French authorities stepped up their search on Sunday for a Chinese hotel magnate and a French businessman who went missing after their helicopter crashed while they were celebrating the sale of a prestigious Bordeaux chateau and vineyard.
James Grégoire, a French entrepreneur, had taken Lam Kok, owner of Brilliant, a Hong-Kong based hotel chain, for a flight over the Chateau de la Riviere estate in his helicopter on Friday when it crashed into the Dordogne river.
Mr Kok, who also owns a specialist tea business, had just bought the 90 hectare estate – including 65 hectares of vineyard – and its large 16th century chateau from Mr Grégoire for a reported ￠30m.
A number of journalists had been invited to witness completion of the deal, the latest in a series of purchases of French vineyards by Chinese investors.
An enthused Mr Kok was quoted by French media as saying: “We will create here the hotel I have dreamt about. Our project is as much economic as cultural. We will create an alliance of great wines and the best teas. With a spa and all the wellbeing that goes with it.”
The acquisition was understood to be the first by Mr Kok and his wife, who co-owns Brilliant, outside China. Brilliant includes four hotels in China under the French brand “Relais et chateaux”.
Officials said Mr Grégoire was at the controls of the helicopter when it crashed. Also on board were Mr Kok’s 12-year-old son and a Chinese interpreter. A previous owner of the estate was killed in a plane crash 11 years ago.
The boy’s body was later found, French media reported, but the other three individuals had not been recovered by Sunday afternoon. Divers with specialist sonar equipment were brought in to help search the tidal river, in addition to heat-seeking airborne equipment.
上周五，法国企业家詹姆斯?格雷瓜尔(James Grégoire)驾驶自己的直升机，带柏联集团(Brilliant)总裁郝琳(Lam Kok)从空中俯瞰大河古堡(Chateau de la Riviere)酒庄，结果飞机坠入多尔多涅河(Dordogne River)。柏联是一家连锁酒店集团，总部位于香港。
据信这是郝琳及其妻子（为柏联的共同所有者）在中国以外进行的第一笔收购。柏联在华经营4家法国品牌罗莱夏朵(Relais et chateaux)精品酒店。