projects include the iconic New York restaurants Nobu Downtown and Union Square Cafe, NeueHouse in New York and Los Angeles, Chefs Club in New York, The Time hotel in New York, Hotel EMC2 in Chicago, the MGM Cotai, the Doheny Room and Nightingale Plaza in Los Angeles, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Quebec City and Five50 Pizza Bar at the Aria in Las Vegas.

Audra Tuskes

VP Global Design Strategies – Marriott International

A design professional focused on hospitality & lifestyle development, Audra is responsible for reimagining the physical environment for NeueHouse. With locations in New York & Los Angeles, NeueHouse will continue to expand across North America. Audra has been the Vice President of Design & Creative Director for The Lightstone Group, overseeing design & brand experience for their lifestyle projects.

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

Alessandro Munge

Principal - Studio Munge

Born into a world of design, Alessandro Munge quickly transcended teenage sketches to become one of Canada’s most sought-after designers. Through his inquisitive nature and fundamental drive, Alessandro has redefined the role of a designer by provoking profound emotion in his work.

Specialising in thoughtful design solutions that conquer business challenges, he approaches every project with a deep understanding of practicalities, artistic expression, and human connectivity. With an innovative point of view, Alessandro has earned Contract Magazine’s Designer of the Year Award and Interior Design’s Hospitality Design Leader, strengthening his ties to a host of top-tier hospitality brands.

Alessandro continues to establish himself as a multidisciplinary visionary through design architecture, landscaping and product design. Leading a dynamic team of over fifty, Alessandro’s eponymous studio sculpts spaces into signature experiences from New York to Hong Kong. Among many international endeavours, Studio Munge’s recent projects include the Park Hyatt Hotel & Residences Los Angeles, the Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto, the first integrated NOBU hotel, residences and restaurants in Toronto`s Entertainment District, and E Madison Avenue by Equinox.

Jou-Yie Chou

Creative Director - Studio Tack

Jou-Yie is one of four partners at Studio Tack. He leads creative direction, marketing strategy and ongoing partnerships. Prior to this, he served as the Brand Director of Ace Hotel Group. Jou-Yie cut his teeth at Neverstop, a marketing agency specialising in brand activations, with clients ranging from Nike to Uniqlo. He is also currently on the Board of Advisors for Taylor Stitch and serves as the Managing Member to a consumer focused boutique early stage investment company called Tusk Partners. Jou-Yie received his BA in International Political Economy at Colorado College.

Verena Haller

Chief Design Officer - Standard Hotels

Verena Haller joined Standard International from Equinox Hotels, where she informed the creation of the Brand, Design Vision and Guest Experience for its new concept. She began her hospitality career with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, refining & honing her hospitality and design knowledge. For over a decade, Verena has worked with leading brands, designing for The W, Four Seasons, and James hotels. Verena went on to join Ian Schrager as EVP of Architecture and Design, working on and opening a variety of Edition Hotels and The Public Chicago. She later partnered with Morgans Hotel Group as SVP of Design, defining the brand’s next steps. She opened properties in London, Las Vegas, Istanbul etc., utilizing her expertise to help create the brand as it is today.

Currently Chief Design Officer for Standard International, she is helping to expand The Standard label and brand worldwide, with their first international property opening in London later this year. Verena’s unique innovative vision and refined eye for detail has greatly contributed to the overall success in the expansion and evolution of The Standard.

Johnathan Garrison

Managing Partner - Yabu Pushelberg

Johnathan Garrison leads the Yabu Pushelberg studio with an extensive range of project types including hospitality, retail, residential, building design, lighting, product, branding and graphics. Trained as an architect and with 20 years of experience in the design industry, he develops innovative and purposeful design solutions that cultivate cohesive, emotionally resonating experiences.

Current and recent projects include the Times Square EDITION, Park Hyatt Shenzhen, the debut of Moxy brand in North America and the Park Hyatt Bangkok. Award winning projects include Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Award Four Seasons Kuwait Burj Alshaya for New Build category, Tiffany and Co. 37 Wall Street and Michelin star Hong Kong restaurant Arbor. Johnathan has been a part of the Yabu Pushelberg team for 16 years. Prior to his tenure he worked at Inglese Architecture and Engineering. Johnathan is a graduate of Ball State University and received his M Arch at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Markus Shreyer

Vice President - The Americas, Design Hotels

Markus Schreyer is part of the senior leadership team at Design Hotels, a handpicked collection of over 300 design-driven luxury hotels across the globe. As Vice President, The Americas, he is responsible for developing the collection’s hotel portfolio, the business support of all member hotels, media and other potential partners, as well as expanding and building brand awareness and reach in North and South America.

