What is a Luxury Rehab? (and why do they exist?)

Posted by admin on May 20, 2017
Photo Credit: White River Manor, a luxury rehab center in South Africa.
We reached out to a number of luxury rehab centers around the world and asked them "Why luxury rehab?" Responses from 10 luxury centres from around the world are reflected in this post.

Every so often you may read in the tabloids and newspapers that a celebrity has gone to rehab, but judging by the pictures that accompany the story, you question whether the celeb has simply gone on vacation. Shouldn’t a good rehab program strip you of material possessions and luxuries so that you can get to know your true self? Is it possible to overcome a debilitating addiction while hanging out poolside and enjoying gourmet food?

the cabin chiang mai poolBeautiful scenery and a relaxing environment are hallmarks of a luxury treatment centre. The Cabin Chiang Mai is pictured.

According to John Derry, Director of Serenity Vista in Panama, “luxury denotes an all-pervasive quality standard that extends beyond infrastructure to the quality of the staff, programming, meals services, and the care and attention provided to each individual.”

In other words, luxury rehab is more than just a counselling service run out of a 4-star hotel. It is the highest quality addiction treatment option available. Luxury rehabs offer complete personalization, with the goal of complete recovery. And as you’ll find out, that’s just the beginning.

Fewer Obstacles and Distractions

If you want to beat your addiction, it’s necessary to devote 100 percent of your time and energy to recovery. A luxury rehab program is designed to do away with anything that might be an obstacle or distraction for someone who is used to a specific level of accommodation and lifestyle.

As Darren Lockie, CEO of Lanna Rehab points out, “rehab does not have to be spartan, or have poor quality food, or force you do your own laundry, for example. These are distractions to why [our clients] came to rehab. They came to focus on recovery, and if we can take care of them and let them focus ONLY on recovery, then we find that our clients’ success rate is far greater.”

Jan Gerber, Managing Director at Paracelsus Recovery in Switzerland, speaks of “meeting clients where they are instead of pretending they are people who they are not.” There are certainly legitimate treatment facilities that use the work of chores, cooking, cleaning, and living in an uncomfortable setting to very successfully help clients recovery. However, when clients are used to a high level of comfort and luxury in their lives, and have been highly successful in their careers, forcing them to share a room, do their own laundry, and give up access to their cell phone is often more of a barrier to treatment success than a help.

the cabin chiang mai masageThe Cabin Chiang Mai, like many luxury centres, offers massage to help clients focus on their recovery.

To help clients recover spiritually, physically and mentally, luxury rehabs tend to offer a variety of healthy activities and alternative therapies. You might swim in the pool, get a massage, practice yoga, try a ropes course or meditate in the garden. Certain facilities may limit the amount of time you spend with technology so that you can focus completely on your mind, body and spirit.

When you check in at such a facility, unpacking your mental baggage, learning to be kind to yourself and living a healthy lifestyle are your main tasks for the next 30 or more days.

Greater Anonymity and Privacy

Although we dream of a world in which there is no shame associated with getting help for addiction, the reality is that stigma exists. "The threat of stigma and social judgement is a very real issue, and wealthy or prominent people in treatment have many valid reasons to insist on privacy and anonymity,” says Barbara Ellan, with The Sanctuary Byron Bay in Australia, citing “fear of loss of social standing, reputation and respect” as causes for concern among clients.

The Sanctuary Byron Bay in AustraliaThe Sanctuary, in Byron Bay Australia, prides itself in an unmatched degree of privacy, utilizing a range of properties that have no connection to a treatment centre.

Luxury rehab centres are focused on providing the level of privacy that is appropriate for business executives and celebrities of all kinds and are often located in remote areas with strict security measures.

Centers that are located abroad have an added benefit: “When you choose a destination rehab, no one in your home community has to know you're in treatment – you can simply tell them you're on holiday” says Kayla Gill of the Cabin Chiang Mai. At a luxury rehab you can still answer emails and phone calls, not unlike when you are on vacation. And the poolside selfies you’d take at a luxury rehab rival those of 4-star hotels and resorts. In short, clients can keep up appearances while still getting the treatment they need.

But privacy does not stop there. Within the facility itself, prominent clients can maintain their privacy with single rooms or suites, and they can choose to only participate in one-on-one therapy.

“Many people with a public profile are unable to participate in group therapy, or prefer to spend the time with a focused therapy experience rather than sharing the practitioner’s time with 10 other people,” says Ruth Limkin, CEO, of the Banyans Health and Wellness in Australia.

An Understanding of the Executive or Celebrity Lifestyle

Would you want to go to rehab if you felt like the staff did not understand you or, even worse, seemed to resent you? Of course not! Luxury rehabs offer executives and celebrities the assurance that their lifestyles will be understood and accommodated during the recovery process.

“Luxury rehabs are a very necessary response to the treatment needs of high net worth individuals who will only consider treatment if they can have it delivered in a manner customized to their specifications," Ellan explains.

