Judge’s Profile - Emily Keogh

Allow us to introduce the Founder of Palm PR, Emily Keogh, our esteemed judge for the Marketing Innovation Award at the Hotel Magazine Awards, renowned for her exceptional expertise and visionary contributions to the hospitality industry's marketing landscape.

How are you feeling ahead of the Hotel Magazine Awards judging day? 

Excited! I think this is a brilliant platform to shine a light on the incredible work and talent happening in the hotel and hospitality industry.

With it being such a fast-paced and full on sector, the awards are a fantastic opportunity to take a moment to reflect and celebrate the talent and achievements of the wonderful people in the hospitality community.

Can you tell us about your approach to evaluating competitors?

Each award is so different, but on the whole I’ll be looking for fresh and emerging talent, industry innovation and disruption, as well as deserving long-term hotel icons who are approaching marketing strategies in unique ways.

What attracted you to participate as a judge for The Hotel Magazine Awards?

I launched Palm PR 14 years ago and have been part of the industry much longer, so I’m always keen to be part of projects that celebrate the hospitality and travel sector and the brilliant people and brands that help make guest experience great.

What do you hope to achieve through your role as a judge?

It’s a privilege to take the space as a judge at the HMAs to recognise and celebrate excellence within our industry.

I’m bringing my 20+ years of experience to the role and want to judge awards with integrity, taking the time to allow every entry to be considered in a meaningful and fair way.

Ultimately, it’s about recognising great work.  The awards will allow entrants to shout about their brilliant accomplishments, both in the industry and also to their guests, which should further support their businesses.

What qualities do you look for in award nominees?

As I’m from a communications background, I’m naturally drawn to clever campaigns and talent that has a strong story to tell. Of course, underpinning this with meaningful facts and figures to showcase results is key.

Travel and hospitality is all about creating interaction and experiences so the ability to share these moments is a crucial part of success.

The Countdown Begins

The highly anticipated Hotel Magazine Awards are coming to London in 2025, promising to celebrate excellence in the hospitality industry. This prestigious event will highlight the most outstanding hotels, innovative designs, and exemplary service across various categories. Here, we share an in-depth look at the event, including the location, what’s includes and what to expect on the big night. Join us as we delve into the details of what makes these awards a pinnacle of recognition in the hotel industry.

As the global hotel industry continues to thrive and evolve, the spotlight turns to the upcoming Hotel Magazine Awards. This prestigious event, set to take place on April 28th, 2025, promises to be an evening of celebration, recognition, and inspiration for hospitality professionals from around the world.

Offering a unique networking opportunity with some of the biggest names in hospitality, whilst celebrating the efforts within the hotel sector, the Hotel Magazine Awards, will be a hallmark event in the hotel sector. The awards will be presented by none other than the global rum expert, Ian Burrell and the event will honour the exceptional efforts of hoteliers, managers, staff, and establishments that have set new benchmarks in service, innovation, and sustainability. From boutique hotels to renowned chains, the awards recognise a wide array of categories, reflecting the diverse nature of the industry.

This year’s awards feature nine categories, ensuring a light is shone on all areas of the phenomenal hotel industry. Categories include: The Environment Award, Marketing Innovation Award, Best Spa and Wellness Venue, Food & Beverage Award, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Award, Unsung Hero, Best Hotel Group, Hotel of the Year and Hotelier of the Year.

The ceremony will be graced by an array of esteemed industry greats and representatives from various sectors of the hospitality industry. Among them are Hospitality Action, Expedia Group, EcoScent, Difference Coffee, Institute of Hospitality, Bidfood, VANITY GROUP, Eira Water, LaBottega, Leonardo Royal Hotels, PoB Hotels, Palm PR, Silentnight, Doctor Cocktail, Lemi Group, Monpure, Dola Dira, Tequila Komos, Miele, MEWS, Remy Cointreau and Mixology Express.

