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A handful of the most luxurious hotels in the world might be finding themselves without their fashionable guests as a boycott of the Dorchester Collection hotel group has been joined by Vogue editors.
The group’s hotels include the Beverly Hills Hotel in California, The Dorchester in London and Le Meurice in Paris and are owned by the Sultan of Brunei’s investment agency. The Sultan’s plans to implement Sharia law, making homosexuality punishable in his country with death by stoning, has been met with abhorrence, prompting high-profile celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Branson to renounce the hotel group.
U.S. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her publisher Conde Nast have thrown their weight behind the boycott, telling the New York Times: “While I am sensitive to the potential impact that this issue may have on the wonderful staff at Le Meurice, I cannot in all good conscience stay there, nor can Vogue’s editors.”
Le Meurice is the hotel of choice for many during the fashion shows in Paris, the next round of which are set to take place in July for the men’s and Haute Couture collections.
It is also likely that guests and employees of international luxury brands Gucci, Balenciaga, Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen won’t find themselves in any Dorchester Collection-owned hotels either, as the CEO of Kering, François-Henri Pinault, which part-owns the aforementioned labels, publicly threw his weight behind the boycott.
Earlier this month The Telegraph reported that the boycott of the Dorchester Collection’s 10 hotels had caused a drop in bookings.
But the boycott isn’t being advocated by everyone – including Stonewall, the gay, lesbian and bisexual rights charity. Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive, has criticised the move, writing in The Telegraph: “By turning the issue into a battle between gay people and the Sultan… we limit the opportunity for dialogue and put the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei at far greater risk.” She also said: “We’re renowned for our pragmatism and our belief that talking is usually more effective than protests – however satisfying protests may be, in the short term they’re often most rewarding to the individuals taking part.”
A spokesperson for the Dorchester Collection released the following statement: “While we recognise people’s concerns, we believe this boycott should not be directed to our hotels and dedicated employees. The impact of this not only affects our loyal team members but extends to the local community, our valued partners and suppliers as all profits from Dorchester Collection continue to be re-invested into the hotels, their people and communities. This has been the case since the company was founded in 2006.”
The Sultan of Brunei is estimated to be worth $20 billion, and opposers argue that the hotel group’s staff would be the only ones who would suffer from the boycott.