Ben Moller, of the Cabin Chiang Mai would tell someone considering luxury rehab “you lead an uncommon lifestyle—so you need a custom-tailored approach that standard rehabs aren’t equipped to offer.”

Addiction is intimately intertwined with the circumstances of one’s life. Money, responsibility, relationships and public scrutiny are all stressors that can influence how an addiction develops. “Our counsellors know the importance of contextualising addiction in the individual's life […] and therefore our clinical team are always seeking to understand certain lifestyles comprehensively,” says Niall Campbell of DARA Thailand. “[Our counsellors] are well versed in how the wealth, fame, notoriety and power can relate to addiction.”

As Derry adds, “This speaks to the capacity for effective empathy which is critical to the therapeutic and hence healing processes.”

Although you don’t need to be famous or exceedingly wealthy to attend a luxury rehab, the counsellors at such facilities “have dealt with rock stars, Hollywood actors, elite athletes, high profile executives and royalty,” says Lockie. “[Our counsellors] know that each client is unique and creates programs that fit in with their needs, time at rehab and lifestyle.”

True Personalization for Successful Recovery

“It is vital to understand the client in order to treat the client,” says Ameet Braich of Camino Recovery in Spain. Addicts cannot be placed in categories or expected to benefit from a one-size-fits-all program. At luxury rehabs, personalization guides every detail.

To ensure you get the level of attention and care you need, when you need it, luxury rehabs employ plenty of skilled counselors and staff to keep your addiction treatment moving forward.

Ellan explains, “Standard rehabs have to accommodate more people at once and with less staff and more clients, requiring standardized rules applying to all.” The low client/staff ratio that luxury rehabs are known for allows the entire experience to be personalized and flexible, not just the treatment plan itself.

Paracelsus recovery in ZurichParacelsus Recovery in Switzerland takes personalization to the extreme, treating only one client at a time.

Most luxury rehabs limit the number of clients they take on at any given time. On one hand, there is Paracelsus Recovery, which according to Gerber, “treats only one client at a time, very privately, in a spacious, luxurious environment, and tailoring the treatment program fully to their individual needs.”

A slightly larger facility, Lanna Rehab still keeps its client count low in order to provide deep personalization and custom treatment plans. “We only accept 15 clients at any one time,” says Lockie, “[which] gives us the ability to really focus on individual needs, and when you have busy executives and people in the public eye, you have to be flexible and accommodating for these clients.”

“Some clients require 3 one-on-one sessions per week, others need daily sessions,” Lockie adds. “Personalized treatment is at the core of what we do, and because each client is unique, so is their treatment plan.”

Work or Travel Can Be Accommodated at a Luxury Rehab

While limiting cell phone and internet use can be an effective way to help clients focus on their recovery, luxury rehabs are often dealing with clientele who are simply unable to “unplug” from their responsibilities for a month or more.

“Our clients have life responsibilities that they may not be able to put on hold for 30 days or more while they attend treatment.” - Casey Jordan, Sunshine Coast Health

To help executives handle any home or work responsibilities, some luxury facilities have desks in each suite in order to give you a dedicated workspace, while others are willing to relax rules about phones or Internet access in order to give time to conduct business.

White River Manor in South AfricaAllowing executives to keep up with things at home and the office is a hallmark of luxury centres, like the environment pictured here at White River Manor in South Africa

Celebrities, likewise, often have events scheduled well in advance that they cannot afford to miss. Travel is typically restricted at residential facilities, but a luxury rehab is often willing to offer some flexible time off-campus with an accompanying sober companion or therapist to insure a safe return to treatment.

Luxury Rehab: The Embodiment of Focus and Quality

Clients shouldn’t expect to be able to go to a luxury rehab and treat it like a holiday resort. Staff at a quality luxury rehab facility will still hold clients—no matter who they are—accountable to their treatment goals. Even the most premium luxury centres in the world recognize that treatment is going to be uncomfortable in some ways. “Treatment, by its very nature, should be challenging and uncomfortable,” says Gerber of the uber-luxury centre Paracelcus. But a true luxury rehab center removes as many of the physical challenges as possible in a highly personalized way, while providing accountability through partnership and collaboration, keeping the focus on you and your goals.

With the deep personalization, soothing location, and intense focus on recovery without distractions, clients at luxury rehabs often see a great deal of success. Jeanine Fourie, Therapeutic Director at White River Manor has found that “if the willingness, drive and dedication is there, you can really make a life change in 28 days.”

While most luxury rehabs are priced well above what a middle class client may be able to afford, there are many international options that are offering luxury rehab at a much more affordable rate. Regardless of the cost of treatment, the cost of addiction is most certainly higher.

White River Manor is an example of an affordable luxury center, offering Luxury Rehab at a cost around 1/10th of U.S. Luxury Rehab Centers.

We’ll leave you with these inspiring words from Campbell: “Your addiction doesn’t respect any of the good things in your life. Can you afford NOT to go?”

Contributors to this post

We received a number of well thought out responses to the topic of this post from treatment professionals at some of the top luxury rehab centres in the world, including: