Women lead the way at Hotelier Awards 2013

10 out of 18 gongs awarded to female hoteliers at circus-themed bash

Ronai managing director Gavin Dodd presented the Young Hotelier of the Year Award to Jennifer Lombard Knight.
Ronai managing director Gavin Dodd presented the Young Hotelier of the Year Award to Jennifer Lombard Knight.

Female hoteliers triumphed at the 2013 Hotelier Middle East Awards, held last night at the world’s tallest hotel, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, with 10 of the 18 individual titles being awarded to women in the industry.

This was the first time in the Awards’ nine-year history that women hoteliers scored more trophies than their male counterparts.

Three of the new Award categories, CSR Champion of the Year, Sales Person of the Year and Young Hotelier of the Year, were won by ladies.

Marietou Seck, regional quality and sustainable development executive at Accor Middle East was named CSR champion; Ashmita Sequiera, director of sales, Media One Dubai picked up the sales gong; and Jennifer Lombard Knight, asst. front office manager,

InterContinental Regency Hotel Bahrain was named the first ever Young Hotelier of the Year.

Commenting on the record number of wins for female hoteliers Lombard Knight said: “It is amazing in the Middle East especially. If we were in Europe it would be different. But in the Middle East that we stand out, that we make a difference, and our opinions are noticed [is amazing].

“Everyone is level but if you have a higher boundary than others, if you are willing to go beyond the boundaries, if you are willing to make a difference it doesn’t matter if you are female or male,” she added.

Lombard Knight was also recently been promoted to front office manager at InterContinental Doha The City, a fantastic achievement for a hotelier aged just 26 years old.

Among the F&B awards —traditionally the stronghold of male chefs and directors — Monika Muschkiet, director, special events, Atlantis, The Palm was named F&B Manager of the Year.

Muschkiet is the driving force behind the multi-million dirham Sandance music festival and has since launched other successful events to maximise the festival set up, including Desi Beats and Live@Atlantis.

The judges were blown away by the scale of her work and the revenues involved; and said Muschkiet is one of the most accomplished nightlife experts in the region today.

On receiving her award, Muschkiet said: “I always said to myself I’m going to quit my job if I don’t have goose bumps anymore. And every event, whether it’s 2000 people or 17,000 people, I force myself on stage and look at the people and I get my goose bumps. As long as I have that, I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing.

“In my hotel, a lot of men are in high positions so for a woman, it looks tougher from the outside. But I must say that I really get a lot of respect. I’m getting the support from all the men and female senior management.”

Beating four male counterparts to the title of Procurement Person of the Year was Pushpa Nair, director of procurement, Crowne Plaza Dubai in yet another category historically dominated by men.

There was also great praise for the work of three further winners: Kristina Vaneva, manager, employee marketing, Atlantis, The Palm who was named HR Person of the Year; Mercedita Fernandez, director of housekeeping, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre who won Housekeeper of the Year and Stacey McMurtrie, assistant marketing and communications manager, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, chosen by the judges as PR/Marketing Person of the Year.

Finally, crowd pleaser Hotelier’ Unsung Hero of the Year was awarded to Mary June Amora, Hotel Staff Nurse, Doha Marriott.

Amora was lauded for the great resolve she has shown through some very difficult, emotional and testing situations over the past year, supporting injured and grieving colleagues after a fatal bus crash involving the hotel’s staff in April.

She’s nursed colleagues back to health, made countless hospital and home visits, and shown great empathy with her team, some of whom credit June with their recovery.

As she collected her award, Amora said “Having to see my friends so physically affected, I was really struggling emotionally, but I had to stay strong in front of them to help them. Some of them are still healing from the accident and I’m trying to help them still as best I can.”

In total, there were 19 trophies awarded at last night’s ceremony, including Team of the Year, which went to Hilton Sharjah.

For the full list of winners click here.

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