Schreyer holds over 15 years of experience in global hospitality, including seven with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where he held several senior roles in Sales & Marketing. Before joining Design Hotels he was the Starwood’s Regional Director of Marketing, East & Central Europe, responsible for brand, digital, Loyalty and partnership marketing. He holds a Master of Business Administration and a PHD in Innovation Management, and is a regular contributor to industry and innovation publications.

Kristina O'Neal

Co-Founder and Principal - AvroKO and Brand Bureau

Kristina’s New York-headquartered design-and-concept firm AvroKO, is equally adept at the varied disciplines of architecture, furniture, graphics, and even owning and operating restaurants. She shares the helm with 3 additional partners - Adam Farmerie, Greg Bradshaw, and William Harris - each contributing 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 200 across its New York, Bangkok, San Francisco, London and Brand Bureau offices. Their active portfolio of interior architecture projects, including restaurants, bars, and hotels, are taking place currently in 21+ countries and 32 cities worldwide and have garnered them numerous accolades, including: 3 James Beard Awards, 7 Hospitality Design Awards, 7 AHEAD awards, 3 Gold Key Awards, 2 HA + D 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 international restaurants and bars which are wholly conceived, designed, owned, and operated by the company. These currently include Saxon + Parole, Ghost Donkey, Genuine Liquorette and The Poni Room.

Tony Machado

Vice President of Design - SH Hotels & Resorts

Tony Machado is currently serving as Vice President of Design for hospitality leader and innovator, SH Hotels & Resorts, an affiliate of global private investment firm Starwood Capital Group, where he is leading all aspects of design for the company’s fast growing 1 Hotels, Baccarat Hotels, and SH Collection brands.

Prior to SH Hotels & Resorts, Tony was with Morgans Hotel Group where he served as VP of Design and Construction for the expansion of the Delano and Mondrian brands.

Tony attended Syracuse University’s School of Architecture in Florence Italy and San Diego State University where he received a BA with an emphasis in Environmental Design. Tony is a California state licensed architect.

Mari Balestrazzi

Director of Operatioms – Airbnb

Mari Balestrazzi is Director of Operations at Airbnb where she oversees design for Hyatt's portfolio of full service brands. Prior to her role at Hyatt, Mari was Senior Vice President of Design at Morgans Hotel Group where she was responsible for overseeing all design for the company. Previously, Mari was Director of Design for St. Regis Hotels at Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Studio Director for Aero Studios Limited in New York City where she oversaw new construction and renovation projects for both private residences and commercial projects, including 60 Thompson and Giorgio Armani’s private residence in New York.

Jayson Seidman

Founder and Principal Managing Partner - Sandstone

Jayson Seidman is the Founder and Principal Managing Partner of Sandstone and its various affiliates, Drifter Hotels and The Basic®. Jayson has accumulated years of experience working for Goldman Sachs, LNR Property (now Starwood Capital), Credit Suisse, and most recently as the Head of Development for SHVO in New York. He has gained key knowledge concerning the financial implications and methods for developing ground-up or repositioning a property through pragmatic creative approaches, smart sustainable design, and problem mitigation.

His wide-ranging real estate knowledge includes a strong background in hotel finance, operations, design development, asset and portfolio management. He also possesses insight of acquisitions, as well as the structuring of capital for complex real estate transactions. Recent projects include 3 hotels in New Orleans; The Drifter, The Frenchmen and the Hotel Saint Vincent. In addition to this are 2 Texas hotel projects; The East Austin Hotel and The Basic Marfa.

Tarek M. Daouk

Founder and Managing Partner - Smartotels Group Holdings Limited

Tarek M. Daouk is Founder and Managing Partner at Smartotels Group Holdings Limited, a hotel real estate investment and asset management company focused on developing hotels under its proprietary lodging brands.

Prior to founding Smartotels, Mr. Daouk was Head of Hospitality at Goldman Sachs's Realty Management Division in Europe responsible for hotel acquisition, asset management and divestment activities. Prior to his time in Europe, Mr. Daouk was involved in hotel acquisitions for the Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds in the U.S.

Before joining Goldman Sachs, Mr. Daouk worked at InterContinental Hotels Group in the Development & Investment Analysis Division of the Americas regional office. Prior to InterContinental, Mr. Daouk was a management consultant in the Hospitality & Leisure Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr. Daouk received a BSc in Hotel Administration with distinction from Cornell University and an MSc in Real Estate Development from Columbia University.

Shahab Lutfi

Chief Executive Officer - Bright Start LLC

Shahab Lutfi is the Chief Executive Officer of Bright Start LLC, a private investment company in Dubai. His role is to oversee all investments as well as expanding Bright Start’s investment portfolio further primarily in the hospitality, residential and retail sectors.

