2020 SHTM Lifetime Achievement Award
Founder of Regent International Hotels and developer of Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Italy, Mr Robert Burns is a legendary figure of the hotel industry famed worldwide for setting new benchmarks in luxury hospitality.
Mr Burns has spent six decades in the hotel industry, beginning at the Waldorf Astoria in the late 1940s, while attending New York University. Following his time in New York and after four years in the U.S. Army, he completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University’s School of Hotel Management with an MBA from the University of Michigan. He then joined Sheraton Hotels’ management training programme, working in hotels in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Nebraska. In 1960, he joined Sheraton hotels in Hawaii. Three years later he became General Manager of the Kahala Hilton in Hawaii, where he was also a faculty member of the University of Hawaii.
In 1970, Mr Burns founded Regent International Hotels in Hong Kong, building one of the industry’s most renowned 5-star brands. The opening of The Regent Hong Kong in 1980 drew international recognition, which brought a new dimension in amenities and services to hotels in the city and attracted worldwide attention. An icon of the industry, combining Asian service excellence with western efficiency and luxury, it was voted the “best hotel in the world” among several international awards. Under Mr Burns’ leadership, the group opened 18 luxury hotels worldwide in 22 years. In 1992, Regent was acquired by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. In 2001, after a five-year restoration, he opened the much-admired Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli in Italy.
Mr Burns has long been a leader in the industry through education and advocacy groups. He was Chairman and Co-founder of the World Travel and Tourism Council, a forum of more than 200 members of international chief executives in leading travel and tourism companies worldwide. Its unique mandate encourages industry growth and protects cultural and natural heritage sites. He was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management. For 20 years, he lectured on Stanford University’s MBA programme. He served as Director of The Asia Pacific Fund and Chairman of The Chrysalis Emerging Markets Fund, ING Barings and a Director of Wharf (Holdings) Limited in Hong Kong. Mr Burns also lectured extensively through the Asia-Pacific for the U.S. State Department and Pacific Asia Travel Association. In New York City, he serves on the board of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
2019 SHTM Lifetime Achievement Award
Chairman of Oberoi Hotels Private Limited, the major shareholder of EIH Limited. Popularly known as “Biki”, Mr Oberoi is the son of the late Rai Bahadur M. S. Oberoi, the founder of The Oberoi Group.
In addition to providing leadership for the management of luxury hotels in several countries, Mr Oberoi has been instrumental in pioneering the development of the new Oberoi hotels and resorts. The “Oberoi” brand has come to represent fine luxury hotels.
Mr Oberoi is credited with placing Oberoi hotels on the international luxury travellers’ map with the opening of several new luxury hotels in important locations, thus redefining architectural and design standards in luxury hospitality. A key aspect of this is the development of hotels that reflect their environment.
It is Mr Oberoi’s firm belief that people are the most valuable asset of any organisation. Recognising the importance of quality in hospitality management, Mr Oberoi established “The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development” at New Delhi in 1966. Today, this institution is considered amongst the best in Asia.
As a member of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Mr Oberoi is committed to the conservation of the environment.
Above all, Mr Oberoi is aware of the need to constantly promote quality in every segment of the hospitality industry. Under his leadership, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts have received numerous international awards.
Throughout his career, Mr Oberoi has been bestowed many honours and awards from countries across the globe such as Germany, France, and Morocco where His Majesty King Mohammed VI personally awarded the Grand Officer of the Alalaoui Wissam, the second highest award in Morocco. On top of his many other awards and accolades, Mr Oberoi was honoured with the first Hall of Fame Award at the Hotel Investment Forum India. He was also bestowed the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in India, in recognition of his exceptional service to the country.
2018 SHTM Lifetime Achievement Award
Thanpuying Chanut Piyaoui (1921-2020) was the pioneering visionary who founded Dusit International in 1948 and served as the company's Managing Director and Chairperson up until 2014. She was its Honorary Chairman.
Thanpuying Chanut began her life's work in 1949 when she opened Bangkok's first modern hotel with a swimming pool, The Princess on New Road. There, she experimented with offering luxury hospitality with a distinctively Thai touch. After perfecting her formula, she opened the five-star Dusit Thani Bangkok in 1970. She then opened more five-star hotels in major tourism destinations in Thailand and overseas, building on her success, and from there branched out into hotel and culinary education with Dusit Thani College in 1993 and a joint venture with Le Cordon Bleu in 2005.