Beyond the awards, the evening promises to be a prime networking opportunity for industry professionals. Attendees will include hotel owners, general managers, industry suppliers, and media representatives. The ceremony will include a three-course dinner, a complimentary free-flowing cocktail bar with delicious serves created by Dr Cocktail himself, pop-up bars, and an unmissable after-party at an exquisite London venue, providing ample opportunities for attendees to connect, share insights, and forge new partnerships, all whilst celebration the incredible work of the hotel space.

As the date of the Hotel Magazine Awards approaches, excitement continues to build within the hospitality community. This event not only recognises the hard work and dedication of those within the industry but also sets the stage for future innovations and trends in hotel management and guest service.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thehotelmagazine.co.uk/hma/tickets/. Join us in celebrating the pinnacle of excellence in the hotel industry, where every nominee and winner embodies the spirit of hospitality at its finest.

The Details

Where? Leonardo Royal, Tower Bridge

When? 28th April 2025

What? A celebration of the incredible hotel sector, shining a light on individuals who are making a difference.

How to attend – Buy your tickets online now at thehotelmagazine.co.uk/hma/tickets/

Award Categories

The Environment Award

Marketing Innovation Award

Best Spa and Wellness Venue

Food & Beverage Award

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Award

Unsung Hero

Best Hotel Group

Hotel of the Year

Hotelier of the Year

We’ll Be the Judge of That!

At the heart of the esteemed awards ceremony that is the HMA’s are the judges – a panel of distinguished experts whose extensive experience ensure the integrity and prestige of the awards. In this article, we are proud to introduce the remarkable individuals who will be lending their expertise to evaluate and recognise the very best in the hospitality industry for the upcoming Hotel Magazine Awards.

Abu Bundu-Kamara - Senior Director, Global Inclusion and Diversity at Expedia

Abu is a globally recognised equity, inclusion and diversity expert and strategic thinker, with strong business acumen, who is passionate about helping leaders and companies embrace change in a New World Marketplace. Abu boasts a proven record and over 20 years of career experience in global business sectors and senior HR leadership roles. In his role, Abu works with executives to embed inclusion and diversity in their decision-making process through system redesign and leadership development. In October 2021, Expedia appointed Abu Senior Director, Global Inclusion and Diversity. In this role, he is responsible for driving the development of a global vision and effective strategy for inclusion and diversity for EMEA, APAC and LATAM.

Robert Richardson - Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Hospitality (IoH)

Robert Richardson FIH MI is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Hospitality (IoH), the award-winning, global, professional body of almost 16,000 hospitality professionals worldwide, and a registered charity. IoH is dedicated to driving the recognition of the hospitality profession, and uplifting its membership through lifelong learning, mentorship and network-building.

Kalindi Juneja – CEO, PoB Hotels

Kalindi is the CEO of PoB Hotels and boasts two decades of experience in luxury hospitality, spanning roles in prestigious luxury hotels globally. Her expertise lies with the independent hotel market, both in the UK and internationally. Since taking the helm at PoB Hotels in 2021, she has strategically repositioned the brand and increased its market share by over 400%. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Kalindi is passionately committed to advancing the hospitality profession, actively engaging in various industry initiatives and charitable endeavours.

Matteo Brusaferri – General Manager, Lemi

Matteo Brusaferri is the General Manager of Lemi, an Italian company that produces massage beds. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Matteo has a deep understanding of the global wellness market and has helped Lemi become a leading player in the field. Under his leadership, the company has expanded its product range, improved its manufacturing processes, and established a strong presence in international markets. Matteo is committed to innovation and quality, and he works closely with the Lemi team to develop products that meet the evolving needs of customers.

Mark Lewis – CEO, Hospitality Action

Mark Lewis is the current CEO of the charity Hospitality Action, with 17+ years’ experience within the hospitality industry. Mark joined the Caterer in 2004 as deputy editor, before rising within a couple of years to editor and then from 2012 onto the role of publisher. In 2017 Mark became CEO of Hospitality Action.

