In a grandiose award ceremony on 4 November 2011 at the Landmark Hotel in London, Hotel Management International’s second edition of the European Hospitality Awards celebrated the most extraordinary and forward-thinking hotels from the region. The event has set the benchmark for the years to come, showcasing pioneering hotels that have made an exceptional contribution to the world of hospitality.
European Hotel Managers Association (EHMA) president Peter Bierwirth led the evening, reflecting on the challenges and successes of the past year as well as giving an outlook for the future.
The winners were honoured in ten different categories and in addition a Lifetime Achievement in the Hotel Community award was drawn.
The judge panel consisted of Soho House founder Nick Jones, The Dolder Grand MD Thomas Schimd, Design Hotels president and founder Clause Sendlinger, the Chef Marcus Wareing and EHMA’s Peter Bierwirth.
Here, Hotel Management Network profiles some of the night’s winners.
Hotel of the Year and Refurbishment of the Year: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
After years of lying empty and following a £150m restoration, the 245-room St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, operated by Marriott, reopened its doors on 5 May 2011 – 138 years to the day after the original Midland Grand Hotel opened in 1873.
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the hotel is hailed as the city’s ‘most romantic hotel’ today, featuring glorious gothic revival metal work, gold leaf ceilings, hand-stencilled wall designs and the original Grand Staircase, which is widely admired as the most grandiose in the country. Many of the rooms, which include 38 spacious Victorian suites, feature original artwork.
One of the hotel’s gems is the restored Ladies’ Smoking Room, the first place in Europe where it was acceptable for women to smoke in public.
In the original underground kitchens of the hotel, guests now find a spacious spa, complete with a Victorian tiled relaxation pool with hydro loungers, a traditional sauna, as well as several treatment rooms and steam rooms.
At the award ceremony, the St Pancras Renaissance was described as a hotel ‘setting a new benchmark for hotel standards across Europe’, outstripping strong competition from the Hotel Lancaster in Paris, the Soho House Berlin and The Savoy London.
Hotelier of the Year: Roland Fasel, The Dorchester Park Lane London
The Dorchester Park Lane London general manager Roland Fasel was honoured with the award for the hotelier of the year. He has been leading the hotel, including 600 staff, since his appointment in July 2007 and maintained its reputation of one of the world’s most iconic hotels.
Fasel joined The Dorchester from the InterContinental London Park Lane, where he was general manager for four years. During his 23-year long career, he has worked at prestigious hotels including the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz. He is also the Dorchester Collection UK regional director.
Other nominees for the category were Comfort Hotel Xpress Oslo general manager Simen Vinge, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London general manager Kevin Kelly, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo managing director Jean-Claude Messant and The Savoy London general manager Kiaran MacDonald.
Green Hotel of the Year: Coworth Park Hotel London
The Coworth Park Hotel London was honoured with the award in the category Green Hotel of the Year, recognising its environmental operations within the hotel as well as its efficient and innovative use of energy consumption.
The hotel incorporates a biomass boiler within an underground energy centre, fuelled by burning willow which is grown on the estate, significantly cutting down its energy consumption.
The cooling for the hotel is provided by underground pipes known as ‘sklinkys’, which are more efficient than conventional air-cooled or water-cooled chilled water systems.
The hotel also uses solar glazing in the main building and the converted stable block, and all rain and surface water is recycled for re-use for irrigation.
In-Room Technology Innovation of the Year: Ecclestone Square Hotel London
With the help of Intelity’s Interactive Customer Experience (ICE) Touch on the iPad, the Ecclestone Square Hotel in London secured this prestigious technology award. The hotel is the first one to offer the programme as a standard room feature since July 2011.
After an extensive renovation, the hotel transformed its interior with high-tech features that allows guest access to hotel services and local information via an iPad 2 installed in the rooms.
The guests can control the room settings, make restaurant reservations, spa appointments and personal training sessions, housekeeping requests and more via the tablet.
Apart from providing exceptional hotel service, the technology also helps to increase hotel efficiency and customer satisfaction with an integrated back-end management tool. The app fully cooperates with the hotel’s property management systems and allows management to track and chart guest requests and response times.
Lifetime Achievement in the Hotel Community: Gabriel Escarrer Julià
In recognition of his successful career, Meliá Hotels International chairman and founder Gabriel Escarrer Julià was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award, perhaps the most important prize of the evening.
The hotelier outrivaled Beatrice Tollman of Red Carnation Hotels, Kurt Ritter of Rezidor and George Goring of The Goring.
Gabriel Escarrer Julià accepted the award in person and expressed his gratitude to his familiy and the team of 35,000 people that form part of the group today and deliver strong corporate values which support the group’s focus on service excellence.
The hotelier opened his first hotel in Mallorca in 1956 taking advantage of the then boom in tourism.
Almost 56 years later, the group owns more than 350 hotels in 35 countries and also operate in key markets such as China, the Persian Gulf or the US, while maintaining a clear leadership in Spain and Latin America.
Other winners on the night
Winners in the other categories were the Borgo Egnazia Hotel Ville Spa & Golf in Italy in the category of New Build of the Year, the Sanctuary Hotel New York was honoured with the International Hotel of the Year award, while the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam secured the Interior Design Innovation of the Year award.
The Corinthia Hotels in London trumped its competitors in the category Hotel Spa of the Year and finally the Hotel Service of the Year award went to La Maison Du Paradou of France.