The Real Deal New York

Brunei hotel chain faces protests over NYC plans

Civil rights group calls for developer to "take business elsewhere"
May 09, 2014 10:00AM

A Brunei hotel chain is facing opposition over its plans to build a high-end Dorchester Collection hotel in the city.

Civil rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign released a statement this week calling on lawmakers to halt the New York expansion of the company, run by the Brunei Investment Agency, Capital New York reported. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is among the travel firms protesting the plans. Criticism has been directed at the nation of Brunei, which recently enacted a penal code that will soon permit death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.

“The Sultan of Brunei could start executing LGBT citizens as soon as next year,” Chad Griffin of Human Rights Campaign said in a statement cited by Capital New York. “New Yorkers from all walks of life should have one simple and straight-forward message for the Sultan: take your business elsewhere.”

The chain also owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, where protests over the law drew celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno, and have led to more than 20 events being moved to other venues.

Dorchester Collection CEO Christopher Cowdray said the main focus is to break into New York. No specific plans have been announced to date. The Brunei Investment Agency sold the Palace Hotel at 455 Madison Avenue in Midtown to investment advisory firm Northwood Investors for $400 million in 2011, as previously reported. [Capital New York]Mark Maurer