LEADERS of the region’s tourism industry turned out in force for this year’s World Travel Awards, Middle East, which was held at the iconic Armani Hotel Dubai to honour the best in the business.
Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal was awarded the title of ‘Middle East’s Leading Travel Personality’ the highest honour that an individual can receive at the World Travel Awards, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the travel and tourism industry.
Globally renowned and respected, Prince Al Waleed owns stakes in Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons, New York’s Plaza Hotel, the London Savoy, Monte Carlo Grand Hotel and Euro Disney. He is also backing what will become the tallest building in the world, the mile-high Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.
Etihad Airways took four titles on the night including the coveted award for the Middle East’s Leading Airline.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline’s jubilant team also received the most votes for Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class, Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff and Middle East’s Leading Airline In-flight Entertainment.
Chief commercial officer, Peter Baumgartner, said: 'It is truly an honour to win Leading Airline for the Middle East. Our home market is extremely important to Etihad, so I am especially pleased to be recognised by our guests and peers from the region in this way.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) took home a quartet of honours for Middle East’s Leading Destination Marketing Campaign, Middle East’s Leading International Marketing Campaign, The Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board and the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award.
The awards were received on the authority’s behalf by Khaled Al Hashemi, its administration director, and Nasser Al Reyami, its tourism standards director.
Ahmed Al Darwish, vice president sales and marketing for Qatar Tourism Authority was on hand to receive the award for Middle East’s Leading Business Destination from David Falcon, senior vice president, World Travel Awards.
Rotana was recognised for its continued resounding success with nine awards including, for the fifth year in a row, the title of Middle East’s Leading Hotel Brand.
For the the individual properties, awards included Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, Middle East’s Leading Corporate Resort, Arjaan by Rotana Dubai, Middle East’s Leading Luxury Hotel Apartments, Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Middle East’s Leading Family Resort, Gefinor Rotana, Lebanon’s Leading Business Hotel, Oryx Rotana, Qatar’s Leading Business Hotel, Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi’s Leading Business Hotel, Al Bustan Rotana, Dubai’s Leading Business Hotel and Afamia Rotana Resort, Syria’s Leading Resort.
The Leading Hotel Brand honour was collected from Graham Cooke by Rotana’s chairman Nasser Al Nowais and president and CEO Selim El Zyr.
Royal Caribbean International triumphed at the awards yet again, scooping the prize for the Middle East’s Leading Cruise Line for the second consecutive year.
Regional director international representatives, EMEA, Helen Beck picked up the trophy along with Lakshmi Durai, executive director Middle East, and managing director Dr Abdulaziz Al-Oshban.
'This award is a real testament to our dedicated employees who go above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service every day,' said Beck.
Rosewood Corniche in Jeddah reinforced its position as the kingdom’s leading hotel in both leisure and business by winning two industry ‘Oscars’.
The landmark Jeddah property was crowned Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel for the third consecutive year and Saudi Arabia’s Leading Business Hotel for the second year.
'It is a tremendous honour to be named Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel and Saudi Arabia’s Leading Business Hotel again,' said Hans-Peter Leitzke, managing director of Rosewood Corniche who received the award from Graham Cooke founder and president of the World Travel Awards along with Ron Cusiter, vice president sales and marketing, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.
W Hotel Doha took the award for Qatar’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel, the property was also recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Hotel & Residences with area and general manager Safak Guvenc and his team happily stepping up to receive the honours.
The Address Hotels & Resorts took five key honours with the group’s flagship properties in Dubai being named the UAE’s Leading Business Hotel, for The Address Downtown Dubai, Dubai’s Leading Meeting & Conference Hotel, for The Address Dubai Marina, Middle East’s Leading Golf Course for The Address Montgomerie Dubai, Middle East’s Leading City Resort for The Palace – The Old Town, Downtown Dubai and Middle East’s Leading Shopping Destination Hotel for The Address Dubai Mall.
With 2011 already proving to be a winning year for Al Khozama Management Company (AKMC), the group scooped a further three international awards.
AKMC-managed Al Shohada Hotel in the holy city of Makkah was recognised as Makkah’s Leading Hotel for the second consecutive year and the prestigious Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel in Riyadh received two awards with the newly opened Al Faisaliah Hotel – South earning the title of Saudi Arabia’s Leading Luxury Hotel and Al Faisaliah Hotel being named Saudi Arabia’s Leading Conference and Banqueting Hotel.
The company had previously won four honours at the inaugural Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai triumphed in the category for Middle East’s Leading Resort with chief operating officer Serge Zaalof and Ashley McBain, vice president public relations, receiving the award from Graham Cooke.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara was voted the Middle East’s Leading Desert Resort with Boyd Barker, group director of hotel openings and operational support and acting general manager, stepping up to receive the honour from Graham Cooke.
The world’s favourite private plane company, Royal Jet, was recognised again this year with another award for Middle East’s Leading Private Jet Charter, its fourth in as many years. The company has also been voted the World’s Leading Private Jet Charter every year since 2007.
Graham Cooke handed the coveted prize to a delighted Shane O’Hare, president and CEO, Royal Jet Group.
With technology now playing such a hugely important role in the travel industry, the title of Middle East’s Leading Travel Technology Provider was hotly contested with ISO Travel Solutions coming out as winner. Christian Belzner, director business development EMEA tourism and hospitality solutions, was on hand to receive the award from Graham Cooke.
The award for the Middle East’s Leading Travel Agency went to Regency Travel & Tours which was also Qatar’s Leading Travel Agency. Tareq Abdullatif Taha, Regency’s president, CEO and chairman, received the awards from Graham Cooke.
The titles of GCC’s Leading Travel Agency and also Dubai’s Leading Travel Agency went to Al Rais Travel with deputy managing director Mohammed Al Rais in attendance to accept the honour from Graham Cooke.
The three singing waiters kept the audience laughing as they made fun of each other with operatic arias.
Dubai’s expertise in hosting international events earned the government’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing the award for Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination which was accepted by Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry, director overseas promotions and inward missions, from David Falcon. The emirate was also voted Middle East’s Leading Destination.
The award for the UAE’s Leading Hotel went to the Armani Hotel Dubai and was received by general manager Jason Harding from Graham Cooke.
Lebanese singer Elissa took a break from recording her eighth studio album to perform at the ceremony.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.