Shahab is also the Founder of H&H Investment and Development; a boutique real estate development company that provides comprehensive turn-key solutions for real estate development, design, procurement and property management. In addition, Lutfi is the CEO and Partner of dxb-lab architecture; an award-winning architectural practice based in Dubai. He has facilitated the development of many prestigious projects including the Four Seasons Beach Resort, Four Seasons Dubai Financial Centre and Jumeirah Al Naseem.

Pallavi Dean

Founder & Creative Director - Roar

Pallavi is the founder and creative director at Roar; recognised by Frame and Interior Design Magazine as "emerging designer to watch out for" and described by Architectural digest as "One of the hottest boutique design companies in the UAE”.

Pallavi is a trained architect and sustainability specialist and has won multiple awards for work across a range of sectors including commercial, hospitality and residential. She was born in India, raised in Dubai and spent years working in London; her designs reflect these eclectic influences. A former professor of interior design at the American University of Sharjah, she strives to implement the latest theoretical and practical research into the firm’s designs.

She is an active member of the UAE design community, writing for industry publications, assisting with key trade events and mentoring students in the region. Her work has been profiled in some of the world’s leading international media including the Financial times, the BBC, Monocle , Wallpaper and the Architectural Digest. Flagship projects by Roar include the Delano Dubai hotel, UAE offices for media firm Edelman, and The Nursery of the Future for the UAE Prime Minister’s Office.

Sheri Smith

Senior Director of Interior Design - Global Design

Having joined Marriott International in 1986, Ms Sheri Smith is an accomplished design professional with thirty-two years of experience in the industry. Sheri manages interior design decisions throughout Middle East and Africa, and her ultimate responsibility is to create a memorable guest experience unique to each of Marriott’s brands strategies through her strong passion for excellence and forward-thinking design.

She is highly knowledgeable in all facets of hotel project realisation, from site market analysis, acquisition and conversion, renovation and new-build projects, and has participated in product branding, positioning, and strategic brand product implementations.

Sheri’s international work experience spans across North, Central and South America, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa with expertise in Marriott luxury, premium and select service brands.

Ms Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in interior design from La Roche College in the United States and she currently resides in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Pinar Calimano

Director of Design EMEA – Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Pinar Calimano is Director of Design, EMEA at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. She has 25 years of experience in design and hospitality industry working across luxury and full service hotel segments in US, Middle East and Africa. Her unique back ground include experience in hospitality design, in hotel operations and hospitality development which enable her to approach projects through a wider perspective.

Pinar, a graduate of New York School of Interior Design started her design career in Stonehill & Taylor Architects in New York. Before returning to her hotelier roots in 2013, she worked as design consultant delivering projects for international hotel operators such as Marriot, Starwood, Riz Carlton, Hilton and Millennium Hotels.

Most recently, she over saw the design development of new hotels, restaurants and bars for InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt International Hotels for Middle East and Africa region. She holds degrees in Interior Design and Hotel Management.

Nick Acton-Adams

Director of Design - Meraas/North25

Nick is a Director of Design at Meraas/North25 and has over 15 years of professional experience on major projects in Europe, North America, Australasia and the Middle East. Nick has a wealth of design experience across a wide range of workplace, high-rise, hospitality, mixed used, master-planning, transportation and architectural projects around the world.

Nick studied Bachelor Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand and Pennsylvania State University in the USA. Before joining Meraas/North25 almost 4 years ago, Nick was a worked in London for global architectural practices where he combined a talent of strong and imaginative conceptualisation with the ability to solve practical problems and meet client’s requirements.

His passion for working with clients from concept through to project realisation allows him to deliver the best design and commercial outcomes for our clients. These skills are complemented by his strengths in communication, briefing, co-ordination and project direction.

Paul Bishop

Owner and Founder - Bishop Design LLC

Paul remains at the forefront of Bishop Design LLC as the Owner and Founder, personally working on and overseeing each project that comes through the studio. He has also played an integral part in the launch of the firms new subdivision named Rogue; an edgy creative agency specialising in branding, media production, concept creation & architecture which officially launched earlier this year.

Paul has been the innovative powerhouse behind the studios' latest projects including revolutionary dining destination Torno Subito for Massimo Bottura and Wavehouse for Atlantis Dubai. Currently working on 40+ interior design projects within the region and internationally, Paul is contributing his tireless efforts to projects including a luxurious boutique resort in the Bahamas, six hospitality venues in Mauritius and three resorts and developments in India. He is also working with W Hotel in Paris, a Bohemian culture inspired eatery in Qatar and a refined industrial style meat restaurant; The Meating Room.

