THE GRAND JURY Tests the best

To crown the country’s top hoteliers, the 8th Hotelier India Awards Grand Jury scrutinised 1,003 nominations from over 70 cities

For more than six months, ITP Publishing India’s office was buzzing with activity as the Hotelier India team invited hospitality professionals from across the country to send in their nominations for the 8th Hotelier India Awards, then followed up with them to resend the information in the correct format, and later collated these appropriately. The end result – a whopping 1,003 nominations were received from more than 70 cities!

The team then patiently sorted these nominations, discarded incomplete ones and presented around 700 completed forms to the grand jury so they could select the best and most deserving hoteliers of India. The jury meet, which was held on November 18, 2016, at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, was hosted by the property’s general manager, Saeid Heidari, and his team, who made sure that the jury memberss could focus on the task on hand, without any hindrance or disturbance.

And the jury members seemed more than enthusiastic to do their bit. S Saikumar, deputy managing director of ITP Publishing India, extended a warm welcome to the jury members, comprising Daniel Chao, area GM, Accorhotels Chennai (on behalf of Jean-Michel Casse, senior VP-Operations); Dilip Puri, MD India and regional VP, South Asia of Marriott International; Jehangir Aibara, director of Mahajan & Aibara; KB Kachru, chairman emeritus, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor; Kapil Chopra, president of The Oberoi Group; Kuldeep Bhartee, area manager-West, ITC Hotels (on behalf of Dipak Haksar, CEO, ITC Hotels); Kurt Straub, VP, Operations, of Hyatt International; Manav Thadani, chairman of HVS APAC; Mandeep Lamba, MD, Hospitality, JLL; Neeraj Govil, area VP, South Asia of Marriott International; Nirupa Shankar, director, hospitality, of Brigade Group; Rahul Pandit, CEO, Ginger Hotels; Rajiv Kaul, president of The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts; Ranjit Batra, president, hospitality, Panchshil Realty; Rattan Keswani, chairman of Carnation Hotels and deputy MD of Lemon Tree Hotels; SK Mohapatra, executive director of Mayfair Hotels; Sanjay Sethi, CEO and MD of Chalet Hotels; Sanjeev Kapoor, masterchef; Satyen Jain, CEO, Pride Hotels; Suresh Kumar, MD, Fortune Hotels and Vijay Thacker, director of Horwath India.

Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director of ITP Publishing India, then gave an introduction about the group and the leadership that the media house commands over various industry verticals in India and globally. He also informed the hospitality veterans about the landmark number of nominations received this year, which was met with a round of

This was followed by a brief presentation by CP Mukundan Menon, executive VP, air conditioning and refrigeration products sales group of Blue Star Ltd, where he elaborated about the company’s air-conditioning solutions for the hospitality industry. He pointed out how one out of two hotels in the country is cooled by Blue Star, including JW Marriott Sahar Mumbai where the company had undertaken the entire HVAC, firefighting and plumbing systems.

Shafquat Ali, consulting group editor for ITP Publishing India, began the proceedings for the jury meet with an introduction about the awards, the nomination criteria, process for finalising nominations and the jury process. The jury members were split into different rooms to judge nominations that had been classified broadly under three categories: ‘Upscale to Luxury’, ‘Midmarket to Upscale’, and ‘Budget to Economy’. These nominations had been invited for 17 hospitality functions – both front and back of house – that ensure guest satisfaction and boost the property’s overall bottomline. Nominations were also requested for the ‘Unsung heroes’ for individuals who went beyond the call of duty to guarantee customer delight or assist those in need.

The judging process for the most prestigious award, the ‘General Manager of the Year’ follows a different procedure. Select jury members shortlist deserving GMs who are called for one-on-one interviews with the Grand Jury on December 13, 2016, the day of the awards.

The meet saw the jury members debate quite a bit while making up their minds about certain candidates. There was also lots of banter about the recent demonetisation and its expected effect on the hospitality industry. After plenty of discussion, they
finalised the winners for the various categories and informed the Hotelier India team.

Calling the Hotelier India Awards the most definitive one in the country, Kapil Chopra said he always makes time to participate in it as a jury member. “Anybody and everybody who matters in the hotel business is on the jury panel; that is what makes these award special. The Hotelier Awards are an institution. I take time out to be on the jury every year because our industry needs to celebrate the wonderful people who make the hotel industry so vibrant and exciting,” he emphatically stated.

Rajiv Kaul added, “I am delighted to see how meaningful this particular Awards has become to the industry. There is a greater responsibility on all of us to showcase and celebrate the best people. The industry is at a very crucial point today, where we really need to nurture our people and I am glad that we have this platform as an opportunity.”

Rattan Keswani believed that today, every hotelier considers the Hotelier India Awards to be their ultimate achievement of recognition. “They look forward to being nominated and it means a lot to them to win the award. They actually carry it on their email address, which shows that they take it as a true medal of honour. That explains the success of what Hotelier India has done so far,” he pointed out.

Neeraj Govil shared his delight to be part of the judging panel and said, “It was an honour to be in the midst of such a distinguished jury. I had the privilege of going through several nominations across various categories. It goes to reinforce my belief that there is an incredible talent pool in India,” he stated.

Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor was equally pleased to see the excitement amongst fellow jurists during the selection process. “This was a great honour for me and it was fantastic to see this kind of passion. I got goose bumps just recalling my time with hotels. To go through so many nominations and shortlist candidates to identify industry leaders was a very rewarding experience,” he added.

When stalwarts from the hospitality industry come together to choose the finest talent across the country, you know that the outcome is simply the best. The excitement for the 8th Hotelier India Awards is already palpable. The jury has decided. All we can say for now is: the winners will take it all!

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