Emily Keogh – Founder, Palm PR

Emily Keogh is an award-winning entrepreneur specialising in communications and creative strategy for the global Travel & Hospitality sector. A passionate advocate for creativity, she launched the now multi-award winning, London based consultancy, Palm Public Relations 14 years ago. The agency manages the communications for many leading hotel brands, including Ennismore, Hyatt, Nobu Hotels, as well as working with the tourism board sector for international destinations. Alongside this, Emily launched the ‘Palm Academy of Disruption’ incubator at the agency to nurture industry innovation, and was shortlisted as PRCA’s “Consultancy Head of the Year”. A Cambridge University graduate from all-female college Newnham, Emily supports gender equality and women in business.

Salvatore Calabrese – Renowned Bartender

Salvatore Calabrese, The Maestro, has been making drinks for more than 40 years; from humble beginnings on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, where he made his first cocktail aged just 12, to a succession of top hotel bars, private members clubs and exclusive cocktail bars around the world. As one of the world’s most well-known and respected bartenders, Salvatore has made drinks for the rich and famous, from presidents to royalty, and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the modern drinks industry.

Paul Tsalikis - Founder and CEO, VANITY GROUP

Paul Tsalikis is the Chairman and Founder of VANITY GROUP, a designer playground of hotel guest amenities. A hospitality stalwart, Paul founded VANITY GROUP in 2011 with the mission to pioneer a new era in hotel essentials paired with creative services. Now one of the world’s most influential luxury amenity providers, VANITY GROUP has offices in London, Frankfurt, Sydney, Dubai and Shanghai. Renowned as hospitality’s house of beauty, VANITY GROUP partners include the most sought-after fashion, beauty, premium skincare, fine fragrance, lifestyle and spa brands including Jo Loves, KARL LAGERFELD, ESPA and Christophe Robin (among others) to create unforgettable hotel experiences.

Anna Sebastian – Founder, Anna Sebastian Hospitality Consultancy

Anna spent 13 years working in house at The Savoy and The Langham, running the bars and looking after the beverage programmes. During this time, Anna won several accolades, including nominations and wins at Tales of the Cocktail, including Best International Bar Team at the Beaufort Bar, Class Bar Manager of the Year, Class Menu of the Year, as well as leading the teams into the World 50 Best Bars List. Anna also runs a platform to support women in hospitality, ‘Celebrate Her’, and speaks at numerous events about the importance of Equality and Diversity within the industry. Along with this, Anna is a host and presenter, having worked with top brands and presented awards, including Class Bar Awards.

The Categories Announced

Our awards are designed to highlight the exceptional efforts made by establishments and individuals who contribute to creating unforgettable guest experiences. Across these pages, we will outline the diverse categories for the 2025 awards, showcasing the range of talents and services that make the hotel industry truly exceptional. Join us as we delve into each category, celebrating the dedication and creativity that define the very best in the business.

The Environment Award

Shining a light on the ever-growing demand for sustainability - we welcome applicants from overnight stay venues that demonstrate innovation and leadership in sustainability. This can include implementing cutting-edge technologies, adopting new sustainable practices, supporting environmental conservation projects, and inspiring others in the hospitality industry to prioritise sustainability.

Marketing Innovation Award

With marketing strategies acting as driving forces for footfall at your venue, we truly understand their importance. We are looking for hotels that have implemented original and creative marketing campaigns or strategies, which have actively provided results such as; increased bookings, revenue growth, enhanced brand visibility; or improved customer engagement.

Best Spa and Wellness Venue

With consumers prioritising wellbeing now more than ever before, this category is looking for overnight stay venues that have an outstanding spa or wellness facility. We will be examining the ambience and overall atmosphere of the area and offering, including cleanliness, decor, lighting and general vibe, whilst also assessing innovative approaches, unique treatments, or special features that set the spa apart from others enhancing the guest experience.

