As my colleague Deirdre Woollard reported the other day, Paris' famed Hotel de Crillion (above), one of the world's most luxurious hotels with a clientele of celebs and royalty, is being sold to unnamed Saudi investors with ties to the country's royal family for about $354 million. Now an insider tells us that Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men with a fortune of $19.4 billion, has a big stake in the deal. The Prince already has significant luxury hotel holdings including an interest in the Four Seasons and Fairmont groups. Back in January 2009 Deirdre reported that the Prince was preparing to embark on a major spending spree via his company Kingdom Holdings to acquire more hotel assets. Earlier this year he also sold off the Raffles Hotel in Singapore for $275 million.
The Crillon acquisition is part of the Prince's new plan for diversification, we're told. Constructed in 1758 as a government building commissioned by Louis XV, the palatial edifice near the Champs Elysées on Place de la Concorde was converted into a hotel 100 years ago. Its Leonard Bernstein suite, on the top floor with a wrap-around terrace, features one of the late maestro's pianos. Other luminaries past and present who have patronized the Crillon include Marie Antoinette, King George V, the Shah of Iran, Winston Churchill, FDR, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie O, Mariah Carey, Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Starwood Capital, the property's sellers, took over the Crillon in 2005 as part of its €2 billion acquisition of Taittinger's hotel and champagne empire.