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The Dorchester Collection Boycott Doesn't Matter Much to the Sultan of Brunei

May 19, 2014 at 5:40 PM | by | ()

As the boycott of the Dorchester Collection enters its second month, it doesn't seem to be having much of an effect, except on the employees at the Dorchester's Los Angeles hotels.

The Sultan of Brunei has implemented the harsh Sharia law, like he said he would, and the CEO of the Dorchester Collection has publicly said that the Sultan would never sell his hotel collection. So where does the boycott go from here?

HR Magazine in the UK has a new list of why the boycott is wrong with the #1 reason being that all profits from the Dorchester Collection are re-invested back into the hotels.

The Dorchester Collection has annual revenue of £300 million, an insignificant amount compared to the estimated $30 billion in assets managed by the BIA. All profits from Dorchester Collection hotels are re-invested back into the hotels, according to DC vice president of people and organisational development Eugenio Pirri. Using it as a financial lever would have no impact on the BIA

(Hmm...why didn't the Dorchester Collection come out with this right away instead of saying that these situations are just a part of "every day life"?)

The article also listed several more hotels and hotel properties that are owned by Kingdom Holding Company of Saudia Arabia, which also punishes gay people with the death penalty. (To be more accurate, Kingdom Holding Company owns only about half of those companies.)

So is the boycott really doing any good? One HotelChatter commenter thinks not:

Stupid boycott
This is so random! Has anybody ever thought of boycotting Fours Seasons or Fairmont Hotels? The Saudi Arabian Kingdom holdings have quite a significant stake in those two companies. To my knowledge, the Saudi Arabian political and legal system wouldn't exactly be described as democratic... They follow Sharia law as well punishing theft by amputation and homosexuality by flogging or death... But no one would care! Maybe that's because those companies are bigger than the Dorchester Collection."

But another commenter, who came to the defense of hotel employees, buried a more important point in their comment:

When a hotel loses revenue, not only the owner of those hotels is hurt financially (in fact the horrible sultan of brunei won't even feel the financial impact of this), but those team members serving the loyal guests and organizations that utilize these properties, are going to be hurt by losing their hard working hours.

The Sultan of Brunei is so rich, he could care less what happens with this situation. So what's next for the boycott if it can't make the all-important bottom line financial impact on the Sultan and only continues to hurt the employees? For now, the Dorchester Collection has promised to protect their employees, wages and tips and all, but who knows how long that will last.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

Archived Comments:


It sounds as though neither side is going to give in. Clearly, the 650 hotel employees are feeling the wrath of the boycott. But, save for anyone hired before 1986, the employees should have known who owned the hotel. I certainly knew who owned each of the hotels that employed me.

It would be wonderful if everyone could have a good-paying job for as long as they desired. But, that's not how our world works. When company leaders make mistakes, the people most affected usually are the people lowest on the pay scale. Look to Enron, AIG, and Lehman Bros for examples.

Organizations are also judged on their associations. (That's particularly true for non-profits.) It's hard to fault Children's Defense Fund or Women in Entertainment for not wanting to be associated with a company that directly or indirectly supports Sharia law.

Sounds like BIA's PR machine is in effect

While it's true that the sultan won't feel the impact financially, he's also not going to hold on to assets that are losing him money. If the Dorchester Collection starts drawing more from the bottom line than it contributes, then he will sell... UNLESS, he's in it strictly for the trophy/prestige factor, in which case he will hold the assets and pump money into them to keep them operating at a high level.

The hotels will not fall into disrepair, and while I don't doubt that some workers will feel the brunt of the boycott in the short term, keep in mind that boycott business does not just evaporate -- it moves elsewhere. So while workers at the Beverly Hills Hotel will see reduced hours, workers at the Beverly Hilton will see more hours.