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Hotel Boycotts / Dorchester Collection Hotels / Hotel Woes / Luxury Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
Another day, another big name is boycotting the Dorchester Collection Hotels because of the new laws imposed by their owners in Brunei.
Sir Richard Branson tweeted this over the weekend:
That's a very strong statement from a luxury jet-setter like Branson who probably visits Dorchester hotels across Europe and in Beverly Hills on the regular. And we're glad he's done it. Expect more big names to follow Branson's lead.
Meanwhile, the city of Beverly Hills is actually working on a resolution condemning the government of Brunei and forcing them to "divest itself of the Beverly Hills Hotel." The council will meet tomorrow evening to officially vote on the resolution.
Given that the Dorchester Collection hoped to have 15 hotels in its portfolio by next year (they currently have 10), we can only wonder how this boycott will affect their expansion plans.
Hotel Boycotts / Dorchester Collection Hotels / Hotel Woes / Beverly Hills Hotels / Hotel New / → All Tags
The Sultan of Brunei--whose Brunei Investment Agency owns the luxurious Dorchester Collection of hotels--announced yesterday that the first phase of the adoption of Sharia law for his country has begun.
This first phase, which is guided by Islamic principles, will administer fines or jail terms for offenses like pregnancy out of marriage, failure to perform Friday prayers and propagating other religions. The second phase will start next year and will issue amputations and/or whippings for thefts or alcohol consumption. Later next year, the law will introduce the death penalty by stoning for adultery, sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad. While most of the tiny country is Muslim, about 15 percent of the citizens are non-Muslims yet they will still be subjected to Sharia law.
The law was supposed to go into effect a few weeks so there is speculation that the Sultan was wavering but clearly, he decided to go ahead with it.
Meanwhile, the boycott of Dorchester Hotels in Beverly Hills is heating up.
We don't want to quit you!
It looks like The Dorchester Collection has a very serious problem on their hands.
Last week, when the fashion world told people to boycott the hotel group because of their association with the government of Brunei, which will now stone people to death for being homosexual, Ellen DeGeneres also publicly tweeted that she too, will be boycotting both the Hotel Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel.
We've actually seen Ellen at the Beverly Hills Hotel, aka The Pink Palace, where her and wife Portia dined downstairs in the Fountain Coffee Shop, a popular spot for not just celebs but locals too. The hotel collection is clearly caught between a rock and hard place (no pun intended) as they continue to be open to all guests and have indeed said as much in a public statement last week:
Dorchester Collection’s Code, endorsed by the company’s ownership, emphasizes equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees.”
Yet it doesn't sound like there's much more they can do without biting the hand that feeds them. It's sad because we pretty much love all the Dorchester Collection Hotels. At least to visit for lunch or drinks as we couldn't regularly afford the pricey hotel rooms anyways. So our problem is solved. But rich people with a conscious may have to wait a while.
What do you think--should guests boycott a hotel based on what the hotel owner says or does (see also: Donald Sterling or should guests put that aside and enjoy the hotel experience for what it is? Sound off in comments below!
Women-Only Hotels / Hotel Woes / Copenhagen Hotels / Female-Friendly Hotels / Hotel Lawsuits / → All Tags
Last year at this time, we wondered how long women-only hotel rooms and floors would last? Well, for the Bella Sky Comwell Hotel in Copenhagen, the end is already here.
The Eastern High Court has ruled the hotel's 20 women-only hotel rooms on the Bella Donna floor to be "unlawful" after two men and the Danish Board of Equal Treatment sued the hotel for discrimination. Apparently, these two men never even visited the hotel, nor did any male guests complain about the women-only rooms.
In a press release, the hotel's owner, Allan L. Agerholm expressed frustration at the ruling but said the hotel will comply with the order.
"We had of course hoped to win the case, since, in our opinion, we do not discriminate the opposite sex, since the same product in the same high quality is available for men in our remaining rooms. We were of the opinion that a hotel should be allowed to differentiate between guests and between the sexes, as long as we do not put them at a disadvantage."
