Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017 winners: where are they now?

Hotelier Middle East catches up with the winners of last year's Hotelier Middle East Awards to find out where they are today and how their win has helped them in their careers

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Unsung Hero of the YearHabib Aulad Thani, bellman, InterContinental Muscat

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

This award has been the icing in the cake after my 40 years working here at the InterContinental Muscat. Every day that I go to work, all I am thinking is ‘how can I make a guest happy?’ This drives me to continue working everday. Winning the Unsung Hero award is such a great honour and I cannot thank the people that I work with enough for the trust they have given me all these years. This award served more as an inspiration to my colleagues, especially to the young Omanis who aspire to work in the hospitality industry.

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Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I have always been in this hotel and I do not see myself anywhere else.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Love what you do. Be passionate about it. Think of the very reason you are in that job — to make sure that our guests feel at home at our hotel, leave with a big smile on their face and return again. Be disciplined, do not come to work late, and do not take your job for granted. Give your 100% in everything that you do.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

InterContinental Muscat is my home. My heart is always here. These people are my family and this is where I feel at my best.

Safety & Security Person of the Year
Mahdi Juma Alwail Alsuwaidi, director of security, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

I was extremely honoured when I won the award, this confirmed to me that my approach to Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, the way I engage with the staff and the way we treat our guests, stands out. As a UAE national, the award has not only made me respected among my peers but has brought me much closer to government entities like Dubai Police and Civil Defence who contacted me after the award to assist them in various projects, and above all, it gave me added motivation for all my efforts to ensure the safety of our staff, guests and our beautiful property.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Working with a reputable brand like Kempinski and a great team at Kempinski Hotel MOE is fulfilling. This explains why I have been part of its management team for 13 years and counting.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Make good relations with all government security entities such as Dubai Police, Civil Defence and others. Being aware of the latest security developments, the urge to learn more, and using foreign expertise are important things. Working with passion, gaining trust from your general manager, heads of departments and the entire team is the best recipe for smooth operations.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I am enjoying my role as of now and I am delighted to be with Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates; however, I am working on a project to start my own security company to fully exercise my knowledge and skills acquired in the field.

IT Person of the Year
Khalid Omari, Director of IT, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts — Jordan

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts trusts me more after winning the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017 IT Person of the Year. Now, the company allows me to lead bigger and more complicated projects, even the pilot ones. My direct superior has confidence in my abilities and values my opinions more. It also helped me gained more support both from the company and my manager which has enhanced my self-worth at work.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes. I am still with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts — Jordan. I am still based in our Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba property. Currently, I am leading the Symphony cloud project and named as one of the auditor champions for IT.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Be open to change and accept evolution. Initiate innovation and don’t be afraid to test ideas. Be part of business advancement like moving system applications to the cloud. Be part of enhancing guest experience like implementing advanced guestroom technology. Also, accept criticism constructively and suggestions openly.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I see myself as vice president for information technology for a well-known hotel brand in the next five years.

Young Hotelier of the Year
Noura Al Boodai,  Al Ahsa InterContinental Hotel

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Winning the Hotelier Award was, and still is, a great moment because it’s an affirmation of my strengths and capabilities by my fellow hoteliers. The award has given me a voice that I can use to influence young women, especially in my country, and say that we too can have a significance in whatever field we may choose.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am still at Al Ahsa InterContinental Hotel. The same hotel which has me with thie achievement and is still continuing to bring out the best in me.

What advice would you give other hotelier hoping to win an award?

The key ingredient for a successful career path is passion. Having a real passion especially in hospitality is the main driver for success, because only then are you willing to invest your time, efforts, and energy into your work — and only then that you will consider it not just as ‘work’ but rather, almost like a hobby.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I’m interested in developing a career in hotel management. Eventually, I would like to learn more about hospitality practices and working principles at different hotels around the world to gain experience and then share this with other young hoteliers.

Concierge/Guest Services Person of the Year
Peter Adel, front office supervisor, Fairmont Dubai

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

It has definitely helped boost my career in a positive direction. In terms of my career, there is some excellent news related to my role at the front desk operations coming up in the very near future — it is very exciting!

