Beverly Hills Hotel Boycott: Former Power Spot a Ghost Town Amid Backlash of its Sharia Law-Endorsing Owner

Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter

Photo Credit: Hollywood Reporter

By Seth Abramovitch and Gary Baum.

On any ordinary weekday, every table at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s iconic Polo Lounge is filled to capacity with industry movers and shakers like Steven Spielberg, Ari Emanuel and Jeffrey Katzenberg, all regulars at the 73-year-old power spot.

But these days, the room is a ghost town.

Caught in the middle of the ballooning Beverly Hills Hotel boycott — a direct response to a decision by its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, to institute Sharia law in his country, which calls for the stoning to death of gays and adulterers — a Hollywood Reporter field trip on Wednesday for the midday meal found 1 p.m. to be as busy as 1 a.m.

Major philanthropic events like the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Night Before the Oscars party, a luncheon for the Carousel of Hope Benefit, the J.J. Abrams-chaired Children’s Defense Fund gala and THR’s own Women in Entertainment breakfast have already canceled bookings at the storied Pink Palace. Now, it seems, the mass shunning extends to the property’s loyal power-lunching ranks.

Two hours earlier, an anonymous reservation call was placed, and a gracious female voice on the other end fielded the request for a highly sought-after booth for two. What would typically yield a “Sorry, we’re booked” instead earned a cheerful “We’ll do our absolute best!” For the eatery ranked No. 2 on THR’s 2014 Power Lunch survey, this did not bode well.

Read more from this story HERE.


Protests Swell at Beverly Hills Hotel

By Tamara Audi, Craig Karmin and Erich Schwartzel.

The pink stucco palace known as the Beverly Hills Hotel has long been a symbol of Hollywood glamour and affluence, the place where Elizabeth Taylor decamped for six of her eight honeymoons. Now it’s become the unlikely epicenter of protest against a new set of harsh laws enacted by the Islamic country of Brunei.

The opulent hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, a luxury chain owned by the Sultan of Brunei. This week, the tiny, oil-rich southeast Asian country set off a storm of celebrity protests and boycotts by introducing Islamic laws that include death by stoning for homosexuals and adulterers.

Over the past several days, 20 events have been canceled at the Beverly Hills property–a loss of about $2 million in revenue for the hotel, according to Dorchester. Local politicians and celebrities are also boycotting the nearby Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, the hotel’s more subdued sister property.

Big names like Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres are urging boycotts, and the Beverly Hills mayor and council are calling for Dorchester to sell the famed hotel.

Dorchester, which runs 10 hotels world-wide, is looking to expand globally and has said it is seeking to acquire a luxury property in New York. Hotel analysts say the publicity surrounding protests against the company could complicate efforts to operate a Manhattan hotel, where there is also opposition to the new law.

Read more from this story HERE.