By Waleed PD Mahdini in Ascot
His Royal Highness Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim yesterday unveiled the latest addition to the stable of exclusive hotels and resorts of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA).
Accompanying HRH at the launching ceremony was HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, who together with specially invited guests, witnessed the official opening of Coworth Park, which is set in Ascot, home of the world-famous Grand National and Derby equestrian races, as well as the sport of king's - polo.
Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Education and Chairman of the BIA, before they proceeded to the courtyard for the official opening by HRH Prince 'Azim.
The Chairman of BIA explained that the Sultanate's investment house is "aiming to improve the occupancy rates" of the eight hotels that it currently manages in its Dorchester Collection portfolio and that the BIA "aims to manage these assets very well".
Set in 240 acres of picturesque Berkshire parkland, Coworth Park is a 70-room luxury country house hotel that is just 45 minutes from central London and 20 minutes from Heathrow airport. Its location, unrivalled in the UK for ease and convenience of its transport links, is also enhanced by its own helipad.
Coworth Park is the eighth member of the Dorchester Collection, which is managed by BIA that also manages The Dorchester in London, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and The New York Palace. The Dorchester Collection is also set to open its ninth hotel, 45 Park Lane, London in summer 2011.
When asked whether the BIA would be continuing to expand on its collections of fine hotels, Pehin Dato Hj Bakar replied: "We are not likely to expand but we are aiming to develop expertise in hotel management."
Mr Christopher Cowdary, CEO of Dorchester Collection went on to add: "The biggest challenge for us is finding the right category of hotels to manage and we have to be very selective about this." Relating about the eight hotels that are being managed by the Dorchester Collections, he said: "The occupancy rates are very strong, they are very high."
Built in 1776, the former residence and convent school before it became the latest acquisition for the BIA has already attracted the interest of the UK's A-list of celebrities, including Pierce Brosnan and the cast of the UK's latest reality talent search show 'X-Factor'.
Following the launch, the royal guests were taken on a tour of Coworth Park that is the only one of two hotels in the UK to offer its own polo grounds, which is set to host its own games with the recent start of this year's polo season this month until September, which has already been touted to attract the interest and participation of HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry of UK.
Coworth Park is the eighth member of Dorchester Collection, which also manages The Dorchester in London, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and The New York Palace. Dorchester Collection is also opening its ninth hotel, 45 Park Lane, London in summer 2011.
- Borneo Bulletin
(15th April 2011)