Room service, carefully manicured gardens and storied stone balconies weren’t
enough to keep former British prime minister Tony Blair, now the envoy of the
Quartet, in his Jerusalem home at the American Colony Hotel.
of the Quartet Representative has occupied 15 rooms – the entire fourth floor of
the hotel – for the past five years.
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Later this summer, Blair will be
moving out of the historical hotel and into his own more spacious
accommodations, in a new seven-story building in the Sheikh Jarrah
Blair’s predecessor, James Wolfensohn, was the first
Quartet Representative to set up shop on the fourth floor.
houses the offices of the Quartet Representative with a dozen full-time staff
members, and provided accommodation for Blair while he was in Israel, an average
of one week per month.
“We are moving for cost reasons; it’s going to be
considerably cheaper in [the] new premises,” said an official close to Blair,
who noted that the space at the new building would be about 40 percent of what
the office was paying at the hotel.
Both the hotel and the official
declined to specify the cost of the year-long lease, but it is estimated to be
around $1.5 million, or $300 per room per night. For regular guests, a single
room in the off-season costs $380 per night at the hotel.
The Office of
the Quartet Representative is funded by the US State Department, the European
Commission and the Norwegian Government.
Paolo Fetz, the general manager
of the American Colony, said the loss of the hotel’s long-term guest will force
their marketing department to work harder to fill the empty rooms in a
challenging tourism climate.
Indeed, Fetz noted that the Arab Spring has
caused many well-heeled tourists who go on typical whirlwind tours of Jordan,
Jerusalem and Egypt to cancel their plans to visit the region.
pity he’s leaving – he’s contributed to giving the hotel a good name, but we had
the reputation for many years beforehand,” said Fetz.
The hotel often
hosts visiting dignitaries, ministers, heads of states and UN officials since
its founding in 1902 as Jerusalem’s premier luxury hotel.
The building in
Sheikh Jarrah still has significant work to be done before its occupants can
move in, including installing windows and other last-minute items.
lease at the American Colony Hotel concludes at the end of June, though the
Quartet has extended it for a few weeks until the building is finished.