I’m thrilled to announce that Carmen’s Luxury Travel is now an official media partner of the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Award. This is considered to be the pinnacle in luxury hospitality and lifestyle awards. The awards will be hosted at The Trans Resort Bali Hotel on September 19, 2015. Here’s my exclusive interview with the Chairman, President & Founder of the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Award, Khalil El-Mouelhy.
Tell me about the history of the Seven Stars Luxury Awards and why they’re important to the luxury hospitality industry?
Khalil: Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality awards were started with the aim of providing the hospitality and lifestyle industry with a way to truly differentiate the most exceptional products from the rest. There are so many awards for hospitality and all of them have pretty much the same formula. We wanted to be different. The main difference is our Luxury Panel. The Panel consists of very affluent, extremely well-travelled individuals that are all active either within the lifestyle sector or the hospitality sector. They are the “judges” which select the nominations for the awards and that accept the “self nominations” from properties around the world… or reject them. Our biggest sector is of course the luxury hospitality sector which covers hotels, resorts, airlines, spas etc. However, we also award luxury products such as jewelry, fashion, haute horlogerie, and more. Basically everything related to luxury lifestyle. Also, the amount of winners we can have is capped thanks to our formula: each country in each sector needs a minimum of 3 nominations to be present. If there are 7 nominees or under, there will be only one winner. If there are 8 nominees in a particular sector in a country that means we can award a maximum of 3. This makes us different from the other awards as really, we are NOT a travel award. We are a Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Award designed to identify and to separate the exceptional from the very best.
Have the awards changed over the last few years? How?
Khalil: The way that we operate has not changed. What has changed is our Luxury Panel. It is consistently getting better and better and of course higher profile as well. We will add only another 6 panel members to the current total. This could take years as we look for specific people to fill certain criteria for particular industries.
How are nominees selected? What are the different awards?
Khalil: The nominees are selected by members of the Luxury Panel. Once the nominee is selected, they are placed online under their respective country together with a minimum of 2 other nominees. Once the voting opens, which is open to both the trade and the public, we inform the nominee via email and provide them with a nomination crest that they can use in order to inform everyone that they have officially been nominated. The other way to become a nominee is by a process of self-nomination. This means that they would have to fill out the online form with a detailed description and message, website and contact details and send it to us. Once this is sent, it will be subject to approval by the members of the panel. A minimum of 2 panel members must agree to the nomination for it to be approved. Normally, over half of the panel approves a single nomination if it is deemed of the correct calibre whilst if rejected, it is normally unanimous.
As far as different awards, we don’t work in that manner. Every winner receives the same award which is called SIGNUM VIRTUTIS, the seal of excellence. Therefore, the hotel or resort will receive the seal of excellence for the respective sector and so on. We do not believe in categories such as “the best family hotel” as we are of the opinion that they are detrimental. The reason being is that, as an example, if someone was travelling with their girlfriend or boyfriend they would specifically avoid a property categorised as a family resort. The resort in question would most probably be able to cater to their every need but because of the label, the business will most likely go elsewhere. We also do not believe in second and third place. This is detrimental to the winner that truly deserves the award. Rewarding one single aspect of a property does not make it a world-class property, it simply states they are excellent at one thing and that is not enough to win a Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Award. We believe in awarding all-round excellence according to sectors in order to truly benefit the winners as well as the nominees which were deemed of the correct calibre to compete for this award which is regarded as “The Oscars of Luxury “.
What’s the process for comparing the nominees? Unlike the Oscars where everyone can watch the films from home, do all of your judges travel to visit each of the nominees?
Khalil: It is a mixture of visits and of research. We all travel extensively throughout the year and really study the properties we stay at. However, we cannot visit all the properties. It is a mixture of research regarding the properties, the background of the general manager, reviews on various channels, and general level of customer satisfaction. Of course, the property also has to look the part and have all possible amenities and extras available for the guests.
Why was Bali picked for this year’s venue? When do you announce the site for 2016?
Khalil: Bali has developed tremendously since 2000. It has seen a massive rise in the development of luxury hotels, as well as 4-star hotels. Numerous international brands have opened up shop in Bali, also due to the positioning of the island. It is the perfect distance from Australasia and Asia. The development of luxury hotels reached such a level that at a certain point they believed that there was a surplus of rooms and that they couldn’t all be filled. However, the appeal of the island continues to rise, and the hotels are doing very well. It represents the ideal destination for our events. They have very high standard resorts with great service and fantastic facilities. They are very competitive as it is after all an island with limited space, and each property implements their own signature of luxury and attempts to outdo the other. It is always interesting for us to see who emerges victorious, and we are very proud to be able to reward these exceptional achievements especially when the competition level is set to such high standards as it is in Bali.
The 2016 event will be announced at the end of the 2015 Gala Ceremony on the 19th of September, however, our plan is to do 2 events next year so we are looking at a double announcement.
Do you have a personal favorite among the different awards that you give out?
Khalil: I enjoy seeing every sector awarded because they truly represent the pinnacle in luxury hospitality and lifestyle. While I do of course have my personal favorite properties, I would not mention them because it would not be fair to the other nominees and/or winners. Our Special awards are always exciting. These awards are not voted for, they are selected directly by the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards organization after having meticulously studied them. They do not appear on the website during the voting process. They are placed online the night of the event as winners. At the 2015 Ceremony, we will have some very interesting and high-profile winners in the “Special Award” sector.
Voting for the 2015 Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards was done online www.sevenstaraward.com and ended on June 15, 2015. I’m excited to see who wins the awards this year in Bali.