Considering that this lawsuit has been going on for nearly three years, we don't blame the hotel for giving up the fight. That said, the hotel only offered 20 rooms out of 812 just for women. The women-only rooms did offer different amenities including high-end moisturizers and healthier food options but they also gave women a sense of security when traveling alone.
For now the Bella Donna floor is still up on the hotel's website (the URL calls it the Lady Floor) but we imagine that will come down soon. For posterity's sake, here's what the floor included:
What happens behind closed doors could have serious consequences in Brunei.
The Dorchester Collection hotel group is coming under fire from the fashion world and it could mean the loss of some very high-profile, and high-paying, guests.
The LA Times reports that the owner of the luxury hotel collection is the Brunei Investment Agency, an extension of the Brunei government just upped the penalty for being a homosexual from 10 years in prison to death by stoning.
Shoe designer Brian Atwood was the first to call attention to this new penalty on Instagram , then other fashion designers and those well-connected in the fashion world began to boycott the hotel groups in Europe during Fashion Week. That includes Principe di Savoia in Milan, Le Meurice in Paris and the flagship Dorchester Collection. It also includes our personal fave, The Beverly Hills Hotel. You can see the full list of Dorchester Collection Hotels here.
Given that the Dorchester Collection has a major stake in the fashion world--they offer the annual Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize and they teem up with various designers for promotions and offerings--this could have some very serious ramifications.
The hotel group, however, is trying to reassure its guests and its bold-named clientele in the fashion industry by reminding them that the laws of Brunei do not apply to their hotels. Here’s the statement they gave to the LA Times:
Hoteliers / Sant Singh Chatwal / Vikram Chatwal / Hampshire Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Woes / → All Tags
Usually when we hear of a Chatwal hotelier in the news, it's often about Vikram Chatwal, the troubled hotelier behind The Dream Hotel brand. But today, it's Vikram's father who's in the news. And it's pretty serious.
The Daily News reports that Sant Singh Chatwal, the chairman of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts which includes his namesake, The Chatwal Hotel, pleaded guilty to "recruiting straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to three federal candidates." He also pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness who he allegedly told to lie to the FBI and the IRS.
Chatwal stepped down as CEO of Hampshire Hotels earlier this month (probably because of the charges) but remains on as chairman. Eric Danziger, formerly CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, took Chatwal's place. Wyndham franchises the Dream and Night hotels which were started by Chatwal.
Meanwhile, Chatwal faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $200,000 when he's sentenced on July 31. He also offered to pay the U.S. government $1 million in restitution.
This is not the first time Chatwal has been in trouble with the government. Back in 2012, it was discovered that The Chatwal Hotel pretended to be a church for several years to avoid paying taxes. (It's a long story but the hotel was previously a church and the hotel never changed that status.) Let's hope this is the last of the Chatwal crimes.
[Photo of Chatwal and Danziger via Rediff]
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It looks like CitizenM Hotels were getting ahead of themselves when they opened up bookings for their Times Square property. When we stopped by earlier today to take a peek, we were told that, while a few guests are staying tonight (the projected opening date) opening date has now been pushed back to April 12. Given that this is the rather unwelcoming scene we were greeted with at the front door, we'd say that's a wise decision.
Just last week, we got overly excited about the opening date for the Park Hyatt New York (according to the website it's August 28th; according to hotel insiders, it's sometime earlier in the summer.) But then a reader tipped us off to this report from DNAInfo.com which said the hotel had been denied a liquor license from the community board. Oh sh*t.
Neighbors who live behind the building sent their recommendation to the State Liquor Authority to not approve a liquor license for their hotel because they are worried a second-floor terrace will host loud outdoor parties "that would echo through their rear courtyard." They're also pretty fed up with all the 24-hour construction drama that One57 has caused in the past few years and so this might be a little way to exact some revenge for all the nuisance the building has already caused.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company laid off one-third of its workforce, including 20 top executives and longtime employees. Clearly, this was done to save money and indeed Jason Kalisman, the acting CEO and chairman of Morgans (who spent a good portion of last year tussling with Ron Burkle) publicly said last month the company was going to "reduce costs and corporate overhead."
