AHEAD MEA is judged by an independent panel of experts, comprising leading hospitality architects, designers, owners, operators, developers and industry commentators.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The judges for AHEAD MEA are acknowledged industry leaders, who represent a wide spectrum of the disciplines involved in delivering new hotel projects across the region.
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 January 2018 – February 2019 are eligible for entry to AHEAD MEA 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.
Submissions for AHEAD MEA cost £250 (+ VAT) each.
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)
Published six times per year, Sleeper features unrivalled coverage of the latest projects, products, practices and people shaping the industry. Its core circulation encompasses all those involved in the creation of new hotels, from owners, operators, developers and investors to interior designers, architects, procurement companies and hotel groups.
Our portfolio comprises a beautifully presented magazine, an affiliated website and regular email newsletters, as well as industry-leading events including AHEAD, the awards for hospitality experience and design. Sleeper is also the organiser of Sleepover, a networking event for hotel innovators hosted in a different city each year, and has recently launched a sister publication – Supper– focusing on global hotel F&B.
Sleeper is the only media brand to reach all the individuals and disciplines throughout the supply chain involved in the delivery of new hotel projects worldwide. As such, it is the perfect partner for brands looking to target the multi-billion pound hotel sector with design-led products and services.Visit site
GROHE products can be found in iconic hotel developments all over the world. Thanks to unique versatility in design and functionality, innovative technology and endless possible applications, GROHE products are perfectly placed to meet the rigorous demands of the hospitality sector.
We want guests to feel at home. When they visit a hotel, they expect a standard beyond that of a normal domestic bathroom. They want to be inspired. This is what we do.Visit site
The Definitive Source for Site, Garden, and Casual Furnishings ®
An industry leader in design-driven furnishings for more than 35 years, JANUS et Cie serves hospitality, contract and residential clients with a dedicated focus on outstanding quality, superior craftsmanship and unparalleled service. In the years since the company's founding in 1978, CEO Janice Feldman and her exceptional team have transformed JANUS et Cie from a single showroom in Los Angeles to a comprehensive global design resource with sixteen flagship showrooms throughout North America and in Singapore and Sydney, as well as field offices and select dealers throughout the world.
The company's namesake—the Roman god JANUS, whose two faces look both forward and back—is the foundation of a unified mission rooted in tradition, heritage and craft, yet equally dedicated to innovative materials and progressive engineering. This inspired long-term view is realized through the lens of a unique corporate culture that encourages curiosity, creativity and collaboration in the pursuit of excellence.
JANUS et Cie offers a diverse catalog of over 6,000 pieces—each design remarkably distinguished in concept and form. Acclaimed by the most discriminating designers, architects and juried competitions, this powerful body of work has inspired for decades a demand for beautifully imagined casual furnishings to be used both indoors and out, and has influenced an entire industry in the process.Visit site
As a leading international manufacturer of high-quality shower surfaces, bathtubs and washbasins made of superior steel enamel, Kaldewei is represented in more than 80 countries including 12 subsidiaries in Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Southeast Asia, Spain, the UK and the USA. Project decision-makers and private builders throughout the world appreciate the many advantages offered by superior Kaldewei steel enamel which is used in numerous top-class hotels.Visit site
The Laufen Bathrooms AG is a Swiss company specialising in premium complete bathroom solutions. Established in 1892 in Laufen/Switzerland, it operates internationally manufacturing bathroom ceramics and faucets and distributing bathroom furniture, accessories for the bathroom, bathtubs and shower trays.
But Laufen has never forgotten its roots – founded as a pottery factory, ceramics have always played a central role in the drafts of the designers and architects Laufen work with partners like Kartell, Alessi, Konstantin Grcic, Stefano Giovannoni, Wiel Arets, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, Toan Nguyen and others. The products combine Swiss quality with a free spirit and the idea of extracting new forms from the traditional ceramic material to new and independent bathroom concepts.
Laufen is proud to be a part of the global hospitality community, working with specification partners around the world on inspirational hotel projects. We are also well-known for being a highly innovative company with 125 years of expertise in ceramics. It is no coincidence, that Laufen invented the revolutionary SaphirKeramik, which possesses all the hygienic advantages of traditional bathroom ceramics, but is thinner, more defined, and extremely robust.
