"One of the nicest things about winning Hotelier of the Year was the reaction from the hotel," says Peter Lederer, the current holder of the Torres Milmanda trophy.
The award judges were all aware of the reception his staff would give him - they knew that many of them had nominated him. As one of them said at the time: "This is the one he must win - he's a great hotelier and a brilliant motivator."
Mind you, a fair amount of leg-pulling was also on the cards, stemming from Caterer's cover shot of Lederer in his "dream car" - a 4-litre TVR Chimera. "Most people first wanted to know what the car was, generally followed by a ‘so that's what you do all day' remark."
With Chris Rouse at Turnberry taking top honours in 1996, Lederer's win made it two in a row for Scotland, a fact that delights him. "Until 10 or 15 years ago, Scotland was way behind," he says. "Now, recognition has raised everyone's game."
Lederer admits that he was "really taken aback" by the reaction from his peers. "Loads of people rang me that first week, and then came the letters," he recalls. "Even on my trips abroad with Connoisseurs Scotland, people were genuinely pleased for me."
Past winners fondly recall their time in the spotlight and their delight at their team's reaction. Dagmar Woodward, winner in 1992, remembers how the staff at the May Fair decked the front door of the hotel with balloons on her return from her celebration lunch. And David Levin at the Capital Hotel, 1994's winner, remembers how his trophy was passed around the hotel. "Everyone that wanted it, had it for a week," he recalls.
There are, of course, potential commercial benefits to the winner's hotel, which have been rightly exploited.
Ken McCulloch's award in 1993 came as he was busy planning the first of his Malmaison hotels. He told Caterer then that he believed that the Hotelier of the Year title increased his credibility with backers and the trade, and gave him the confidence to move ahead. As he put it: "Recognition is good for the soul - it was certainly a turning point for me."
Lederer's reign has a few months yet to run. The 1998 winner will be announced at a celebratory lunch at the House of Lords on 2 December. Before that, Lederer will serve as the newest member of the judging panel on 23 October. What will he look for? "Being a good hotelier is not just about adding value, because anyone leading a business should be doing that," he says. "There is a bigger picture outside the hotel. I would like to see my successor as someone who can be counted on to move this industry forward."
There are plenty who deserve such recognition. All it takes to start the ball rolling is a completed entry form.