The Dorchester Collection, the global hotel group invested by The Sultan of Brunei, completed the purchase of the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, California. It was yet another diamond in the crown of their collection.
The hotel will be closing today for a two-year renovation project of the property. With a long and illustrious history, updating the rooms, plumbing, restaurants and grounds are welcome. But it has also been confirmed that all of the staff will be fired without guarantee of rehiring upon completion.
What has made the Hotel Bel Air what it was and what it is today is the unparalleled professionalism and discretion of a staff that is equally a family unto themselves as they are to returning guests. Without them, the hotel will lack the enchantment it speaks of and the feeling of home away from home that guests refer to it as. Almost all of the staff have devoted decades of their careers there and not one advertises himself as an actor, which in Los Angeles is a rarity.
The Dorchester Collection website promotes: "It's not just our hotels, it's our staff that make Dorchester Collection legendary." This is most certainly accurate about this hotel, so why not keep them on?
The valet team, on the front lines of the brand as well as the hotel, don't just park cars. They vehemently protect the privacy of guests by strategically fending off paparazzi who park 24 hours a day across the street from the entrance. They have their own cues to prepare for reclusive celebrities without disrupting the beauty of an arrival and bittersweet departures. The Concierge treat each guest as one's own; the attentive front desk receptionists add to the special occasion of a stay; the porters know the ins and outs, and ups and downs, with insurmountable discretion; the restaurant team knows that distance and attention are simultaneously possible; and overall the grounds keepers, pool attendants, housekeeping, security, catering, special events and boutique managers live their professions with passion and dignity. Let us also not forget the executive office which has managed to keep the General Managers intact and on time for the ticking of the hotel.
All of these people honed years of experience and precision at the highest level. Their support of the uniqueness of the Hotel Bel Air cannot be learned overnight. The recently appointed General Manager stated in a press release:"Our guests absolutely love this hotel, it is a home away from home for many and our vision for the newly renovated Hotel Bel Air is to create somewhere that will enchant both local residents and international travelers alike."
Guests love this hotel because the staff perpetuates their vision of uniqueness.
It's not an easy task to renovate such a property while meeting the bottom line as well as negotiating with the California labor unions, probably one of the strongest in the country. I only hope that the Hotel Bel Air will not be returned an empty glass castle on Stone Canyon for that will certainly not be "honouring the individuality and heritage of this iconic hotel."