Aman Resorts & Russia: Is There A Connection?

Aman Resorts & Russia: Is There A Connection?

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Aman is known for being one of the world’s best luxury hotel groups, as the company has a few dozen boutique properties around the globe, with several new hotels in the pipeline. The Aman brand was sold in 2014, and it’s common for people in the industry to say that a Singaporean sold the brand to a Russian.

The nationality of the people buying and selling the company wasn’t really significant until now, with Russia having invaded Ukraine. Given the Russia connection, a few days ago I briefly wondered whether the Aman brand would be impacted by Russian billionaires’ assets being seized. I didn’t do much research, until a friend randomly messaged me the same question last night. That caused me to do a bit of digging.

Aman CEO distances himself from Russia

Vladislav Doronin is the billionaire owner of Aman Resorts, and CEO of OKO Group, a real estate company. Should consumers be boycotting Aman because of a connection to Russia, and/or should we worry about Aman’s financial situation, with the assets of many Russian billionaires being seized?

It was reported in late February (though it’s being disputed by Doronin, and is allegedly the basis of a legal dispute) that there were protests in front of the new Aman New York (which still hasn’t opened), over the company’s ties to Russia. Since then, Doronin has issued the following statement:

“I denounce the aggression of Russia on Ukraine and fervently wish for peace.

I was born in the USSR, the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, which comprised both Russia and Ukraine. I left in 1986 before its dissolution and have therefore never been a Russian national. Furthermore, I have not conducted business in Russia for many years.

Aman is an international company headquartered in Europe and OKO Group is headquartered in the US. As an international business with teams situated across all corners of the globe, I have always embraced a culture of inclusion and peace. In doing so, together we not only celebrate many cultures, but we do so with purpose and a unified voice, which has harmony, goodwill, and wellbeing at its heart.”

A lawyer for Doronin also made it clear that neither the company nor Doronin himself support, financially, or otherwise, the Putin regime. You can’t issue a much better statement than that, so at least Doronin is saying the right things.

Here’s another statement from a Doronin spokesperson:

“His spokesperson said he’s never held a stake in a company that was once owned by the U.S.S.R. or the Russian Federation — the general criteria for being a Russian oligarch. Doronin has also not appeared on the U.S. or European Union’s sanctions list. Nor is he featured on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s list of the 35 tycoons closest to Putin.”

Amanzoe in Greece

Is there more to this story, though?

You might be thinking to yourself “well this poor guy left the USSR 36 years ago, and people have just been making these assumptions because he has a Russian name, how unfortunate.” However, there might be a bit more to the story.

As noted by Skift, Doronin used to date supermodel Naomi Campbell. In 2010 she appeared on Oprah, where her boyfriend was described as a “Russian real estate mogul,” and she gave a glimpse into their life in Moscow. That certainly paints a different picture about Doronin’s connection to Russia than just thinking he left over 35 years ago and basically has had no connection to the country since.

Doronin’s Wikipedia page also states that he’s “the founder of Moscow-based Capital Group,” yet he allegedly sold his stake in the company in 2014. Interestingly from Doronin’s personal website, the Google preview states the following:

Since its inception in 1993 Capital Group has been responsible for some of the most significant buildings in present-day Moscow, developing Moscow’s…

But when you go to Doronin’s website, there’s no mention of that anymore. It sure seems that he’s trying to clean up any connections to Russia, which I certainly can’t blame him for. Of course keep in mind that Capital Group was founded after the end of the USSR, when Russia was a country.

Everyone has to decide for themselves what they want to make of this. Is Doronin a close alley of Putin, and are his companies about to go out of business? No, it sounds like that’s not the case. However, is Doronin’s only connection to Russia that he left the USSR in 1986? No, that doesn’t seem to be the case either…

Amanruya in Turkey

Bottom line

Aman was purchased in 2014, and most people have always thought it was a Russian billionaire behind the purchase, without putting much thought into it. Given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this is now getting a bit more scrutiny.

On the plus side, the founder of Aman has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and indeed the company that owns Aman is international, and it’s claimed that are no financial issues. At the same time, despite the founder claiming his main connection to Russia is that he was born in the USSR, it’s reported that he lived in Moscow more recently, and was also the founder of a big Russian real estate firm.

What do you make of the Aman connection to Russia?

Conversations (43)
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  1. Kaj Guest

    Doronin writes: "I left in 1986 before its dissolution and have therefore never been a Russian national."

    He conveniently does not mention his nationality. Which country issued his passport? If he has a Russian passport, he is a Russian national, regardless of when he left the country.

  2. Jared Guest

    A commendable move towards journalism. However, such an article needs an experienced journalist to deep-dive into.

