The Canadian Reichman family has sold the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria hotel for $160 million, some three years after the 1920s building, just outside of the capital’s Old City walls, was opened following an extensive restoration.
The new owner is French-Jewish businessman Michel Ohayon, who owns Le Grand Hôtel in Bordeaux and the Versailles Waldorf Astoria.
Under the deal, Ohayon will have the rights to operate the Jerusalem hotel as a Walfdorf Astoria for another 15 years, although it is officially part of the Hilton chain of hotels, which manages the Waldorf brand.
The Reichmann family, some of whom live in ultra-Orthodox environs of Jerusalem’s Shaarei Hesed neighborhood, bought the property for $20 million in 2005 and renovated it at a reported cost of $150 million.
Carried out by architect Yehuda Feigin, the three-year project included extensive work to restore the building’s blend of Roman, Moorish and Arab architecture, down to the Art Deco iron banisters and metal work on the familiar arched windows that form part of the building’s facade. The hotel now houses 226 rooms and Jerusalem’s largest ballroom.
Much of the lavish interior design work was influenced by the personal tastes of the Reichmann family patriarch, investor Paul Reichmann, who died at age 83 in October 2013. His five heirs began negotiations last year to sell the building, the last of the real estate mogul’s hotel interests.
Reichmann, a Canadian real estate developer and philanthropist, led the family’s Olympia & York company which developed the Canary Wharf business district in London and New York’s World Financial Center.
He and his family lost most of their fortune in the early 1990s during the global real estate slowdown — the company went bankrupt in 1992 — but later were able to recoup some of it.
The Reichmann family donates up to $50 million a year to yeshivas, synagogues and hospitals around the world, according to The New York Times.