"I was in the Swiss Alps skiing," says the heiress after arriving six hours late

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 03, 2005 08:00 AM

Paris Hilton arrived fashionably late – by some six hours – for the opening of her first nightclub in Orlando, missing many of the guests but armed with a proper explanation.

“I was in the Swiss Alps skiing, and I got caught at the airport with all the holiday travel so I’ve been trying to travel for the past 24 hours,” Hilton, 23, said once she arrived at Club Paris shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, the Associated Press reports. “I’m so sorry I’m late.”

In order to get the proceedings underway Thursday night, Hilton had an understudy cut the pink ribbon: her sister, Nicky. But the crowd wanted Paris.

“She’s so upset that she isn’t here,” co-owner Fred Khalilian assured first-night guests, the Orlando Sentinel reports. “To me, it doesn’t matter. Someone is here from the Hilton family.”

“This kind of stuff happens – you miss a flight,” said former ‘N Sync singer Joey Fatone, one of the few celebrities to show up despite Khalilian’s promises of a stellar opening. Other names: Catherine Bach, the original Daisy Duke from TV’s Dukes of Hazzard and boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman

Under the terms of her partnership with Khalilian, who sunk $3 million into the Orlando club, the hotel heiress and Simple Life star, who made no financial investment in the enterprise, is required to make four appearances a year at the Orlando location.

Khalilian plans to launch a chain of Club Paris nightspots, according to Hilton’s entertainment attorney, Peter Lopez. If the plan proceeds as envisioned, other clubs will open in Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, Paris and Madrid.

As for Khalilian’s star attraction not elevating her own opening into an A-list event, Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum told the Sentinel: “For all those people I invited, I’m going to blast Fred’s butt out later.”