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Department of Water & Power


Svend Petersen applies the finishing touches to the office that soon will be occupied by a new telecommunicating Hollywood dynamo.

Those people doing business over dry martinis in the Polo Lounge? Retro. In the here and now, producers, actors, agents--people in The Biz--are concocting the mega-deals over exotic fruit and Evian in champagne coolers in the least likely of places: poolside cabanas at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Once luxury tents meant for lounging and changing, the cabanas now can be equipped with phones, faxes, laptops--all the tools of trade for business people clad in bikinis, board shorts or plush bathrobes with the pink palace's crest.

Petersen, the hotel's pool manager, will set up your cyber-connected poolside office. You might want one of his papaya sorbets as well while you (and up to five others) take a power meeting while soaking up the rays. Suntan lotion, after all, is free, and Petersen will gladly rub it on and bring one of his famous freezer-chilled towels if you overheat.

It's enough to make you whistle while you work.

But getting wired by the water isn't cheap. Only hotel guests may rent cabanas, and they pay $125 a day (from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., when the pool closes) in addition to a room, suite or bungalow bill that ranges from $275 to $3,050 a night.

"This is a trend that just keeps getting hotter, especially with the younger executives who are into all this high-tech way of doing business and mixing it with pleasure," says Petersen, who has been the pool's manager for 36 years.

"We have guests on a waiting list" for 21 cabanas, he says.

Over at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, cabana teleconferencing, faxing and e-mailing are also making waves poolside. There, too, a cabana can be had for $125 a day (from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.) on top of a hotel room or suite charge from $325 to $3,000.

"Some notorious wheeling and dealing" goes on in those things, says the hotel's spokeswoman, Andrea Werbel.

Natch, it's the L.A. way to pool your deals.

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