AHEAD MEA 2019 Winners Announced


AHEAD, the Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design, revealed its Middle East & Africa 2019 winners at the ceremony which took place at Caesars Forum, Dubai.

The biggest winner of the night was Cape Town’s Gorgeous George, which took home four awards for Renovation, Restoration & Conversion, Suite, Visual Identity and the coveted AHEAD MEA Hotel of the Year. Other winners included, The Merchant House, Bahrain, for the Lobby & Public Spaces category; Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, for Spa & Wellness; and Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia, for both Lodges, Cabins & Tented Camps and New Concept.

Bar, Club or Lounge

Wavehouse at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, UAE

Bishop Design was briefed to create a venue that seamlessly morphed each separate area fluidly, seamlessly linking adult-only bars to child-friendly zones. The Judges said: “This project makes you smile. It has an abundance of quirky and fun details.”

Event Spaces

Caesars Forum at Caesars Bluewaters Island Dubai, UAE

This is a venue that stands alone from the hotel and offers a diverse range of uses, from large conferences to intimate cocktail receptions, also comprising a garden terrace and outdoor cinema space. The interiors effectively incorporate elements from local culture into the contemporary luxury scheme and boast ocean vistas through the multitude of floor-to-ceiling windows.


Omaanda, Windhoek East, Namibia

Zannier Hotels used refined, natural materials, such as wood and pigmented mud, to create ten individual round huts that offer 180-degree views of the savannah. The Judges described Omaanda as “a sanctuary for barefoot luxury; a space curated with artwork and plants in pertinence to the ecosystem.”

Hotel Newbuild

Studio One Hotel, Dubai, UAE

Bishop Design’s playful and bold scheme runs throughout the fabric of this hotel. The property offers Dubai’s Studio City locals a contemporary new meeting hot spot and mimics a home-from-home experience for tourists.

Landscaping & Outdoor Spaces

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Eco.ID have created a resort which conserves Desroches Island’s natural landscape and designed indoor-outdoor spaces that integrate the guests into the surrounding scenery. The Judges said: “The design and the materials used successfully pay homage to the location.”

Lobby & Public Spaces

The Merchant Hotel, Manama, Bahrain

The Merchant House offers leisure seekers and business travellers alike a unique guest experience. The mezzanine level boasts a 1000-book library, whilst the walls of the two-storey lobby are adorned with work from local Bahraini artists and interspersed with fine, modern Japanese paper art.

Lodges, Cabins & Tented Camps

Shipwreck Lodge, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Inspired by the wrecks which stretch across the coast, Nina Martiz Architects have created a comfortable refuge from the harsh desert landscape, in the shape of sustainable and transportable timber structures.

Renovation, Restoration & Conversion

Gorgeous George, Cape Town, South Africa

Juxtaposing Art Deco with New Edwardian boutique architecture, Gorgeous George stands as a beacon to South African and international design in Cape Town’s industrial city centre.


Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Eco.ID used warm tones, exposed woods, wicker furniture and raw materials to seamlessly blend the interiors into the backdrop of Desroches Island. The Judges stated: “The feeling of relaxation within this luxurious environment is unparalleled.”


Lah Lah at Zabeel House by Jumeirah, the Greens Dubai, UAE

Lah Lah creates an authentic Pan Asian wok kitchen experience through its sharing-style cuisine. The restaurant appeals to an energetic demographic and presents a fun space for both millennials and young families.


Gorgeous George, Cape Town, South Africa

Each suite has an industrial look and feel created through exposed concrete and steelwork, and is softened with furnishings and bright carpets – all tied together by hand-painted wall art.

Spa & Wellness

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, UAE

Silverfox have drawn inspiration from petals and cacti that are local to UAE’s deserts to create a relaxing spa environment. The Judges commented that the space was “beautifully executed and inviting”.

Visual Identity

Gorgeous George, Cape Town, South Africa

Led by Jana + Koos Studio, Gorgeous George’s visual identity incorporates reds and pinks combined with strong, bold typography to portray the hotel’s personality. The Judges applauded it for being “young, edgy and well-thought-out”, as well as “working in line with the interiors”.

New Concept

Shipwreck Lodge, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

The judges praised Shipwreck Lodge for the measures taken to ensure minimal impact was inflicted on the Skeleton Coast National Park during assembly.

The AHEAD MEA Hotel of the Year

Gorgeous George, Cape Town, South Africa

Gorgeous George is a one-of-a-kind hotel. From the exterior, the two heritage buildings naturally contrast, yet Urbane Citizen Architecture have successfully combined them to work harmoniously together through details such as architraves, cornices, wooden oak flooring, bare concrete and steel frames. The result is “a timeless, new urban hotspot for the neighbourhood”.

Dezeen x AHEAD MEA Judges' Interviews and Ceremony Highlights
Dezeen talk to Husain Roomi of H2R Design, Omar Ghafour of Light Space Design and Leila Abdul Rahim of Hilton Worldwide about this year's hospitality trends and key projects from the shortlist.