Hotelier Awards 2015 winners: where are they now?

We catch up with the winners of the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2015

Winners of the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2015
Winners of the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2015
Sayed Salem El Sayed, spa and recreation manager, The Palace Downtown Dubai
Sayed Salem El Sayed, spa and recreation manager, The Palace Downtown Dubai
Felix Tochukwu Alozie, concierge, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City
Felix Tochukwu Alozie, concierge, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City
Lakmal Darshana Mawella Kankanamge, executive housekeeper, The Palace Downtown Dubai
Lakmal Darshana Mawella Kankanamge, executive housekeeper, The Palace Downtown Dubai
Muhammad Usman Rana, IT manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Muhammad Usman Rana, IT manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Lawrence Dsouza, chief engineer, Intercon Regency Bahrain
Lawrence Dsouza, chief engineer, Intercon Regency Bahrain
Ali Hassoun, head of security, Media One Hotel
Ali Hassoun, head of security, Media One Hotel
Mona Abdulla AlHebsi, director of human resources, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Dubai
Mona Abdulla AlHebsi, director of human resources, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Dubai
Conor Lawler, senior vice president — finance, Atlantis, the Palm
Conor Lawler, senior vice president — finance, Atlantis, the Palm
Rania Keedy, DOSM, The Ritz-Carlton DIFC
Rania Keedy, DOSM, The Ritz-Carlton DIFC
Kai Schukowski, hotel manager, Kempinski Hotel Ajman
Kai Schukowski, hotel manager, Kempinski Hotel Ajman
Sebastian Nohse, director of culinary, JW MArriott Marquis Dubai
Sebastian Nohse, director of culinary, JW MArriott Marquis Dubai
Dietmar Platz, director of food and beverage, Doha Marriott Hotel
Dietmar Platz, director of food and beverage, Doha Marriott Hotel
John Hazard, general manager, Doha Marriott
John Hazard, general manager, Doha Marriott
Yasmin Al Sanea, personnel manager, InterContinental Al Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Yasmin Al Sanea, personnel manager, InterContinental Al Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Yahya Saif Al Hatmi, room attendant, InterContinental Muscat
Yahya Saif Al Hatmi, room attendant, InterContinental Muscat

Set to honour the stars of the Middle East’s hospitality industry, the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2016 will celebrate its 12th edition with the ‘old Hollywood glamour’ theme at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

In this month’s feature, Hotelier Middle East catches up with the winners of the 2015 Awards — held at a James Bond-themed party — and we find out how winning the title has changed their career.

It’s a reminder that the Hotelier Middle East Awards are truly the Oscar’s of the regional hospitality industry, as we strive to recognise those who keep this market ticking.

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Nomination forms for 2016’s Awards are open, and the deadline is August 31 (no extensions). The editorial team will then shortlist six nominees in each category, before sending it to the expert panel of judges.

For more information on categories, criteria, and how to nominate your colleagues, please visit www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/awards.

Nomination enquiries

Devina Divecha
Senior Editor, Hospitality Group
devina.divecha@itp.com

Sponsorship Enquiries

Stephen Price
Group Sales Director
stephen.price@itp.com

Table Bookings

Natasha Bhatia
Marketing Manager
natasha.bhatia@itp.com

Awards Sponsors

Industry suppliers, distributors and manufacturers partner with the Hotelier Middle East Awards, and their support is essential for recognising our champions. To find out about sponsorship opportunities, please contact any of the following sales managers: stephen.price@itp.comsonja.allen@itp.comalex.brown@itp.comamanda.stewart@itp.com

Fitness/Spa Person of the Year

Sayed Salem El Sayed, spa and recreation manager, The Palace Downtown Dubai

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

I felt honoured to be recognised as the best in my class and I’m proud of what I have achieved throughout my career. I truly believe hard work pays off. My self-confidence has grown and within that my motivation and commitment to do even better. I also try be more of a role model to colleagues coming through the ranks, particularly as people will continue watching my next steps and career progression.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

I would say work with passion and love what you do. Set personal goals for career progression when you first start in a company and always strive to aim higher. Consistently improve your skills and tackle your weaknesses. Keep up with industry trends and get to know your market.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I hope to rise through the ranks and assume the role of regional spa and leisure general manager.

