Seminar Programme 2017

The 2018 HI Design MEA Seminar programme will be announced shortly, in the meantime please see the 2017 programme below.

Guy Dittrich

The Seminar Programme at HI Design MEA is world-class and is included in your delegate fee. Hosted and moderated by Guy Dittrich, variety and quality are guaranteed. 4 sessions are delivered over the two business days, each offering education, inspiration and entertainment. The first session normally sets the scene with the latest regional development info. from a top industry analyst. We usually get a keynote interview with a design legend and a handpicked panel of hotel design pro's set to fight their corners on a particular design issue. A thought-provoking presentation or something a little left-field is often thrown into the mix. Audience participation is always actively encouraged and often helps to take things in a whole new direction, the merest whiff of controversy being doggedly pursued by your mischievous host...

Guy Dittrich, Freelance writer, Presenter and Moderator.

Freelance writer, presenter and moderator, Guy Dittrich is an independent commentator on hotels and design. He has been our expert moderator since HI Design began in 2006.

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Philip Wooller
08.30 - 09.20

MEA MARKET UPDATE: what’s happening and what’s driving it?

Philip Wooller, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa, STR

STR are the global hotel performance data people. They have the barometer on how markets are doing at the global level right down to neighbourhoods within cities.

The hotel project landscape in the Middle East and Africa has changed beyond recognition in the last decade, with unprecedented development. There have been consistent regional hotspots but even the most resilient investors are subject to the pressures of global financial shifts and other factors which ultimately control the timing and nature of the hotel projects you need to know about. The right regional insight is critical for developers, architects, hoteliers and manufacturers alike as they decide how to best direct their regional strategies.

Philip is uniquely placed to provide this understanding. Having spent two decades in hospitality at a senior level before joining STR, he understands that our audience wants more than just figures. Expect a compelling session that reveals the true factors influencing and shaping the projects in the region so you know exactly where to invest in the quest for new business...

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Jean-Michel Gathy
14:50 – 15:50

Keynote Seminar

Jean-Michel Gathy, Principal Designer, Denniston

Jean-Michel Gathy is consistently associated with some of the most successful hotel resort designs in the world. Exemplar properties from Denniston include several of the most recognized Aman Resorts, the Cheval Blanc Randheli and One & Only’s Reethi Rah in the Maldives, The Setai in Miami and for GHM, Chedi Hotels in Andermatt and in our host city, Muscat, Oman – with it’s fabulous 103-metre long pool. Gathy has proven to be a man for all geographies and all operators. Ski-resorts, urban escapes and beach properties are all easily within the remit of the multi-disciplinary international team of 140 based in Kuala Lumpur. Operators include Hyatt, Raffles, Jumeirah, St Regis, Banyan Tree, Armani and Fairmont.

An entertaining conversationalist with a deeply founded belief in the power of design and designing for the guest experience, Gathy has strong views: “It doesn’t matter what the architect thinks, as long as the guest likes it…” Come and join the conversation as we open up to the floor for you to put questions of you own.

2017 is set to be the most dynamic year to date for Gathy as Denniston marks its 31st anniversary. New projects announced include the Aman in New York, two new Cheval Blanc’s, the Mandarin Oriental Bali, the development of One & Only Sanya and Montenegro and Four Seasons Hotels in Tokyo and Bangkok...

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Oliver Baxter
08.30 - 09.30

Scenarios 2018 – preparing for the future

Oliver Baxter BSc, MSc, Insight Programme Manager MEA, Herman Miller

A psychologist in the world of 3-D is an interesting proposition. Oliver Baxter is just that providing insight into the changing ways in which we live and work. Taking just three concepts - Polarized World, New Normal and Data Sphere – Oliver will explore scenarios looking at creativity and how we can all be better at it. Scenario planning is one way to understand and learn about the changes in the world. Explore how tools such as scenario planning will help you better anticipate change, respond creatively towards those emerging user needs and problems, and be better prepared for the future. Oliver shares findings as diverse as algorithm-assisted decision making, cultural tectonics and swarm-focused work in this enlightening session.

Discover about ideas of reduced attention spans and how this segues well with designing Instagram / Selfie ‘moments’, questioning the idea of the longevity of design over the ‘wow’ factor. And the blurring of boundaries between the self, the group, and the organization and the influence this has on interiors – the changing use of the hotel lobby or the rise of the open kitchen being obvious examples.

Oliver also has an active interest in social media and technology. His valued insights can be found at @HMInsightMEA

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Isabel Pintado Patrick Waring Marcos Cain Jean Luc Fourrier
13.05 - 14.05

Food, Glorious Food - the rise and rise of F&B - Panel Discussion

Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal now and then? Being pampered, savouring delicious treats, soaking up a unique atmosphere - yes, it all makes you feel great. Hotel restaurants are eagerly tapping into this with innovations that are generating an increasingly large part of their revenue - particularly in the Middle East. We hear from four experts in their field, who are creating new spaces for such subliminal experiences. Discover how they deliver their concepts - fresh as a green salad - time after time; how their designs differentiate F&B choices within and between hotels and how design can make a venue not only more attractive but also more profitable. What are the most innovative techniques and materials, lighting and furnishings they are considering?

Be ready with your point of view to join in the discussion. As usual it will be an open house aiming to get you the trends information you always ask for.


Isabel Pintado, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Middle East & Africa, WILSON ASSOCIATES


Marcos Cain, Principal & Founder, STICKMAN TRIBE

Jean Luc Fourrier, Senior Director, Asset Management – Hotels, MAJID AL FUTTAIM PROPERTIES LLC