Press Release

The 2008 IRHAS
International Restaurant & Hotel Awards

For Immediate Release: Beverly Hills, California - November 21st, 2008
9107 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 450
Beverly Hills, CA. 90210 USA


(Beverly Hills, CA, November 21st, 2008) - The 2008 IRHAS presented by the International Restaurant and Hotel Awards honored seven legends of the travel & dining industry on November 16th, 2008 at the home of the Golden Globes, The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. The star-studded gala ceremony was hosted by Mark DeCarlo from Taste of America on the Travel Channel and included a special Spotlight on New Orleans along with the presentation of the 2008 IRHAS Honorees, Supporting Recipients, Traveler's Vote Award Recipients & Grand Awards for the International Restaurants and Hotels of the Year.


The 2008 IRHAS honorees were selected by the IRHA Advisory Board in the spring of 2008. The International Restaurant & Hotel Awards paid tribute to these seven legends of travel and dining by screening a video tribute produced by The IRHAS that highlighted the lifetime achievements of each honoree. The annual gala affair promotes the global appreciation of travel, dining and cultural exploration by celebrating legends of the travel and dining industry and the creative community that assists traveler's and foodies in planning unforgettable experiences.

The International Restaurant & Hotel Awards are the world's most prestigious awards recognizing the best value, moderate and luxury travel establishments in the industry. The Best New Restaurants and Hotels of the Year and the International Value, Moderate and Luxury Restaurants and Hotels of the Year were awarded Irha statues in front of restaurateurs, hoteliers, international star chefs, “foodies”, travelers, organization leaders, food, wine and travel writers, travel guide editors and publishers, the IRHA Jury, Advisory Board and a host of others.

The evening included a Spotlight on New Orleans that honored several humanitarians for assisting the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Cat Cora from the Food Network and “Iron Chef “accepted an award onstage on behalf of her organization Chefs for Humanity and introduced the Spotlight on New Orleans video tribute - “7.1 Million visitors came to New Orleans in 2007, which was double the amount in 2006. New Orleans is definitely back!” Chef Paul Prudhomme, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation and Best Western for a Better World were recognized prior to the Spotlight on New Orleans video tribute for their tireless efforts to restore the Crescent City. The 2008 Humanitarian Award was presented to recipients The Cvitanovich Family and Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, who received a standing ovation. The Cvitanovich Family served over 77,000 meals after the hurricane hit. Drago’s employees lived onsite and drove meals to anyone they could find in need of a meal.

Other highlights included Coolio from "Cookin’ with Coolio" on MyDamnChannel.com presenting Best of Travel & Dining on Web Award; UK Star Chefs Sophie Michell and Eric Lanlard presenting International Luxury Restaurant of the Year; Deb Italiano, Vice President of Marketing for Travelocity accepting the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award and a cameo appearance by the real “Roaming Gnome”. Director Randall Marshall from the movie “Bottle Shock” presented the Achievement in Wine tribute to the late Robert Mondavi with Christopher Barefoot, the Estate Director of the Robert Mondavi Winery. The audience held their glasses of Robert Mondavi wine high in the air to honor the late legend of wine. Eat, Drink or Die conducted interviews with the IRHAS presenters and recipients in the Green Room.

Manny Felix, server extraordinaire from Hollywood’s historic Musso & Frank Grill presented the International Value Restaurant of the Year Award. The IRHAS Executive Producer and Host Mark DeCarlo stopped Manny before he walked offstage to present him with the 2008 Cultural Icon Award. Manny was selected for his 30-year commitment to Musso & Frank Grill and his incredible acumen in dining entertainment.

2008 IRHAS Honorees:

Achievement in Wine: Robert Mondavi (In Memoriam)
Achievement in Food & Dining: Carlo Petrini of Slow Food
Achievement in Travel: Michael Palin
Achievement in Design: Philippe Starck
Humanitarian Award: The Cvitanovich Family & Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
Visionary Award: Costas Christ
Lifetime Achievement: Hector Ceballos-Lascurain

2008 Supporting Recipients & Traveler’s Vote Award Recipients:

Marketing Campaign of the Year: Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome
Travel & Dining Publication of the Year: Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine
Best of Travel & Dining in Radio: "Around The World" KZSB AM 1290 Santa Barbara, CA
Best of Travel & Dining in Web: www.Worldreviewer.com
Travel Editor of the Year: Travel & Leisure Magazine's Nancy Novogrod
Best of Travel & Dining in TV: "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations"
Food & Dining Editor of the Year: New York Magazine, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld


International Value Restaurant of the Year
Glen Etive - Havelock North, Hastings, New Zealand

International Moderate Restaurant of the Year
Cochon - New Orleans, LA, United States

International Luxury Restaurant of the Year
Fearing’s - Dallas, Texas, United States

International Value Hotel of the Year
Hotel Sigiriya Near Colombo -Sri Lanka

International Moderate Hotel of the Year
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao -Bilbao, Spain

International Luxury Hotel of the Year
The Beach House at Manafaru Maldives -Male, Maldives

Best New Restaurants of the Year
Glen Etive - Havelock North, Hastings, New Zealand
Cochon - New Orleans, LA, United States
Hotel Gastronomique de Echoput Hoog Soeren - Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands

Best New Hotels of the Year
Ace Hotel Portland - Portland, Oregon, United States
The Beach House at Manafaru Maldives - Male, Maldives

ARTRAVEL Magazine sponsored the 2008 Conceptual Design Awards and received hundreds of submissions from around the globe. Leslie Peridou from ARTRAVEL Magazine presented statues onstage to the 2008 Best Conceptual Design Restaurant and Hotel recipients: KOKO Restaurant & Bar in Montréal, Canada and to Habita Monterrey in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Villeroy & Boch provided signature flatware for the IRHAS gala ceremony. VIP guests also received one plate to take home in their gift bags. Stella Artois displayed a nine-step Belgium pouring station at the IRHAS cocktail reception. Honorees, presenters and recipients drank Stella Artois in the Green Room while members of the press took photos and interviews were conducted by IRHA and Eat, Drink or Die. Additional evening sponsors included: Superior Touch, Fodor's Travel Guides, L'Occitane, Epicuren, Michelin Maps & Guides, Keurig, Illume, Essence of Vali, The Chocolate Traveler, Don Francisco's, WordLock, Crystal Files, Artravel Magazine, Eat, Drink or Die and Hotel Management International.

Recipients, Honorees, and VIP guests attended a private tasting at Le Chateau inside The Beverly Hilton on November 17th, 2008. Taste of IRHA wine sponsors included: Simi, Franciscan and Inniskillin. Additional Taste of IRHA sponsors: The Cheese Impresario, Kees's Chocolates and Wisconsin Cheesemakers.

For More information on The IRHAS and the International Restaurant & Hotel Awards please visit www.IRHAS.com