    On a different note, doing business in Russia or with Russia is not illegal. We must be careful with drawing links between businesses and Russia.

  3. Amy Fischer Guest

    You are clearly favoring the globalists in this conflict and choose to negatively paint people just because of their ethnic heritage.

  4. Matt Guest

    Doronin was called a "King of Russian Real Estate" by Forbes in 2014... Here's the now deleted page about Capital Group, from June 2021 via wayback machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20210614161601/https://www.vladislavdoronin.com/real-estate/

    As the founder of multiple leading international property development companies, real estate magnate Vladislav Doronin has for several decades been a driving force behind the evolution of commercial and residential real estate markets.

    Since its inception in 1993 Capital Group has been responsible for some of the...

    Doronin was called a "King of Russian Real Estate" by Forbes in 2014... Here's the now deleted page about Capital Group, from June 2021 via wayback machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20210614161601/https://www.vladislavdoronin.com/real-estate/

    As the founder of multiple leading international property development companies, real estate magnate Vladislav Doronin has for several decades been a driving force behind the evolution of commercial and residential real estate markets.

    Since its inception in 1993 Capital Group has been responsible for some of the most significant buildings in present-day Moscow, developing Moscow’s equivalent of Wall Street or Canary Wharf. Projects include skyscrapers, business and retail centres, residential properties, hotels and mixed-use complexes.

    Capital Group was the first development company to invite top international architects, designers and engineers to design and build its projects in Russia. NBBJ and SOM (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill) from the US, London-based Arup, Jacques Grange, Massimo Iosa Ghini and Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Zaha Hadid are among Capital Group’s global partners.

    Capital Group also worked with several of Russia’s best architects and designers including Aleksandr Skokan, Vladimir Plotkin, Aleksandr Asadov and Nikolay Lyzlov. This unique combination, working with talented designers, engineers and architects across several, has enabled Capital Group to dominate the Moscow market.

    In 2013, Capital Group was named ‘Developer of the Decade’ at Moscow’s prestigious Commercial Real Estate Awards. For his personal achievements in the industry, in 2014 Vladislav Doronin was named by Forbes as one of the ‘Kings of Russian Real Estate’.

    Through Vladislav Doronin’s U.S.-based real estate company, OKO Group, several land parcels were acquired from 2014 to the present day. OKO Group’s current U.S. portfolio of prime properties and development projects include two luxury residential developments in Miami; Missoni Baia in East Edgewater and Una Residences on the Brickell Waterfront; and in New York City at the crossroads of 5th Avenue and 57th Street, the Crown Building which will soon become Aman New York.

    Real estate magnate, Vladislav Doronin, and his development team at OKO Group continue to look for opportunities to further expand their portfolio in the U.S. and internationally.

    1. Mak Guest

      Putting to one side that you could write all sorts of articles about Doronin's real estate investments elsewhere, what about this suggests that he is in any remote way responsible for conspiring with Putin to invade Ukraine and deserving of punishment for it. Innuendo and guilt by association is not the same as presenting evidence, and this does nothing to suggest that he is guilty for anything other than being born in Russia.

  5. whocares Guest

    who cares. much of the $ in the USA is stolen / fake anyway. Just endless money printing and certain insiders take more of that. it's all going to collapse before the end of the decade.

  6. Steven E Guest

    Once a Russian always a Russian

    1. Mak Guest

      This is at least more honest bigotry than most of the other posts.

  7. echino Gold

    What do I think, Ben? I think cancel culture that you embrace is disgusting.

  8. Alex Borshenko Guest

    This is a brilliant article. If you dig further you will find that Capital Group is owned by (Aman owner) Vladislav Doronin AND a sitting member of the Duma (Russian Parliament) Pavel Tyo—who has ties to the russian mafia. You don’t become the biggest real estate developer in Moscow without Putin’s blessing if not involvement. Anyone who understands Russia knows this.

    Moreover, Doronin himself sat in on and arranged an interview with Putin.

  9. DLPTATL Guest

    I can't believe I just watched a grainy old Oprah episode featuring Naomi Campbell...what's the world coming to??? Oh, and I also Googled her to find out that she and Vlad haven't been together since 2013.

    The war in Ukraine is a global horror. Punishing those that have contributed to this atrocity is just and right. I just don't know if Doronin falls into that group of Oligarchs that go beyond complicity. More research...

    I can't believe I just watched a grainy old Oprah episode featuring Naomi Campbell...what's the world coming to??? Oh, and I also Googled her to find out that she and Vlad haven't been together since 2013.

