Forbes Travel Guide popped magnums of Moët Hennessy last night at the famed Roux at The Landau restaurant at The Langham, London to toast an intimate crowd of 2021 European Star Award winners hailing from England, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Monaco and Spain.
The soiree was nearly two years in the making. When FTG held its Luxury Summit, an annual celebration of its Star Award winners, in Las Vegas in February 2020, the pandemic was starting to spread widely abroad, forcing many hoteliers from winning European properties to cancel their attendance. Plans were soon made to hold a smaller-scale event in London to honor those who were unable to come, and FTG felt that now the time was right to host it. The timing also gave FTG a chance to recognize the hospitality industry’s tireless efforts during the pandemic.
“While we know much remains to be done as part of the recovery, we are here now to shine a light on you,” Filip Boyen, Forbes Travel Guide’s CEO, told the hoteliers at the champagne reception. “Your tenacity. Your resourcefulness. Your compassion. Your creativity. We are genuinely inspired by the extraordinary lengths you’ve gone to in order to rise above the challenges you’ve faced…We recognize and celebrate tonight, not only your past service efforts but also your ability to navigate through these toughest of times. Leading your teams, communicating with guests, strategizing, pivoting and throughout it all continuing to show the world the resilience of our industry and the truly amazing people that are part of it.”
London was a fitting place to host the small gathering. The city boasts the largest number of Five-Star hotels in the world at 19, followed by Paris and Macau, which tied for second place with 13 hotels, and New York City coming in at No. 3 with 10 top properties.
For hoteliers, the event was a welcome opportunity to reconnect with colleagues. “It was a gift to see some lifelong friends for the first time in years,” said Richard Cooke, general manager of The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel, which this year earned the distinction of being Scotland’s first Five-Star property.
“The Forbes winners event was like walking into a room full of friends, even though I was meeting some of these wonderful people for the first — but not the last — time,” said Anne Golden, general manager of the new Pan Pacific London. “The energy was so warm, and everyone [was] so delighted to see each other, it really felt more like a reunion than an event.”
Also in attendance were travel industry insiders, journalists and FTG Brand Officials — companies that represent some of the very best products and services in the luxury hospitality industry, including Frette, INTELITY, Jalin Design, La Bottega, Lutron, Nespresso, Signature Napkins and Torn Ranch.
During the event, Boyen revealed that FTG will resume plans put on hold during the early part of COVID for the global expansion of its Star Ratings. The heaviest concentration of the new destinations for 2023 will be in Europe, including Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, and there will be a deeper dive into Greece, Italy, Spain and many more destinations across the world. It means that FTG’s inspectors will travel to those areas in 2022 to conduct their two-night-minimum incognito visits where they evaluate every property based on up to 900 objective criteria.
“Guests now, more than at any time in history, want to feel safe,” Boyen said. “After the last 18 months, they want to leave anxiety and stress behind. They want to connect, and they want to feel genuinely cared for — aspects which are already hallmarks of Forbes Travel Guide Star-winning properties. Unprecedented commitments to health and wellbeing are now a sign of our times. You will see that these elevated lifestyle choices and those related to sustainability are now entwined in our standards.”
The London celebration ushered a return to in-person events for FTG. After a break in 2021, the company will bring back the full Luxury Summit May 10 to 11, 2022, at the new Resorts World Las Vegas.
For the full list of 2021 Star Award winners, click here.