Posts tagged ‘Beverly Hills’

Forget the Nokia Theater. Spot the stars at posh hotel gift suites

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.

The other Beverly Hills

Punta del Este, Uruguay, often called the Riviera of South America, attracts so many vacationing A-listers that there’s now a Hollywood bus tour.

Stops include the hotel where George Bush stayed (it’s also a popular spot for international summits), the beach where Naomi Campbell was caught sunbathing nude, the bar where Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack drank martinis and the chic just-down-the-road village of La Barra where Ralph Lauren paid $12,000 a day to rent a villa. Oh, yeah, and did I mention there’s a section of town called Beverly Hills.

With 20 miles of beaches, three casinos, all-night discos, a popular yacht harbor (others prefer to fly into the helipad) and Calle 20 where designer-brand stores are as ubiquitous as pizza joints, this ultra-chic peninsula at the mouth of the Rio del la Plata has long been an exclusive getaway for well-heeled South Americans.

But then in the 60’s, the Rat Pack showed up, high-rise hotels and international attention followed and this once-sleepy fishing village became the “it” spot for such luminaries as Robert DeNiro, Princess Di and Fergie, Pablo Neruda and Leonard DiCaprio. Even happily-married Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon have been known to slip away to this glittery Latin American outpost for a bit of sunbathing, shopping and snogging.

When not partying hearty, Punta del Este’s holiday crowd amuses itself shark-fishing, surfing and oogling the 200,000 southern fur seals on nearby Isla de Lobos.

Another popular spot is Casapueblo, a whale-watching promontory outside of town where Uruguayan painter, sculptor, musician and all-around artistic treasure Carlo Paez Vilaro built a home and studio. It’s open to the public with a museum, hotel and a fascinating homage to what Vilaro calls “his personal war against the right angle.”

Also unique in Punte del Este are street signs sponsored by Visa, official parades of bikini-wearing models and restaurants serving seaweed omelettes.

But the most glamorous of all, if you can score it, is an invitation to power-boat racer Laith Pharaon’s annual end-of-the year bash. Held at Estancia El Noor, a rustic 280-acre property near La Barra, the party draws film stars, fashionistas, the world’s best DJ’s and other party people

Starting December 23 and continuing through Easter, Punta Del Este features 25 hours a day of shameless, shallow and tremendous fun.