Pia Lakshmi Sen

Associate - LW Design Group

After studying at the Institute of Interior Design, Copenhagen, for three years, Pia Lakshmi Sen came to Dubai in 1987. In Dubai, she was caught amidst a whirlwind of upcoming projects that would soon grace the city’s skyline. Pia started her first job as an interior designer for Swedish Design, a firm that was tasked with completing private projects for HH Sheikh Muhammad. She went to the UK towards the end of 1999 and worked as a senior FF&E for a year, while mainly working on five-star hospitality projects in Europe.

After a year, she returned to Dubai to start her current career with LW Design; starting off as a senior interior designer and being promoted to an Associate after a few years. Throughout her career experience in the field of design, Pia has worked on countless hospitality, dining, and luxury projects including hotels, bars, and spas respectively. She is specialised in creating unique, functional, and thematic interiors for bespoke hotel chains such as Raffles and Grosvenor House.

With rigorous concept development, Pia curates a distinctly inviting and captivating ambiance for each restaurant. Her diverse portfolio not only spans across award-winning hotels, bars, and restaurants. At the same time, she has also developed residential projects for private clients such as prominent figures in the UAE.

Lotfi Sidirahal

Group Managing Director - Atelier Pod

The architect graduated from the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris. By the end of the 1990s, he published radical designs about new media’s sociological impact on urban lifestyles. His foremost research and prototypes were displayed in renowned art centres and exhibitions worldwide such as Vitra Design Museum, Graz Art Museum and Hangaram Seoul.

His early works not only attracted the attention of art critics but also quickly drew the attention of the world of luxury that soon began to engage his design studio; “Atelier Pod” to create signature works in accordance with their brand image, surrounding culture, and an everlasting guest experience.

Atelier Pod, the architecture and interior design firm he still manages today is based in Paris, Casablanca and Dubai and is referenced by prestigious hotel operators such as Four Seasons, Marriott Luxury,Anantara, Hilton and Accor Luxury.

Last year, Lotfi won the Villegiature Awards at Chateau de Ferrières in Paris and the prestigious Versailles Prize for hotels at Unesco.

Trevor Julius

CEO and Project Partner - dsgn™

Trevor Julius founded dsgn™ in 1980 by in response to a dearth of Professional Space Planning and Interior Design Services in South Africa. Since then it has grown into a formidable force within South Africa, African and Middle Eastern Interior Architectural & Design Industries.

As CEO and dsgn™ Design Director, Trevor has an oversight of all dsgn™ Projects, whilst assuming the role of Creative Director on those Projects where he is Project Principal. He holds has overall control and involvement in the Project, ensuring the Project Coordinator interrogates and controls the various facets of the daily administration and co-ordination of dsgn™’s involvement.

Leila Abdul Rahim

Design Director - Hilton Worldwide

Leila is a Design Director at Hilton covering the Middle East & Turkey region, responsible for working alongside owners to develop design concepts for upcoming hotels in the region.

Originally from Lebanon she was educated in the US at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and spent the first 15 years of her career with various consultancies in Los Angeles during which time she had the distinction of working on theme parks in Malaysia and Japan, Corporate interiors, as well as restaurant designs.

She moved to Dubai 2003 and followed her passion for hospitality interiors for brands ranging from Intercontinental, Ritz Carlton and Kempinski before taking on her current role.

Hilda Impey

- x-Wilson

Hilda brings more than 15 years of interior design experience and an acute specialisation in FF&E to her role as Design Principal. Born and raised in Mexico, her international career in textiles and interiors began early, and in 2002 she was awarded first place in the International Design Biennale in Mexico City. She received a master’s degree in textile futures from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design in London, and her deep knowledge of textiles and passion for interiors bring a unique approach to her methodology.

She has worked as a creative leader launching textile ranges for the interiors industry, as well as a fabric buyer, product developer, and trend forecaster for suppliers around the world. Previously Associate of FF&E at Godwin Austen Johnson’s Dubai headquarters, Hilda is known within the interiors and hospitality industries for her particular and exciting creative style. She works across all projects in Wilson Associates’ Dubai studio as Design Principal, FF&E assisting the team in creating unique concepts with flair.

Hilda’s expertise is often sought by industry publications and brands in forecasting upcoming design trends and providing input on emerging ideas. She has been named one of the region’s most influential designers and was listed in the Top 50 Power List published by Commercial Interior Design Magazine.

Hilda Impey

Design Principal - FF&E

Hilda brings more than 15 years of interior design experience and an acute specialisation in FF&E to her role as Design Principal. Born and raised in Mexico, her international career in textiles and interiors began early, and in 2002 she was awarded first place in the International Design Biennale in Mexico City. She received a master’s degree in textile futures from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design in London, and her deep knowledge of textiles and passion for interiors bring a unique approach to her methodology.

