The judging panel for AHEAD MEA - comprising architects, interior designers, hoteliers and industry commentators - follows a carefully developed judging process to ensure a rigorous and balanced approach, with the criteria for success based not only on creative excellence guest experience but commercial viability.
Since joining Hirsch Bedner Associates in 1998, Andrew has been privileged to participate in two of the most dynamic decades of growth in Asia Pacific, especially China.
Andrew has led his design team in Singapore in creating some of the region's most important hospitality projects, and developing lasting relationships with HBA clients.
Firas Alsahin is the Co-Founder and Design Director of 4SPACE; a dynamic, multi-talented, multi-award-winning design studio delivering high-end architectural and interior design services across the Middle East. Recognised as one of the finest interior design companies in the region, the company prides itself on blending light and space with delicate, well-considered features to create memorable and unique aesthetics.
Firas adeptly leads the design divisions at 4SPACE and takes it beyond imaginable boundaries. His extraordinary international experience encourages the team to explore different shapes and forms to create unique spaces that incorporate feasibility, efficiency, and originality. He keenly maintains a hands-on approach that allows him to meticulously manage every phase of the design process, including 3D modelling, design development and site supervision.
As Co-Founder of 4SPACE, Firas has never stopped achieving his goals. His passion for design resonates throughout his projects, particularly in the food and beverage, retail and hospitality sectors. By providing motivation and dedication, Firas has managed 4SPACE to withstand any challenges that come its way and perfect a work-life balance. His design finesse embraces futuristic, minimalist, functional and sustainable design. Firas is well regarded in the industry and has an active voice on various discussion platforms in the Middle East; he is tech-savvy, impressively creative and a respected global industry influencer. His innovative thought processes and supportive approach inspires his team to create distinctive designs using the highest quality materials.
Jonathan Ashmore is the Founding Principal of award-winning RIBA Chartered Practice ANARCHITECT, based in Dubai and London. A practicing architect and active design critic, Ashmore is a post-graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture, member of the RIBA Gulf Chapter and a British Council Cultural Excellence Fellowship Mentor.
In a short time, Jonathan has won the international interest of design-conscious clientele, thanks to his refined approach and contemporary aesthetics, with a signature style of translating architecture across diverse scales of design; with superlative craft, detail and materiality. Together with his team, Jonathan creates highly refined buildings, spaces, and objects beautifully balanced in form and function. Continuously pushing the boundaries of architectural discourse to deliver projects at the crux of understated luxury and contextually modern architecture, his work has gained international recognition through invited creative collaborations with Burberry, Wallpaper* Magazine and projects regularly published in the global design press.
Jonathan is frequently invited as a spokesperson for Middle Eastern modern architecture, drawing upon a decade’s experience, uncovering its opportunities and rich contextual vernaculars. His thought leadership and success delivering projects with strong narratives continues to attract widespread print and digital coverage which subsequently fosters clients’ success beyond design commission, including his practice’s soaring social media following.
Khawla Al Hashimi is currently the Chief Projects Officer of development at Shurooq.
She has worked there for the past 13 years, where she started as an architect and grew
through the ranks. She has designed and managed the development of many projects
spanning from hotels to beach promenades and libraries. Her project portfolio includes
Kingfisher Retreat, Al Faya Retreat, the Chedi Al Bait Hotel, House of Wisdom, Khor
Fakkan Beach to name a few. Some of these projects have won prestigious awards like:
Conde Nast Traveller’s best new hotel in the ME in 2020, and Luxury Lifestyle Award for
best luxury eco retreats and best luxury boutique hotel in the ME in 2020.
She also worked as an architect at Dubai Properties before moving to Shurooq, and has several projects in Dubai under her belt as well. Graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a BA in 2008.
In essence Khawla is a values-driven architect and a strong advocate for Sharjah’s
image. She believes in sustainable projects that compliment and showcase their context
and history. She believes that buildings are the platform with which we get to
experience a location. It is with this philosophy she is leading a team that is single-
handedly transforming the face of Sharjah.
