It’s one thing to see a movie star on a screen. But to see them in the flesh, on the elevator, lounging beside the pool at your favorite hotel is a whole different bag of swag.
And one of your best bets for celebrity sighting is at awards show Gift Suites, held at nearby posh hotels. In fact, if you’d had a room last week at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, you’d have likely seen LL Cool J, Loretta Devine, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, Penny Marshall, Lorraine Braaco and Cloris Leachman, to name a few. They all stopped by the HBO Luxury Suite before the 2011 Emmys to pick up free Carrera sunglasses, Invicta watches and New Era Hats.
At these suites, freebies known in Hollywood as swag are handed out to anyone (well, anyone with an agent and a nomination) that shows up.
It’s a shrewd advertising gimmick that has been known to rocket companies into the rarefied limelight of sizzling-hot brandland. The stars pick up all sorts of free things like five-day trips to Bora Bora, memberships at country clubs, diamonds, high-tech headphones, speakers and other stuff you don’t normally find at Target.
Used to be, each star just got a bag filled with chic loot worth as much as $50,000. But the IRS got wind of it and now, the stars, rather than having to declare for a bunch of pricey stuff they don’t want, are invited to the Gift Suites to make their selection.
So which hotels provided prime star watching during the 2011 Emmys?
1. Four Seasons. Always a hub of activity during awards season, this gorgeous hotel perfumed with its signature flower arrangements hosted HBO’s Luxury Suite that handed out specially-concocted cocktails, one for every HBO show.
2. W Hotel. GBK, always a star player when it comes to celebrity gift events, hosted their suite at the W where they passed out free trips to Fiji and ComforPedic memory foam mattresses.
3. The Mondrian. Singer/actress Christina Milian, TV personality/model Eva Marcille and actor/author Hill Harper were spotted collecting freebies during the Kari Feinstein Primetime Emmy Awards Style Lounge held at the splashy Mondrian.
Among the freebies offered: UppaBaby’s $680 Vista stroller (outfitted with shock absorbers and an organic bassinet with a pull-out sun shade); rare and red-carpet-ready blue diamonds from jeweler Sophia Fiori; Brahmin leather handbags (popular Saturday with actress Melissa Joan Hart and TV personality Samantha Harris); indestructible steel “True Blood” headphones by V-MODA; and vegan footwear from Michael Antonio Shoes.