Front Office Person of the Year

Felix Tochukwu Alozie, concierge, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

To win the Hotelier Middle East Award was a great recognition for the dedication and passion I lay into my tasks every single day. It is a great honour when a guest or colleague approaches me regarding the Hotelier Award and it makes me even more proud to fulfil my job while being a part of such an environment.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

Carry out your duties with passion, enjoy the various views and experiences the hotels have to offer and never forget it needs a great team to make the guests feel at home. Every small effort can mean so much more to our guests and colleagues.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would like to grow my career further step by step, and who knows, maybe one day I will be a general manager.

Housekeeper of the Year

Lakmal Darshana Mawella Kankanamge, executive housekeeper, The Palace Downtown Dubai

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

I still cherish the moment I received the award: It has changed many things in my career and my life. I almost feel like a celebrity as many people have recognised me and often refer to the award. My friends and family are extremely proud of achievement and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to stand out as a notable industry professional.

Are you still with the same hotel?

I have moved to the Address Boulevard Dubai as its pre-opening housekeeper.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

In order to stand out from your competitors, I believe you have to be different. Whether it is about the way you lead your team, engage with your guest, the way you manage your work load, or delegate responsibilities — these are all important factors. In addition, you have to support your colleagues in their overall development and provide emotional support during tough or challenging times.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I am enjoying my role as of now and delighted to be with The Address Hotels and Resorts. I would like one day to explore the possibility of becoming a hotel manager and building my career.

IT Person of the Year

Muhammad Usman Rana, IT manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Winning the award was a wonderful recognition, it gave me a confirmation and the confidence to continue on the same path of exploring new ideas and encouraging my team to do the same. I have been approached by multiple IT event organisers to be a speaker.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

Think out of the box, try new ideas, don’t be afraid of failures — they enhance your knowledge and experience.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I am looking forward to leading big projects with refined knowledge and innovative ideas.

Hotel Engineer of the Year

Lawrence Dsouza, chief engineer, Intercon Regency Bahrain

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

The award changed my life in two different ways, firstly, on a personal front I went through a challenging time since my daughter and wife underwent an organ transplant surgery. By receiving the award, it brought joy to them and lifted my morale as well. On a professional front, it impacted my passion, creativity and the quality of my day to day work. I became an inspiration to all my colleagues and it proves that there is always room for everyone to learn and develop their skills in order to succeed on their chosen field.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

This award is an excellent platform to showcase the talents of those working from behind-the-scenes to provide great service to our guests.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Managing renovation projects and pre-opening consultation.

Safety & Security Person of the Year

Ali Hassoun, head of security, Media One Hotel

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

I have 15 years’ experience of working in security and it was a great incentive when security was included in the Hotelier Awards; I was proud to be the first winner and it has inspired and motivated me to achieve more. I have received respect and congratulations from my peers and been invited to participate in conferences and seminars to pass on my knowledge. I have worked with the Civil Defence and Dubai authorities, and recently Safe Hotels, to renew the certification at Media One.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

The award empowers you to build a road of success for your future career and you must take advantage of all the opportunities.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I still want to be working in hospitality as it is such a vibrant industry that is developing all the time. I would like more responsibility in the future such as a director of security for a large complex.

HR & Training Person of the Year

Mona Abdulla AlHebsi, director of human resources, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Dubai

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

I was extremely honoured when I won the award especially as I’m among the few UAE nationals in the industry who have been recognised with such a reputed industry award. I have won several awards since then, and feel blessed to receive such recognition as it proves that good intentions and hard work pays off regardless of any obstacles.

Your advice to hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

I’d urge them to plan ahead if they are intending to participate and have the buy-in of close colleagues such as direct manager and reports who can provide testimonials in the submission. Besides adhering to the criteria in your category, you must be able to persuade the judges why you are unique and how your contributions have made a difference in your field and in the hospitality industry as a whole.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Personally to be settled and have a family, and professionally I’d like to be in a senior regional HR role with a reputed organisation or heading a major government initiative pertaining to advising, coaching or mentoring future leaders in hospitality and tourism. I’ll continue writing and hopefully would have authored some best-selling books.

Purchasing/Finance Person of the Year

Conor Lawler, senior vice president — finance, Atlantis, the Palm

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

On the evening of the awards, my daughter posted pictures of me on stage on social media. I was overwhelmed with the response from my friends, family and peers and to this day, I still get people I know from all over the world congratulating me on the win. I can say that the respect and acknowledgement from my industry peers has been the most impactful. It is very rewarding when hard work gets appreciated and it positively influences perception internally as well as externally, motivating me to go the extra mile every day.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

Work hard at your job, enjoy what you are doing and make sure you put yourself forward. Let your peers know that this is something you want to work towards winning. Also when applying for the award, submit a sharp and crisp nomination.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

That’s an easy one: CFO for a large hotel chain.