Kristina Zanic has had a distinguished career for three decades as an international designer for projects in over 20 countries. After starting an interior design company at age 26 and growing it to a multinational firm over 15 years, Kristina set up her eponymous studio to offer a more personalised service to clients.
Ten years on, the studio has grown to four offices and 180 staff and won numerous design awards – including #1 Interior Design Firm in the Middle East in 2022, with Kristina also earning the #1 Designer title. The studio designs interiors for urban hotels, nature resorts, VIP private resorts, and restaurants across Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Kristina particularly enjoys working on projects in unique natural settings, where the story of the place shapes the design and the visitor experience. She designed the award-winning interiors of Ritz Carlton Al Hamra and Al Wadi resorts, inspired by Bedouin life and the UAE desert.
Her studio is also behind the interiors of two Saudi luxury island resorts in the Red Sea, with architecture by Kengo Kuma and Foster + Partners, opening in 2023 and 2024. Other notewrothy projects include the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge situated within Kenya’s awe-inspiring wildlife reserve, and a beachfront resort in a UNESCO-listed nature reserve in Qatar. Kristina’s work is inspired by a passion for travel and exploring different cultures. She has been to over 70 countries, often seeking places off the beaten track.
Starting her career designing theme parks in Japan and Malaysia, Leila moved into corporate interiors in the late 90’s, where she had the privilege to design the newly created Lexus car brand headquarters for Toyota, as well as vanguard offices for Dreamworks, Warner Bros and Warner Records. It was through the start of the actor-owned restaurants that Leila veered into hospitality designing F&B venues for the likes of Michael Wayne.
In 2003, Leila and her family relocated to Dubai, where she first joined the developer Emaar properties and established design and execution standards within the retail department. A few years later, she returned to the consulting side of design, and headed the Dubai brand of several interior design companies, including DiLeonardo, HBA and Bilkey Llinas.
Today, with over 35 years of experience in the industry, Leila oversees interior design experiences for Hilton Corporate’s ME region.
Mark joined Ennismore in 2018 from Los Angeles as part of the Accor acquisition of the SBE Lifestyle Brands. Bringing with it his in-depth knowledge of the SLS, Mondrian, HYDE, and Delano legacy brands, Mark was part of a small team based out of Singapore, instrumental in the growth of Ennismore in Asia-Pacific.
Now under a global role from Dubai, Mark co-leads the Ennismore Global Design Team with Charlie North. Working as a ‘hand-to-glove’ link between the Ennismore brands and regional design teams, Mark is responsible for high-level design direction along with defining the design and product strategy for Ennismore brands, ensuring they remain future-proofed and true to their unique brand DNA and purpose.
Prior to Ennismore, Mark spent more than 19 years working in London, New York and Shanghai, training under renowned architects, designers, and hospitality groups such as Soho House, OMA, Richard Rogers, Softroom, HBA and Philippe Starck’s YOO.
Nick is currently acting as senior adviser to a range of hospitality owners, investors and operators. He serves a wide spectrum of clients, including private family offices; PE; SWF’s and corporates.
Nick spent the early part of his career in hotel operations in Africa and Europe, working with Holiday Inn, Sun International, Gleneagles and Meridien. Thereafter he spent 30 years in Professional Services - with PKF, Arthur Andersen and Deloitte, based variously in London, Hong Kong and the Gulf. He has worked in over 110 countries and 250 markets and is a sought-after speaker and moderator.
He has made a life-long habit of staying in legendary hostelries.
Nick and his family split their time between Dubai, Noosa, Cape Town and London.
Paulo has had a distinguished career for two decades as Chief D&TS Accor America in over 12 Countries (North, Central and South).
Paulo has spent the part of his career leading the expansion of 450 hotels & resorts within all Accor brands and across all market segments. Over the last 07 years, he has been very focused on distinctive and disruptive design, bringing innovative solutions to the hotels & resorts venues.
