Prince Alwaleed bought The Savoy hotel in London earlier this year, and has installed new management from the Fairmont. This wonderfully located hotel is thus now even more welcoming to guests from the Middle East who already benefit from the six Emirates flights a day to London.
Middle Easterners love to vacation in the UK capital and the terrorist attacks of 7/7 followed two weeks later by a bungled second attack could have been expected to cause some tourists to cancel their annual holidays.
But there was little sign of cancellations when AME Info visited The Savoy this summer, which is now under the management of the same classy team that handles The Fairmont Dubai.
Ask any British person to name the best hotel in the UK and they will probably say, 'The Ritz and The Savoy'. This is a tough reputation to live up to, and it has to be said that The Savoy is in need of some tender loving care to restore its former glory.
Once the glitterati of the 1920s danced the night away in the ballroom, and in the 1980s The Savoy became popular with the media and financial industry, particularly The Michelin-starred Savoy Grill which remains a popular lunchtime meeting place for captains of industry and those who like to associate with them.
But changes of ownership have held-up well laid renovation plans, and Prince Alwaleed will start a major two-year renovation programme in January.
AME Info was able to preview the designs for new rooms, some of which are already available and offer an impressive range of styles in keeping with the tradition of the first hotel in London to provide hot-water and marble bathrooms for its guests. However, the hotel will function fully through-out the renovations and is compartmentalized enough to minimize any inconvenience.
The Savoy is best known for its 42 fabulous River Thames view suites and 10 event rooms some of which also benefit from the view immortalized by the impressionist painter Monet. It is also arguably the best located hotel in London, being right on the doorstep of Covent Garden and theatre land and close to The City for business.
Clearly the new ownership is going to make its mark, not least by investment in a major refurbishment. There has also been a subtle shift in the dress code, to accommodate the requirements of the modern traveler who may no longer have a valet to assist with dressing for dinner.
Things did have to change. It was only a few years ago that waiters at The Savoy refused to serve the Mayor of Moscow's wife because she was wearing a track suit. And while this lady's sartorial style surely left something to be desired, simple economics would suggest that this is not the best way to treat the richest woman in Europe if you want to remain in business.
The Savoy is the Fairmont team's first hotel in Europe. But if their success in Dubai, which was the first Fairmont in the Middle East, is anything to go by guests are not likely to be disappointed.
Indeed, the Fairmont is just the right choice to restore the glory of The Savoy to its rightful place at the top of British hospitality under the new ownership of Prince Alwaleed. And with six Emirates' flights a day to London The Savoy is bound to prove popular with guests from the Middle East.