She has worked as a creative leader launching textile ranges for the interiors industry, as well as a fabric buyer, product developer, and trend forecaster for suppliers around the world. Previously Associate of FF&E at Godwin Austen Johnson’s Dubai headquarters, Hilda is known within the interiors and hospitality industries for her particular and exciting creative style. She works across all projects in Wilson Associates’ Dubai studio as Design Principal, FF&E assisting the team in creating unique concepts with flair.

Hilda’s expertise is often sought by industry publications and brands in forecasting upcoming design trends and providing input on emerging ideas. She has been named one of the region’s most influential designers and was listed in the Top 50 Power List published by Commercial Interior Design Magazine.

Nathan Hutchins

Founder - Muza Lab

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 King

Head of Interior Design, Design & Engineering, Europe - InterContinental Hotels Group

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.

Prior to joining IHG Emma 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, she believes that there is always more to learn!

Geraldine Dohogne

Founder – Beyond Design

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

Founder - The Mandrake

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.

Stuart Adolph

Senior Vice President, Development UK & Europe - Sydell Group

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.

Iain Watson

CEO & Co-Founder – David Collins Studio

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.”

Stefan Rier

Co-Founder - noa* network of architecture

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.

Celine Salman

Director, Design & Technical Services, Luxury - AccorHotels

Part of the Design and Technical Services AccorHotels Luxury team, Celine is project lead on a number of key, high profile, new build, conversion and renovation projects throughout MEA. In this role, she manages the Accor input through the design, construction and pre-opening phases.

Celine’s most recent position was as Design Director with Paramount Hotels & Resorts where she played a founding role in establishing and launching the well-known studio’s hospitality lifestyle brands. Her feature projects included a number of Paramount Hotel & Residence developments spanning the globe from the USA to China.

Prior to this, Celine held a strong project management and owner's representative role with F&B operators the Gerber Group in New York, design roles with consultants Galal Mahmoud Architects in Beirut and Stantec in Dubai, as well as an interior design manager role with Abu Dhabi based hotel operator Rotana Hotels.

In addition to an Architecture degree from the University of Maryland, Celine also holds an MBA from IE Business School, giving her a well-rounded view of hospitality development. She is fluent in English and in French, as well as conversational in Spanish and Arabic.

Omar Ghafour

Founder - Light Space Design

With over fifteen years of professional experience in the design industry from renowned practices, Omar Abdelghafour founded Award Winning multi-discipline Design and Architecture Practice L.S.Design (Light Space Design) in 2004.

Born and raised in London, he received his masters in Transport Design and then Architecture from the UK. His professional practice has given him the opportunity to work in Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. His ability to practice architecture globally enabled him to be invited to be part of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and Light, as a key note speaker. AS well as mentoring he is an active member in a variety of professional Design and architectural platforms in the Middle East and Europe. His work is regularly published in global design publications from Europe to Asia.

For him, architecture is one part of “Design” as the language for life not a singular discipline. This philosophy translates into every aspect of how human interface and contextual accuracy is used in both his private and commercial architecture. It encompasses urban planning, product, furniture, lighting and even transport Design, resulting in the delivery of a detail-rich fully immersed designed environment. This is apparent in his diverse body of work. He has a regard for unique craftsmanship and refined aesthetics, with a firm belief that design should be passionate, dynamic and contextually relevant for the region in which its being delivered.

Mike Sievwright

Vice President for Design & Construction - MGM Hospitality

Mike Sievwright is Vice President for Design and Construction for MGM Resorts International, based in the UAE and covering the International stage. He is responsible for strategic and operational oversight for design and construction related matters for all integrated hotel and entertainment developments for MGM Resorts in the region. With previous experience including Jumeirah and Abu Dhabi Capital group across Europe, MENA and ASPAC, Mike brings cultural sensitivity, a wealth of technical and design experience, and fiscal responsibility to the role.

Mike is a highly innovative Engineer and Project Management professional with over 25 years’ cross-functional experience in the hotel development and construction industry across contracting, asset management, design, hotel development and as a hotel operator. Mike is passionate about the Hospitality Industry, believes in encouraging innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is normal, and aims to create inspiring, efficient and profitable spaces. Whilst managing the design and construction process, he is always looking for pioneering design solutions to identify opportunities for increasing efficiencies, increasing revenue, decreasing costs and maximizing benefits for all stakeholders.

