AHEAD, the Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design, announced its MEA winners on the 9th of September at an in-person ceremony held at Caesars Forum Bluewaters Dubai. Hoteliers, architects and designers from across the region gathered for an industry reunion featuring drinks in the shadow of Al Ain, the world’s largest observation wheel, a lively panel debate on development trends in the region and dinner at Caesars Forum Bluewaters before the winners were announced.
The big winner of the night was Sussurro, taking home the Landscaping, Resort Hotel and the AHEAD MEA Hotel of the Year awards, the latter presented by Claire Eeles of RH Contract. Other winners represented a rich diversity of hospitality projects across the region. Hotel Indigo Downtown Dubai won Hotel Newbuild. Singita Sabora Camp triumphed in the Lodges, Cabins & Tented Camps category as well as the Visual Identity awards. Jouin Manku’s work at the iconic La Mamounia Marrakech won in the Bar and Restaurant categories. St Regis Cairo also won two awards for its Event Space and Lobby & Public Areas respectively.
BAR, CLUB OR LOUNGE
Churchill Bar at La Mamounia Marrakech
Situated in Marrakech, The Churchill Bar, La Mamounia is an intimate, seductive bar that creates memorable evening moments. The judges admired its beautiful execution, choice of materials to create an intimate and seductive design.
The St. Regis Cairo
With breathtaking views of the River Nile and Old Cairo, St. Regis is an impressive backdrop to events. The judges found it “totally fit for purpose and appropriate for the grandest of occasions.” The spatial arrangement of the event spaces was admired along with the unmissable 250,000-piece chandelier of the Crystal Hall.
Four Seasons, Doha
The balance of materiality, tonality and accents is beautifully executed at the Four Seasons in Doha, Qatar. Its white minimalism works perfectly in this environment, giving it a luxurious look and feel that provides a haven for business travellers and pleasure seekers to Qatar. "This project showed restrained aesthetic with well-considered layering," said one judge.
HOTEL NEW BUILD
Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown
On the doorstep of Dubai Downtown, Hotel Indigo offers decades of vibrant culture which inspired their carefully curated rooms that include lavish mother-of- pearl bathrooms, funky Moroso designer chairs and envy-inducing views. The judges applauded Hotel Indigo’s boldness saying: “the bravery of the project should be commended, bringing regional art to the forefront whilst showing a spirit of creativity and collaboration."
LANDSCAPING & OUTDOOR SPACES
Honest. Local. Well-executed. Sussurro is located by a warm turquoise lagoon in Southern Mozambique. It provides thoughtfully designed spaces for visitors to align with nature and immerse themselves in a meaningful travel experience: “A successful project closely connected to its environment,” according to our panel.
LOBBY AND PUBLIC SPACES
The St. Regis Cairo
The St. Regis Cairo Hotel brings exquisite design to this bustling metropolis and tourist hotspot near the Nile. Our judges found its lobby design “reflective of the changing role of the guest arrival experience.” The panel commended its impressively consistent design approach of layering, story-telling and coherence.
LODGES, CABINS & TENTED CAMPS
Singita Sabora Camp
A destination perfect for travelers yearning for an African safari infused with the continent’s contemporary energy and enveloped in unrivalled levels of comfort. The judges’ praised Singita Sabora for “remaining true to the concept of a canvas lodge that touches the earth lightly.”
Sussurro’s private bungalows provide over a 1,000ft2 of personal space surrounded by nature. Each suite includes rustic furnishings with bathing facilities and generous waterfront verandahs: “Sussurro is the perfect example of African minimalism with incredible attention to detail and craftmanship,” said the judging panel.
L’Asiatique at La Mamounia Marrakech
L’Asiatique has a beautifully designed interior, that includes amazing patterns, textures and color, giving it a theatrical approach. The attention to detail, selection of color and patterns have created a venue that is timeless and elegant. Visitors can truly expect an “epicurious and sensual dining experience at L’Asiatique.”
L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa
Exuding exquisite attention to detail while maintaining a consistent narrative across all elements, the L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa is a truly successful suite design. The resort gives travelers the chance to discover the beauty of the Seychelles in barefoot luxury and ultimate comfort.
SPA & WELLNESS
SENSASIA Stories at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Dubai
SENSASIA Stories delivers a hushed, monastic and completely customisable spa experience – driven by mood and devoted to holistic wellness for both body and mind. Their targeted treatments look to slow down the frantic city pace and give clients a truly transformative total body journey. Said our panel: “This design is spot on. The connection between the materials, the lighting and the overall design is very cohesive. It’s a well-considered and detailed space.”
Singita Sabora Camp,
The mix of color and tones reflects the surrounding nature with exceptional attention to detail in the design of guest experience, making this hotel a product that stands out from competition. The judges applauded the “beautiful subtle luxury with attention to detail, carried through into the uniform design.
The Coral Bloom by the Red Sea Project is expected to be an exquisite sanctuary offering indulgent experiences, seamlessly customised to the unique needs of each visitor. The site encompasses an archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands, miles of sweeping desert and landscapes that include volcanoes and canyons.
THE AHEAD MEA HOTEL OF THE YEAR
The inclusion of local craftsmanship gives Sussurro an original, locally rooted design which provokes thought and emotional response from its guests. The owners’ commitment to create a more conscious and authentic African experience is reflected throughout the design. Judges also acknowledged “the challenge of achieving this quality of design and construction in a remote setting without access to commercial contractors, or typically off-the-shelf construction materials has been embraced and used as a feature rather than a drawback, or limitation in the design