Hotels battle for top design award

Hotels from around the region are gearing up to take part in the prestigious DEPA Middle East Hotel Awards due to take place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on May 3rd.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  April 6, 2006

Hotels from around the region are gearing up to take part in the prestigious DEPA Middle East Hotel Awards due to take place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on May 3rd. “Since their inception five years ago, the DEPA Middle East Hotel Awards have captured the imagination of the hospitality sector by consistently recognising the extraordinary evolution of the industry within the region. They have always sought to salute excellence in our profession and 2006 will be no exception, with an unprecedented number of nominations being anticipated,” says Stephen Head, Chairman of the Judges. This year’s event promises to outshine those of previous years, with intense competition predicted in each of the 15 award categories, and the number of participants expected to double on last years. Over 200 four and five star hotels have entered to be judged by an independent international panel, on categories ranging from ‘New Hotel of the Year’, to ‘Middle Eastern Hotel of the Year’. This year, a new category — the ‘Mixed-Use Development Award’ has been introduced to reflect the increased number of mixed-use properties. Last years winners include the Madinat Jumeirah for ‘New Hotel of the Year Award’ and the Burj Al Arab for ‘Middle East Hotel of the Year’ — both designed by Khuan Chew Associates. Fiercely competitive will be the ‘Excellence in Interior Design Award’ — presented in 2005 to the Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, (LW Interior Design, Dubai; Wilson Associates, Singapore; Bilkey Llinas, Florida and David Wren Associates, London). Head attributes this competitiveness to the “rich vein of design talent that runs through the Middle East”. A rigorous set of criteria will be used to judge this category, including creativity, innovation, sympathy for the environment and use of alternative mediums. Judges will present the award to the hotel showing outstanding contribution to architectural design. However, as Head points out, “The award also recognises that sophisticated hotels cannot rely solely on superficial attraction. An appreciation of practicality, functionality, safety and of course a cost/product relation will all factor into our assessment.” Mohannad Sweid, CEO, DEPA, is ardent about the importance design plays to a successful hotel: “Interior design is a critical element in the judging of each award as it is ingrained in the hotel itself and instantly represents it. It plays a major role in creating and maintaining the property’s reputation and allure. We wanted to highlight the importance of this element in a hotel’s success and competitiveness, and reward it.” Head is convinced of the capacity of the awards to elevate the status of the region’s hospitality industry, particularly with the increased international exposure now associated with them. “The Middle East is an acknowledged global benchmark for excellence and creativity. The awards are a celebration of talent and the nominations we have received in the past have always demonstrated an infectious enthusiasm and dedication to our industry.” Email: depa.awards@fusion-mgt.com web: www.depaawards.com

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