Meanwhile, after losing the Delano Marrakech and The Ames in Boston, not to mention an ongoing feud with the owners of the Mondrian Soho, the hotels of Morgans Hotel Group seem to be business as usual. We hopped over to the Morgans site today and saw that plans for the Delano Las Vegas were still intact, as were the plans for the Mondrian Bahia Mar in the Bahamas and the Mondrian London.
We also noticed quite a few expansions for the Mondrian and Delano brands. But will they actually happen? It looks like Morgans is trying hard to clean up its act and find a sure footing again but only time will tell.
To be fair, it's not Viceroy's fault but rather the developer who has run into some crazy financial difficulties. A tipster has offered up this version of the events, which have also been reported in the local news:
Mr Jonathan Grepne had signed a deal with Viceroy to managed the half-completed resort of apartments and villas from 2014 and to run an associated hotel from 2017. However, no further construction work has taken place during the 12 months since the deal was announced and a large number of original investors in the properties have launched legal action against Sambala and Mr Grepne as their properties should have been completed in 2008.
Mr Grepne owes millions of Euros to his bank funders and a provisional injunction was granted in February 2013 freezing Sambala and Grepne's assets. The Supreme Court just last month upheld the injunction, confirming freezing of all assets and putting a halt to the development for the foreseeable future. The local government has also just announced to the media that they will attempt to seize Sambala assets and auction them off to cover taxes that Grepne has failed to pay since 2008. Neither Mr Grepne nor Sambala director Dominic McGlynn are taking calls from creditors and investors. Viceroy have so far refused to comment.
Currently, Cape Verde is not even listed on the Viceroy's website so you can consider this property a no-go unless we hear otherwise. It's a shame, though. The 150-room beachfront resort with its three restaurants, children’s club and a state-of-the-art water sports center sounded truly amazing.
The 2014 Winter Olympics Games have begun, many miles and several tape delayed hours away in Sochi, Russia. But all anyone can seem to talk about is how terribly unprepared the Sochi hotels have been.
We saw journalists take to Twitter the other day, detailing the horrible hotel conditions--from broken drapes to toxic water and broken toilets. While laughable in some cases, sadly, these conditions seem to be "standard" for Sochi.
Today, we've got a report from a Super Secret Sochi Insider who spent a few months in the city preparing for the Olympics. Here's his tale of hotel woes:
A Super Secret Sochi Insider Speaks:
The hotel I was living at is called Marins Park Hotel - they say it’s 4 stars but that’s laughable. It’s been open for a long time (in fact it used to be a Radisson SAS) so I did not have any of the extreme issues like what you’re seeing on Twitter.
Still, we’d only have hot water a few days of the week. Asking the Front Desk about it would result in a shrug and a forced smile. When the hotel lost electricity over one weekend, we asked about it being restored and the response was something to the effect of “everyone is complaining, what do we know? it will come back soon”. Like sorry to disturb you from texting.
What sucked about losing electricity - other than the obvious of being on generators only - is that the heater in most of the rooms don’t work. I was given a small space heater which has to be plugged in to the wall. No electricity in the wall = no heat from space heater. In the middle of Russia. In winter. Fun.
Well, while we certainly feel for them having had our fair share of bad experiences, this is definitely a case of "it's funny because it's not us."
Media covering the Winter Games landed in Sochi this week to find that their rooms weren't ready for check in. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with delayed room turnover. No -- the rooms really weren't ready, as in still under construction.
Social media is dangerous enough when it comes to the everyday person, let alone when a group of American media encounter a problem. Tweets from reporters, some hilarious and some sad, have been the talk of the town as they attempt to settle in before the opening ceremonies on Thursday. We've embedded a few of them below for your reading pleasure, and it won't take you long to find others from various news outlets via a quick Google search. And of course, Twitter itself.