More than 400 leading travel and hospitality executives attended the Palazzo Versace Dubai ballroom for The Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2018 ceremony on Sunday night.
Winners were evenly drawn from across the travel industry spectrum, reflecting increased competition across product and destination categories.
The awards were hosted by Motivate and Panacea Publishing, the Middle East magazine’s joint venture partner.
BBC security correspondent and author Frank Gardner OBE was the Guest of Honour, and the fluent Arabic speaker and highly acclaimed journalist – whose calls to improve services for disabled passengers continue to receive global attention – shared his travel and career insights. The food and beverage were overseen by Mansour Memarian, director of culinary and F&B at Palazzo Versace Dubai.
Emirates once again shone in the airline categories, winning Airline with the Best Cabin Crew; Airline with the Best Business Class; Best Airline Worldwide; and Best Airport Lounge in the Middle East (First Class Lounge, Dubai International Airport) while Etihad Airways was voted Airline with the Best First Class, Airline with the Best Economy Class and Airline with the Best Frequent Flyer Programme (Etihad Guest). Flydubai won the Best Low-cost Airline Serving the Middle East category.
Dubai International retained its two awards – Best Airport in the Middle East and Best Airport for Duty Free Shopping in the Middle East – although Singapore Changi once again won Best Airport in the World.
Singapore Airlines picked up Best Asian Airline Serving the Middle East, Qantas received Airline with the Best Premium Economy Class award, Turkish Airlines collected Best Regional Airline Serving the Middle East and Lufthansa won Best European Airline Serving the Middle East. Booking.com excelled in the Best Online Travel Platform category and Avis drove off with the Best Car Rental Company in the Middle East award.
Marriott International notched up a prestigious treble, with Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai winning Best New Business Hotel and JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai collecting the Best Business Hotel in Dubai award – and the latter also won Overall Best Business Hotel in the Middle East.
There were destination category successes for InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, Grand Hyatt Amman, Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand, InterContinental Cairo Semiramis, Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya, Movenpick Hotel Bahrain, Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat, Al Faisaliah Hotel Riyadh and InterContinental Jeddah.
Fast-growing Rove Hotels won Best Budget Hotel Brand, The Ascott Limited was voted Best Serviced Apartments Company in the Middle East and Shangri-La Hotel Barr Al Jissah Muscat won Best Resort in the Middle East – a new category reflecting the closer relationship between business and lifestyle travel.
InterContinental walked away with two major awards – Best Hotel Loyalty Programme in the Middle East (IHG Rewards) and Best Hotel Brand Worldwide for InterContinental – and Rotana collected Best Hotel Brand in the Middle East.
Ian Fairservice, Motivate’s group editor and managing partner, said: “We were delighted to see so many travel executives join us on the first night of the Arabian Travel Market. The breadth of winners this year is testament to the maturity of the region’s travel and hospitality sectors.”
Alongside headline sponsor Masar, category sponsors included Tumi, Pearl-Continental Hotels & Resorts, Palazzo Versace Dubai (venue partner), Design Studio (flower partner) and Jacobsons Direct (vote processing partner).
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