French hotels eyed by Arab royalty

A Saudi prince and Dubai's royal family have set their sights on buying two of France's most famous luxury hotels after a US investment fund took over their owner, a French newspaper has reported.

    Prince Waleed is interested in a famous Paris hotel

    Saudi Prince Waleed and Jumeirah International, owned by the al-Maktoum royal family in Dubai, are interested in buying the Hotel de Crillon, near the Champs-Elysees in Paris, Le Figaro reported.

    Starwood Capital acquired control of the hotel's owner, Societe du Louvre, when it bought out Taittinger, owner of the champagne house, for nearly $1.42 billion in July.

    Waleed already owns the George V, also off the Champs-Elysees, while Jumeirah International owns a string of hotels in Dubai, including the sail-shaped, 321m Burj Al Arab, and The Carlton Tower in London.

    Cannes considered

    Some of those who have signed the guestbook at the Crillon, where the top suite costs more than 8000 euros per night, include Japan's Emperor Hirohito, Winston Churchill, and US presidents Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and George Bush, not to forget Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and the Dalai Lama.

    Jumeirah International also had its eye on the Hotel Martinez in the French Riviera resort of Cannes, but could face competition from Dorchester Group, owners of Hotel Plaza Athenee and Hotel Meurice in Paris, the newspaper reported.

    "We are thinking about it. We are going to talk about it at our next administration council in September," Francois Delahaye, operations director of the Brunei-owned Dorchester Group, told Le Figaro.



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