Food & Beverage Award

Food and beverage – single-handedly one of the most important elements in elevating the guest experience at a hotel. Our expert panel will look at the sheer importance of an exceptional food and beverage offering, and how hotels have gone above and beyond to not only appeal to overnight guests, but exterior ones too. Recognition will be given for the diversity and creativity of the menu offerings, including the use of local ingredients, unique culinary concepts and innovative dishes and serves.

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Award

From employment to management and opportunities, we are looking for hotel groups or individual hotels that demonstrate a commitment to diversity by employing staff from various backgrounds, including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical abilities. The hotel must have clear policies and practices in place to ensure inclusivity and equality among its staff, guests and vendors, and should demonstrate transparency in its efforts, regularly reporting on progress, challenges and initiatives, to hold itself accountable and drive continuous improvement.

Unsung Hero

We want to recognise those who go above and beyond without even realising. Nominees for this category must be put forward by another individual. The nominee should be recognised and respected by their colleagues for their contributions and exemplary behaviour, earning the admiration and gratitude of those they work alongside. We are looking for those who demonstrate a collaborative spirit, actively supporting and uplifting their colleagues, while contributing to a harmonious work environment, as well as someone who showcases creativity and innovation in their approach to problem-solving and guest service, finding new ways to exceed expectations and enhance the guest experience.

Best Hotel Group

This award is open to those applying on behalf of their holding company. The category will look at how the hotel group is run, honing in specifically on functionality and success. This success can be based around expansion and the hotel group's innovation and creativity in terms of guest experiences, technology integration, and unique offerings.

Hotel of the Year

With the hotel space being an extremely competitive one, this category is fierce. Applicants for this award should be a singular venue; either boutique, part of a group or an individual hotel. We will be looking at the business success in general, taking into account the hotel's reputation within the industry, as well as any recent new introductions, refurbishments or accolades.

Hotelier of the Year

Shining a light on the hotelier themselves; hoteliers entering this award should show strong leadership and effective management of staff and resources, while consistently demonstrating a commitment to providing exceptional service and creating memorable experiences for guests. Judges will look specifically at innovative strategies or creative initiatives that have been implemented and successfully enhanced the hotel's reputation and profitability.

The Hotel Magazine Awards

We are ecstatic to announce that the Hotel Magazine Awards are coming to London in April 2025! See below for all the details, and make sure you don’t miss the chance to celebrate the heroes within the hotel sector.

Where? Leonardo Royal, Tower Bridge

When? 28th April 2025

What? A celebration of the incredible hotel sector, shining a light on individuals who are making a difference.

How to attend – Buy your tickets online now at thehotelmagazine.co.uk/hma/tickets/

Allow us to introduce the inaugural Hotel Magazine Awards! The event will be held at London’s Leonardo Royal, Tower Bridge on April 28, 2025, celebrating excellence and innovation in hotels across various categories. This ceremony aims to recognise the efforts of hotels and professionals who have demonstrated exceptional standards in service, design and overall guest experience, as well as encouraging industry greats to let their hair down!

The Hotel Magazine Awards have been established to fill a gap in the hospitality sector's recognition programs. While numerous awards exist, none have focused exclusively on celebrating the diverse aspects of hotel excellence that the Hotel Magazine highlights in its editorial content. From luxury accommodations to boutique hotels, the awards will encompass a wide range of categories, ensuring that all segments of the industry receive the attention they deserve.

Not only will the evening provide recognition of some of the industry’s heroes, but it is an opportunity to network with some of the biggest names in hotel. Among the distinguished guests, there will be an array of industry leaders, hotel owners, managers and decision makers.

Our unique categories, which will be revealed in the coming pages, will be judged by an exclusive panel consisted of experts from various fields, including hospitality management, interior design and travel. The expertise of our star-studded panel will ensure that the awards are based on rigorous and fair criteria.

