Sure enough no-one wanted to miss the last supper of the 2023 Preferred gathering. Host hotel HALF MOON, best property in the entire Caribbean, say many, went flat out. They had already erected a ‘mobile meeting room’, a white tent, airconditioned, ample space for 200 delegates plus the six-strong AV crew working at the back (it came with an outdoor terrace, big enough to host the generously-provisioned foods and drinks during breaks, and there were also luxury portaloos nearby).
Really, Salamander, the company which manages Half Moon, had thought of every little detail – read more about Salamander and its unique owner, Sheila Johnson, in days to come. For the final gala another, double-size, tent was put up. See above, lull before the storm of party-goers arrived. Working chandeliers overhead, and metre-tall floral art in the centre of each of the circular, white-clothed tables, surrounded by ten see-through chairs.
It was a white event. Yes, absolutely the latest fashion, pioneered by Simon Mayle in Las Vegas four years ago and now de rigueur for all A-list events. Flutes of Laurent-Perrier before everyone sat down, choosing their table companions. There were, indeed, so many nice touches – in the image above a server, in a patterned cummerbund, is about to put dishes of sharing antipasti on the table. Another networking opportunity.
Main courses were clever, too. Two long-long serving lines that you could break into. Choose your salad ingredients, mixed in a bowl and turned out on to your plate. Or break into the line to get casserole dishes, or go further along for the most delicious whole standing prime rib, which certainly attracted seconds at Girlahead’s table. Thank you, Robert Mondavi, for the eminently suitable Cab Sav.
But there was education, erudition, whatever you want to call it. Preferred CEO Lindsey Ueberroth, helped by President Michelle Woodley and other senior executives, announced winners, all chosen, to a large extent, by participation in Preferred. Work with’em to get best results.
Hotel of the year was CHATHAM BARS INN on Cape Cod (MD Gary Thulander). Regional winners included THE HERMITAGE, Nashville TN (US/Canada); EQ Kuala Lumpur (AP); CASA DI LANGA, Piedmont (Europe); THE IMPERIAL NEW DELHI (Middle East, Africa, India); UNIQUE HOTEL, São Paulo (South America). Newly-joined properties were also honoured – WALL STREET HOTEL New York (urban), and AURORA Anguilla (resort). IPrefer hotel of the year was KEIO PLAZA Tokyo, and there were awards too for Philanthropy, Sustainability, Social Responsibility, and ReviewPro inspections. Hotelier of the year was Irishman Stephen Johnston, who since 2013 has been MD/GM of BOSTON HARBOR HOTEL, managed by Pyramid Global Hospitality.
Awards flowed, as did music and dancing, and congratulations to those who managed to make early airport buses the following morning. And BIG congratulations to the hard-working Preferred team and their counterparts from the hotel and Salamander… TO BE CONTINUED.