Luxury hotel brands issue grovelling plea amid outrage over Brunei gay death laws

April 5, 2019

The nine luxury hotel brands owned by the Sultan of Brunei issued a statement on their group website in a desperate bid to distance themselves from the scandal and safeguard their business. 

In what many will view as a cynical attempt to distance itself from the outrage over the new laws in Brunei, the Brunei Investment Agency posted a grovelling message on its Dorchester Collection website.

The unsigned message on the site’s home page claims that “Inclusion, diversity and equality are the foundation of the Dorchester Collection. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, we never have and we never will. We understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played in our hotels and amongst our 3,630 employees. We are deeply saddened by what’s happening right now and the impact it is having on our employees, guests, partners and suppliers in particular.” 

The company then appears to make what some might interpret as a veiled threat to other global brands: “Our values are far removed from the politics of ownership. We are aware that many other brands have ownership with similar backgrounds in this increasingly global world” it wrote, before finishing by saying they hope to welcome guests back soon.

The Dorchester and the other hotels in the group have also quit social media amid growing outrage over the country’s anti-gay laws.

As well as The Dorchester, the group also owns The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Bel Air in Los Angeles and the hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris.

The Dorchester is reported as saying it closed down its Twitter feed after receiving messages of abuse. However, guests have also been cancelling their bookings amid the row over the state’s new law.

Some hotels even made their Instagram accounts private, like Paris’ Le Meurice and the Hotel Eden in Rome.

LGBTI activists launched a vocal protest inside the Dorchester Hotel on Thursday. The small group urged guests to boycott the hotel and stop funding the brutal regime in Brunei. The protest took place in the half empty dining area of the hotel during afternoon tea.

A growing roster of celebrities have called for a boycott of the luxury hotels owned by Brunei. The boycott was started by Hollywood A-lister George Clooney and new includes Elton John, Ellen deGeneres, Sharon Stone, Dustin Lance Black, Nancy Sinatra and many others.

I love the Dorchester Hotel in London, & once had dinner there with the wonderful Martha Gellhorn. But I couldn’t set foot there while, back home in Brunei, its owner introduces stoning to death for adultery & gay sex.— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) March 29, 2019

Veteran BBC war correspondent John Simpson tweeted that although he “loved” the Dorchester, “I couldn’t set foot there while, back home in Brunei, its owner introduces stoning to death for adultery & gay sex.”

Protests are set to continue this weekend as more groups call for Brunei to reverse its barbaric new laws.

The hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency are: 

  • The Dorchester (London)
  • 45 Park Lane (London)
  • Coworth Park (Ascot, UK)
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel (Los Angeles)
  • Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles)
  • Le Meurice (Paris)
  • Hotel Plaza Athénée (Paris)
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan)