Hilton sells New York's Waldorf Astoria to Chinese insurer: 4 other iconic hotels with foreign owners

Landmark New York hotel The Waldorf Astoria on Oct 6, 2014, in New York City. -- PHOTO: AFP
Landmark New York hotel The Waldorf Astoria on Oct 6, 2014, in New York City. -- PHOTO: AFP

Hilton Worldwide announced on Oct 6 it will sell the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York to a Chinese insurer, Anbang Insurance Group, for a whopping US$1.95 billion (S$2.49 million). Every president since Herbert Hoover has stayed in the Waldorf, including President Barack Obama, who sleeps in its Presidential Suite when he's in town. Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton grew up in the Park Avenue hotel, which opened in 1931.

Asian buyers with deep pockets have in fact been snapping up legendary hotels in New York, London and Paris for years.

Here are four other iconic hotels with foreign owners:

1. THE PLAZA HOTEL

Sjembed071

Singapore’s own property conglomerate, City Developments Ltd, once jointly owned the 107-year-old New York landmark. CDL and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed acquired the hotel from Donald Trump in 1995 in a deal that valued it at US$325 million. They subsequently sold it in 2004, for US$675 million.

The hotel overlooking New York's Central Park may now sell for US$800 million to New York’s Madison Capital Holdings. Its current owner, flamboyant Indian billionaire Subrata Roy, head of property empire Sahara Group, is now in a New Delhi jail cell after being charged with overseeing a money-laundering empire dealing in illegal investments with fake partners.

American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, once lived there and enjoyed a midnight swim in the hotel's fountain. Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) was the first film to be shot there.

2. THE DORCHESTER

Sjembed072

It was bought in 1985 by the Sultan of Brunei who closed it for two years for a major refurbishment.

The hotel, to the east of Hyde Park in London, opened in 1931 and still retains its 1930s furnishings and ambience despite being modernised.

Queen Elizabeth II attended a dinner party at the Dorchester when she was a princess on the day prior to the announcement of her engagement to the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on July 10, 1947. Prince Philip also held his stag night party at the hotel, which has been documented in a plaque.

3. HOTEL CHAMPS-ELYSEES

Sjmarriott0710

Hong Kong-listed investment firm Kai Yuan Holdings Ltd bought the hotel in June this year for 344.5 million euros (S$434.9 million) from French real estate company MCE PropCo. with the aim of targeting mainland Chinese travellers.

This 100-year-old hotel is located on the Champs-Elysees, known as the most beautiful avenue in the world and one of the city’s poshest areas.

4. THE PIERRE

Sjembed07103

The hotel, facing New York’s Central Park, opened in 1930, and was bought in 2005 by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, which is part of Indian conglomerate The Tata Group.

The tango scene in the film Scent of a Woman was shot in the Pierre's Cotillion Ballroom.

Taj Hotels also bought the elegant Campton Place Hotel on San Francisco's Union Square in 2007 for US$58 million.

Compiled by Ann Williams