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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]
Haven't filed your taxes yet? Putting them off 'til the last minute? Don't worry—even if you rush through them, you can't possibly come out looking as bad as The Chatwal, who, it was discovered this weekend, have been quietly avoiding the huge expense of running a hotel in Times Square by pretending to be a church.
Though it sounds completely nuts and like something out of a bad Tom Cruise movie from the 90s, there is some logic behind it. You see, the building in which the Chatwal currently resides used to actually be a church, with pews, a priest, parishioners, the whole nine yards.
Of course, none of that has actually been a part of the scene here since the hotel took over five years ago. But that didn't stop the hotel from hanging onto the former church's tax exemptions—even while it was charging guests upwards of $500/night. Not very church-like, if you ask us!
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A lot of talk is flying around these days about a potential expansion into India (as well as London) by big-time hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who is Indian himself. Citing the "maximum potential" and "7%-9% growth rate" of India's current economy in this article, Chatwal makes it clear he has his brand-oriented mind set on expanding his luxury hotels onto Indian turf.
But until we get shots of a construction site, we have to scratch our heads and wonder: when will this Dream become a reality?
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Vikram Chatwal lives! The WSJ has an in-depth look at the hotel business of Vik and his father, Sant Singh Chatwal, who just opened his Chatwal Hotel the other week. You can see our tours of the hotel here and here.
From the article, we learn some rather interesting things like the genesis of Sant Singh's hotel business in America and his trips and falls along the way. We also learn Vikram has moved in across the street from the Soho Grand Hotel into a $5.4 million townhouse at Soho Mews. (pic of Vik's building.)
But the most surprising news is that aside from opening The Dream Downtown, the Chatwals have another hotel planned for NYC's NoHo nabe which will open in Spring 2011
AND the Dream Hotel South Beach will actually be two hotels called The Dream and The Night. (Currently, it's half-open as the Palmer House. That property will now open in October.) (False Alarm! We read the article too fast. The Dream South Beach will be one hotel, one dream and no Night.)
But they won't stop there.