Group photo of the award winners at the end of the gala. Marilú Báez
Hospitality sector in Malaga recognises the cream of the crop with glittering awards ceremony
Food and drink

Hospitality sector in Malaga recognises the cream of the crop with glittering awards ceremony

These were the award winners at the gala which served to highlight the benefit that the sector brings to the province

Juan Soto

Friday, 14 June 2024, 15:09

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Malaga's hoteliers are in luck and this was demonstrated during their annual gala held on Thursday. In a context of strong economic growth and with the forecast of a great summer, the province's businessmen have recognised the professionals who have stood out during the last year.

The Mahos employers' association distinguished Back as restaurant of the year; Palodú, in the innovation category; Álvaro Ávila, from La Alvaroteca, for his professional career; and the journalist María José Vidal, in the category dissemination of hospitality values. In addition, the current director of refereeing of the Euroleague, the former referee from Malaga, Daniel Hierrezuelo, has been named Ambassador of the hospitality sector in Malaga.

For the second year, the award for the best hospitality training record was presented to Marina Fajardo, from IES Pedro Espinosa, in the category of cooking; and Cristóbal Bernal, from the La Cónsula school of hospitality, in the category of dining room. The aim of this distinction is to vindicate the vital importance of high-quality training in order to provide the industry with the best professionals.

The hospitality association also wanted to applaud the close collaboration that they maintain with the brotherhood of El Rocío. The award was presented by three former presidents of Mahos, Pepe Porras, Rafael Prado and Jesús Sánchez, and was collected by the head of the brotherhood, Francisco Javier Martín, who used the occasion to announce a donation of 2,500 euros to the Olivares foundation.

The gala, held at the Guadalhorce Golf Club and presented by comedian Manolo Sarria, served to highlight the benefits and the good period that the sector is experiencing in the province. This is what the president of the hotel and catering association, Javier Frutos, said before the start of the event. "The gala is a vindication of a sector that contributes to employment, that pulls the cart of the economy, that strives to increase the quality of service, that is a basic attraction for tourism or that intervenes in the planning and promotion of the tourist offer."

Frutos pointed out that the hospitality industry has been breaking annual hiring records for 17 consecutive months (since January 2023) and has anticipated a record for this summer in the months of July and August, well above the milestone of 107,000 jobs achieved last August 2023, as May 2024 closed with 105,000.

Emilio Gallego, secretary general of the hospitality association of Spain, also highlighted the good moment that the sector is experiencing, stating that "three or four years ago, none of us would have believed the results that we are having". In the specific case of Malaga and the Costa del Sol, he said, "Malaga is in fashion, everyone is talking about it and you are giving a magnificent example of transformation."

Also speaking at the gala was the secretary general for tourism of the Junta de Andalucía, Yolanda de Aguilar, who declared that "the summer is looking good, with 9.5 per cent more passenger flights". In reference to gastronomy, she explained that according to the latest tourist satisfaction survey, 89.5 per cent of the visitors said that what they most remember and value is their gastronomic experience.

In terms of tourism, the president of Malaga's provincial authority, Francisco Salado, said that the key to the success of the Costa del Sol "is the hospitality industry, but above all to offer a perfect product because the tourism industry is an industry of happiness". In this sense, he pointed out that they are currently working on improving connectivity, the quality of the destination and raising awareness among young people about the benefits of tourism in order to avoid cases of tourism phobia.

Speaking of success, Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, has opted to continue on the same path as until now, but providing more quality and excellence to the service of citizens and visitors. "We have two Michelin stars and we have to make the gastronomic experience unforgettable," he said.

Grateful award winners

Among the people recognised there were many words of thanks. The first to take the stage was Álvaro Ávila, from La Alvaroteca, a business that has been in the Cruz de Humilladero area for eleven years. The professional was proud to receive the award because "you can see that dreams come true with perseverance".

The journalist María José Vidal has been recognised for the role played by her Canal Málaga programme in the promotion of the hotel and catering industry. She expressed her gratitude for the award and confessed that "it should be a little bit for you because you have been in charge of telling the story every week".

To collect the Javi Chancla award for innovation, Cristina Cánovas, from the restaurant Palodú, which has recently moved to the centre from Teatinos, took to the stage. "We have been fighting for ten years to put Malaga where it deserves to be," she said.

David Olivas, from the Back restaurant, which this year received its first Michelin star and was crowned the best restaurant of the year, said "we would never have imagined that we would be recognised so highly".

The last to take the stage was the new ambassador for the hotel and catering industry, Daniel Hierrezuelo. He recalled his beginnings in the hospitality sector in Dónde, a bar where he started washing glasses to earn extra money. "Ambassadors are all of you," he said to the attendees.

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