Haul OF Fame
Intense deliberations and discussions marked the 9th Hotelier India Awards jury meet
By Vinita Bhatia
Nine years ago, when ITP Media India instituted the first Hotelier India Awards, the objective was simple â to laud hospitality professionals who have done exemplary work through the year, and shine the spotlight on them. Year on year, the participation from the industry kept increasing, which only reiterated our conviction that we were on the right track.
When we started preparing for the 9th Hotelier India Awards, we expected to receive around 1000 nominations. However, we were pleasantly surprised when 1,258 nominations reached our team from 51 cities across the country. Several of these were rejected because they contained insufficient or inaccurate information. And finally, for the Grand Jury Meet, which was held on 1st December, 2017 at Hotel Sofitel Mumbai BKC, the Hotelier India team presented the jurists with 730 nominations, from which they had to select winners across 18 categories.
The strength of the Hotelier India Awards has always been the powerhouse jury that sifts through the nominations and selects the winners. This year too, the Grand Jury comprised 20 thought leaders who represented key hotel brands, developer companies, restaurateurs and business analysts. Many of these reputed jurors are wellknown for their passion for excellence and innovation in the hospitality business, and hence were the ideal choice for selecting the winners, given their own zeal for attention.
This year, the jurors included Ajay Bakaya, MD of Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, Anshu Sarin, CEO of Berggruen Hotels, Dilip Puri, founder and CEO of Indian School of Hospitality, Chef Hemant Oberoi, founder of OB Hospitalities, Jehangir Aibara, director of Mahajan & Aibara, Kapil Chopra, president of The Oberoi Group, Manav Thadani, co-founder and chairman of Hotelivate, Mandeep Lamba, MD, Hotels & Hospitality Group â India of JLL, Maverik Mukerji, general manager delegate â Bengaluru and Mysuru of AccorHotels, Jatin Khanna, multi-property VP, Bengaluru of Marriott International, Nirupa Shankar, director, hospitality of Brigade Group, Rajiv Kaul, president of The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts, Raj Rana, CEO, South Asia of Carlson Rezidor, Ranjit Batra, president-hospitality, Panchshil Realty, Rattan Keswani, chairman – Carnation Hotels and deputy MD of Lemon Tree Hotels, Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, founder of SK Food, Satyen Jain, CEO of The Pride Hotels, Souvagya Mohapatra, executive director of Mayfair Hotels & Resorts, Sunjae Sharma, area VP and general manager of Grand Hyatt Mumbai and Vijay Thacker, director of Crowe Horwath India.
Saikumar S, deputy MD, ITP Media India started the dayâs proceedings with a brief introduction about the company as well as Hotelier Awards, and how it was a fantastic learning journey. âEvery year, our shortlisted candidates and winners represent not only the best practices in the industry but also the intellectual capital of the Indian hospitality segment. It also gives us a glimpse into future industry leaders,â Saikumar stated. When he mentioned about the landmark number of nominations received this year, it was met with a round of applause.
Biswajit Chakraborty, general manager, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, which hosted the Grand Jury Meet welcomed the jurors, extending every bit of support so they could concentrate on the task at hand. This was followed by a brief presentation by Srikant Subramanian, general manager-marketing, commercial refrigeration division Blue Star who spoke about the companyâs air conditioning and refrigeration products for the hospitality industry.
Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media India then addressed the jury and explained the process for selecting the winners of the 9th Hotelier India Awards. The jury members were divided into three rooms and each group of jurors were given six categories to judge. Each of these categories were further refined to âLuxury to Upper-Upscaleâ, âMidmarket to Upscaleâ and âBudget to Economyâ. This year, a new award category, Banqueting Person Of The Year, was introduced.
A different process is folllowed for the most prestigious award, the ‘General Manager of the yearâ. After the jurors shortlist the best candidates for this category, a final round of one-on-one interviews will be held with the contenders on 20th December at JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity.
DOWN TO WORK
Once the jury meet got underway, it was apparent that the jurors meant business. A lot of debate and discussion took place about selecting certain candidates. Their task was not made easier by the fact that everyone competing for the awards – from the chefs to housekeepers – tried to do one better and sent in lots of information in a bid to impress the jury with their work and worth. Hence, though only a winner was to be chosen for the 18 categories, at times, the race to the top was so close that two candidates were selected.
A common feedback that jurors had was that award nominations gave them an opportunity to peer deeply into various sectors from a different perspective â something they often miss while taking a birdâs eye view of business.
Talking about participating in the Awards, Rajiv Kaul said, âThe Hotelier India Awards helps in showcasing some of the best talent in the industry, who might otherwise not get highlighted.â Kapil Chopra echoed his sentiments and added that he was delighted to see Hotelier India awards go from strength to strength over the years.
The over-arching takeaway from the Grand Jury Meet was that creativity is the key differentiator in the hospitality industry. Those nominees who pushed the boundaries of their respective business domains were the ones who impressed the jurors.
Keen to know who the winners are? All will be revealed on the evening of the 9th Hotelier India Awards. Watch this space for more!