Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton: Luxury hotel or detention center for Saudi royals?


Less than two weeks ago, the lavish Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh was playing host to some of the world’s top executives. Now it appears to have become a detention center for Saudi royals ensnared in a corruption investigation.

At least 17 Saudi princes and top government officials were arrested on Saturday after King Salman bin Abdul Aziz ordered the unprecedented purge.

Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that at least some of those arrested were being held in the 5-star hotel. CNN was unable to independently verify the reports, and the hotel’s owner — Marriott (MAR) — would not expand on a statement issued Sunday that it was “evaluating the situation.”

There’s plenty of evidence of unusual activity, however. Booking websites show the 492-room hotel in the Saudi capital as completely unavailable until the end of November. A member of The Ritz-Carlton’s marketing team said Monday that it would only start taking bookings again from December 1.

Social media was buzzing with speculation about the Ritz-Carlton after tweets suggested guests were forced to leave the hotel over the weekend. And communications with the hotel have been cut off.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel’s internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected until further notice,” according to the hotel’s web page on Monday.

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