Brisbane hotel faces backlash over Brunei links

An Australian hotel could see bookings plummet following a high-profile celebrity campaign urging guests to boycott luxury escapes linked to the Brunei government.

The small Asian kingdom this week introduced laws which impose death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, provoking a protest by Hollywood A-lister George Clooney, backed by Elton John and Ellen deGeneres, which has stirred media interest around the globe.

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”15046″ align=”left”]Clooney has urged well-heeled guests to avoid the Brunei-owned Dorchester Collection of luxury five-star hotels in Europe and the United States, saying “every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.

“I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

According to QNews, the Brunei Investment Agency – the sovereign wealth fund for the monarchy ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah – owns assets worldwide including Brisbane’s Royal on the Park Hotel, land on the Gold Coast and investments in Australian financial companies.

While less high profile than the nine hotels named and shamed in the campaign, the Royal on the Park has already been the focus of controversy for its links to the hard-line regime.

Bill Shorten came under fire last year for accepting free room upgrades at the hotel, following a lesser-publicised boycott which accompanied Brunei’s announcement of its intention to legalise stoning for homosexuals and adulterers. The opposition leader denied being aware of the hotel’s ownership.

As Brunei’s laws come into effect this week, Clooney’s star power has thrust the issue into the spotlight around the world and the ownership of Royal on the Park will become harder to ignore.

“So Brisbane Royal On The Park is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency – Time to boycott this establishment permanently” and “I would like a list of all the businesses they own so I can ensure that I never ever am a customer in the future” are among comments linked to the hotel on Facebook.

Elton John has acknowledged that boycotting hotels owned by the Sultanate might affect the earnings of gay employees, saying: “Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay.

But he added: “We must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable.”

The Brunei Investment Agency investment agency is worth approximately US$40 billion, while the Sultan’s personal wealth is estimated at US$20 billion.

Its nine hotels targeted by Clooney are:

The Dorchester, London

45 Park Lane, London

Coworth Park, England

The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills

Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

Le Meurice, Paris

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

Hotel Eden, Rome

Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

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