    The war in Ukraine is a global horror. Punishing those that have contributed to this atrocity is just and right. I just don't know if Doronin falls into that group of Oligarchs that go beyond complicity. More research is needed, but it certainly looks like he's trying to distance himself from his Russian (intentionally chosen vs. Soviet) past.

    1. PC Guest

      Naomi and he not being together is irrelevant. The clip is shown to highlight that his partner at that time, identified him as Russian. Now he is not? With the other supporting issues.
      Sanctions don’t work with carve outs for deniers. Sadly, they must direct their upset to Putin and apply pressure by any means. The Ukrainians have it far worse.

  10. Eskimo Guest

    This post is going too far into no facts just need some clickbait and comment wars.

    Speculating like this is just saying every Vodka is Russian.
    Or Poutine must have some ties to Putin.

  11. JetSetGo Guest

    Just fyi, Doronin isn’t 100% owner of Aman resort group. There are other none Russian shareholders.

  12. PidaRussian Federation Guest

    First of all, he was born in Soviet Union in the territory of the current Russian Federation.
    What is relevant that doing business in Russia means always bribery to government("motivation package") unless the government influencers are not involved in it. The bigger the business, the bigger the bribery.
    Getting removed public information about his real estate business in Russia from 1993 means he is deeply involved with government and was published ONLY to...

    First of all, he was born in Soviet Union in the territory of the current Russian Federation.
    What is relevant that doing business in Russia means always bribery to government("motivation package") unless the government influencers are not involved in it. The bigger the business, the bigger the bribery.
    Getting removed public information about his real estate business in Russia from 1993 means he is deeply involved with government and was published ONLY to avoid confiscation of assets outside of Russia and losing percantage of Aman clients.
    Anyone who is claiming that he does not has anything to do with government of Moscow or Russia does not have any knowledge about how the big business runs in Russia.
    The money that has invested to Western world is corrupted blood money. That comes to so called "oligarhs" investments and how they got their assets.

    1. Mak Guest

      More fact free innuendo, speculation, and guilt by association which immediately reverts to relying "first of all" on the fact that he was born in Russia and never goes beyond speculation about "that's the way its done in Russia." As if that's not the way its done in the USA too . . . but that doesn't make US business people guilty for the many sins of the US government.

    2. PidaRussian Fedeation Guest

      You do not get that he was born in Soviet Union? I am yet to see a businessman in Russia who would swear that he never gave any bribes to government officials :-) There is no court to say guilty or not. He had a big investing business in Russia at least 19 years and what is the purpose to remove any kind of information about his business there from the company website and publishing the statement with pure lie? Not judging, just asking.

    3. Ray Gold

      @Comrade Mak:

      “ As if that's not the way its done in the USA too . . . but that doesn't make US business people guilty for the many sins of the US government.”

      Not all people, just those that participate in this behavior. They are a part of the problem.

  13. Nick Guest

    It seems that simply being Russian these days is a crime.

    1. keitherson Guest

      Considering a majority of Russians support Putin and the war, well...

    2. Mak Guest

      "Considering a majority of Russians support Putin and the war." Of course this is true and requires no further factual support. Just ask Putin!

  14. Reno Joe Guest

    The average Russian walking down the street is just like any other person walking down the street. And, it would be shameful to stereotype any person based on one's heritage. But, this guy ain't your average Russian walking down the street. He has substantial investments in Moscow . . . for which he has sought lower visibility.

    Many governments have frozen the assets of individuals with connections to the Russian government. Those governments are investigating...

    The average Russian walking down the street is just like any other person walking down the street. And, it would be shameful to stereotype any person based on one's heritage. But, this guy ain't your average Russian walking down the street. He has substantial investments in Moscow . . . for which he has sought lower visibility.

    Many governments have frozen the assets of individuals with connections to the Russian government. Those governments are investigating who has such connections. The news media are investigating who has such connections. Irrespective of anything else about this gentleman, it appears that he has substantial investments in Moscow -- for which he is lowering their visibility. Given the circumstances, it is reasonable to ask what connections he has. And, it is likely that he is on the radar of governments imposing asset freezes.

    1. Mak Guest

      So now the new standard is whether somebody has "substantial investments in Moscow." Sounds a lot like the argument that Donald Trump was controlled by Putin because of his real estate investments there. Innuendo though, is different from facts.

    2. Arie Guest

      I think the standard now is whether someone has substantial investments in Russia AND is/was Russian.
      If you are a non Russian go ahead and enjoy, no one will touch your assets.
      This is an old racist trope and it is sad to see it play out again.

    3. Reno Joe Guest

      A person can be in bed with another yet not be controlled by the other.