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

I would advise everyone to work hard, continuously acquire knowledge and to have an aim in life, always.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, I see myself progressing up the career ladder in the hospitality indutry. I want to work towards becoming a front desk manager to fully exercise my knowledge and skills acquired in the field.

Hotel Engineer of the Year
Satish Patil, director of engineering, Fairmont Dubai

How has winning a Hotelier Award impacted your career?

Winning such a prestigious award has given me a lot of recognition from my colleagues and fellow engineers. I feel very proud about winning the award and hopefully, it will inspire other engineers to reach new heights, too.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am. Actually, this year marks the 17th consecutive year of working at the Fairmont Dubai.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

It’s important to do things differently, go above and beyond what is expected from you on a daily basis and try to do something that has not been done before. Putting in that extra mile will always be recognised by the management.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish at Fairmont Dubai. My next goal would be to obtain a position where I will handle more properties in a cluster director role.

Sales Person of the Year
Ahmed Hashem, senior sales manager, Fairmont Dubai

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Winning the Hotelier Award has brought me a lot of recognition from my colleagues and business partners, and at the same time the expectations for my contributions have increased.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes I am still working at the Fairmont Dubai property.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

The only way to produce great results is to work hard and love what you are doing.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In five years from now, I look forward to taking on the director of sales and marketing position and definitely continuing my career in Dubai.

Fitness/Spa Person of the Year
Danielle Hammond, Spa & Recreation Manager, Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

It has given me recognition within the industry, a boost of confidence to go on and get nominated for more awards. I just recently won the Spa Edge Discipline award with Marriott International. It all makes me feel very proud and motivates me to continue to push myself to new levels.

Are you still at the same hotel?

September marks my two-year anniversary at Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel with nearly five years in total in the UAE.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Believe in yourself and what you have achieved. Don’t let anyone take away your shine. An award is a great way to get your name out in the industry, not only here in the UAE, but worldwide, too. Ultimately, in order to get recognition with an award, you have to put yourself out there first.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I would like to have my own wellness clinic in the UK or Australia focusing on offering alternative treatments such as accupuncture, reiki and personal mentoring sessions. The wellness industry is definitely evolving. After visiting a wellness sanctuary recently in Thailand, it has really inspired me to examine not only in my personal life journey, but also my career path in life.

HR Person of the Year
Evangeline Monterde, former learning & development manager, InterContinental Muscat

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Winning the HR/Training Person of the Year 2017 didn’t only add to my motivation and passion in making a difference, but also opened opportunities for me. I received couple of job offers from different hotel brands but I chose to stay with IHG. Few months after receiving the award, I had an opportunity to transfer to another IHG brand and I decided to take it.

Are you still at the same hotel?

From being a learning and development manager at InterContinental Muscat, I moved to Crowne Plaza Bahrain as human resources and learning & development manager.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

I believe receiving a prestigious award like this is a dream for every hotelier. I would leave three bits of advice for other hoteliers aspiring to win an award like this one. One, chellenge yourself every day to do better than what you have done yesterday. Two, aim to make a difference and leave a  positive impact on the business, people and community you work with. Finally, keep the passion and the drive because achievements and recognitions will then come almost naturally.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, I still see myself working in human resources. My goal is to deepen my knowledge, experience and gain expertise in this field because through developing myself, I can mentor and extend my support to young HR colleagues aspiring to climb the career ladder in this particular field within hospitality.

Marketing & PR Person of the Year
Dima Jaradat, cluster marketing and communications manager, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts – Jordan

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

To have won and be named as PR and Marketing Person of the Year is a great recognition for me, my work and my efforts. Also, it’s an amazing feeling to attend the award ceremony and receive the trophy. This award brought me a lot of career benefits and recognition in the country and the region. It also created an opportunity to receive useful feedback about my work and how I am perceived by my higher management who recommended and nominated me.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes. I am still with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in Jordan.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

I would really advise employees to participate to nominate themselves, which will empower their work, tasks and reflect great results and achievements. And of course, to win the award will definitely give you an upper hand in the work community and among your colleagues as well.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, I see myself as a corporate marketing communications executive or in a simiar position.

