Bagging awards at the recent Ahead Asia 2019 are two Malaysian interiors located within the Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur. Both designed by AB Concept, Bar Trigona won in the Bar, Club or Lounge category, while Yun House emerged as the winner in the Restaurant category.

Bar Trigona at Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur took home the Bar, Club Or Lounge category award.

Bar Trigona impressed judges with its attention to detail using local materials and traditional craftwork. Meanwhile, a master artist from Guangzhou, China who moved to Malaysia inspired the Yun House, whose interiors reflect a rich blend of Chinese furnishings and creative Malaysian accents.

Ahead Asia 2019, a hospitality experience and design award event, was held in Singapore on March 7.

The Amanyangyun Shanghai won the coveted title of Hotel of the Year.

Stealing the show that night was the Amanyangyun Shanghai, which won the coveted title of Hotel of the Year as well as three other category awards. Its story is one of mindful restoration, respect for nature and a tribute to China’s rich architectural heritage.

Nestled amidst ancient camphor trees, Amanyangyun consists of 13 Ming and Qing dynasty houses at its core. Both the trees and the buildings were meticulously moved from its original location in the Fuzhou region in Jiangxi Province – 700km away – to its current location in Shanghai, a process that took years of restoration and conservation effort by various experts.

Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, the hotel retains and expands on the ancient buildings’ characteristics – think courtyards, wooden lattice and black stone – resulting in a space that spells modern comfort and old-world charm.

Ahead Awards founder Matt Turner said in a press release, “We were delighted to celebrate the best new hotels from across the Asia-Pacific region at Ahead Asia 2019. Our winners offered a reflection of the region’s rich cultural history and dynamic modernity. We were particularly honoured to acknowledge the legacy of architect Kerry Hill who passed away in 2018 with several awards for his final project – Amanyangyun Shanghai.”

Judges praised the hotel for its “brilliant hard-fought efforts to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of a province”.

One of its facilities is the Nan Shu Fang Cultural Centre, which offers cultural immersion experiences that include calligraphy, seal carving and tea ceremonies. The property also won awards in the Guestroom, Visual Identity and Hotel Conversion categories.

Taking home the New Concept Of The Year award was the Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat in Yangzhou, China, designed by Neri&Hu, which also won the Landscaping and Outdoor Spaces category award.

The retreat is an example of creative adaptive reuse of pre-existing buildings in the ancient city of Yangzhou, cleverly blending tradition with modernisation.

The Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala, Sri Lanka, winner of the Resort Hotel category. Surrounded by dryland forests and a coastline overlooking the Indian Ocean, Bo Reudler Studio’s lodge is designed in cocoon-shaped tents that resemble the boulders which are scattered around the area.

Meanwhile, design icon Bill Bensley, known for his superbly imaginative designs and extensive efforts in nature, conservation and sustainability, received the Outstanding Contribution award.

Winner of the Lobby & Public Spaces category, the Middle House achieves a balance between luxury and locality through the use of an entrance tiled in emerald green Chinese ceramics.

Other winners included Eaton HK in Hong Kong (Hotel Renovation & Restoration category), Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Yala, Sri Lanka (Resort Hotel category), and Guntû, Japan – a waterborne reinvention of the Japanese ryokan – which won the newly introduced Transport category award.