Kempinski to operate “Hotel of Doom”

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Panorama of Pyongyang in 2002. Construction of the Ryugyong Hotel (seen in the background) started in 1987, stalled in 1992 after the Soviet Union collapsed and resumed in 2008 when Egypt’s Orascom took over the financing for renovation and the facade. Left foreground: The brown twin towers of the infamous Koryo Hotel. Picture © Arno Maierbrugger. Click to enlarge

The world’s third tallest hotel, the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel in the center of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, is set to open next year under management of Germany-based Kempinski Hotel Group. Kerstin Heinen, spokeswoman of Kempinski Hotels, confirmed to German media on November 2 that there are negotiations going on to hand over the management of the skyscraper to Key International Hotels Management, a joint venture between Kempinski and a Chinese partner.

Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group managing 74 hotels all over the world. It is majority-owned by the Crown Property Bureau, a Thai government agency responsible for managing the personal wealth of the King of Thailand and his immediate family.

The 105-story, pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, whose construction began 25 years ago, has been finished by the construction arm of Egypt’s telecom and industry conglomerate Orascom, a group led by one of Egypt’s richest men, Onsi Sawiris.

It measures 330 meters, more than the famous Burj Al Arab (321 meters) in Dubai, but is smaller than the Rose Rotana Tower (333 meters) in Dubai and than the world’s current tallest hotel, the Royal Hotel Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with 601 meters.

It is understood that Orascom has funded the final construction of the hotel as part of a $400 million mobile phone license it was awarded by the North Korean government in 2008. Cairo-based Orascom has reportedly spent $180 million on completing the hotel’s facade and enforcing the huge building’s foundations and delapidated concrete structure.

Kempinski AG Chief Executive Officer Reto Wittwer said on November 2 in Seoul that the hotel will open partially in July or August 2013. The top floors of the hotel will house guests in 150 of the originally planned 1,500 rooms.

However, the Ryugyong Hotel is not the only hotel exclusively for foreigners in Pyongyang. There is the French-built Yanggakdo Hotel on an island in the Taedong River, and the state-run Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang downtown.

The Yanggakdo Hotel is said to be frequented by Chinese businessmen, charity worker and group tourists, while the older Koryo Hotel has always been marked as a busy place to stay and network for arms dealers, money launderers, intelligence agents and UN personnel.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Panorama of Pyongyang in 2002. Construction of the Ryugyong Hotel (seen in the background) started in 1987, stalled in 1992 after the Soviet Union collapsed and resumed in 2008 when Egypt’s Orascom took over the financing for renovation and the facade. Left foreground: The brown twin towers of the infamous Koryo Hotel. Picture © Arno Maierbrugger. Click to enlarge

The world’s third tallest hotel, the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel in the center of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, is set to open next year under management of Germany-based Kempinski Hotel Group. Kerstin Heinen, spokeswoman of Kempinski Hotels, confirmed to German media on November 2 that there are negotiations going on to hand over the management of the skyscraper to Key International Hotels Management, a joint venture between Kempinski and a Chinese partner.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Panorama of Pyongyang in 2002. Construction of the Ryugyong Hotel (seen in the background) started in 1987, stalled in 1992 after the Soviet Union collapsed and resumed in 2008 when Egypt’s Orascom took over the financing for renovation and the facade. Left foreground: The brown twin towers of the infamous Koryo Hotel. Picture © Arno Maierbrugger. Click to enlarge

The world’s third tallest hotel, the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel in the center of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, is set to open next year under management of Germany-based Kempinski Hotel Group. Kerstin Heinen, spokeswoman of Kempinski Hotels, confirmed to German media on November 2 that there are negotiations going on to hand over the management of the skyscraper to Key International Hotels Management, a joint venture between Kempinski and a Chinese partner.

Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group managing 74 hotels all over the world. It is majority-owned by the Crown Property Bureau, a Thai government agency responsible for managing the personal wealth of the King of Thailand and his immediate family.

The 105-story, pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, whose construction began 25 years ago, has been finished by the construction arm of Egypt’s telecom and industry conglomerate Orascom, a group led by one of Egypt’s richest men, Onsi Sawiris.

It measures 330 meters, more than the famous Burj Al Arab (321 meters) in Dubai, but is smaller than the Rose Rotana Tower (333 meters) in Dubai and than the world’s current tallest hotel, the Royal Hotel Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with 601 meters.

It is understood that Orascom has funded the final construction of the hotel as part of a $400 million mobile phone license it was awarded by the North Korean government in 2008. Cairo-based Orascom has reportedly spent $180 million on completing the hotel’s facade and enforcing the huge building’s foundations and delapidated concrete structure.

Kempinski AG Chief Executive Officer Reto Wittwer said on November 2 in Seoul that the hotel will open partially in July or August 2013. The top floors of the hotel will house guests in 150 of the originally planned 1,500 rooms.

However, the Ryugyong Hotel is not the only hotel exclusively for foreigners in Pyongyang. There is the French-built Yanggakdo Hotel on an island in the Taedong River, and the state-run Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang downtown.

The Yanggakdo Hotel is said to be frequented by Chinese businessmen, charity worker and group tourists, while the older Koryo Hotel has always been marked as a busy place to stay and network for arms dealers, money launderers, intelligence agents and UN personnel.

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