F&B Manager of the Year
Nick Patmore, director of food & beverage, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

There are a lot more people who know me now and this is, overall, an exciting and humbling title to bear. The results of winning the F&B Manager of the Year award will impact me later on in my career,too as it’s a matter of how to leverage this and promote this title moving forward. It’s definitely a big feather in my cap.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am at the same hotel and have a lot more to achieve. The JW Marriott Marquis is a well-oiled machine like no other and it keeps us busy and on our feet at all times.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

I did not ever strive to win any awards, I strive to be successful at everything I do. I always wanted the owners to be confident and have a peaceful mind that F&B will continue to grow in our hotel, despite the challenging market. Looking out for my team has always been extremely important to me and I want associates at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai to know that they are working in the best F&B operation in the city. I believe that working for our hotel is the ultimate training ground for associates to further grow into other developing and exciting Marriott International properties in Dubai or elsewhere.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Ideally, as a general manager of a large hotel, somewhere in the world.

GM of the Year
Darren darwin, Former general manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Winning the award gave me enhanced recognition with my peers. I was also privileged in terms of the public relations exposure, and interviews with key journalists in the Middle East.

Are you still at the same hotel?

No. I have since been promoted to cluster general manager for Anantara Kalutara Resort and Avani Kalutara Resort in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. I am living the dream for sure.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Stay humble, do not let it go to your head. The award does not drive commercial success in your hotel, however, cherish the moment, the award is yours for life.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Based on the company’s vision for Sri Lanka, I may still be here, with an area role. The island and the people here are amazing. They are so warm and friendly and it literally is a paradise. So I do look forward to what is to come.

Executive Chef of the Year
Steve deconinck, former executive chef, Palace Downtown Dubai

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Winning this award was the cherry on top of the cake for me when it comes to my achievements within Emaar Hospitality Group. Arriving in Dubai in September 2015 and winning this award within a short period was one of my biggest career achievements. This surely would not have been possible without the support from my team and few key people from the corporate office at Emaar Hospitality Group. It impacted my career a lot and gave me several new opportunities.

Are you still at the same hotel?

No. After winning this award, I accepted a job offer as a corporate chef for a chef whose restaurant was awarded with a Michelin star in Europe.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

Winning such a prestigious award is only possible by being very critical of yourself. You need to understand that you can win this only with the support of your team and by always aiming for perfection.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, the plan is to own and run my own business within the F&B sector.

Finance Person of the Year
Amin Ahmed, finance & business support manager, Intercontinental al jubail

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

The award has introduced me to our head office and our owners in a perfect way, because 2017 was my first year as a finance & business support manager. The award has motivated my team and my colleagues, and it also pushed me to keep up with the high standard of performance.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am still in the same hotel. I got some other offers but I preferred to stay.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award? 

Think out of the box and try to build a brand for yourself.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I am looking forward to being in a regional role concerning finance & business support.

Housekeeper of the Year
Michele Millot, executive housekeeper, jumeirah beach hotel

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

After 25 years in this industry, winning the award was more a recognition and achievement of my career. It certainly boosted my morale and drove me to excel in my role even more.

Are you still at the same hotel?

I am committed to Jumeirah Beach Hotel which is undergoing a major renovation at the moment.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award? 

You cannot win an award without complete dedication from the entire team and good support from your management. It’s not only your award, it needs to be shared with all.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? 

Jumeirah Group is expanding globally and I will be there to assist and support in the future.

Procurement Person of the Year
Nawaf Ahmad al Awadi, Director of Supply Chain & Logistics, jumeirah group

How has winning the hotelier award impacted your career?

Personally, this award had a very positive impact on my career. It raised my self-esteem, and the level of the professionalism in my profile, and motivated me to do my best and achieve more.

Are you still at the same hotel?

Yes, I am still at the same hotel.

What advice would you give other hoteliers hoping to win an award?

I would advise other hoteliers to work hard on empowering their self-profile by obtaining the necessary education and knowledge in their field. Also, it’s essential to think about and emphasise more on strategic projects that will enhance processes and exceed the expected targets.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I hope to see myself adding as much value as possible to the place I am in and achieving more career success along with my team members.

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