Qatar’s hotel and restaurant industry was out in full force at the Al Gassar Resort to celebrate the inaugural Qatar Choice Awards last week. After a two month social media based public voting competition, the time had finally come to learn about the winners across 26 categories.
The bonanza gala dinner reception threw attendees off from the very start- a dazzling set up, amazing musical performances, and a fabulous list of winners capped off a night that the Qatar-based crowd will remember for quite a while.
The undisputed winner on the big night was the Oryx Rotana Hotel, which bagged five awards, stunning competitors and voters alike. The Oryx Rotana was able to successfully garner the highest number of public votes across five categories: Favorite Creative Concept for a restaurant (won by The Cellar); Favorite Nightlife (Jazz Club); Favorite Brunch (Choices); Favorite General Manager (Kevork Deldelian); and Favorite Chef too (Executive Chef Rainer Rudolf Mueller).
At the start of the voting process a few months ago, it was unknown how erratic the voting may be, but as the crowd witnessed one organization take five awards including awards for its top two executives (GM and Executive Chef), it became clear that consistency was the key in guaranteeing a good showing. The Oryx Rotana’s remarkable achievement showcased a hotel that is exceeding expectation from the top most staff all the way down to the niche outlets within the hotel.
Yet, despite the Oryx Rotana’s win across five categories, perhaps the most coveted categories were bagged by the W Doha, which won the Favorite Restaurant, Favorite Asian Concept Restaurant, and Favorite Hotel Awards. The winners of the first two categories were the W Hotel’s favorite haunts- the Market by Jean-Georges and the Spice Market respectively. For the Favorite Hotel award, the W Doha beat out 13 other world-class hotels to claim the most sought-out prize of the night.
Other awards of note included the Favorite Hosted Event Space (won by the Katara Cultural Village), Favorite Stand-alone Restaurant (won by Katara-based Mamig restaurant), and a seasonal favorite in Qatar, the Favorite Ramadan Tent (won by the Ritz-Carlton Doha).
While the awards handed out to hotels and restaurants were lauded with equal vigor by the audience, the most exciting individual award for those gathered at the Qatar Choice Awards gala dinner was Favorite Individual in Hospitality Industry. The voting was quote tight for many weeks in this category as the industry weighed in on the most efficient, creative, and likeable person in the hospitality industry; the award was won on the night by Luke Noble-Four Season, Doha.
The landmark awards program, the first of its kind in Qatar, was considered a massive success by the guests as well as the hotel and restaurant industry. Mona Whitice, Executive Director at Qatar Happening and ABODE magazine, noted that, “the awards had harnessed the power of social media to deliver a verdict on the whole industry. Those who have won today are now challenged to have another strong showing next year. The whole exercise is guaranteed to push the restaurant and hotel industry of Qatar forward- and that, in the end, is good for Qatar.”
With over 12,000 votes cast across 26 categories featuring 181 nominees’ out-of 372 nominated registrants, the winners and runner-ups can be sure that the results were truly representative of public opinion. The night was highlighted not just by the winner but also the musical performances which peppered the evening using 100 percent local talent. The main act holding forte throughout the night was the big band from Doha Jazz.
Vincent Corver, a classical pianist and Grammy award nominee and EMI recording artist highlighted the night’s entertainment with his rendition of his own songs (Why and That Girl), while also surprising the crowd with a classical piano addition to a Michael Jackson and Akon song.
Patrizia Doringer, an electrical violinist who also plays at the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, dazzled the guests with a brilliant performance that resulted in a standing ovation. The locally-based group, Groove Mechanics also rounded off the night’s entertainment with pizzazz.
Andrew Malone - one of the guests joining us from the dining group ‘3asha Wednesday’ attending the gala dinner- noted that, “The reception itself is absolutely amazing- it was built for the audience as a true celebration. Walking into the awards ceremony, I had little knowledge of the proceedings, but in the end, I am really happy that I came. It has been an excellent night, and seeing the faces of the people around me, I know I am not the only one that feels that way.”
George Ayache, General Manager at IFP Qatar- the organizers behind the Qatar Choice Awards, was celebrating not just the event by itself, but also the launch of a new arm within the company- the IFP Qatar Events Division. He noted that, “The Qatar Choice Awards was the event’s division’s first foray into the world of specialized, industry-specific events. We aimed to set a high standard for this event, and we believe that we exceeded those expectations. I am very proud of our team and partners who have worked so hard to put together an event that wasn’t just great, but also completely foreign to the industry- an excellent start for the IFP Qatar Events division.”
Sarah Mroueh, the lady behind the IFP Qatar events division, and the concurrent hospitality industry events running last week (Diyafa Exhibition, Qatar Choice Awards) found that, “the hotels took the awards program to heart and engaged with their customers like never before. The voting process gave people a chance to deliver honest feedback and opinions which will have a direct impact on how the restaurant and hotel industry operates in Qatar”.
The Qatar Choice Awards was supported by a team of dedicated partners, primarily- Al Isteklal, Premium Projects and Gulf Crafts who’s support was really the fundamental element behind the success of this Event.
Qatar Happening, and ILoveQatar.net and Diyafa 2012; the organizing partners of Qatar Choice Awards came together to generate an industry buzz and came out with a solid platform to host a credible awards initiative for the hospitality industry for many years to come.
George Ayache thanked the awards program’s supporters by noting that, “When a new venture is launched, its initial success is measured by taking stock of who has supported it and who believes in it. As a first-year event, the Qatar Choice Awards had the right type of support from the very start- amazing partners who helped us take our vision to the next level. We are indebted to all our partners for their initial faith, their continuing help, and their constant support.”
The Qatar Choice Awards will be back in 2013. Join the mailing list or stay in touch via social media by visiting www.qatarchoiceawards.com.
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