The Beverly Hills Hotel
|The Beverly Hills Hotel|
The southeast corner of The Beverly Hills Hotel
|Location||9641 Sunset Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California
|Opening||May 12, 1912|
|Design and construction|
|Developer||Margaret & Stanley Anderson|
|Number of rooms||208 guest rooms and suites, including 21 bungalows|
|Number of restaurants||The Polo Lounge
The Cabana Café
The Fountain Coffee Room
Bar Nineteen 12
It was opened on May 12, 1912, before there was even a city called Beverly Hills. By 1914, Beverly Hills had attracted enough residents to incorporate as a city. Famous Hollywood directors, actors and actresses such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino and Will Rogers soon built homes there, transforming bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into prime real estate.
The original main building of The Beverly Hills Hotel was designed by Pasadena architect Elmer Grey, in the Mediterranean Revival style. Twenty-three separate bungalows are located in the gardens north of it. A new wing was added to the east side of the main building in the 1940s. The extensive gardens of the grounds were designed by landscape architect Wilbur David Cook. The iconic signage and the addition were designed by Paul Williams. It was the first building in the greater area, leading to the creation of a surrounding city, and is often referred to, by the local population (and others such as cab drivers), simply as The Hotel. Since the city's inception, the hotel has been a central meeting place for residents and business people, especially from Los Angeles's movie and television industries.
The popularity with royalty and celebrities continued to escalate over the years. Guests included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Elizabeth Taylor's father had an art gallery in the lower level of the hotel. Howard Hughes lived at the hotel on and off for thirty years. The hotel is also home to the Polo Lounge, and the exterior of the hotel was featured on the album cover art of the Eagles' 1976 LP "Hotel California". Svend Petersen, the Danish-American pool manager at the hotel for forty-two years, became a Hotel Ambassador in 2002. He had notably opened up the pool after hours for The Beatles and taught Faye Dunaway to swim a freestyle crawl for Mommie Dearest.
On December 30, 1992, the hotel closed for a complete restoration. The project lasted two and a half years and the hotel reopened on June 3, 1995, with upgrades to furniture and fittings. In 2012, the hotel celebrated its 100-year anniversary and began to remodel the hotel's lobby, with the Polo Lounge, pool cabanas and Cabana Cafe, and guestrooms and suites to be renovated by 2014. The hotel was also named the first historic landmark in Beverly Hills in September 2012.
From 1928 to 1932, the hotel was owned by the Van Noy Railway News and Hotel Company. Its strict resident owner from 1954 until his death in 1979 was former Detroit real estate magnate Ben L. Silberstein, who took it over from Hernando Courtright, later hotelier at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Some of the hotel's owners have been celebrities such as Irene Dunne and Loretta Young.
Marvin Davis bought the Hotel for $54 million from Silberstein's sons-in-law Burt Slatkin and Ivan F. Boesky. Boesky had bought the 5% of stock that was outstanding for a reported fortune and decided to sell, despite Slatkin's desire to keep the hotel. Less than a year later, Davis sold the hotel to the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, for $110 million. The hotel is managed and owned by the Dorchester Collection, organized in 1996 to manage the hotel interests of the Brunei Investment Agency. The west coast regional director for the Dorchester Collection oversees The Beverly Hills Hotel as well as the Hotel Bel-Air.
Controversy and boycott
The Sultan of Brunei's stake in the ownership of the hotel drew controversy in April 2014 when he initiated the first phase of a three-phase plan to adapt Brunei's legal system to include aspects of Sharia law implicating his approval of the persecution of homosexuals in the complex legal system there (two parts involving separate courts and legislation for Islamic and non-Islamic citizens).
In protest, a United States national LGBT advocacy organization, the Gill Action Fund, canceled its reservation to hold a conference of major donors at the Beverly Hills Hotel and demanded a refund of its deposit. The hotel management responded by issuing a statement asserting that it does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Fashion designers Brian Atwood and Peter Som subsequently called for wider protests, urging the fashion industry to boycott all of the hotels owned by the Dorchester Collection.
By the next month, the boycott had attracted support from Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group, as well as numerous Hollywood executives and stars, including Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres. In addition, a string of organizations joined the boycott, canceling reservations to hold conferences and other high-profile events at the establishment; travel industry firms likewise signed on to a boycott of all Dorchester Collection hotels. Others, including Russell Crowe and Kim Kardashian, have spoken out against the boycott. Crowe stated that despite his disapproval of the new laws in Brunei, it is unfair to punish hardworking employees of the hotel. Similarly, Kardashian published a blog post voicing her criticism of the boycott and sympathies for the hotel workers. HR Magazine said that the protests are "misguided" and will not affect the government policy of Brunei when the Dorchester Collection's annual revenue is $300 million while the BIA has over $30 billion in assets from oil and gas.
By May 2014, the Jewish Journal reported that "more than $2 million worth of events have been canceled at the Beverly Hills Hotel by dozens of groups." Dorchester Collection Chief Executive Officer Christopher Cowdray then responded to the controversy by asking the public to consider the issue at hand in a broader perspective, citing the fact that many brands are backed by foreign investors. Sharia law exists alongside other normative systems and has been adopted by many other Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia which has major investments in the American hospitality industry, including the Four Seasons and Fairmont hotels. The U.S. national advertising-industry newspaper Adweek has declared that "the bad press and protests have tarnished the glamorous image of the Beverly Hills Hotel, one of the most famous hotels in the world" and added that "such extreme brand damage will be difficult to repair."
The southwest exit side of the hotel as seen from Sunset Boulevard
- "The" is part of the name, according to the Beverly Hills Hotel website.
- David Gebhard, An Architectural Guidebook to Los Ángeles, Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2003, p. 152 
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- Brooke Barnes (October 12, 2012). "The Dowager’s Makeover". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
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- Brunei Darussalam (Report). Yale Law School. November 2005. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Johnson, Chris (2014-04-17). "Secret gay donor conference moved from Brunei-owned hotel". Washington Blade (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- "Beverly Hills Hotel boycotted by LGBT group over Sultan of Brunei ownership". Hollywood Reporter. 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
- Tracer, Dan (2014-04-22). "Moving backwards: How a stay at this iconic Los Angeles hotel supports the stoning to death of gays in Brunei". Queerty. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
- "Beverly Hills Hotel boycott gathers steam". Adweek (New York City). 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Harris, Rachel Lee (2014-05-06). "Travel companies boycott Brunei-owned hotel group". The New York Times (New York City). Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Curtis M. Wong (May 27, 2014). "Russell Crowe Defends Brunei-Owned Hotel Chain While Stressing Support For Gay Rights". Huffington Post.
- Cavan Sieczkowski (June 24, 2014). "Kim Kardashian Weighs In On Beverly Hills Hotel Boycott". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Arvind Hickman (May 19, 2014). "Why the Dorchester Collection protest is wrong". HR Magazine. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Sichel, Jared (2014-05-21). "What the Beverly Hills Hotel boycott says about where we draw our lines in a global economy". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
- Jan Michiel Otto, ed. (2010). SHARIA INCORPORATED:A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present (Report). Leiden University.
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