Though the Beverly Hills Hotel will neither confirm nor deny that the Sultan of Brunei is making his first visit to the Pink Palace since he bought the hotel in 1987 (“We respect the privacy of all our guests,” said a spokesperson), the Brunei Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed his visit to Los Angeles, though it says the trip is private.
There are many indications the sultan is at the hotel: Secret Service agents are patrolling the grounds; parking is banned — except for what appear to be security vehicles — on adjacent Crescent Drive until Sunday, Jan. 1; Southeast Asian women wearing burqas were in the lobby Tuesday, and no less an authority than Dr. Phil, who was also in the lobby, said, “I’m told he’s here.”
The sultan, whose name is Hassan al-Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, is said to be staying in the Presidential Suite. Two floors of the hotel are said to have been emptied to make room for his entourage with guests being moved to other hotels, some with their rooms comped.
The sultan, 65, is Brunei’s head of state, prime minister and one of the world’s richest men. The country has 1.35 billion barrels of oil reserves. Forbes estimated his wealth at $20 billion in 2010. In 2006, the country’s constitution was modified to say he “can do no wrong in either his personal or any official capacity” and is thus infallible.
He reportedly paid $185 million to Marvin and Barbara Davis when he bought the 260-room hotel in 1987 ($50 million more than the Davis’ had paid for it less than a year before) and then gave it a $150 million renovation.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is part of the sultan’s Dorchester Collection of luxurious places to stay, which include Paris’ Plaza Athenee, London’s Dorchester, Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia and the Bel-Air Hotel, which the Sultan is said to be also visiting on his trip to Los Angeles.
Another reason for the royal visit is a rumored trip to Disneyland with his family. The sultan has two wives, which is permitted under Islamic law, and 12 children. There was a large tour bus parked in the no-parking zone on Crescent Drive this morning.
A Disney spokesperson said the company has a policy of not commenting on guests coming to the park.