Hotelier Middle East Awards: Meet the judges

Meet the judges in the run-up to the gala event on October 25 at the Fairy Tale-themed event


Set to honour the stars of the Middle East’s hospitality industry, the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017 will celebrate its 13th edition with the ‘Fairy Tales’ theme at a venue in Dubai, UAE, on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.

With nominations now open, the panel of judges are gearing up to pick their winners. Once nominations close on August 31, the editorial team will sift through more than 500 nominations to shortlist six nominees in each category, before sending the shortlist to the experts. You will spot some new faces on the panel this year, and also some who have served as an important part of our panel for a long time.

All the judges, however, unanimously support Hotelier’s goal to champion the heroes of the region’s hospitality industry and celebrate their success.

For more information on categories, criteria, and how to nominate your colleagues, please visit

Devina Divecha
Group editor, hospitality group, ITP Media Group

Devina Divecha is the group editor of ITP Business’ Hospitality Group and editor of Hotelier Middle East. The Hospitality Group includes: Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East, and Hotelier Express. Prior to her current role, Divecha was the editor of Caterer Middle East, and has written for a number of other magazines under ITP Media Group since April 2011, covering sectors such as interior design, architecture, and facilities management. Previously a respected food blogger in Dubai, where she has lived since 1989, Divecha retains a significant online following and is also routinely ranked among the top 100 non-resident Indians on social media. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“Clear explanations of initiatives taken for the betterment of guests, colleagues, and bottom line.”

Christopher Hewett
Associate director, TRI Consulting

Christopher Hewett is an associate director at TRI Hospitality Consulting, a management consultancy firm specialising in the hospitality and tourism industry. Hewett has been with TRI for six years and has given strategic advice to government authorities, publically listed companies, high net worth individuals, and international hotel operators on various hotel and real estate projects. In addition to his consulting experience, Hewett has more than 10 years of hotel operations experience with senior management roles in New Zealand, Australia and Dubai. He is also a regular columnist for Hotelier Middle East, and speaker at ITP Hospitality conferences.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“Sell yourself and your colleagues! Highlight your strengths, achievements, and what you have done to improve guest service, colleague satisfaction, and contribution to the community.”

Kate Harrison
Engagement manager, Ròya

A qualified lead auditor with Lloyds Register Quality Assurance, as well as a trained chef and nutritionist, Kate Harrison brings more than 20 years of international experience to the Hotelier Middle East Awards judging panel. Before joining Ròya in 2007, Harrison held roles with leading organisations in the UK and the UAE, including BUPA Health Insurance and Jebel Ali Hotels and Resorts. In her role at Ròya, she oversees the overall quality control and execution of the organisation’s processes and structure as well as client relationship management. She was also a senior assessor for the Dubai Quality Awards and has been involved with several Dubai Municipality Committees which look after quality standards and assurances.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“Whilst capability and experience is always vital, personality, attention to detail, and contribution beyond the norm will set the nominee apart.”

Judy Hou
Managing director, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management

Judy Hou has more than 20 years’ experience across international hospitality and higher education organisations in the US, Asia, and Europe. On the hotel side, she worked with Swissôtel, Park Hyatt, and Mandarin Oriental; and on the education side with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, the School of Hotel & Tourism Management at the Hotel Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, and Les Roches Jin Jiang International Hotel Management College in Shanghai, part of Laureate International Universities network. Her most recent position was the CEO of the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“Passion for the industry and the chosen discipline, authenticity in the person, and his/her contribution to the hospitality industry will make a Hotelier Middle East Awards nomination stand out from the crowd.”

Dr Ibrahim Alsini
Dean, Tourism Institute, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah

Dr Ibrahim Alsini is the dean of the Faculty of Tourism at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah. He is also the MD of Bait Alseyaha for Consulting & Training. He has a PhD degree in Hospitality Management from Surrey University, UK. He holds a proficiency certificate in Hospitality Management from École hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland. He is also a certified consultant in International Etiquette & Protocol from the Protocol School of Washington. Dr Alsini is a member of the board of directors of Dhyafat Albalad Alameen Company, owned by the Saudi Investment Fund and the Municipality of Holy Makkah, which focuses on hospitality and tourism developments in the Makkah region.