Sales & Marketing Person of the Year

Rania Keedy, DOSM, The Ritz-Carlton DIFC

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

It was an honour to win, along with the support I received from my team and the everybody at the Ritz-Carlton.

What advice would you give others hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

To believe in their achievements and their people, and know that winning such an award represents a win for the entire sales and marketing team, and the hotel as a whole.

Are you still with the same hotel?

I am now the area director of sales and marketing, Middle East and Africa for the Ritz-Carlton.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Watch this space!

Hotel Manager/EAM of the Year

Kai Schukowski, hotel manager, Kempinski Hotel Ajman

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Winning the award confirmed that my approach to Kempinski Hotel Ajman, the way that we treat our team and the way we look after our guests is right, and something that we want to continue doing in the same or even a better way. Moving forward — to aim for greatness, whilst giving our guests an unforgettable experience, a memorable stay and ensuring their return to our property. I am now the hotel’s general manager.

What advice would you give others hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

Not to chase the award itself and instead focus on improving yourself constantly, day after day.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I see myself running a flagship property in a major international city.

Executive Chef of the Year

Sebastian Nohse, director of culinary, JW MArriott Marquis Dubai

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

it’s definitely an incredible feeling when the hard work we put in everyday gets recognised like this.

What advice would you give others hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

I would advise them not to worry about awards and instead channel their efforts into building a loyal team that has fun at work, to always drive quality, to train the young chefs and to try to take on responsibilities that give back to the community. These have been my goals and I think following them means that you will enjoy your job first and foremost and secondly, you will get recognition down the line if you stick with it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have two plans and only time will tell which would offer a better future.

F&B Manager of the Year

Dietmar Platz, director of food and beverage, Doha Marriott Hotel

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

The main thing that has changed after winning the award is that it has helped me gain added motivation for all my efforts as it was my second or third nomination (for the Hotelier Awards). To finally win was definitely the best thing that happened to me in the last two years.

Are you still with the same hotel?

I transferred from the Doha property to the JW Marriott Cairo as director of operations.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

The key is to nominate your team and your manager for the awards. And secondly, it’s important for the nomination to be reviewed from different members of the team, which can lead to the addition of more ideas and inputs from them.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I see myself becoming a general manager and continuing to work for Marriott International.

GM of the Year

John Hazard, general manager, Doha Marriott

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Winning the award was not so much about myself, but for the hotel as a whole. This award gave the whole hotel team a really well deserved boost.

Are you still with the same hotel?

Shortly after winning the award I accepted a new position as general manager, Grand Cayman Marriott Hotel within The Caribbean and Latin America region.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

Competition is intense, you are up against the industry’s top performers. Be certain that your results paint a clear picture of sustained success and that you can tell a compelling story that spans the entire balance scorecard in terms of results; that also speak of team work and collaboration.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Who knows? I’m open to explore an amazing portfolio of brands that Marriott has to offer. Five years ago I didn’t imagine I would be living and working in Grand Cayman.

Young Hotelier of the Year

Yasmin Al Sanea, personnel manager, InterContinental Al Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Winning the Young Hotelier of the Year has had many positive impacts on my life. Some of the things I’ve enjoyed were meeting different people from all around the Middle Eastern hotels, as well as meeting the area managers within IHG; which has given me a bigger perspective to think about the hotel industry in a different way. In addition, it put IC Jubail on the limelight, marking the first award in the hotel’s history.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

To always aim higher and dedicate time and effort to achieve your goals; in order to become an inspiration to others — keep in mind that it requires patience and commitment — coupled with luck, doing things right and having the right support, you will get there.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

My short term goal is to become the first female HOD, and within five years’ time, to be closer to realising my goal of becoming the first female GM in KSA.

Unsung Hero of the Year

Yahya Saif Al Hatmi, room attendant, InterContinental Muscat

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

It is my first time to have won such a prestigious award which was a proud moment of my life. I also felt proud to have represented my country for this award. Owning this award has motivated me to strive further because my future has gotten much brighter. I will use this award to prove that nothing is too difficult.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win a Hotelier Award?

You have to have the passion to please the guest from your heart. To work for a title, money or an award should never come first. Carrying out your job to the best of your abilities and pleasing your guests must come first — the rest will automatically follow along.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I see myself as a supervisor of the housekeeping department and I want to be known as a leader who is knowledgeable and one who leads with a heart.

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