The awards are divided into several categories, each highlighting a specific aspect of hotel excellence. Ensuring there is something for everyone, our award categories include: The Environment Award, Marketing Innovation Award, Best Spa and Wellness Venue, Food & Beverage Award, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Award, Unsung Hero, Best Hotel Group, Hotel of the Year and Hotelier of the Year.

The inaugural Hotel Magazine Awards promise to be more than just a ceremony; they will provide a celebration of the passion, creativity and dedication that define the hospitality industry. By bringing together the best and brightest, the event will showcase the incredible talent and hard work that go into making every guest's stay memorable. As the curtains officially open for the Hotel Magazine awards, we invite you to apply, nominate colleagues and buy your tickets to attend an event that promises to be a cornerstone in the recognition of hotel excellence for years to come.

Hotelier of the Week

Paul Walsh is General Manager at The Alan.

Hospitality was a part of Paul’s life from a very young age as he grew up with an extended family that ran pubs; but Paul revealed that working in the industry long-term wasn’t always his “plan”. Initially going to university to study computer science, after a family bereavement, Paul stepped in to help with the running of the pub. Recalling the memory, Paul said, “Six months into it I realised that hospitality was where I wanted to be – I enjoyed the challenge and the activity around the job, not being sat at a desk all day.”

From there Paul became a Bar Supervisor at a hotel and that set him off on a trajectory into the hotel industry working his way up to an Assistant Restaurant and Bar Manager, then into the meetings and events side. Later Paul transitioned into various roles, including Front of House Manager, still keen to learn as much as he could about the running of hotels, then into an Operations Director for a large hotel in Leeds. When the GM for that hotel left, Paul was Acting General Manager for six months and he said, “That experience really solidified my intention to move into a permanent General Manager role.”

Commenting on what he loves most about his role, Paul told us that guest satisfaction and delivering exceptional experiences are his “core motivators”, but in terms of the day-to-day, he said, “I thrive in the variation in my role. Each day is different, and being able to touch so many parts of the business keeps me busy, interested, and allows me to see how everything interlinks to achieve the overall vision. In big hotels, departments can become isolated, but I see my job as investing in the team, bringing them together and ensuring everyone is aligned with the hotel's strategy to help them and the hotel grow.”

Passionate about growth, the advice he would give someone coming into the hotel sector, hoping to further their career is, “Building a network is crucial as, in this industry, once you’ve proven you’re able to do the job, sometimes it's who you know that can make a real difference in your career.”

For Paul, securing his first General Manager role was a significant achievement. Having spent years working across different departments, Paul explained how that role “really brought everything together.”

Paul explained how he thrives on winning and seeing the tangible results of his team’s efforts, which is already coming to fruition at The Alan. “Team engagement has gone up by 10%, market share is improving, and guest feedback is getting better. Most importantly though, the team has a clear understanding of, and shares the vision of the hotel. We can only go up from here.”

Hotelier of the Week

Rudi Hygino is Hotel Manager at University Arms, Cambridge.

Rudi revealed how his first experience in a hospitality venue was at his cousin’s café, explaining, “He used to have me assist him making coffees when I was seven years old. Always a curious individual, he understood my interest and included me in his tasks whenever I was around.”

Recalling his first instalment of professional experience, Rudi explained that this came during his summer holidays at the age of 17 when he got a job at a Belgian bar exhibiting its products during an international fair.

“Following this, I had my first luxury hospitality experience at Lapa Palace, where I worked with top-level hospitality professionals. I started as a Commis de Cuisine and progressed to Demi Chef de Partie, Chef de Partie, and eventually Commis Waiter,” Rudi added.

At Lapa Palace, Rudi learned the disciplines of both back-of-house (BOH) and front-of-house (FOH) operations, mentored by one of the most esteemed hospitality professionals in Portugal, Mr. Chainho de Oliveira.

