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Award Winners at Leading Hotels of the World’s 2009 Annual Convention

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When Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi took the stage at The Leading Hotels of the World’s 2009 Annual Convention in Venice last week, the audience of more than 300 distinguished guests knew something different was in store. The witty, provocative and inspiring presentation was the first indication that The Leading Hotels of the World is in the midst of change. And with company President and Chief Executive Officer, Ted Teng having just completed his first year at the helm, it was a most relevant start to the four-day affair.

Taking place at the historic Fondazione Cini, November 19 to 22, the theme of this year’s conference was Preserve, Enhance & Invent: Leading the Way Forward. The event officially opened with Leading Hotels Chairman Jean-Jacques Gauer discussing Galileo’s contributions to the Scientific Revolution and drawing parallels to the state, and future of the hotel industry. Roberts then gave a powerful presentation outlining the key components to sustaining a successful business in today’s environment. The message was clear: in order to survive in times like these, emotional connections, high respect, and a stratospheric amount of creativity are essential to maintaining and generating clients that are “Loyal Beyond Recession”.

Focusing on the implementation of his five-year plan, Ted Teng followed with a compelling address comparing the prestigious organization – with more than 450 hotels in its collection – to a single hotel undergoing a “renovation.” His analogy appropriately pointed to the exciting and ambitious changes that are, and will be taking place at The Leading Hotels of the World. Namely, improving the overall quality of the collection (five percentage points over the next five years) and sourcing innovative ways to drive revenue to individual member hotels.

The program continued with a broad range of high-profile speakers and industry experts, among them; Massimo Cacciari, mayor of Venice; Lord John Julius Norwich, historian and author; Chris Sanderson, Strategy and Insight Director of The Future Laboratory; Jan Freitag of Smith Travel Research; and Trent Walsh of Leading Quality Assurance.

Interspersed throughout the meetings were several interactive break-out sessions, during which hoteliers were asked for their feedback about a variety of topics and new initiatives. Subjects included specific marketing tactics for city, as well as resort hotels, the induction of a staff training program called Leading Learning Institute, the revamping and transformation of Leading Hotels’ loyalty program Leaders Club, and the implementation of individual marketing plans for member hotels.

The winners of a series of prestigious awards were also announced during the conference as follows:

Commitment to Excellence Awards

The company presented the Fourth Annual Commitment to Excellence Awards, acknowledging hotels whose concept of service extends beyond their immediate walls, and whose exceptional efforts exert a positive impact on our world in the areas of the environment, community outreach and cultural support. The respective winners for 2009 are: The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland; Taj West End in Bangalore, India; and Japan’s Hotel Okura Tokyo.

Commitment to Quality Awards

The winners of the Eighth Annual Commitment to Quality Awards were also announced, with members in five regions: Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia & Pacific, United States of America & Canada, and Mexico, The Caribbean & South America. The winners were those properties which achieved the highest Leading Quality Assurance scores during the period of July 2008 to June 2009. The 2009 winners of the Commitment to Quality Awards are:

Europe

- Villa San Michele, Florence, Fiesole, Italy
- Baur au Lac, Zurich, Switzerland

Middle East & Africa

- Le Touessrok, TrouD’Eau Douce, Mauritius
- Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, Mahé, Republic of Seychelles

Asia Pacific

- Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, South Malé Atoll, Republic of Maldives
- The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam

United States of America / Canada

- The Hay-Adams, Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A.
- The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina, U.S.A.

Mexico, The Caribbean & South America

- Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Carlisle Bay, Carlisle Bay, Antigua

Leaders Club Awards

The winners of the Eleventh Annual Leaders Club Awards were revealed. The principal criteria in determining the winners were responses to post-stay questionnaires and letters received by the Leaders Club Services Department from Club members themselves. This year’s winners of the Leaders Club Guest Recognition Awards of Excellence were King George Palace, Athens, Greece; Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Cologne, Germany; and Rocco Forte Le Richmond, Geneva, Switzerland.

Grand Prize Awards

For the first time this year, hotels that ranked number one in each of their categories were honored on the closing night of the convention at a gala dinner held at La Fenice opera house. Each winner received a watch provided by long-time Leading Hotels sponsor and supporter Blancpain, and a special trophy from Tiffany. The Grand Prize Winners are:

- The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland - Commitment to Excellence
- Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, South Malé Atoll, Republic of Maldives - Commitment to Quality
- King George Palace, Athens, Greece - Leaders Club Award

Leading Legends Award

Company President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Teng also announced a new award category, Leading Legends, which will make its debut next year. This award will honor individual hoteliers who have contributed significantly to preserving and advancing independent hotels. The panel of judges will include Leading Hotels Chairman, Jean-Jacques Gauer, designer Donald Goo, Travel + Leisure’s Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Director of American Express Publishing Corporation, Nancy Novogrod, as well as renowned hotelier, Georg Rafael.

The convention concluded with a masquerade gala ball and performance by stunning pop/classical crossover singer from Italy, Georgia Fumanti, at the spectacular La Fenice opera house.

Event attendees were collectively hosted at four Leading Hotels, including the Bauer Hotel, Bauer “Il Palazzo,” Luna Hotel Baglioni and San Clemente Palace Hotel & Resort.

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