      W.E.B. DuBois wrote that Black folks have "second sight" -- that is, they are aware of the way they see themselves and they are aware of the way others see them. Prejudice is a terrible thing. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that individuals of Russian ethnicity are feeling something similar right now.

      But, as I said before, the average Russian...

      A person can be in bed with another yet not be controlled by the other.

      W.E.B. DuBois wrote that Black folks have "second sight" -- that is, they are aware of the way they see themselves and they are aware of the way others see them. Prejudice is a terrible thing. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that individuals of Russian ethnicity are feeling something similar right now.

      But, as I said before, the average Russian walking down the street is just like any other person walking down the street. These folks have done nothing wrong. The average Russian walking down the street is owed the same courtesy and civility that is owed to any other person walking down the street.

      The investments are simply a data point. INTERPOL and other law enforcement agencies will determine whether that data point -- combined with other data points -- with respect to *any* individual warrants further investigation. If that includes Mr. Trump, so be it.

      If I have offended anyone, I apologize. I have attempted to offer my thoughts in a balanced, fair, reasonable, and non-dogmatic way.

  15. KATA Member

    Regardless of his connections to Putin (or lack thereof), he leadership has made Aman lose its charm.

    Standards have been slipping, and the direction of the company is awful. Even some of the Aman staff I know have suggested that the brand is more concerned about profits and cashing in nowadays rather than providing a magical experience.

    1. Mak Guest

      Now this is an intelligent comment rather than a bigoted one. Doronin should be remembered as the guy who orchestrated the removal of Adrian Zecha, and opened dozens of anodyne "Amanresorts" in charmless places and watered down the brand. That he did so after having been born in Russia is totally irrelevant.

    2. Reno Joe Guest

      Being born in Russia is irrelevant. Absolutely.

      Having hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate investments in Moscow is relevant. Based on that and not his ethnicity, it is reasonable to ask what his connections are.

    3. Mak Guest

      So one is responsible for Putin's aggression in Ukraine merely because he has investments there? Other people/companies with investments in Russia, BP, McDonald's, Pepsi, The Clinton Foundation, Congressmen Ro Khanna . . . Bill and Hillary Clinton both got massive 7 figure fees to speak in Russia. Guilty too?

    4. PidaRussian Federation Guest

      There is no agression in Ukraine. According to official announcement: Russian peacekeepers provide a "special military operation" in territory of DPR and LPR. The goal is denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, a country lead by freely elected nazi president who is from Russian speaking jews family.
      There are also no any kind of sanctions against the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus, it is " a special economic operation".
      I do not care...

      There is no agression in Ukraine. According to official announcement: Russian peacekeepers provide a "special military operation" in territory of DPR and LPR. The goal is denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, a country lead by freely elected nazi president who is from Russian speaking jews family.
      There are also no any kind of sanctions against the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus, it is " a special economic operation".
      I do not care a s*it, when any russian cries or complains about the results of the "special economic operation", because it is not comparable with a loss of the people in Ukraine.
      The main question from pro-government supporters is: " Where you were during about the last 8 years when Ukraine bombed DPR and LPR?" My answer: I watched how Ukraine forces tried to release their territory from terrorist supported by Russia. DPR and LPR is exactly same as ISIS, no difference and they must be treated as such.

    5. David Diamond

      That's how sanctions work Mak. If he has business connections to Moscow, then he gets sanctioned. If Bill and Hillary Clinton is hopping on a plane tomorrow (i.e. AFTER the sanctions) to speak in Russia for 7 figures, then yeah they'd be in trouble too.

    6. Mak Guest

      Yes, that's how sanctions work, a blunt instrument that mostly punishes people for where they come from rather than anything they've done - but that doesn't make it moral or right.

      You know, after a point FDR allowed Japanese-Americans who swore loyalty and obedience to the USA and disavowed connections to Japan to leave the camps, keeping many Japanese Americans in prison camps. Was that right? History is repeating itself and the cold ignorant...

      Yes, that's how sanctions work, a blunt instrument that mostly punishes people for where they come from rather than anything they've done - but that doesn't make it moral or right.

      You know, after a point FDR allowed Japanese-Americans who swore loyalty and obedience to the USA and disavowed connections to Japan to leave the camps, keeping many Japanese Americans in prison camps. Was that right? History is repeating itself and the cold ignorant bigotry of Americans infuriated by their impotent rage returns to the fore.

    7. David Diamond

      What did Ukrainians do to deserve death and destruction of their homeland?

      Funny how you blame sanctions for being a blunt instrument, but say little about the blunt instruction called war and invasion that Russia chose to initiate. In war, civilians ALWAYS suffer on both sides, but that doesn't mean Ukraine should just rollover, or that Russia should not be punished for killing civilians.

