by Sarah J.F. Braley | June 01, 2014
In May, after the Sultan (and leader) of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, instituted Shari'a laws with extreme penalties for theft, adultery and homosexuality (by 2015, gay sex and adultery will be punishable by death, according to the New York Times), meeting planners began protesting the laws by canceling events at Dorchester Collection hotels, which are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.

Particularly affected is the 208-room Beverly Hills Hotel, according to a spokesperson, but the collection's London hotels are being boycotted as well. The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously condemned the sultanate and asked that he sell his interest in the city's hotels.

Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester, has said employees' jobs are secure, responding to the protests in a statement: "While we recognize people's concerns, we believe this boycott should not be directed to our hotels and dedicated employees....Today's global economy needs to be placed in a broader perspective."

While feeling for the plight of the employees, one planner who has used the Beverly Hills Hotel in the past won't be going back any time soon. "However, planners should be aware that Brunei is not the only country with such laws, nor the only such country whose investments include hotels," said Charles Chan Massey, CMP, founder and CEO of SYNAXIS Meetings & Events in West Hollywood, Calif. "Perhaps planners should consider adding a question regarding hotel ownership into their requests for proposal to determine if the owner is in line with the values of their own company's or end-user client's values."