Beverly Hills isn’t just for millionaire major-motion-picture moguls; it is also home to the greatest concentration of plastic surgeons on the cosmetically unreconstructed face of the earth. Approximately 150 sculptors of the human form keep busy there nipping and tucking and lipo-suctioning, breast-lifting and nose-chiseling, making silicone mountains out of molehills and silk purses from sows’ ears.
And when their clients come to Beverly Hills, crestfallen and breast-fallen, with furrowed brow or dragging bottom, they need a place to stay until the bandages have come off and the bruises have healed. They need a cocoon. They need, in short, Le Petit Ermitage, a 14-room hotel that caters only to plastic-surgery patients.
For rates of up to $375 a night—enough to require a tuck in the pocket-book—the hotel’s guests are petted and abetted on their way to perfection. Checking in the night before surgery, they are ferried, discreetly, by limousine to their appointments the following morning. Afterward the limo—with a nurse on board—returns remodeled guests to the hotel’s underground garage, where an elevator whisks them, safe from prying eyes, to the suites where their metamorphoses will be completed.
Le Petit Ermitage, an offshoot of the four-star L’Ermitage Hotel next door, has king-size beds and wet bars. It has 16 registered nurses. It has spa cuisine and physician-directed meals. It has beauticians, hairstylists and a makeup expert. The suites are tastefully decorated, and the lighting is restfully dim.
This latest wrinkle in the hotel world is the brainchild of Severyn Ashkenazy, 52, and his brother, Arnold, 54, who own eight small luxury hotels in L.A. “There were so many people checking into L’Ermitage after plastic surgery, coming in with staffs of nurses and chauffeurs,” says Severyn. “So we decided, about four years ago, to open an annex to our hotel, and we created Le Petit Ermitage.”
The Ashkenazy brothers—and all their employees—are unfailingly tight-lipped about the clientele. Yes, celebrities have stayed at the hotel, names you would recognize, with faces you would recognize too, give or take a few minor enhancements. But don’t expect Le Petit to name names. Says Carol LaFourcade, registered nurse, licensed cosmetologist and Le Petit’s administrator: “Discretion is part of the medical profession. No one on our staff is allowed to talk about anyone they’ve seen here.”
Guests of course are entitled to talk about themselves if they wish. Josiah Dixon, a real estate developer from Akron, Ohio, recently spent three nights at Le Petit while recovering from a nose operation, an eye lift and the implantation of a Cary Grant cleft in his chin, which he says he always wanted. “They do everything for you here,” says Dixon. “If you want to be pampered, this is the place to come.”
LaFourcade wouldn’t take exception to that, and she is willing to discuss plastic surgery generally. She vividly remembers the most unusual case she has seen at Le Petit, a man who was unhappy with his calves. “He always wanted to have muscular legs,” she reports, “but no matter how hard he worked out, he couldn’t develop them. So he had implants, just like women have breast implants.”
From LaFourcade’s observations—and Le Petit Ermitage is certainly the right place to make them—it seems that old standby, the nose job, is still No. 1 in Beverly Hills. “Blepharoplasty, or eye lifts, are second in demand,” she states, “and I’d say breast augmentation ranks right up there.” She also detects an increase in silicone implants to raise the cheekbones.
All of this is good news for the hotel, which usually puts up guests after their surgery for three or four nights. “While they’re here,” LaFourcade notes, “they make arrangements to come back for another procedure.” Or, in plastic surgery terms, return to the fold.
—By Michael Neill, with David Marlow in Beverly Hills