After working there for a year, Rudi joined the armed forces, where he served for roughly 10 years. After his military service, Rudi graduated with honours in Hospitality Management, magnificently finishing first in the country, to which he added, “This achievement naturally opened many doors for me.”

Rudi admitted that his passion for hospitality stems from a love of interacting with people from different walks of life, “It allows me to practice the several languages I speak and meet new people.

“Conveniently, I enjoy eating and drinking, but what truly excites me is the similarity between hospitality and the armed forces. Both fields provide me with intellectual satisfaction through their daily routines and tasks,” he said.

We asked Rudi what he loves most about the role of Hotel Manager. Thinking about how hospitality addresses the most basic of human needs: beverage, food, and accommodation, Rudi said, “As a down-to-earth and active person, I appreciate both the simplicity and complexity of this field. I love that no two days are the same and that we must be inventive, using our emotional intelligence to motivate both guests and teams alike. I value the need for standards and procedures, organisation, and the unexpected situations that compel hospitality professionals to look within themselves to find solutions.”

When probed for what advice he would give someone coming into the hotel sector, hoping to further their career within the industry, Rudi said, “Be true to yourself and to the fundamental values of humanity. Strive to experience every role in a hotel and learn from each person who crosses your path.”

Finishing with a memory which really shaped Rudi’s career, he told us how working at Lapa Palace and learning from a true hospitality professional was a pivotal experience. “Another significant moment was when I became a Departmental Leader for the first time. This role profoundly influenced my perspective, allowing me to see things in a completely different light than before,” said Rudi.

As a great role model within the hotel sector, we look forward to seeing what’s next for Rudi!

Hotelier of the Week

Matthew Beard is the Cluster Managing Director of Strand Palace Hotel. 

Matthew’s career in hospitality began in Coventry, where he started as a kitchen porter at a modest 50-bedroom hotel. The experience provided Matthew a solid foundation in the fundamentals of hospitality. His swift transition to a front-of-house role marked a pivotal moment in his career, igniting a profound passion for the industry.

In 2020, Matthew joined the esteemed Strand Palace, a significant milestone that allowed him to further immerse himself in the world of hospitality. Navigating through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Matthew’s dedication and commitment to the industry only deepened. “Our team emerged stronger, achieving unprecedented commercial success and receiving stellar feedback from both guests and staff.”

As the Managing Director of Strand Palace, Matthew is entrusted with the wellbeing of both our guests and our staff. Leading a dynamic team of over 200 members, Matthew ensures the seamless operation of the venue’s 778 bedrooms and two food and beverage outlets. “My role is multifaceted, blending strategic oversight with a hands-on approach to day-to-day operations.”

What Matthew cherishes most about his role is the ability to provide exceptional hospitality to a diverse guest base, which includes visitors from the United Kingdom, North America, Australia, and Europe. Ensuring that his team operates effectively is a priority, with a significant focus on sustainability and enhancing the guest experience.

Together with Alexandra Berry, Head of Sustainability, Matthew has made significant strides in developing the hotel’s sustainability credentials. A key initiative has been the introduction of reusable pre-filled water bottles from Bottle Up in all hotel rooms. This initiative was supported by the installation of 17 Culligan water refill stations across nine floors of the hotel. 

For those entering the hotel sector and aspiring to advance their careers, Matthew’s advice is simple: work hard, be kind, and seize every opportunity to learn and grow. “The hospitality industry is rewarding for those who are dedicated and passionate about serving others.”

Reflecting on his journey, the support and belief from various managers and supervisors have been instrumental in shaping Matthew’s career, “Reaching the position of Managing Director at Strand Palace stands as the pinnacle of my career. Leading one of the largest hotels in London and the UK is a testament to the incredible team I work with, who share a genuine commitment to delivering exceptional service. Together, we strive to create memorable experiences for our guests, ensuring Strand Palace remains a beacon of excellence in the industry.”

We look forward to seeing what’s next for Matthew!