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THE SUNDAY PROFILE : Always on Stage : For decades, the Beverly Hills Hotel was Hollywood. Think mega deals, trysts, parties. After a face lift, can it again be a beacon for the beautiful?

June 04, 1995|IRENE LACHER | TIME STAFF WRITER

Later that year, oil magnate Davis bought the hotel for a steep $135 million, but when he saw how corroded the wiring and plumbing were, he turned around and sold it to the Brunei Investment Agency the next year, making a neat $50-million profit.

But the sultan didn't just inherit infrastructure headaches. By the end of the decade, the luxury hotel market was plummeting, partly because the investment banking industry was taking a dive and cutting back on travel perks.

Meanwhile, the Beverly Hills Hotel's occupancy rate, which had always cruised at the high altitude of 98%, plunged to the mid-60s because young Hollywood wasn't replacing the older clientele as it died off, the New Yorker reported. Beriker said he doesn't comment on occupancy rates, but he said the hotel was attracting a younger crowd before it closed. At any rate, the hotel shut its doors on Dec. 30, 1992, giving severance pay to most of the senior staff and promising no one a return ticket.

But for all the Sturm und Drang , for all the changes at the Beverly Hills Hotel, it has more than a few die-hard champions who are betting on it somehow staying the same. The faithful include Beverly Hills real estate agent Elaine Young, who has marked only her first 30 years having lunch every day at the Polo Lounge.

Says Young: "I met two of my husbands in the Polo Lounge, two husbands and one fiance. Why do you think I'm going back?"

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