For her efforts in hospitality and education, on 5 May 2000, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand conferred upon Chanut the highest royal decoration for a civilian: Knight Grand Commander (Second Class, Higher Grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao. With this honour, she also received the title of "Thanpuying", the equivalent of the title "Dame."
Dusit International today remains a leader in hotel management and education, and comprises a unique international portfolio of distinctive hotels and resorts. Rooted in Thai culture and tradition, the company continues to deliver the brand promise Thanpuying Chanut established in 1948: "Delivering an experience that enlivens the individual spirit, no matter the journey."
2017 SHTM Lifetime Achievement Award
The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, GBS, LL.D.(Hon), DSc(Hon), Comm. de la Legion D'Honneur, Comm. de l'Ordre de Leopold II, Comm. de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Comm. de l'Ordre de la Couronne, only son of Lady Kadoorie and the late Lord Kadoorie
Born in Hong Kong in 1941, Sir Michael Kadoorie is Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited (HSH), and Chairman of CLP Holdings Limited (CLP), as well as Heliservices (Hong Kong) Limited and Metrojet Limited. He also serves as a Director of Sir Elly Kadoorie & Sons Ltd., and holds a number of trusteeships and directorships in other public and private companies. In addition to his business activities, he is involved in the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association in Nepal.
Throughout his career, Sir Michael has received many honours and medals from countries such as France, Belgium, and the UK, where he was bestowed a Knights Bachelor by Her Majesty The Queen. He has also been awarded several honorary doctorates, including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by The University of Hong Kong and an honorary Doctor of Science degree by The Imperial College in London.
The Kadoorie family has always believed in making a profound contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of their fellow citizens, in return for the generous opportunities afforded to them, and Sir Michael is no exception. In 2007, he founded the Hong Kong Heritage Project to locate and collect documents and photographs from CLP, HSH, and the Kadoorie Family, and to make them available to researchers and the general public. The Project has unearthed many records relating to Hong Kong society at large, and has also created an oral history programme – one of the largest collections in Hong Kong.
Sir Michael has made enduring contributions to both the commercial and philanthropic sectors of the hospitality industry. The success and expansion of the Peninsula Group within HSH owes much to his keen personal interest in all aspects of the Group's work and especially with the location and design of new hotels. He translates this same energy to ensuring that greater opportunities are made available to the disadvantaged. The Kadoorie Charitable Foundation's funding of hospitality training schemes in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos owes much to Sir Michael's vision, as does the successful Hong Kong hospitality training scheme for young people who were not able to write or read Chinese. In fact, this programme was so successful that the Education Bureau adopted and now funds the scheme, which is still running today.
In Shanghai, Sir Michael established the Sir Horace Kadoorie Youth Development Centre for Hospitality, which targets migrant and disadvantaged youth in China. This two-year course, run with the assistance of the Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai, provides graduates with all the necessary training to enter the job market. The first course graduated in May of this year.
Although Sir Michael has many business commitments and responsibilities and is actively involved in a wide programme of philanthropic funding, it is his passion for hospitality in each of these fields that singles him out as one of Hong Kong's foremost and visionary hoteliers.
2016 SHTM Lifetime Achievement Award
In his career spanning more than 40 years, Mr Adrian Zecha has founded a remarkable series of successful hotel and resort companies, and in that process conceived and developed more than 100 internationally-applauded properties around the world.
Initially a journalist and publisher, Mr Zecha first entered the hospitality industry as a founding member of Regent International Hotels, recognised in its day as the finest international Hotel Management Company. His entrepreneurial role with Regent was focused on the brand's development and positioning.
In 1986, Mr Zecha sold his interest in Regent International and partnered with Georg Rafael in the Rafael Hotel Group, which focused on the acquisition and management of luxury five-star hotels and resorts in Europe and the USA. The company was eventually sold to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He also founded Beaufort Hotels, which opened luxury hotels in Brisbane, Darwin, Singapore, and Bangkok.
In 1987, with a group of investors, Mr Zecha independently developed Amanpuri, a small resort and villa property in Phuket, Thailand. This property became the flagship for Amanresorts, today's world-renown benchmark in luxury hotel living.
In 1992, General Hotel Management was established, where he still serves as a Non-Executive Chairman. GHM has gone on to develop and operate three-, four- and five-star hotels and resorts throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, including the highly successful Setai in Miami.
Widely recognised as a visionary, Mr Zecha continues to create, develop, and operate hotels and resorts.