He was the creator and the curator of the South America Accor D&TS Summit, the most important event related to hotel development and design in Americas.
In 2023, Paulo and his family relocated to Dubai, where he joined the developer DAMAC Properties to globally lead the hospitality development, of the giant company.
He is also a University Professor in hospitality architecture and key note speaker at prestigious events and workshops.
Pinar Calimano is Senior Director of Design + Innovation, EMEA at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. She has over 25 years of experience in hospitality design and hotel operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa, region as well as United States.
Pinar, a graduate of the New York School of Interior Design, started her design career at Stonehill & Taylor Architects in New York. Prior to returning to her hotelier roots in 2013 as Design Director for Hyatt International Hotels for MEA/SWA region, she delivered projects for hotel brands such as Ritz Carlton, Marriot, Sheraton, Hilton, and Millennium Hotels as interior design consultant.
In her current role, Pinar leads Four Seasons Hotels Design + Innovation Team in EMEA region and oversees the interior design of new hotels, restaurants and bars as well as renovation of existing properties.
As Rove Hotels’ Technical Services Lead, Sameer brings seventeen years of knowledge and experience to the role, from hotel and brand development to construction. With a Master’s degree in Real Estate, he likes to approach hotel projects by striking the fine balance between creative design and ROIs.
As an architect in the hospitality sector, Sameer was former Design Manager at the multinational hotel operator and developer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, delivering luxury projects across the globe including India’s first W resort in Goa.
Ms. Tatoum Athanassiou joined Marriott International in 2014 and serves as Director of Interior Design for luxury brands as part of the Global Design team in the Middle East & Africa. With 20+ years of experience in the hospitality and leisure industry, Tatoum has an extensive wealth of knowledge on the requirements and standards of international hotel design and operations. Her exposure to various cultures has been manifested through an international career spanning across Europe, America, Middle East and Africa, where she has worked on a variety of hospitality, mixed-use, and luxury residential projects.
In her current capacity at Marriott International, Tatoum oversees interior design decisions throughout Middle East and Africa for new-build projects and renovations across all brands, utilizing strong leadership and negotiation abilities that enable her to manage projects successfully from inception to completion. She employs a resourceful and proactive approach to design problem-solving, and ultimately understands the importance of retaining a positive rapport among key stakeholders such as GM’s, project designers, and owners, ensuring her strong passion for forward-thinking design and keen eye for detail is executed, which ultimately results in a unique guest experience for each project.
With a career in the design industry spanning 25+ years over 5 continents Tim has worked for both small boutique studios and large commercial practices. Prior to forming EMA Tim was the Managing Director of Wilson Associates and the Co-Managing Director of Gensler’s Shanghai office.
Since graduating from Kingston University in London, Tim worked exclusively as a designer, focusing and specialising in projects in the retail, workplace, hospitality and brand sectors.
From his role as a Creative Director and entrepreneur, he is active in the creative and strategic process, working closely with project teams to develop and elevate design innovation across practice areas.
Working as a creative for much of his career has given Tim extensive insights into the design process, the skills required to knit management and creative objectives, how to build successful teams and develop and apply compelling and viable design solutions. A strategic thinker by nature, he is a true believer that great design is grounded in a solid and thoughtful approach.
Tristan du Plessis is an internationally recognised award-winning interior architect based in South Africa with offices in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
His bold, distinctive design has been serving international luxury hospitality, dining and tailor-made residential design spanning from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the US.
Tristan Du Plessis Studio was founded in 2015 with a focus on collaborative groundbreaking projects throughout the world. Since inception, the studio has accumulated a number of awards including Best Global Restaurant Designer at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2019, The Hotel Of The Year at AHEAD MEA 2019, Best Luxury Design in MEA at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2021, and GQ's Man of the Year to name a few. Most recently, he was selected as Head Judge for the prestigious Accor Design Awards in 2022.
