When booking, reading about, or admiring a hotel, so often we are preoccupied with the exteriors. Our interest is piqued by style-conscious rooms and state-of-the-art appliances; rarely do we think about the owners, who often end up being far more interesting than the facades! Most hotel owners are happy to take a backseat, wishing their hotels to be the stars of the show, but when a hotel owner is as well know as their hotel -- well, it's certainly for a reason! From scandalous Sultans to polarizing politicians, these outrageous owners often overshadow their hotels.
1. Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s expansive hotel empire spans the likes of New
York, Miami, Vancouver, and Bali, to name but a few. His journey to becoming one
of the world’s most successful luxury hotel owners began when he was working
for his father in Brooklyn. Trump’s father, Fred, was in awe of his sons
abilities, stating that “everything he touches turns to gold.” After learning
the construction ropes from his father, Tump went into the world of Manhattan
real estate. He then turned his attention to luxury residential buildings, which
resulted in the creation of Trump World Tower, Trump Park Avenue, Trump Place, and Trump Palace.
The pièce de résistance of his portfolio was to be the Trump
International Hotel And Tower. The 52-story hotel has an award-winning restaurant
and was described as “super luxury.” In 2008, though, Trump opened an even bigger hotel,
a staggering 92 stories high — Trump International Hotel & Tower. The Trump Hotel
Collection now boasts hotels all around the world — all super luxury, all super
Viewed by some as the ultimate American success story, and by
others as a wildly inappropriate and politically incorrect individual, Trump
continues to divide opinion. Since he’s currently running for President, the world’s eyes are currently on Donald Trump. His
controversial views surrounding Muslim immigration led to a petition being opened in
the U.K. to ban Trump from the country.
2. Sultan of Brunei
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, bought one of the
most famous hotels in the world in 1987 and transferred the ownership to the
Brunei Investment Agency in 1991. This hotel was the Dorchester Hotel in
London. Sitting gracefully opposite Hyde Park, the hotel is a city landmark — and really a worldwide one, for that matter. As well as owning the Dorchester, the Sultan’s Dorchester
Collection includes the Beverly Hills Hotel, Le Meurice, and Hotel Bel-Air,
as well as a whole host of other five-star venues.
Controversy hit the hotel
back in 2014 when it was widely documented that the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei
unveiled a strict sharia penal code. Flogging, severing of limbs, and stoning are
all features of the law which has caused worldwide condemnation of the ruler. Many
feel the move towards this law is a massive step back for human rights and as a
result have boycotted the Sultan’s hotels.
3. Steph and Dom Parker
Unlike the previous two hoteliers, Steph and Dom Parker are
controversial merely in the “love them or hate them” sense. Hitting screens
on the popular British show, Gogglebox, the unashamedly posh pair guzzled booze
whilst commenting on the week’s TV. A hit with fans of the show, Steph and Dom
have gone on to become something of B-list celebrities across the pond, doing
television appearances and talk shows. The eccentric duo are owners of The
Salutation in Kent, an idyllic retreat with luxury trappings. Whilst the vast
majority find the pair’s flamboyance and pup, Gigi, hilarious and adorable in equal
measures, some viewers find the couple to be grating. Since they have their own book, and
a loyal following of supporters, we doubt the pair are too bothered by a few
4. Mohamed Al-Fayed
Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al-Fayed has been surrounded by controversy since the cash-for-questions scandal in 1994. Fayed owns the Hotel Ritz Paris, and also formerly owned Harrods, Knightsbridge. His staggering wealth can also be attributed to formerly owning Fulham F.C., which he sold in 2013. The cash-for-questions scandal in 1994 surrounded Fayed with scandal. In the midst of it, he also alleged the cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken had stayed at the Ritz at the same time as a group of Saudi arms dealers. The whole affair led MPs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith to the government in disgrace, while Aitkens was imprisoned for perjury.
Public scandal found Fayed once again in 1997, when his son Dodi was killed in the tragic car crash with Princess Diana. After the crash Fayed told the press that Diana has been pregnant and he was the only person to know; this was later proved false. He also suggested the crash was a conspiracy amongst members of MI5. Fayed’s testimonies have been condemned as “farcical.” The latest controversy to rock the Fayed family appears to be in 2003 when he breached an agreement with Inland Revenue by moving to Switzerland from the U.K.
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