Dezeen Magazine

A great hotel experience is "much more than just design" say AHEAD Asia awards judges

The best hotels offer guests unique local experiences, says jury members for the AHEAD Asia hospitality awards, in this movie produced by Dezeen.

The Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore was the winner in the Hotel Renovation and Restoration category at the AHEAD Awards

Now in their second year, the AHEAD Asia 2018 awards were presented in a ceremony at the Andaz hotel in Singapore earlier this month, celebrating the best in hospitality design from across the continent.

In this movie, which Dezeen filmed in Singapore for AHEAD, the judges claim that design was just one of the things they were looking out for when assessing the submitted entries.

Another winner was the Vue Hotel Houhai in Beijing, which topped the Landscaping and Outdoor Spaces category

"More and more of what we do is not about the things that go in the space," says Wimberly Interiors director Christine McGinnis in the film.

"It's really about how it makes people feel and part of that is the notion of the local context. People are looking to take something away from their stay or their experience. They want to learn something."

Trunk (Hotel) in Tokyo was named best New Concept of the Year

One of the hotels the judges felt epitomised this approach to hospitality design is Trunk (Hotel), a small boutique hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo, which was named New Concept of the Year 2018.

"Trunk is really a social hub," says Jinou Park, Design Hotels. "It's a neighbourhood maker. Through its design and curation of different activities, it really reflects the energy of Shibuya and greater Tokyo."

Trunk (Hotel) was described by one of the judges as "a neighbourhood maker"

Two Roads Hospitality chief operating officer and AHEAD Awards Asia jury chair Guy Heywood adds: "It stood out because it is very innovative. The design of the rooms is split, so you've got the bed upstairs and then open floor space downstairs to maximise the amount of square footage you have in the room."

One of the judges' favourite properties was Alila Yangshuo, a converted former sugar mill in Guilin, China

Many of the winning hotels at AHEAD Asia this year were renovations of existing buildings. One of the judges' favourite properties was Alila Yangshuo, a converted former sugar mill in Guilin, China, which won the Resort Hotel and the Spa and Wellness categories.

"Everybody looks to this project, it's really shaken up the scene there," says McGinnis. "Guests that I know who have stayed there are absolutely blown away, so clearly it's doing an awful lot right."

Alila Yangshuo was the winner in the Resort Hotel and the Spa and Wellness categories

Heywood adds: "The new building, where most of the guest rooms are, is completely modern – raw cement, hard concrete, bamboo. So you have this juxtaposition between the old and new elements."

The Warehouse Hotel in Singapore topped three categories and was named AHEAD Asia Hotel of the Year

The big winner of the night was also an example of adaptive reuse. The Warehouse Hotel in Singapore, converted from a former spice warehouse, won four awards, topping the Guestrooms, Lobby and Public Spaces, and Urban Hotel – Conversions categories, as well as taking home the top honour of AHEAD Asia Hotel of the Year 2018.

"It's a classic example of an architect and designer keeping the heritage and the uniqueness of the building, while at the same time incorporating the modern luxuries that a traveler requires these days", says Heywood.

Judges praised the "attention to detail" and "respect for the local culture" at The Warehouse Hotel

McGinnis adds: "They just get so much right – the attention to detail, the respect for the local culture. It's no surprise that they managed to sneak off with pretty much all the awards and Hotel of the Year."

This movie was filmed at the Andaz Singapore and 1880 members club for the AHEAD Awards. All photography is courtesy of AHEAD.