The Bulletin can reveal today that one of the four parties interested in the purchase of Sir Richard Branson's luxury Hotel Residencia in Deya is the Orient-Express Hotels, Trains and Cruise group. Simon M. C. Sherwood, the President of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. has been at the hotel for the past two days and it is believed that Orient Express Hotels are closest to closing the 3'800 million pesetas (approx. £15 million) deal. The mere name Orient-Express conjures up an image of luxury, splendour glamour, history, nostalgia and professionalism. The company's portfolio of hotels not only stretches around the globe but also includes some of the most famous and finest hotels and resorts in the world and the arrival of the Orient Express group in Majorca will give the island's quality market the ultimate boost. “From illustrious politicians and famous authors to Hollywood stars and occasional spies, for a quarter of a century Orient-Express trains, hotels and restaurants have played host to those who made history,” the company states. Whether any spies have crossed the threshold of the Residencia remains to be revealed, but Orient-Express is more than qualified to pamper the hotel's illustrious guests. The company prides itself on employing some of the most experienced and highly qualified managers in the industry. In 2000, Orient Express Hotels had net earnings of $40 million on revenue of $276 million and much of the profits are being invested in expanding the company's property portfolio. Orient-Express Hotels for the past four years have been investing between $50 and $100 million on purchasing two or three properties and it would appear that the company intends to maintain its rate of growth. Apart from the hotels, restaurants and trains, the company also operates the MV Road to Mandalay which provides luxury cruises on the Irrawaddy River in central Burma and the company's cruise ship operation also includes the Windermere Iron Steamboat Company located on Lake Windermere in the Lake District. While nothing is confirmed, sources in London believe that the Orient-Express is the firm favourite to take over ownership of the Hotel Residencia. What remains to be established is whether the company is also buying Sir Richard Branson's Son Bunyola estate just 20 miles away in Banyabulfar. Branson bought the estate in the 90s with plans to develop one of the “world's best hotels,” but his plans have been continually thwarted by the local authorities and industry sources say that the estate is on the market for around 1'500 million pesetas.

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