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Hoteliers in Asia and the Middle East are cashing in on North America's great room rates and feasting on that luxury-lodgings market. Dubai-based Jumeirah has assumed management of New York City's Essex House, and Bombay-based Tata Group scooped up the Pierre. And now Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, below, is spearheading the most recent five-star bid: a $3.9 billion offer by his Kingdom Hotel International and Colony Capital to buy Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. The two companies want to create a $5.5 billion high-end leader, with 120 hotels in 24 countries. Why the interest in prestige North American properties?...

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