Robert  Maclean
Principal, National Institute of Hospitality, Oman

Robert Maclean started his career in the hospitality industry at the age of 12 when he began working for a hotel in his native Scotland. He earned a diploma in Hotel Management, followed by his professional HCIMAS qualification at Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen. He worked as deputy manager at the Lakeside Hotel, followed by a lecturer’s role at a local college. He joined the National Institute of Hospitality, Oman in 1995 and has remained ever since.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“I want to see someone who can take independent action, leading to positive results rather than someone who has just followed procedures.”

Raki Phillips
Senior vice president development, senior partner, INHOCO Group

Raki Phillips joined INHOCO Group in 2015, after a successful 15-year hotel career. Prior to his current role, he spent eight years at FRHI Hotels & Resorts, with a latest role as regional director, Middle East, Africa and India. He has over 15 years of experience in global hospitality sales, marketing, revenue management and hotel development and has been listed in the Top 20 Most Powerful Arab Hoteliers. Phillips received a BSBA Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida & Masters of Organisational Management (Honours) from the University of Phoenix.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“Nothing defines a true Hotelier more than passion… passion for their work, towards their colleagues & guests and just pure passion to make the industry continuously innovate and grow.”

Martin Bäuerle
Founder, MB Hospitality

Martin Bäuerle is a hospitality professional with a proven track record of more than 10 years’ expertise in hospitality operation and management. He is a specialist in rooms operation, auditing and quality control, employee engagement, and learning & development as well as sustainability solutions. In his role as the chairman of the Green Hotel Interest Group, he is constantly driving a sustainability development within the hospitality sector, and advises developers, hotel owners, and executive managers.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“If you make dreams come true, and every stay of your guests and day of your colleagues a continuous fairy tale, you have a great chance to become a Hotelier Middle East Award nominee and finally win.”

Robert Willock
Editorial director, ITP Media Group

Robert Willock leads the teams of journalists that produce some of the Middle East’s foremost trade publications, websites and events, including Hotelier Middle East and Caterer Middle East, Construction Week, Oil & Gas Middle East, and Commercial Interior Design. An award-winning editor and publisher with more than 20 years’ experience, he has managed business magazines, online, and face-to-face media in many sectors, including transport, construction, sports, HR and retail. After working at William Reed Business Media — which publishes market-leading UK hospitality titles The Publican’s Morning Advertiser, Restaurant Magazine and M&C Report — he moved to Dubai in 2015 to gain international experience.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“My advice for entrants is simply to tell a story. What was the problem or opportunity, what did you do about it, and what was the result? If you can explain that in clear terms, supported by persuasive facts, figures and testimonials, then you have made the judges’ job very easy and given yourself the best chance of success.”

Naim Maadad
CEO, Gates Hospitality

With more than 28 years’ experience across Australia, Asia and  the Middle East in various senior management roles, Naim Maadad has  covered a wide spectrum of positions within senior leadership, including the role of managing director for both Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and The Anantara Group. Based in the Middle East for the past 18 years, Maadad established Gates Hospitality in 2012, the parent company of home-grown brands such as; Ultra Brasserie, Reform Social & Grill Dubai, The Black Lion, Bistro Des Arts and ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay. 2017 has seen the launch of Folly by Nick & Scott, as well as Publique, and Via Veneto Osteria e Cucina was revealed in Q2 2017.

What will make a Hotelier Awards nomination stand out?

“I’m looking for professional individuals with experience, longevity in their roles, who are people-oriented, have a resilient attitude, and show concern for the environment and sustainability, in their role — in whatever manner feasible.”

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