Mike holds an Engineering Honors Degree from Oxford Brookes University and a Certificate in Real Estate Development from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

Husain Roomi

Co-Founder - H2R Design

By growing up in the midst of some of the most architecturally inspiring cities in the world, Husain Roomi has extended this influence with an Architecture Degree from Kingston University in London, England. His education acting as his own ‘design hub’ and with a greater understanding of where architecture is heading in the future, he tunnels this broad understanding of design and applies it with a focus on the hospitality and the F&B sectors.

Though young, his approach and vision were quickly recognized by leading firms in the industry such as Aedas’ Dubai office, where Husain worked previously. Surrounded by the entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age, and his innate urge to explicitly create environments with a passion in F&B and hospitality, empowered Husain to found H2R Design with his brother Hasan.

Recognising the opportunity for the evolution and acceptance of soulful spaces in the UAE, his integration and attention to detail with respect and consideration to context – regardless of the brief or project – has helped shed light on his beliefs. It has also fuelled his interest in new approaches in not only design, but also his own passions of travel, art, food, music, photography, cars and fashion. Using his experiences and perspective, he creates positive relationships between clients, allowing for a more comprehensive, unique, and personalised design. His clear and level-headed mindset compliments the rest of the team by managing expectations and overachieving them, while retaining the ability to bring a sense of refinement and finesse to each project and the firm.

Hasan Roomi

Co-Founder - H2R Design

From a young age, Hasan has always had a strong interest in design and the ability to create a story behind it. His eager interest in automotive design, shared by his brother, fuelled the development in this field in the broad term. This creative passion was explored and enhanced while studying Interior Architecture at Middlesex University London and eventually evolved into wanting to create spaces for people to dine in, drink, socialise, work and shop. This resulted in the desire to, not only design spaces, but to develop a whole experience.

Hasan takes each project personally, as if it is his own, and inspires his team to do the same. He strives to make sure that everything is thought out while developing each design element that adds value. Whether it is to trigger an emotion, create a mood, or allow some kind of interaction between the users and the space, his designs fully integrate the consumers experience from conception to realisation.

He believes that honesty is the best approach to any design project and that is one of the key elements that drives clients’ interest to work with him and the firm. His approach is to develop a true identity for each space and that is the brand promise that he brings to any project, large or small.

​Hakan Ozkasikci

Senior Vice President, Design & Technical Services - Kerzner International

Hakan Ozkasikci is the Senior Vice President, Design and Technical Services of Kerzner International. A devoted architect and designer with a 25-year track record in hospitality and branded high-end residential projects, Hakan is focused on high luxury with strong global expertise from blank canvas projects to complicated conversions of urban properties. Recognized as a thought leader for the hospitality industry, Hakan is proud to have his fingerprint on the ultra-luxury projects of the elite hotel brands of the world. He has been an active attendee of prominent international hospitality events as a key-note speaker.

An ever-loyal pupil of classical motorcycling, an experiential cook, a progressive father and husband, and the writer of a new book.

Elodie Noël

Director, Design & Technical Services, Luxury Brands, Europe - AccorHotels

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.

Fabio Ongarato

Founder - Fabio Ongarato Design

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.

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.

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.

Toby Smith

Managing Director – Swire Hotels

Born and brought up in the UK, 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.

As Managing Director of Swire Hotels, Toby takes on the day to day leadership of the Swire Hotels portfolio under the two brands, EAST and The House Collective, with the latest addition – The Middle House, Shanghai which opened in 2018.

Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Toby was the General Manager of Sales and Distribution at Cathay Pacific, overseeing the distribution channels including online, corporate sales and Cathay Holidays.

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.

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.

Anne Wilkinson

Principal - BAMO

Sara Duffy

Principal - Stonehill Taylor Interiors

Sara Duffy graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and received her Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. With a background in art history and television, Sara crafts a unique, immersive narrative for each of her projects with a focus on thoughtful, classic design. Her impressive variety of projects includes the Nomad Hotel and Bar in New York and its re-iteration in Las Vegas, the J.W. Marriott Nashville, and the iconic TWA Hotel at JFK Airport’s historic TWA Flight Center. She has worked with renowned hospitality developers such as the Sydell Group, Eleven Madison Park’s Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Marriott International, Turnberry Associates, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Alessia Genova

Managing Partner - Tihany Design

Ms. Genova began her career at Tihany Design in 2007, and after rising as a senior designer, held a pivotal leadership role for over ten years culminating with her appointment as Studio Director in 2017. Early this year Ms. Genova was named Managing Partner, signifying a new chapter in the firm’s 42-year history.

