We are proud to collaborate with the greatest minds in hospitality. Our jury represents billions in assets and this top-level group stands at the cutting edge of hotel development.


Our Jury


John Hardy

CEO, The John Hardy Group

Founder and President / CEO of The John Hardy Group, a global development & development services organization, provides independent strategic advisory and development services globally to joint venture partners, investors, asset managers and major Brands in the hospitality real estate sector. JHG is the recognized leader in creative solutions to complex challenges in renovation, redevelopment and new development projects. The company has successfully managed over $6 billion in development related assignments and completed projects with more than $2 billion in development value encompassing 866 projects in 35 countries.


Simon Turner

Managing Member, Alpha Lodging Partners, LLC

Simon Turner has held diverse leadership roles, gaining experience in numerous facets of the hotel business including senior executive and board oversight of public and private enterprises.  He has extensive global strategic and transactional experience related to complex property assets, brands, and operating businesses. His experience has also included advisory assignments, asset management, capital-raising and M&A.  Most recently he was President, Global Development for Starwood Hotels and Resorts.  His prior experience includes: Principal, Hotel Capital Advisers, Inc., a hotel investment advisory firm overseeing both hotel brands (Four Seasons and Fairmont) and property investments; investment banker at Salomon Brothers; Manager, Pannell Kerr Forster, an international hotel and tourism consulting firm; and Operations Analyst in Saudi Arabia for Gustar Hoteliers, a Swiss-based hotel management and marketing company.

Simon recently completed his term as an elected Trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a member and the past Vice Chairman of the Hotel Development Council. He is also a past member of the Real Estate Roundtable and is currently an Adjunct Instructor at NYU’s hospitality program.


James Woods


Head of WeLive, a division of WeWork that focuses on a new way of living built upon community, flexibility and a fundamental belief that we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. Prior to his role at WeWork, James was the President and COO of Dayglo Ventures; a holding company that focuses on the live entertainment industry. Among its holdings are the Brooklyn Bowl Group of venues, the historic Capitol Theatre, Lockn’ Festival and Fans.com.

Prior to joining Dayglo, James was a partner in the Dallas-based real estate private equity firm, Hayman Woods. Hayman Woods, specialized in investments in residential and lifestyle properties, and through its affiliate Keen Partners the hospitality sector.

James, previously worked for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where he was responsible for the launch of aloft and Element, and was charged with the development of new W hotels. Before joining Starwood, James worked for a real estate private equity fund DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners.  James is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business.


Jena Thornton

Principal - Hospitality, Kinzer Partners

Managing Director of Eagle Rock Ventures is a hospitality expert with 20 years in the industry. She recently led the U.S. hotel division of Bentall Kennedy LP as a senior vice president, where she served since 2002. Prior to that, she was the vice president of acquisitions and business development for Noble House Hotels & Resorts, overseeing the acquisition and financing of a few hundred million dollars of hospitality projects. Previously, she was a development manager at Westin Hotels & Resorts.


Michael Medzigian

CEO & Director, Carey Watermark Investors Inc

Chairman and Managing Partner of Watermark Capital Partners, a real estate investment management firm, and is also President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Carey Watermark Investors, a publicly registered Real Estate Investment Trust. A leading lodging investor, his activities are focused on complex assets that benefit from demographic shifts, strategic marketing, and value-creation and repositioning initiatives, including hotels and resorts, golf and recreation, resort residential, fractional and club programs, and new urbanism and mixed-use projects


Wing Chao

Founding Principal, Wing T. Chao Architect

A world renowned master planner, architect and designer. He is currently working on various resort, theme park, retail, entertainment and commercial projects in the US and overseas. Chao was Executive Vice President for Master Planning, Architecture & Design at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ creative division Walt Disney Imagineering. In that role Chao oversaw development of all of division’s activities worldwide including theme parks, resorts, cruise ships, water parks and entertainment complexes. He was also Vice Chairman of Development for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Asia Pacific.


Claude Amar

President, The John Hardy Group International

Amar joined The John Hardy Group in 2002 as Managing Director of a joint venture of The John Hardy Group and The Square Group based in Luxembourg. Amar is responsible for JHG’s international operations and development. Mr. Amar’s vast professional experience includes ten years with the IH Group, Paris France working as the Director of Development responsible for projects and developments in Europe and Asia. During this time Mr. Amar was also the Managing Director of Lahotel Corporation.


Advisory Board

Our advisory board of hospitality influencers represent a variety of sectors from development and design, internationally.

Vann Avedisian
Highgate Holdings

Maki Bara
The Chartres Lodging Group

David Cline
Global Allies

Mark Friesen
Beyer Brown

Richard Gomel

Edwin Hendriksen
Ori, Inc.

Jon Kastl

Daniel Lesser
LW Hospitality Advisors

Dave McCaslin
Hersha Hospitality Management

Julia Monk

Michael Murphy
First Fidelity

Glenn Nowak
UNLV School of

Mona Anita K. Olsen
School of Hotel Administration, Cornell

Robert Stiles
Robert Douglas

Michael Suomi
Stonehill Taylor

Larry Traxler