NEW YORK—New York’s Plaza Hotel could soon have a new and controversial owner. According to published reports, the Sultan of Brunei plans to buy the iconic property. As reported in Hotel Business earlier this summer, some of Hollywood’s celebrities called for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is also owned by the sultan. It was reported that the property lost $2 million and 20 events in just one month. The Beverly Hills City Council also passed a resolution condemning the government of Brunei.
An article on CBSNews.com, posted this morning, states that there is a now a push to keep the sultan from purchasing the iconic Manhattan property, situated on the southern edge of Central Park.
CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reported that organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) are fighting the sale because three months ago, the sultan implemented strict Muslim Sharia law in his oil-rich nation on the island of Borneo. It punishes theft, adultery and same-sex relationships with amputations, flogging and stoning.
“We have an obligation to do everything we can to ensure that one of the world’s most iconic hotels doesn’t end up as another jewel in the sultan’s crown,” stated Jason Rahlan, communications director at HRC. “We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straightforward message to the sultan, and that is to take your business elsewhere.”
Christopher Cowdray, CEO of luxury hotel operator The Dorchester Collection, told CBS News he does not “have any opinion whatsoever” on the laws being implemented in Brunei, adding that he was “not prepared” to comment on whether they were wrong or not.
The sultan is reportedly offering $2 billion for the Plaza, as well as the Dream Hotel in Manhattan and another hotel in London.
The seller is an Indian business tycoon who is currently serving time in an overseas jail for not paying his investors. He needs money to pay off his debts, and has set up an office inside his cell to negotiate with the top bidders.