Ms. Genova brings a truly global perspective and uniquely innovative outlook to every project. Her strength in concept and presentation development draws from her passion for identifying the story behind each design project and bringing the vision to life for clients. Ms. Genova frequently collaborates with world renowned chefs, creating signature restaurant interiors for stars such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Richard Ekkebus. She has been instrumental in Tihany Design’s integration into the cruise industry and in 2019 was included as part of Boutique Design magazine’s Boutique 18 rising stars of hospitality design. Key career projects include The Oberoi New Delhi, Four Seasons Dubai DIFC, Amber at Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Bocuse at The Culinary Institute of America, Oro at the Belmond Cipriani in Venice, Bar Boulud Boston, the Dubai villa private residence and Mandarin Oriental Bosphorous, Istanbul, opening late 2020.

Mark Boekenheide

Senior Vice President of Global Development - Las Vegas Sands Corporation

Mark Boekenheide, AIA, is the Senior Vice President of Global Development for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. In this role, he oversees all design, development and construction activities for properties in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore and Japan.

Mark’s previous experience includes Senior Vice President of Design for the Related Companies, where he directed all design activities for Hudson Yards in NYC, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas; Vice President of Design and Construction for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts; and as Managing Partner for BBG-BBGM Architects and Interiors.

Mark is a graduate of Syracuse University, a licensed architect in 15 states, and a LEED-Certified design professional. A frequent speaker at hospitality-related events, Mark has taught Hotel Design and Development at Harvard University, and sits on the Advisory Board of the Syracuse University School of Architecture and the Editorial Advisory Board for Hospitality Design Magazine.

Gulla Jonsdottir

Principal - Gulla Jonsdottir Design

Gulla Jonsdottir is an Icelandic Architect, creating unexpected and poetic modern Designs from her eponymous Los Angeles & Paris based Design studios.

Known for her sensual and dynamic forms that work in harmony with their surroundings, Gulla's environmental compassion brings unique spatial experiences that respond to nature and surrounding site, always echoing the integration of organic beauty and function.

Gulla Jonsdottir studied mathematics & biology before moving to Los Angeles to study architecture at SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture). Before starting her own firm in 2009, she worked for Richard Meier & Partners, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Dodd Mitchell Design.

Gulla & her International team have a reputation for holistic work across the fields of hospitality, commercial & residential design, museums & wellness projects worldwide, as well as having her own furniture line. Gulla was recently named “the next Zaha Hadid” by the Huffington Post and has in her career worked on renowned projects in Paris, Japan, Mexico, Iceland, Beirut, Bahamas, China and USA.

Being selected as one of Top 50 Firms in Interior Design’s Power Grid, LA, Gulla Jonsdottir has in her career received several awards including Interior Design’s Best of year winner 2017 for Resort design: The Macau Roosevelt in Macau, China. Architectural Digest Best Bar in America for La Peer Hotel, Interior Design’s Nomination for Best Urban Boutique Hotel for La Peer Hotel, Interior Design’s Gold Key Award for Best Spa Design: Paz Spa at Cabo Azul Resort, “Best design of the Year” by Esquire magazine for the Red O restaurant in Los Angeles, Boutique Design’s Best Hotel Design: Cabo Azul Resort, Best Lighting Design: Cabo Azul Resort, Los Angeles Architectural Award of excellence for Red O Restaurant, and Hospitality Design Magazine award for Roxbury and Cabo Azul, Restaurant & Bar Design nomination for the the Library bar at The Mayfair Hotel, Los Angeles and Hyde lounge, Miami, as well as a nomination for Surface magazine’s best new hotel suites for Hotel G penthouses in San Francisco.

Some of her most notable projects are: The 2 Michelin star Le Grand Restaurant, by Jean-Francois Piege in Paris, La Peer hotel in West Hollywood, CA, The Macau Roosevelt hotel in China, Comal at Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Los Cabos, Mexico, The Mayfair hotel, Los Angeles, Hotel G Penthouses in San Francisco, and the Renovation of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, with 15 more projects on the boards currently.

Ave Bradley

Creative Director & Global Senior Vice President of Design - Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

As Creative Director and Global Senior Vice President of Design for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Ave Bradley is responsible for the overall creative vision for the brand and is overseeing the design direction for the brand as it undertakes its international expansion. She works closely with the Development team in the evaluation of potential deals and establishes the high-level creative vision for projects by identifying trends, niches and opportunities in the marketplace. She engages the creative teams to help bring that vision to life and oversees day-to-day management of the design process. She collaborates closely with the Marketing and Brand teams to cultivate a cohesive presentation across projects through the establishment of hotel names and the development of logos and graphics.

Ave started her hospitality career with W Hotels as Director of Interiors & Brand Development during the launch and expansion of the brand, opening the first 22 properties for W.

