The five-star, 294-bedroom Corinthia Hotel London has pushed back its official opening to the end of April but still expects to trade as normal, despite the sanctions imposed upon its part-Libyan owner.
Developed within the Victorian building which formerly housed the Metropole hotel, and more recently partially used by the Ministry of Defence, the hotel has positioned itself to rival the capital's leading five-star properties including the Savoy, the Dorchester and the Ritz.
The owners of the hotel - International Hotel Investments (IHI), a Maltese publicly-listed holding company - has obtained clearance from the UK Government and the European Union that the sanctions introduced as a result of the political unrest in Libya will not impact the trading of the property.
However it is as yet unclear how US-based customers will react to the hotel's Libyan connections. One employee of the hotel told Caterer: "Everyone has been following developments in the Middle East closely. As far as we know, what's going on in Libya won't affect the running of the hotel."
Around one third of IHI is owned by the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFICO), which is subject to the sanctions. As a result LAFICO is unable to sell its assets in IHI or draw any dividends or profits from their investment.
The rest of the ownership of IHI is made up of the 35% stake held by the Maltese Pisani family, which founded Corinthia Hotels in the 1960s, 22% by Istithmar World of Dubai and 8% by individual Maltese shareholders.
Matthew Dixon, general manger of the Corinthia Hotel London, said that the property would stand out from its competitors as a result of its location on Whitehall Place (between Trafalgar Square and the River Thames), the size of its bedrooms - with more than 120 in excess of 45sq m - and the high quality of detail to the interior design.
The hotel has two restaurants - Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar headed by Italian chef Massimo Riccioli and the Northall, which celebrates the best of British artisanal produce with chef Garry Hollihead at its helm.
It also has the largest hotel spa in London, ESPA Life at Corinthia with 14 treatment rooms, a second salon in the capital from Daniel Galvin and Harrods' first hotel store.
CORINTHIA HOTEL LONDON FACTFILE
London SW1A 2BD
Telephone: 020 7930 8181
General manager Matthew Dixon
Designer GA Design International, except for Massimo restaurant and Bassoon bar by David Collins Studio
Number of bedrooms 294
Number of staff 450
Cost of development £300m
Room rates from £450 for superior Queen room to £15,000 for Royal Suite