Furthermore the bathroom specialist has solutions and modern materials at its disposal to realise the made-to-measure bathroom. For example to fulfill the exacting requirements of architects, planners and engineers who design high-quality private residences as well as public and semi-public buildings, such as hotels.Visit site
Restoration Hardware Contract has a unique position in the hospitality, commercial and residential sectors. We offer the broadest range of product categories, and our culture of innovation, superior product development capabilities, in-house interior design services, integrated supply chain and significant purchasing scale enables us to offer an unmatched combination of design, quality and value to our business customers.Visit site
Roca is a company engaged in the design, production and commercialisation of products for the bathroom space, as well as ceramic floor and wall tiles for architecture, building and interior design. Its origins date from 1917, when the Roca family started building their first production plant in Gavà (Barcelona). In the centenary of its establishment, the company employs over 22,600 workers and has 78 production plants, with presence in more than 170 markets in five continents.
Thriving on its pioneering approach to bathroom manufacturing, Roca offers solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and issues faced by designers. Roca also collaborates with prestigious architects and designers including Armani, David Chipperfield and J. Mariscal, among others. Additionally, the company works to promote environmental initiatives; developing new products focused on water conservation, including the award-winning W+W combined washbasin and WC product.
The brand is expressed in the Roca Galleries, a network of showroom spaces designed by acclaimed architects such as Zaha Hadid, which demonstrate Roca’s enthusiasm in shaping the future of bathroom spaces. Roca has been involved in hospitality projects for Sheraton, Four Seasons and Hilton hotels, amongst others.Visit site
Villeroy & Boch is one of the world's leading premium brands for ceramic products. The family business, which was founded in 1748 and is headquartered in Mettlach/Germany, stands for innovation, tradition and exceptional style. As a renowned lifestyle brand, Villeroy & Boch offers products from the sectors Bathroom and Wellness and Tableware, and is active in 125 countries.
As a proven partner for high-quality bathroom solutions, Villeroy & Boch works with architects, planners and interior designers – from the first draft to the final version. Its modular PROJECTS system offers collections and products for individual project requirements with clear pricing and thematic-area segmentation. Working across the globe, the company can point to numerous completed installations across a range of design briefs with different project requirements.Visit site
Established in 1993 as the first of its kind, with a portfolio of only 10 iconic member properties, Design Hotels™ today represents and markets a hand-selected collection of privately owned and operated hotels – each a wholly unique creative expression – in hundreds of destinations around the globe, from world capitals and exclusive mountaintops to hidden beaches, off-the-beaten-path escapes, and beyond. Far more than a loosely affiliated assortment of properties, Design Hotels™ unites hotels that reflect the vision of independent hoteliers – “Originals” – with a passion for genuine, culturally rooted hospitality and cutting-edge design and architecture.
As a global lifestyle brand and full-service marketing consultancy, Design Hotels™ offers its members customised B2B services, including global launch campaigns, sales representation, revenue management, strategic marketing, public relations, and branding. Design Hotels also brings together an engaged community of followers who seek out travel inspirations and original experiences and find them in hotels that are new, established, transformative, and unexpected.Visit site
Dezeen’s mission is simple: to bring a carefully edited selection of the best architecture, design and interiors projects and news from around the world. Dezeen was launched at the end of November 2006 and has grown rapidly ever since. Its audience has grown each year and by February 2017 it reached 2.5 million unique visitors per month, making it one of the 5,000 most popular websites on the planet according to Alexa, as well as the most popular website about architecture and design.Visit site
Dubai Design Week is the largest creative festival in the Middle East, reflecting Dubai’s position as the regional capital of design. The six-day programme is made up of 200+ events covering design across a range of disciplines including architecture, product, furniture, interior and graphic design.
Staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai Design Week provides an accessible meeting point for the global design community, a platform for regional design and acts as a catalyst for the growth of the creative community in Dubai. The varied programme includes design-related events, exhibitions, performances, awards, talks and workshops and experiences.Visit site
Music changes how people think, lifts their mood and influences their behaviour. Music Concierge specialises in using background music to create unique atmospheres and distinct brand identities for clients all over the world.
For over 10 years, we’ve been working with some of the most respected global names in hospitality, retail and more, crafting memorable signature playlists that surprise, delight and engage their audiences – and which are rooted in the personality of the brand and the aesthetics of the space.
SNS Group is a manufacturer of high-end furniture for the hospitality industry, with branch offices in Europe, Dubai, Asia and USA, having its production facilities in Turkey and Indonesia, while keeping well established partnerships with Italian design enterprises.Visit site
Preciosa is a leading international glass manufacturer. For decades we have brought, and continue to bring, new blood to the art of glassmaking through creative ideas, colour and our brilliant glass and crystal components. We design one-of-a-kind, awe-inspiring chandeliers and elegant jewellery. People in over 140 countries worldwide admire our craft.Visit site