Serviced Apartment Awards to honour industry heroes

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 09 June 2021


UK: The 2021 Serviced Apartment Awards features a special category which honours industry heroes - those who have stepped up to the plate over the last 15 months, going beyond the call of duty to support their colleagues, their guests and the wider industry.

All those shortlisted for the Industry Hero award have been nominated by their colleagues or their industry peers, and each has navigated the pandemic with decisiveness and empathy to go along with their hard work.

Those in the running for the award are:

• Kim Ashmore, ASAP
Kim was nominated for several reasons including her dedication to the Hospitality Action charity through the pandemic. She led a group of “champions” who had regular zoom meetings as well as a very active whatsapp chat and ended up raising over £7000 by getting people out and walking in January and raising cash along the way.

Her attitude was infectious and inspiring. She did this out of genuine care for industry colleagues who have not had it so easy. She is an amazing advocate for our industry. She also helped to organise and collate apartments for key workers and frontline healthcare professionals across the UK with ASAP members. Kim is well known in the extended stay industry and has been a mentor to many professionals in the sector. This amazing and inspirational woman has had a tremendous positive impact on many people in our industry.

• Keith Freeman, Staycity
Keith was nominated for the way he dealt with the UK’s first coronavirus case, which happened to be at Staycity’s property in York. At the time, little was known about Covid other than it was spreading fast throughout China, and Staycity, along with everyone else, had watched it advance through Europe with the dread of it arriving on UK shores. The country was waiting with bated breath until one evening in York, two guests were taken ill – suspected to have coronavirus.

To the amazement of staff, paramedics in hazmat suits went up to their room and took them out via a back entrance to avoid other guests coming and going.What followed was a media storm as seemingly journalists from every newspaper, radio and tv station descended on York.

From the outset, Keith headed the management of this unfolding crisis, immediately flying in to York from Edinburgh, where he had been on a site visit. Keith, along with the GM of the property, immediately liaised with Public Health England – ringing them almost constantly for answers and advice during those first crucial 48-hours.

Staycity was at the time told that there was very little likelihood of the virus being transmitted via objects and public spaces. Keith, however, took the decision to deep-clean the room the guests had been staying in, using a specialist outside agency. Until this had been completed the room,was sealed off with no guests or staff allowed in.

Throughout the process Keith made his guests and staff his priority concern. Without Keith’s guiding hand and cool, sensitive approach to this crisis, things may have turned out very differently.

• Richard Majewski, SABA, ESSA
Throughout the pandemic, and for as long as many of us have been in the industry, Richard has been bringing people together. He cares passionately about the future of the serviced apartment sector, and the people who work in it.

The SABA networking events have obviously had to go online, but they have continued to provide a way for people to connect, a sense of community and continuity, and allowed industry professionals from around the world to compare experiences, offer each other advice, support and in some cases, employment.

Richard has never wavered in his commitment, and the Thursday night meetings have become a staple in many people's working weeks, all conducted in Richard's own inimitable style, with humour and self-deprecation. He has brought hope to the industry through some dark times, and also given international wine sales a timely boost too!

• Tony Mathuru, Blue Orchid Hotels and Central London Alliance

At the beginning of the pandemic, Tony Matharu put the needs of London’s community, his employees and the key workers at the forefront of his decisions and actions by founding the initiative Here to Help London which
resulted in providing 5,000 nights of safe accommodation, 30,000 meals, a 24-7 helpline and much more.

As chairman of Blue Orchid Hotels and to show gratitude for the services provided by key workers, Tony initiated a Gift of Kindness program to offer staff of the NHS/Medical Associations a range of complimentary followed by heavily discounted experiences.

Further to these initiatives and as a response to the disproportionate and severe impact of COVID-19 on central London businesses, Tony founded the Central London Alliance (CLA) a Community Interest Company, formed
specifically to encourage a sustainable, economic recovery of London’s business, hospitality, cultural, tourism, and retail sectors and to help both employers and workers to survive through coronavirus and beyond. Politically agnostic and supported by organisations of varying sizes and sectors, the Central London Alliance is at the forefront of nurturing a safe and strong economic recovery of central London, ensuring its continued viability as a leading global city.

• John Png, GM, Modena by Fraser Zhuankou, Wuhan
Despite being presented with two opportunities to return to Singapore on evacuation flights earlier last year when everyone was looking to leave Wuhan, John voluntarily chose to stay behind in the epicentre of the outbreak. Even when his family left Wuhan for home in Singapore, he was resolute.

His reason was simple – he wanted to be there together with his guests and team to ensure that they are well taken care of at a time of uncertainty and that they remain safe and secure.
Choosing to stay and work during the most critical early weeks and months of the outbreak meant extra-long days, sleepless nights, weeks pervaded by an almost overwhelming sense of uncertainty, anxiety and stress, for John as well as for his team members and his guests.

As a result not a single case of an infected guest or staff member was recorded at the property and throughout the pandemic John has remained as unassuming and humble as ever.

The Industry Hero award will be presented at a ceremony on June 24 at the Chelsea harbour Hotel in London. Click here to find out more and book your tickets.




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