Dubai desert retreat, Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa was crowned the region’s prime holiday destination after scooping three prizes at this year’s Middle East Hospitality Awards (MEHA).
The collection of private villas in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, was named Resort of the Year at the industry ceremony, held on 18 September at the Palazzo Versace Dubai.
Described as “a truly unique Arabian paradise”, the desert oasis also took home the Most Impressive Hotel Feature award for its on-site safari, where guests can get up close to passing camels, oryx and gazelles.
Meanwhile, the resort’s general manager Arne Silvis was named Hospitality Leader of the Year.
Silvis commented: “It is wonderful to be part of a property that is so truly unique and successful. I love the desert. The silence and tranquility. Our team lives on-site and being a smaller property, we are able to provide a personalized experience to guests.
“I am incredibly grateful to the team who are so loyal, they have stood by me the past 15 years, and they make Al Maha what it is. The three awards we have won this evening are a tribute to their hard work.”
The annual awards – orchestrated by and held during The Hotel Show Dubai, which ran from 18 – 20 September at Dubai World Trade Centre – celebrates the achievements, innovations and excellence of the Middle East’s ever-expanding hospitality industry over the past 12 months.
The judges assessed hundreds of different submissions across 18 separate categories and the ceremony welcomed more than 400 industry professionals.
Big winners included host venue the Palazzo Versace Dubai, crowned Luxury Hotel of the Year.
Boutique Hotel of the Year went to the XVA Art Hotel in Al Fahidi, while the newly-opened Rove Downtown celebrated being named Mid-Market Hotel of the Year.
Across food and beverage, Hendrick’s Bar at the Four Seasons Jumierah Beach won Best Bar/Nightlife Venue; Folly by Nick & Scott was named New Restaurant of the Year; and Gregoire Berger of Ossiano was announced as Head Chef of the Year.
Other individual awards went to 24-year-old Elham Bolooki of the Jumierah Group, named as the hospitality industry’s 2017 Rising Star.
Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes OBE was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the year Rhodes W1 – his signature Dubai restaurant – celebrates 10 years in the Emirate.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman, famed for being perched on a cliff, won Hotel Launch of the Year, while on the leisure front Talise Fitness at the Madinat was voted Best Gym, and Al Barari’s Heart & Soul Spa declared the region’s Best Spa / Wellness Centre.
Gary Williams, event director at The Hotel Show, and who opened the ceremony, said: “The Middle East Hospitality Awards celebrate the exceptional endeavor, service standards and guest experience offering that combine to keep visitors coming back to the Middle East time and time again.
“The exceptionally high standards of the hundreds of entries we had for this year’s competition prove only once again how our region now competes with any other destination in the world in regards to the level of hospitality we continually provide to all residents or tourists that spend quality time here.
“I would like to congratulate every venue and individual that entered MEHA 2017 – an awards ceremony which truly celebrated another outstanding year for the industry.”
The Hotel Show Dubai 2017 took place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from the 18-20 September 2017 as part of Dubai International Hospitality Week.
The Dubai Tourism endorsed event, organised by DMG Events and the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors.
The three-day event encompasses six hospitality and foodservice trade shows under one roof: The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, owned and organised by dmg events; GulfHost, The Speciality Food Festival and Seafex Middle East owned and organised by DWTC; and Yummex ME, jointly organised by DWTC and Kölnmesse.