London’s Dorchester Hotel and sister properties have been forced to react to growing demands for a boycott following their owner’s call that gay people and adulterers should be stoned to death.
The Dorchester Collection, which includes the landmark London property, the nearby 45 Park Lane and Coworth Park in Ascot, is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is introducing a strict new penal code in the oil-rich state. It is based on Sharia law, in line with Brunei’s Muslim heritage.
The Sultan’s decision has already drawn protests in the US, where gay rights groups have called for a boycott of the group’s properties there, which include the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
Dorchester Collection chief executive officer Christopher Cowdray said any boycott would affect the group’s employees. “The economic impact of this not only affects our loyal team members but extends to the local community, our valued partners and suppliers,” he said. He added that the brand would continue to honour core values of “integrity, equality and diversity”.
The protest has already attracted high level support; including Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, who has banned staff from staying in any Dorchester Collection properties.
Royal Brunei Airlines, which is also owned by the Brunei state, potentially faces a similar backlash if the protest escalates.