Five Minutes with 2016 Gold Key Judge Michael Medzigian

The call for entries for the prestigious 2016 Gold Key Awards has been announced along with this year’s panel of renowned judges, representing the most highly respected names in our industry.

Meet 2016 Gold Key Judge Michael Medzigian, chairman and managing partner, Watermark Capital Partners, as he shares his thoughts on design from an owner’s perspective. And, get some ideas on what to see and do from his list of “must-sees” in NYC.

What are you currently loving (as well as loathing) in hospitality design right now?
Loving: How developed the hotel design community has become. By that I mean there is so much talent and creativity available to us as owners. The depth and quality of the design community is far beyond what was available when I started my career as well as what was available even a few short years ago.

Loathing: Attempts to respond to demographic shifts or create design appeal at the risk of losing sight of what travelers will want over time. Guests have not stopped valuing comfort, quality service and simple amenities such as ample work surfaces and storage, to name a few. With increased competition for customers, designers must remain focused on consumer wants and needs.

What are some of the latest projects your company is working on?
We currently have 13 major capital expenditure projects underway with the most significant (measured by cost) being at our Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, our Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne and our Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.

Do you have a favorite building in the Big Apple?
Absolutely not! It would be so easy to say Woolworth, Chrysler or Empire State. I have offices in Rockefeller Center with its iconic art deco structures. It would also be impossible to miss what is happening to the skyline with the creation of Billionaire’s Row.

In my mind though, in order to truly experience NYC architecture, you have to look closer– – SoHo’s cast iron architecture, the brownstones of the Upper West Side, wooden rooftop water towers…the fabric of the neighborhoods.

Entries for the Gold Key Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design are now being accepted through July 8; find more information on how to apply at:

They will be reviewed by the 2016 judging panel, which includes:

Edwin Hendriksen, senior vice president development & investments, North America, citizenM Hotels
Lori Horvath, senior vice president, Jones Lang LaSalle
John McMullen, senior vice president of construction, Highgate Hotels
Michael Medzigian, chairman and managing partner, Watermark Capital Partners, LLC
Jagruti Panwala, president/ceo, Wealth Protection Strategies, AAHOA secretary 2016-2017, AAHOA female director at large Eastern Region
Dane Patunoff, director, development & construction, KHP Capital Partners
Jay Pecotte, senior director of hotel development, Hard Rock International
Thomas Prins, partner, Gemstone Hotels & Resorts
Larry Traxler, senior vice president, global design, Hilton Worldwide

The winners of the awards in each category and the Designer of the Year will be revealed at the Gold Key gala, Monday, Nov. 14 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.