The WAN team has been delighted over the past few months to see the colourful, varied and innovative selection of entries to our Hotel of the Year Award. Something that struck us all - the judges included - was the truly global spread presented by our field of entries; as well as the usual bustling suspects of Hong Kong, London and Dubai, we were presented with hideaways in places as far-flung as Tbilisi, Hengill and Easter Island.
The jury consisted of Gregoir Chikaher, Director and Global Hotels & Leisure Sector Leader at Arup; Helen Gregorios-Pippas, a hotelier of over 20 years and current co-owner of The Red Lion; Liz Hall, Head of Research for Hospitality & Leisure at PricewaterhouseCoopers; Dr. Lin Hao, Director of Oval Partnership; Larry Traxler, Hilton Worldwide’s Global Head of Design Services; and Claire McPoland, an associate interior designer at HOK.
The Raas Hotel by The Lotus Praxis Initiative was the first to catch the judges’ eye, with its emphasis on sustainability coupled with a strong connection to the hotel’s surroundings in Jodhpur. Remote judge Dr. Lin Hao described the project as a 'highly sophisticated', and the group marvelled at the hotel’s 'beautiful' ornamentation, provided by local craftsmen.
Next to wow its way onto the shortlist was Benoy’s EAST Hotel in Beijing. As Helen Gregorios-Pippas observed, EAST is 'no ordinary business hotel'; it has, after all, been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's (LEED) Platinum certification. In the judges’ eyes, this use of local craftsmen and sustainable materials, together with innovative layouts, made for attractive interiors - 'the rooms are very happy', Gregoir opined.
Next we were off to Brazil, where our jury unanimously agreed that Candida Tabet Arquitetura’s Botanique Hotel & Spa 'expresses its unique connection and harmony with the site'. Botanique’s simple construction methods, 'artful' use of salvaged materials and geothermal energy principles also impressed. Remote judge Larry Traxler was particularly enamoured by the hotel’s 'strong message about communing with nature'.
The judges’ attention was then drawn to Miami, and the fascinating story of the 'beautifully designed' James Royal Palm. This historic building was converted from a dilapidated barracks to a hotel by Rottet Studio. Preserved Art Deco touches and the nostalgic, 'fun' interiors were admired, with Dr. Hao referring to the décor as 'a rich aesthetic experience'.
The spiralling scales of Indigo’s dragon stopped the jury in their tracks, with HOK’s Claire McPoland describing the Aedas hotel as 'a really nice response to the surrounding site'. Hotel Indigo’s façade drew much praise, with the 'thoughtful architecture' of its sustainable 'fins' garnering praise from Gregoir.
Finally our panel were taken aback by WOHA’s oasis-like PARKROYAL on Pickering. PARKROYAL was seen to successfully achieve its aim of offering the 'City in a Garden' as a holistic approach to urban sustainability. Indeed, such transformative, green architecture on such a large scale was lauded as 'absolutely fantastic' by Liz Hall.
The panel saw fit to offer two commendations - the first to The Mercure Hotel in Bratislava, by Jancina Architekti. Helen and WAN Editor-in-Chief Michael Hammond in particular were charmed by this renovation project, which took a tired building and transformed it into a bright focal point for the area. Secondly, Space Group's Clarion Hotel and Congress Trondheim was chosen by the judges for a special commendation. This project, with is bold asymmetrical interior spaces, was seen by Gregoir to successfully challenge conventional hotel design.
WAN AWARDS Team
Raas Hotel, Jodhpur - The Lotus Praxis Initiative
EAST Hotel, Beijing - Benoy
Botanique Hotel and Spa - Candida Tabet Arquitetura
The James Royal Palm, Miami - Rottet
Hotel Indigo, Hong Kong - Aedas
PARKROYAL on Pickering - WOHA