Signe Bindslev Henriksen

Co-founder - Space Copenhagen

Linda Boronkay

Founder – Linda Boronkay Design

Linda Boronkay is Design Director for Soho House responsible for UK, Europe & Asia regions. She was the winner of Britain's Best Emerging Interior Design Award while still at university and since then she has worked for some of the world's top design firms such as Tom Dixon, Martin Brudnizki, global studio Woods Bagot and Tara Bernerd & Partners.

She benefits from a distinctive and varied professional background that comes from working for some of the world’s leading hospitality companies such as Soho House & Co., Caprice Holdings, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Capital, The Morgans Hotel Group, The Howard Hughes Co., Virgin Hotels, Nobu and also from having created custom residences for high-profile private clients in 4 continents over 10 countries.

Jason Wischhoff

Managing Director - Benihana EMEA, CEE & Asia

With nearly two decades of experience in executing hotel developments for several hotel chains in Europe, my passion for dining & nightlife was the prime unique selling point in recent years anchored to hotel brands in the upper lifestyle/luxury sector.

Having joined Benihana Q4 2019 (part of Minor International), I oversee the growth and operations for a group now in it’s 56th year of operations globally responsible for outside the US, Caribbean & South America.

To date, Benihana holdings has 19 locations across 12 countries with a solid growth trajectory of additional restaurants to openings in the next few years in Europe, Canada, Middle East & Asia.

Dorothee Meilichzon

Founder - Chzon

Our studio Chzon was founded by Dorothee Meilichzon in Paris, 10 years ago.

Graduated in industrial design, Dorothee is committed to building concepts and writing new stories for each project. The studio is very attached to the historical context of the building, the shape of the space, details, anecdotes, that every new site is offering. Thereby every project is unique and situated in its context.

Linked to industrial design, and to the global experience of customers, Dorothee and her team draw every aspects of the interior design: the furniture, frescos, lamps, patterns and have those made by her precious artisans. She also lead the choice of dinnerware, staff clothing, graphic design of logos and menus.

The studio has worked on over 50 projects: bars, hotels, restaurants in Paris, London, New York, Venice, Cannes, Monaco, Menorca and Ibiza.

Dennis Irvine

Founder - Dennis Irvine Studio

Prior to founding Dennis Irvine Studio, Dennis worked for several renowned London design studios. Working on prestigious and unique projects he honed his design skills, spear heading international projects from concept to completion.

Through global travel and engaging in multiple luxury commissions, Dennis has gained a wealth of design experience. Exposure to various cultures and collaborations has enriched his design aesthetic. His innate ability to respect and refine the client’s vision informs the studios ethos and principles. Passionate about all things design he leads his London based design team with integrity, honesty and inherent design flair.

Dennis was recently listed in House and Garden’s ‘Leading 100 Interior Designers’ and Country & Townhouse ‘Finest 50 Interior Designers’ and often speaks at major industry events and his work is often published in Sleeper, Forbes, AD, Robb Report, Hospitality Design & House & Garden. He has delivered worldwide luxury projects ranging from Wellness SPA’s, private residences, super yachts to restaurants and hotels for prestigious operators both renowned and independent. Amongst his client list are Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Luxury Collection, The Dorchester Collection and Waldorf Astoria Hotels.

Ana Ortega-Miranda

Director of Interior Design for Marriott International

Ana has been involved in the development of hospitality projects for more than 15 years on projects within Europe and Africa.

At Marriott International, Ana leads the team that oversees the new developments and design work in Marriot's properties in Southern Europe.

Her focus is on upper and upper upscale properties with a range of brands that includes Courtyard and millennial brand Moxy, core brands Marriott and Sheraton, to the personality-driven Autograph Collection.

As an Interior Design Director for Marriott over the last five years, Ana has had the opportunity to develop spaces that can give travellers at every level the unique experiences they didn’t even know they wanted.

Ana has a passion for traveling and, together with her work, has given me a true appreciation for the importance of cultural authenticity and thoughtful and innovative design.

​Alba Biedermann

Director Portfolio Development, EMEA – Design Hotels

Alba Biedermann joined Design Hotels™ to manage the curation and qualitative growth of the member portfolio in EMEA.

She believes in visionaries with an imaginative spirit who dare to seek the unexpected and create original experiences for the traveler of tomorrow. Her multidisciplinary background and intuitive sense for aesthetics, culture and branding in the digital and physical space, let her shape the collection of Design Hotels™ members – and contribute to the strategic development and further evolution of the brand.

Previously, she has spent six years successfully contributing to developing a digital lifestyle agency in London and Germany where she worked with prestigious clients like Net-a-Porter, Alexander McQueen and Made.com.

As an Alumni of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Biedermann has a solid understanding of the hospitality industry. Her curiosity for the lifestyle sector and appreciation for sophisticated design led to a Masters in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni in London as well as Interior Design courses at Central Saint Martin.