To date, he is the most awarded designer to come out of South Africa.
Born and raised in Johannesburg, Tristan currently splits his time between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Dubai with his two golden retrievers, Nobu and Mischu.
RH Contract provides a business-to-business partnership like no other in the industry. With our multi-category product assortment, unparalleled product design and curation capabilities, uniquely integrated interior design approach, the benefits of RH’s purchasing power, and our global supply chain and logistics scale, RH Contract has proven to be a unique, valuable project partner.Visit site
The brand Lasvit, founded in 2007 by Leon Jakimič, sheds new light on Bohemian glass and takes it into the next millennium. Lasvit combines the authenticity of glass craft with innovative technologies and creative craftsmanship. In a few short years, Lasvit has established itself as the authority delivering bespoke lighting sculptures and art installations made from hand-blown glass.
Collaborations with renowned designers and artists produce also unique glass collections. Nendo, Ross Lovegrove, Daniel Libeskind, Maarten Baas, Czech legends René Roubíček and Bořek Šípek are among those who choose Lasvit in order to embody their unconventional artistic vision, endow it with the precision and mastery of our glassmakers, and produce impressive creative oeuvre. This is a manifesto of Lasvit’s uncompromising mission: To transform glass into breathtaking light and design experiences.Visit site
TOPHOTELPROJECTS is the heart of a global community of suppliers and decision-makers which initiates and supports the communication relating to building, design, furnishing, and operation of hotels.
We are a German research firm covering global hotel constructions, that over a decade branched out into hospitality events, media, and hotel design.
No other company comes close in supporting the hotel industry by efficiently combining different business areas into one integrated solution.
Ever since the hotel industry veteran Rolf W. Schmidt founded the company in 2009, our core activity is building the world’s most comprehensive directory of:
We took the complex, ever-evolving global hospitality industry and introduced it to our German sense of efficiency and sheer hard work.
Our research team of some 25 experienced professionals spends 1,800 hours a month researching hotel projects around the world.
Our database has been 10 years in the making, during which we gathered information on over 24,000 hotel projects and 120,000 related companies. Currently, our database has information on more than 6,500 ongoing hotel projects worldwide – important details included.
TOPHOTELPROJECTS today represents an exhaustive, ever-growing network of professionals from all major sectors of the hospitality industry: owners, developers, investors, brands, operators, architects, designers, and suppliers.
In 2019, TOPHOTELPROJECTS and Sleeper Media signed a strategic partnership with mutual co-investment. This partnership combines digital expertise and in-depth data of TOPHOTELPROJECTS with Sleeper Media’s leading hospitality offerings. It is all about synergy and a win for all sectors of the industry.Visit site
KALDEWEI – your worldwide partner for iconic bathroom solutions shaped from superior steel enamel. KALDEWEI’s extensive range of bathtubs, shower surfaces, and washbasins are ideally suited to the demands of the hospitality industry delivering an increased level of health and wellbeing awareness for your hotel. The smooth, non-porous glass surface not only gives you security against germs and dirt but is also the material of the future. KALDEWEI steel enamel is made of 100% natural materials and is 100% recyclable, so it’s good for your guests and the planet too.
To learn more visit KALDEWEI.comVisit site
Founded in 1892 in Switzerland, LAUFEN has become one of the world's leading companies for sanitary ceramics. Today LAUFEN Bathrooms provided integrated bathroom concepts with high-quality products, ranging from sanitary ceramics to bathtubs and shower trays, furniture, faucets, and accessories.Visit site
Villeroy & Boch, formed in 1748, is a leading ceramics manufacturer steeped in European culture and history, and one of the biggest international premium brands in the areas of bathrooms and wellness.
