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Five Minutes with Gold Key Judge Michael Medzigian

(May 2016) posted on Thu May 19, 2016

Watermark Capital's managing partner talks about design, trends and what to see in NYC

By Leslie Silvey

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The call for entries for the prestigious 2016 Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design has been announced along with this year’s panel of renowned judges, representing the most highly respected names in our industry. This is the first of our profiles with this year's judges for the 36th annual awards.

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, Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida; our Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, Florida 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:

Dominique Colliat, chief operating officer, North & Central America and the Caribbean, AccorHotels
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
Dane Patunoff, director, development & construction, KHP Capital Partners
Jay Pecotte, senior director, project development, hotels & casinos - Americas, Hard Rock International
Thomas Prins, partner, Gemstone Hotels & Resorts
Larry Traxler, senior vice president, global design, Hilton Worldwide

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


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