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Dorchester Group 1920s-1990s

04 April 2016
Dorchester Group 1920s-1990s

View the Dorchester Group timeline from the 2000s onwards here >>

THE 1990s

  • December 1999 The planned reopening of Le Meurice in Paris this month is delayed for four months until April 2000. In February 2000, the launch date is putback again, to May.](/articles/16467)

  • December 1999 German chef Henry Brosi, 39, becomes the seventh executive chef to be appointed at the Dorchester in its 70-year history. He has been with the Dorchester since 1995, most recently as executive sous chef.

  • September 1999 The Dorchester's [Millennium party prices ](/articles/10152)range from £2,000 for a single ticket for the evening to £5,000 for a two-night package for two. It still has 50 vacancies for the latter just days before the Millennium Eve.

  • September 1999 Consultant chef Willi Elsener leaves the Dorchester after [11 years as executive chef ](/articles/34292)to set up a consultancy business.

  • July 1999 Dorchester food and beverage manager Zoe Jenkins wins the [Manager of the Year ](/articles/16296)award in the annual Cateys.

  • March 1999 The 160-bedroom Paris hotel [Le Meurice in Paris closes ](/articles/15289)for an extensive £450m refurbishment.

  • January 1999 Dorchester pastry chef Dominic Dinsdale dies of a drugs overdose.

  • November 1998 Dorchester executive chef Willi Elsener is named [Swiss Star Abroad ](/articles/1397)*for 1999 by Switzerland's leading restaurant guidebook, Gault Millau.*

  • September 1998 The Dorchester has integrated its Delphi banqueting, food and beverage software with new Fidelio registration software to track customer activity and inform direct mail campaigns.

  • August 1998 The Sultan of Brunei restructures the board of directors of the Brunei Investment Agency which controls the Audley Group that manages the Dorchester. His brother Prince Jefri - accused of misappropriating state funds - is removed as chairman of the BIA and stripped of control of overseas assets.

  • July 1998 Top chefs Willi Elsener at the Dorchester and John Williams of Claridge's join forces with Butlers Wharf Chef School to create a new 12-month scholarship providing work placements for students.

  • June 1998 The Dorchester's Oriental restaurant wins a Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. The 255-bedroom hotel serves up to 3,000 meals daily from its F&B outlets which include the Grill Room, Dorchester Bar, Dorchester Club, Promenade and Chester's staff restaurant.

  • February 1998 The High Court hears allegations that up to 40 prostitutes at a time were brought into the Dorchester by Prince Jefri, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, in a multi-million pound legal battle bought by a former friend of the prince.

  • November 1997 The Dorchester wins an [award for excellence ](/articles/18553)from guide publisher Johansens.

  • May 1997 Brunei Investment Agency acquires Hôtel Meurice in Paris which was founded in the 19th century by regional postmaster and coach operator Charles-Augustin Meurice. Meurice established coach inns in Calais in 1771 and Paris (the first Hotel Meurice) in 1817 to cater for British travellers. Hôtel Meurice moved to its current location overlooking the Tuileries Garden in 1835.

  • March 1997 Granada sells the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris for £45m to PA Holdings, a group of Brunei investors led by Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the brother of the Sultan of Brunei.

  • February 1997 Dorchester general manager Ricci Obertelli becomes director of operations of the Audley Group, which runs three hotels (the Dorchester, Beverley Hills and Nusa Dua Beach hotel in Bali) owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. The plan is to build up a collection of grand hotels. Resident manager David Wilkinson takes over as general manager at the Dorchester whileNigel Badminton takes over his former role as resident manager.

  • 1997 The London Plane tree in the Dorchester's front garden is named one of the Great Trees of London by The London Tree Forum and The Countryside Commission.

  • November 1996 Dorchester director and general manager Ricci Obertelli is named 1996 Hotelier of the World by the readers of the US Hotels magazine.

  • July 1996 Willi Elsener wins the Chef award in the annual Cateys. He oversees a 125-strong brigade that covers room service and the hotel's three restaurants - the 81-seat Terrace restaurant, the 81-seat Grill Room and the 80-seat Oriental restaurant serving French, British and Cantonese cuisine.

  • March 1996 Dorchester executive chef Willi Elsener has published his A World of Flavours book, which he says took 23 years to put together.

  • 1996 Dorchester executive chef Willi Elsener scoops the Chef Award in the annual Cateys.

  • 1996 The Brunei Investment Agency establishes the Audley Group as an independent UK-registered company to manage its Dorchester and Beverley Hills hotels under one company. It is later renamed the Dorchester Group.

  • 1995 The Beverly Hills hotel reopens following a $100m refurbishment while Dorchester hotel director and general manager Ricci Obertelli scoops the Hotelier of the Year category in the annual Catey awards. The Dorchester is attaining the [highest occupancy and achieved room rates in London ](/articles/24993)following its £170m investment programme.

  • July 1994 Anton Mosimann and Lord Forte emerge as the most admired hospitality industry figures in the [Caterer & Hotelkeeper Lifestyle Survey 1994](/articles/29731). The Dorchester ties with the Savoy in second place as the hotel readers would most liked to visit (after Gleneagles).

  • July 1994 The Dorchester is voted top UK hotel in the Executive Travel magazine's annual awards.

  • June 1994 Dorchester [executivesous chef Roger Narbett is to become head chef of the Lygon Arms ](/articles/29843)hotel in Broadway, Hereford and Worcester, in the summer.

