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Maritz, Wolff On Verge of Selling The Fairmont at the Plaza,
One of Kansas City's Most Elegant Hotels
By Rick Alm, The Kansas City Star, Mo.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Nov. 8, 2005 - The Fairmont at the Plaza, one of Kansas City's most elegant hotels, could be sold today by its St. Louis-based owners to an undisclosed buyer.

"The deal is heading toward a closing," said Robert Coe, a spokesman for the seller, Maritz, Wolff & Co.

"No other details are available until the new owner is ready to respond."

Coe said a detailed announcement was expected today.

Maritz, Wolff offices in St. Louis and Los Angeles issued no statements Monday, and employees reached by phone had no comment. Top Maritz executives could not be reached.

One potential buyer is the world's fifth-richest man, according to the 2005 Forbes list of billionaires.

Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal controls Kingdom Hotels International.

Its affliliate, Kingdom Hotels Ltd. of Toronto, has bought luxury hotels from Maritz in the past, including Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel earlier this year.

Kingdom and Alwaleed also have acquired or invested in other Fairmont hotels in recent years, according to a Web site of Sonnenblick-Goldman Co., New York, which arranged the Toronto transaction.

Alwaleed's lodging interests, some in partnership with the Maritz group, are estimated at around 300 properties in North America, the Middle East and Africa.

At one time Alwaleed reportedly held a minority interest in the Kansas City Fairmont.

Forbes ranks Alwaleed fifth in its 2005 edition of its famous list of billionaires, with a net worth estimated at $23.7 billion.

The sale is the second in five years for the 12-story, 366-room edifice that overlooks Brush Creek and the Country Club Plaza.

The hotel is expected to remain a franchise property of the luxury chain Fairmont Hotels & Resorts group.

Built by the J.C. Nichols Co. and opened in 1972 as the Alameda Plaza, the property was re-flagged as a Ritz-Carlton in 1990.

The Ritz management group survived several ownership changes in the '90s after a foreclosure in 1994. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. sold the building in 2000 to the Maritz group.


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