Held on 7 November at London’s Hurlingham Club, Hotel Management International’s European Hospitality Awards (EHA) 2014 once again attracted leaders and dignitaries from across the hotel industry.

The event has gone from strength to strength over the past five years, a fact underlined by the quality of shortlisted candidates competing across 13 categories. Chaired by Hotel Management International editor Phin Foster, the judging panel for 2014 also featured some of hospitality’s heaviest hitters, including European Hotel Managers Association president Hans Koch; Mark Wynne Smyth, global CEO for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group; citizenM CEO Michael Levie; Andre Witschi, president of the board of governors at École Hôtelière de Lausanne; James Dilley, head of hotel, hospitality and interior design at Jestico + Whiles; and Ted Teng, CEO of Leading Hotels of the World.

The big winner of the night was Rosewood London, with the Canadian luxury operator’s first European property picking up the New Hotel of the Year (Renovation or Conversion) accolade, as well as being declared the EHA Overall Winner, selected by our judges as the outstanding hotel across all of this year’s entrants.

Managing director Matthian Roeke was there to collect the award for a property our judges described as "arguably London’s first truly ‘grand’ opening since the Lanesborough". They were particularly impressed by "how quickly this property has become such a natural member of an exalted hotel class" and were "enthused by the manner in which it has restored one of the capital’s pre-eminent neo-classical landmarks to its former glory, inside and out, taking great care to respect and celebrate its Edwardian heritage".

Meliá Hotels International also ended the evening clutching two gongs, with Meliá Vienna winning Opening of the Year (Newbuild) and Gabriel Escarrer Jaume being recognised as CEO of the Year. The chief executive was there to receive both awards and commented: "I deeply appreciate, on behalf of the Meliá team, this award from the European hotel industry, for it signifies an acknowledgement of the effort that we have been driving in our company during the difficult past years to undertake a strategic and cultural transformation that has led us to become a global leading hotel operator."

The loudest applause of the evening, however, was reserved for Sir Rocco Forte, who received a standing ovation upon taking the stage to pick up his Lifetime Achievement in the Hotel Community award.

It was the first time he had been in the room since a university fencing match during his days at Oxford, he revealed to his fellow diners, commenting that the food had "improved markedly" in the intervening years. Gracious and moving, he went on to reflect on his father’s role in bringing him into the industry and the hope that his children would follow suit.

"It seems odd to get an award for something I have always been very passionate about and that has given me a lot of satisfaction," he said, before adding that such an accolade was something of a double-edged sword."It has an air of finality about it," Forte concluded, to large laughs from the room. The fact that attendees were privy to his exclusive revelation that The Forte Collection had secured a £60-million injection from Italian sovereign wealth fund Fondo Strategico earlier in the day suggests the hotelier is far from finished.

With the awards presented and dinner eaten, the crowd retired to the bar for further refreshments and socialised late into the night.

A big thank you to the Hurlingham Club for its wonderful hospitality, congratulations once again to all of our winners, and we hope to see many of you competing and attending in 2015.

The winners


Overall Winner and Opening of the Year (renovation or conversion): Rosewood London, UK

Arguably London’s "first truly ‘grand’ opening since the Lanesborough", our judges were impressed by just how quickly this property has become such a natural member of this exalted hotel class. They were particularly enthused by the manner in which it has restored one of the capital’s pre-eminent neo-classical landmarks to its former glory inside and out, taking great care to respect and celebrate its Edwardian heritage.

Opening of the Year (Newbuild), Sponsored by Kuehne + Nagel: Meliá Vienna, Austria

An iconic setting, remarkable interior design touches, outstanding environmental performance and state-of-the-art technology, our judges felt that this property made a great all-rounder, offering a guest experience equally suited to business and leisure travellers, and adding real value to Vienna’s hotel market.

Green Hotel of the Year, Sponsored by SaveMoneyCutCarbon: Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

Our judges were impressed by what they saw as a truly 360° approach to sustainability, fusing the latest tech with traditional solutions, guest and employee education, and genuine community engagement. These efforts have yielded an array of results that set a standard for the rest of the industry to follow.

International Hotel of the Year, Sponsored by TV5MONDE: Grace Cafayate, Argentina

Our judges remarked upon the extent to which this property celebrated its surrounding and heritage, while still offering a truly 21st-century guest experience. They were further impressed by efforts to draw attention to what remains an underdeveloped region, relatively unexplored by international travellers.

Best Hotel Suite 2014, Sponsored by Pacific Direct: Conrad Algarve, Portugal

In a particularly competitive category, it was as much the surrounding Algarve hills and idyllic setting as the array of bells, whistles and luxury creature comforts that swung our judges. They also commented on the successful fusion of total guest privacy and a real sense of immersion within the natural elements.

Best Use of Technology, Sponsored by Quadriga: Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, Sant Jordi de ses Salines, Spain

Our judges cited this as a property not just following best practice but also setting it, demonstrating a genuinely innovative use of technology and making tech an integral feature of the guest experience. While many hotels pay lip service to the importance of social media, this is a property that genuinely seeks to harness and exploit its potential to new heights.

Hotelier of the Year, Sponsored by Salto Systems: Eric Toren, The Toren Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In Eric Toren, our judges recognised a hotelier who has drawn upon a number of disciplines from inside and outside the hospitality industry to engender a true appreciation and passion for service. They particularly noted his commitment to ongoing training and education programmes, and to creating a unique guest experience.

Hotel Spa of the Year, Sponsored by Jacuzzi: Lanserhof Tegernsee, Marienstein, Germany

A resort that is super-modern while also in thrall to traditional and natural treatments, our judges felt that this resort successfully placed wellness at its very core. The spa experience is extended into public spaces and guest rooms in what our panel found to be a fully integrated approach to renewing mind, body and soul.

Innovation in Service, Sponsored by the Wall Street Journal: The Emblem Prague, Czech Republic

A hotel where every member of staff is considered a concierge might seem ambitious, but our judges were won over by the sheer levels of enthusiasm and engagement displayed in creating a "home from home", ensuring all guests are completely up to date with goings on inside and outside of this unique hotel.

Best Hotel Restaurant, Sponsored by Exclusive Cakes4U: Abac Restaurant & Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

Our judges remarked upon just how integral this restaurant is to the property within which it sits, and were particularly impressed by a truly original menu that manages to marry Catalan roots with international influences and ultra-modern techniques, making it a unique dining experience in one of Europe’s finest cities for foodie pursuits.


Best Hotel Bar Sponsored by Chika’s Foods: Gothenberg-Cuckoo’s Nest, Radisson Blu Riverside Hotel, Sweden

Our judges were impressed by the manner in which this project drew inspiration from its surrounding environment, creating a destination for locals as well as guests. They commented on its willingness to take risks, breaking the mould of the traditional hotel bar and looking to develop something quite different from the expected norm.

CEO of the Year, Sponsored by Molton Brown: Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, Meliá Hotels International

In another very strong field, it was Gabriel Escarrer Jaume’s efforts to drive expansion into new markets and reposition the group, while at the same time managing exposure to a remarkably difficult domestic market that won over our judges. The group has shown remarkable flexibility and creativity in recent years, something our judges interpreted as a testament to his leadership.

Lifetime Achievement in the Hotel Community, Sponsored by Revinate: Sir Rocco Forte

Most hoteliers are content with developing one international hotel group in a lifetime, but Forte has performed this rarest of tricks twice. Having been born into the hotel sector, he has carved himself a very specific niche within it, enjoying a varied and storied career in which he has participated not just as a successful business leader, but as a genuine and independent voice for the industry as a whole as well.