Villeroy & Boch offers the finest and most innovative bathroom products and furnishing concepts for both private customers and property developers. The company is a pioneer in the realm of ceramic product design and innovation. Villeroy & Boch beautiful, high-quality products are hallmarks of French design flair and German engineering efficiency.Visit site
Designing and manufacturing everything in bathrooms.
Roca began life as a family business manufacturing cast iron radiators at a factory in Gavà, near Barcelona in 1917. Over the years, the portfolio gradually expanded and by 1929, Roca entered the bathroom environment for the first time. With an attentive focus on social changes, Roca has since been pioneering when tackling issues surrounding sustainability, design, and technology, and remains at the forefront of these innovations today. Today, Roca reaches over 170 countries, supplied by 76 production plants with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. After one hundred years, Roca is still proud to call itself a family business.Visit site
Born in the UAE in 2006, Renarte was the brainchild of Ranjan Salis the founder, it was established to fill the gap of sourcing quality products at affordable prices and to keep up with changing trends in the hospitality industry. This was then the beginning of what would become one of the top F&B destinations in the world today.
Within Hospitality supplies Renarte has an exhaustive product range in Operating Equipment starting with Front Office & Housekeeping to complete Kitchen equipment, Crockery, Cutlery, and Glassware. Essentially a one-stop-shop solution for the hospitality industry.
Known to focus on quality, they have forged alliances with premier manufacturers in Europe, the Far East, and the United States to offer the best and most competitive products for the hospitality industry.
With exclusive trading agreements with manufacturers, their expertise and experience in hospitality services allow them to offer consultancy and support services to give businesses an added edge.
Today Renarte is present in Dubai, Doha and Toronto with distribution across the Middle East and North America.Visit site
Preciosa Lighting elevates the heritage of Bohemian crystal through contemporary lighting designs since 1724. The company is built on centuries of tradition and the unique art of master glassmakers from Crystal Valley. We honour this heritage and craftsmanship by creating innovative lighting products that stand the test of time.
Our lighting styles range from individual luxury lighting to dynamic and interactive installations. As a global company, Preciosa cooperates with designers worldwide to create exclusive lights that reflect our spirit. Our historic chandeliers and contemporary projects can be found in hotels, resorts, fine restaurants, luxury residences, cultural institutions and on board yachts and cruise ships in locations as varied as New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Moscow or London.
Preciosa Lighting can create unrivaled emotional experiences by combining the traditional art form of chandelier craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. This knowledge is what drives our intention to unveil the symbolic as well as the aesthetic power of decorative lighting. It led us to create Preciosa’s Signature Designs which are highlighted by countless customization possibilities to perfectly fit the owner’s desires.
Signature Designs are authentic, timeless, and celebrate design. We are inspired by the allure of crystal combined with light. Creative craftsmanship is evident through the versatility of each light; customizable for space and its uses. Preciosa’s advanced use of technology is seen in every element of the design. They present contemporary styles with a timeless quality.Visit site
For 30 years Gessi has been designing and creating concepts to enhance the use and benefits of water with the commitment to realise the aspirations of style, personalisation, physical and mental wellbeing of individuals in the most private of living spaces. Creating a new sector, the Private Wellness sector, Gessi has transformed places that were previously utilitarian into environments capable of exciting and regenerating those who live in them on a daily basis.
Created in a zero impact green park, the company's creations bring a message of beauty, love of nature, attention and safety for the user into the homes of those who choose them. The serenity and passion with which they are made, engraved in each object, give a positive vibration to whoever uses and enjoys them.
A global reference for lifestyle, innovation, design and sustainability, the Gessi collections furnish the world's most beautiful hotels, public spaces, yachts and private homes.Visit site
The Awards were first launched at the House of Lords in 2016 to recognise, celebrate and reward accessibility across hotels, restaurants and other public venues worldwide.
The judges focus on style, thoughtful design, innovation and liberty that delivers exceptional accessibility. The aim is to encourage hospitality industry bosses, architects and designers worldwide to consider ways in which they can address the current and future needs of disabled guests.Visit site