  • 1993 The Sultan of Brunei's family acquires the 55-storey Helmsley Palace Hotel in 455 Madison Avenue, New York (which opened in 1981) for $202m and rename it the New York Palace hotel.

  • 1991 The Sultan of Brunei transfers ownership of the Dorchester and Beverley Hills hotels to the Brunei Investment Agency, the investment arm of the country's ministry of finance.

  • 1990 The Dorchester opens its Oriental restaurant under Simon Yung, with Tony Cheung as dim sum cook. It becomes one of the [few hotel - and Cantonese - restaurants to win a Michelin star.](/articles/22792)

    1920s -1980s

  • December 1988 The 248-bedroom [Dorchester hotel closes for 23 months ](/articles/57100)to undergo a complete £100m renovation by Bob Lush of the Richmond Design Group. Executive chef Willi Elsener coordinates the construction of seven state-of-the-art hotel kitchens.
    The hotel reopens in November 1990.

  • 1988 Swiss chef Willi Elsener takes over executive chef from Anton Mosimann, who goes on to open member's club Mosimann's in Belgravia. Mosimann is awarded an OBE in 2004 the title of Officer, National Ordre du Mérite Agricole from the French president in 2006, and inauguration into Hotelympia's Hall of Fame in 2016.

  • 1988 Ricci Obertelli becomes [director and general manager of the Dorchester.](/articles/21043)

  • October 1987 The Sultan of Brunei buys the iconic pink 260-bedroom Beverly Hills hotel and bungalows in Los Angeles for an estimated $185m from oil tycoon Marvin Davis, who bought the hotel in December 1986 for $136m. The Beverley Hills hotel was established in May 1912 - before the city's existence - by Margaret and Stanley Anderson, former managers of the Hollywood hotel.

  • 1986 Seamus McManus is appointed general manager at the Dorchester while Ricci Obertelli, deputy general manager at the Four Seasons Inn on the Park, is brought in as his number two. The hotel faces a £90m restoration programme.

  • 1985 The Sultan of Brunei [fails in his attempt to oust Regent Internationalas manager of the Dorchester, which Regent continues to manage until 1990. Regent denies reports that staff are unhappy** with the Court of Appeal decision in its favour.

  • 1985 Six months later towards the end of the year, the Sultan of Brunei buys the Dorchester for an estimated £43m in Britain's single biggest deal, with Regent retaining the management contract. The 38-year-old Sultan of the tiny, oil-rich sultanate in Borneo - who is worth an estimated $25b - has maintained a £1,000-a-week suite at the hotel, which he intends to spend £20m refurbishing over the next three years.

  • 1985 Regent International Hotels - a Hong Kong-based group set up in 1970 by US hotelier Bob Burns and Japan's Tokyu Hotels group - buys the Dorchester hotel backed by a loan from HSBC.

  • June 1982 Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, is shot and injured by an assassin while leaving the Dorchester in an attack that leads to the 1982 Lebanon War.

  • 1982 Anton Mosimann creates a new ligher, healthier cooking style called Cuisine Naturelle. One of the first of the modern generation of super-chefs, Mosimann was the first UK chef to use television to become a national figure.

  • January 1981 The Dorchester hotel becomes a Grade II Listed Building.

  • 1980s Dorchester chef Anton Mosimann denies reports that he plans to quit the Dorchester and start his own restaurant.

  • 1977 The Dorchester hotel is bought by a consortium of Middle Eastern businessmen headed by the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Muda Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzadin Waddaulah.

  • 1975 Swiss-born chef Anton Mosimann joins as executive sous chef of the Dorchester's Grill Restaurant. The 28-year-old chef is promoted in December to become the youngest ever maitre chef des cuisines, heading a brigade of 132 chefs. In the late 1980s, the Dorchester becomes the first hotel restaurant outside France to achieve two Michelin stars.

  • 1972 Giles Shepard becomes a director of the Dorchester hotel, a role he holds until 1976.

  • 1950s Theatrical designer Oliver Messel creates the luxury apartments on the 7th and 8th floors: the architecturally-listed Oliver Messel Suite features a Georgian country house style.

  • 1950 Swiss chef Eugene Kaufeler becomes head chef of the Dorchester which he joined in 1939-1940. Aged 42, he is London's youngest maitre chef de cuisines.

  • 1940s Leading French chef Jean Baptiste Virlogeux, who headed the Savoy in the 1930s, reigns as head chef of the Dorchester for 10 years. During WW2, his inventiveness is tested by food rationing and the government-imposed maximum price restriction of five shillings for a three-course meal. He dies in 1958.

  • 1938 During the rebuild of the Dorchester bar, world famous barman Harry Craddock seals phials of the three most popular cocktails - the Martini, Manhattan and White Lady - in the bar wall. The phials, scroll and recipes are still in excellent condition when the bar is reconstructed in 1979.

  • March 1937 McAlpine sets up Dorchester Hotel Ltd to buy out Gordon Hotels' stake in the property.

  • April 18, 1931 The rebuilt property opens its doors as the Dorchester hotel after the first building on the site, which was named Dorchester House in 1792 when owner Joseph Damer, became the Earl of Dorchester. It became Hertford House in the 19th century when it was acquired by Francis Seymour-Conway, the 3rd Marquess of Hertford.

  • 1929 Civil engineering contractor Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons buys Hertford House in London's Park Lane from Lord Morely for £500,000. The acquisition is made on behalf of Dorchester House Syndicate, a joint venture between McAlpine and Gordon Hotels, which intends to demolish and rebuild the property.

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