For more than 20 years, Shanteque at Le Meridien Hotel has been one of those "best-kept" secrets for which Beverly Hills is famous.


Referrals from plastic surgeons and patients' word-of-mouth enable its 12 specially designed post-surgery recovery rooms to command a hefty $750 a night fee more than twice the usual standard room rate.


But in a city where practically every doctor, dentist and chiropractor has a publicist, the Grand Dame of luxury plastic surgery retreats is now engaging in a little direct-to-consumer marketing.


"Most of our doctors will make us their preferred center, but when a doctor gives a patient a choice, we want them to know enough to choose us," said director and co-owner Isabella Krivitsky Koretz, who recently hired a public relations firm to heighten retreat's public profile.


A 30-year-old Studio City mother whose family operates a pharmacy and medical supply store in West Hollywood, Koretz bought the center with her mother and cousin when the original owners retired two years ago. (The center has a leasing arrangement with the hotel.)


Koretz requires nursing hires to have plastic surgery experience, added on-call nursing rotation for last-minute guests and worked with the hotel's chef to create a gourmet menu.


Demand for facilities like Shanteque has grown over the years as more aesthetic and reconstructive procedures have been performed in out-patient facilities. While some patients are able recover at home with the aid of a family member, many doctors require patients be under a nurse's care for at least the first 24 to 48 hours in case of complications.


"It's particularly good for someone who doesn't want to go home and scare their children, or doesn't have someone at home who can be trained to take care of them," said Dr. Richard Ellenbogen.


A Shanteque nurse picks up a patient at a clinic in a wheelchair-equipped town car and delivers them to the retreat via the private hotel elevator used for celebrities. At their room, patients are greeted with soft classical music, aromatherapy candles and a one-to-three nurse-patient ratio hard to match even at a boutique hospital.


It's that pampering that keeps Orange County resident Venus Karami, her friends and family coming back. "When you've spent time in a hospital you appreciate having wonderful food and nurses who come quickly when you call them," said Karami, who has recovered at Shanteque after a tummy tuck and breast reduction.

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