New York NY – June 18,2015 (hospitalitybusinessnews.com) According to a report by AP, the U.S. State Department will abandon decades of tradition this fall at the annual U.N. General Assembly by setting up shop in a hotel other than New York’s iconic Waldorf-Astoria, which was purchased last year by a Chinese company.
In past years, American diplomats, and support staff, who travel to New York for the General Assembly each September usually stay and hold meetings on two secured floors at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. announced last October that it had entered into an agreement with Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd., under which Anbang agreed to purchase the Waldorf Astoria New York for $1.95 billion. As part of this long-term strategic partnership, Anbang granted Hilton Worldwide a management agreement to continue to operate the property for the next 100 years, and the hotel will undergo a major renovation to restore the property to its historic grandeur.
The State Department appears to be concerned that the major renovation that will take place will open an opportunity for listening devises to be planted.
The U.S. State Department is concerned about spying by the Chinese Government both in the United States and in China. The State Department web site states, in connection with travel to China, “Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge. Business travelers should be particularly mindful that trade secrets, negotiating positions, and other business-sensitive information may be taken and shared with local interests. ”
According to AP it was not immediately clear whether the Waldorf residence of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would be moved to another location. The State Department has leased an apartment for the ambassador on the 42nd floor of the hotel’s Waldorf Towers for more than 50 years.