When the posh Hotel Bel-Air was re-opened earlier this month by luxury hotel chain the Dorchester Collection, the reviews from the neighbors and press outlets who follow such things was warm and admiring. But from the reported 260-plus union workers who were laid off as a result of the renovation ... not so much.
As covered in the Los Angeles Times, guests arriving for the grand opening on October 14 were met by an estimated 300 protesters, their ranks bolstered by some OccupyLA demonstrators and representatives of hospitality union Unite Here Local 11.
The latter group has among its ranks a number of those disadvantaged by the renovation -- the hotel re-opened employing only about a dozen of its former union workers from a staff of 275.
A report in USA Today quoted union spokeswoman Leigh Skelton as saying that the Bel-Air has been a union hotel for decades and adding that people with 20 years of service are being thrown away like old furniture.
For its part, the hotel told the Times that when it laid off the workers in 2009, they were offered severance packages they declined, along with the ability to reapply for the jobs.
Hotel spokeswoman Alisha Mahon said that current employees now have the right to vote to unionize again ... it's up to the employees if they want to be a union. (Parent company Dorchester Collection is owned by Brunei Investment Company under the aegis of the oil-rich Brunei government.)
Mahon further said that even on the day of re-opening, occupancy was full and there has been no impact from the protests. In a promotion tied to the renovation, rooms were going for a mere $565 per night.
The hotel refurbished all 91 of its original rooms and added 15 more swanky retreats.
Unchanged throughout the work is the presence of the hotel's signature swans, Chloe, Athena and Hercules.
Presumably, the sequestered property will still host the celebrities, movie stars and dignitaries who have dined here (the kitchen will now be run by Wolfgang Puck) camped out here during celebrations and crises.
TheWrap placed queries with both the hotel management and the OccupyLA group that were not immediately answered.