      Does seem to me like Japanese Americans should swear loyalty to...

      What did Ukrainians do to deserve death and destruction of their homeland?

      Funny how you blame sanctions for being a blunt instrument, but say little about the blunt instruction called war and invasion that Russia chose to initiate. In war, civilians ALWAYS suffer on both sides, but that doesn't mean Ukraine should just rollover, or that Russia should not be punished for killing civilians.

      Does seem to me like Japanese Americans should swear loyalty to the USA, given that it was a requirement to be an American in the first place. Have you ever heard of the Oath of Allegiance? You sound like an angry Russian apologist.

    8. Mak Guest

      It's "funny" how some people can't read, and freely interpret comments to distract from the real argument. Did anybody anywhere in this thread defend Russia's invasion, much less the death of its people and destruction of its cities and villages? I think not. The question the adults are discussing assumes all of this, and asks whether every person of Russian heritage is responsible and should be punished. A debate that your limited reading comprehension doesn't...

      It's "funny" how some people can't read, and freely interpret comments to distract from the real argument. Did anybody anywhere in this thread defend Russia's invasion, much less the death of its people and destruction of its cities and villages? I think not. The question the adults are discussing assumes all of this, and asks whether every person of Russian heritage is responsible and should be punished. A debate that your limited reading comprehension doesn't allow you to participate in.

      So the Japanese-Americans should swear allegiance? "Funny" how nobody cared whether German-Americans or Italian-Americans swore allegiance to avoid FDR's camps.

  16. Sam Guest

    Great article, Ben

    Presenting the facts impartially; I disagree with some of the other comments that you have written "crass ethnic prejudice"

    On the contrary, I think what you've written is quite fair...

  17. Jkjkjk Guest

    Non discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and country of origin is american biggest hypocrisy and now they don’t even try to cover it up.

  18. Mak Guest

    What a ridiculous article, filled with crass ethnic prejudice masquerading as concern for Ukraine. Doronin made his money as a commodities broker in Switzerland in the 80s and 90s (with the late and non-Russian Marc Rich) while Putin was an obscure KGB agent. That he was born in Russia and does business there - and also does business in New York, Miami, Zurich, London, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. - does not make him...

    What a ridiculous article, filled with crass ethnic prejudice masquerading as concern for Ukraine. Doronin made his money as a commodities broker in Switzerland in the 80s and 90s (with the late and non-Russian Marc Rich) while Putin was an obscure KGB agent. That he was born in Russia and does business there - and also does business in New York, Miami, Zurich, London, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. - does not make him an ally of Putin any more than it makes Mark Zuckerberg an ally of Donald Trump. Tarring Doronin as a Putin ally is premised almost entirely on his place of birth and ethnicity, and not on any facts - the same sort of prejudice that landed those of Japanese ancestry in FDR's concentration camps. For shame.

    1. Aaron Guest

      What a nonsense reply. What ethnic prejudice does Lucky have? To Russians? How silly of you.

  19. Brian Guest

    I, for one, believe everything the Russian billionaire says as completely and totally true….

  20. Up Up & Away Member

    A bit more digging will show that Doronin is a Russian oligarch with close to ties to a dictator who shall go unnamed (let's call him Vladolf Putler). Staying at an Aman will indeed contribute to that dictator's coffers.

    1. Mak Guest

      "Digging." You mean speculating. Care to share the results of your research project that demonstrate "close ties" to Putin? More than say his ties to Leonardo de Caprio?

    2. Up Up & Away Member

      Maksim, I am not going to do your digging for you but a quick Google search will bring up plenty of research linking Doronin to Putin.

    3. Mak Guest

      If that's so, why not cite it Upupandawayski? In reality, there is no more to connect him to Putin than to Obama except the coincidence of his place of birth. Next you'll want to go after Yacov Smirnoff.

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Alex Borshenko Guest

This is a brilliant article. If you dig further you will find that Capital Group is owned by (Aman owner) Vladislav Doronin AND a sitting member of the Duma (Russian Parliament) Pavel Tyo—who has ties to the russian mafia. You don’t become the biggest real estate developer in Moscow without Putin’s blessing if not involvement. Anyone who understands Russia knows this. Moreover, Doronin himself sat in on and arranged an interview with Putin.

4
Nick Guest

It seems that simply being Russian these days is a crime.

3
KATA Member

Regardless of his connections to Putin (or lack thereof), he leadership has made Aman lose its charm. Standards have been slipping, and the direction of the company is awful. Even some of the Aman staff I know have suggested that the brand is more concerned about profits and cashing in nowadays rather than providing a magical experience.

3
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