While countless celebrities, fashion icons, royalty and rock stars have all come to Thailand for rest and relaxation, a small coterie of these elite individuals have chosen to visit the kingdom for a very different reason – its renowned luxury rehab centres.
(Hero image: Idyllic countryside atmosphere at The Cabin; Featured image: Overhead shot of the property at The Hills)
The late great Amy Winehouse once sang: “They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no!” However, she may have changed her tune if she’d been aware of the world-renowned luxury rehabilitation facilities available for the rich and famous here in Thailand.
These hotel-slash-hospitals certainly fly under the radar of the average tourist, but in addiction treatment circles they are highly regarded. And while obtaining a license to open such a clinic in Thailand is not the easiest thing in the world to do, there’s no denying that it’s a steadily growing segment of the larger health and wellness field. Here are four of the country’s most renowned addiction treatment centres.
First launched in 2010, The Cabin is arguably the most revered name in Thailand’s luxury rehab market. Unfortunately, an unexpected turn of events – exacerbated by border closures during the pandemic, which resulted in no new patients – forced the team behind The Cabin to cease operation at their original property in Chiang Mai (which had under gone a major expansion immediately before the Covid crisis hit). But when one door closes another one opens, and The Cabin is now ensconced in a new facility in Chiang Mai with brand-new investors.
As the first Western-style facility to be licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Cabin uses a self-pioneered programme to treat substance and process addictions and the mental health issues that co-occur along with them. Their modular eight-week trauma program – administered by a highly experienced team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and counsellors – combines cutting-edge neuroscience with traditional Western psychology and Eastern philosophy.
Clients are only admitted – or should we say “invited” – following careful screening, which leads to a far calmer treatment atmosphere that is more conducive to recovery. And because the privacy of clients and the security of their personal information are of the utmost importance, every effort is made to ensure confidentiality.
Of course, along with world-class addiction treatment programmes in a tranquil tropical sanctuary, clients also enjoy the warmth of Thai hospitality and the comfort of five-star plus facilities. Amenities include private villas, state-of-the-art modern therapy rooms, a fully equipped fitness centre, an infinity swimming pool, and an open-air restaurant built on the banks of the Ping River serving fine fusion cuisine.
A month-long stay at The Cabin will set you back US$15,900, which is still considerably lower than similar high-end centres in the West (and with treatment standards recognised as being on par with the best in the world). As for the experience, one anonymous former client had this to say: “I never imagined I would be sad to leave rehab, and I am grateful and ready to go – but sad also.”
Once the Covid pandemic subsided, the rehab facility formerly known as The Cabin was reopened and rebranded as The Hills – now operating under the Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG) umbrella. As such, The Hills is currently regarded as the benchmark for addiction treatment facilities in Thailand, and possibly beyond.
“I don’t think there’s an ywhere else in the whole world with a purpose -built treatment centre of this size,” comments Peter Maplethorpe, General Manager of The Hills, adding that all the other rehabs in Thailand are housed in converted resorts. “We’re also the only treatment centre in Thailand with a registered on-site hospital, with 10 beds, and we have a full time GP and addiction psychiatrist on staff every day.”
Peter was one of the original founders of The Cabin, and so he was more than happy to see this impressive facility in Chiang Mai relaunch as The Hills. He was also instrumental in gathering some of the original staff back for the reopening. “We’ve just got 20 rooms in operation at the moment,” he goes on to say, explaining that in total the facility has a 120-bed capacity, spread across four “villages”, and more of these villages will open as patient numbers increase.
As for the luxury element, the rooms come with balcony and ensuite, as well as little things like a pillow menu, 500-thread-count Egyptian linen bedding, top-of-the-line new mattresses, and pre-programmed Netflix on the in-room TV. “There’s also a world-class gym and boxing studio, spinning bikes, a full-size basketball court, and a 25-metre swimming pool,” Peter remarks, pointing out how getting physically healthy again is a big part of the treatment.
Dealing with patients who are celebrities or VIPs is nothing new for Peter and the staff at The Hills but, once admitted, all patients are treated equally. And no one is too famous to avoid the mandatory group therapy sessions. “We don’t want them isolating in their rooms,” Peter says. “They need to become part of the therapeutic community. And group therapy is probably where the magic happens in treatment, because they are listening to their peers and they realise that, actually, they’re not unique. Everyone thinks that they can’t be helped, or they’re too far gone. Then they get sat with their peers and realise they’re just like any other addict.”
Located on the eastern coast of Phuket, with the Andaman Sea and beautiful beaches nearby, Miracles Asia offers a comprehensive addiction treatment program that has, since 2017, shown a proven track record of success. Licensed by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, it has a network of long-standing partnerships with some of the best healthcare providers in Thailand, including Bangkok Hospital (who operate two facilities in Phuket).
While Miracles Asia demurely describes itself as “casual with a touch of luxury”, the quality of everything from the room furnishings to the meals – prepared by a skilled executive chef – are all very high on the list of what wealthy clients expect when they’re paying US$15,500 for a 30 day treatment (with 60 days of aftercare).
“Our island location is also a big factor that sets us apart from other facilities operating in Thailand,” adds Mark Heather, Founder and Managing Director. “We’re located in a quiet, rural area that’s within 15 minutes of all major facilities, including the airport, hospitals and, of course, Thanyapura, which is a great asset to our program.”
Thanyapura, for those unfamiliar, is a top-tier health and fitness resort in Phuket; the kind of place professional athletes regularly come to for off-season training. Clients of Miracles Asia are allotted two hours of unrestricted access to this world- class facility, three times per week, where they can enjoy in vigorating swims in the Olympic-sized pools, weightlifting sessions, rejuvenating saunas, games of tennis, therapeutic Thai massages, and much more.
Combine all this with weekly excursions – island trips with scenic jungle walks – and it certainly seems like a fabulous place to sober up. But truly beating addiction involves more than just taking a detox holiday in the sun. So why do wealthy clients choose Miracles Asia and not somewhere else?
“It’s largely due to how we stand by our results,” says Mark, “and the level of personalised care that each client receives during their stay. From the initial phone call or email, we are committed to their long-term sobriety, if they really want it. Additionally, with many of our team in active recovery themselves, we find that clients can connect with the program at a level that often isn’t reached elsewhere.”
Although it’s located on a beautiful stretch of coastline in Chonburi province, Hope Rehab Thailand’s website clearly states that it “does not approve of the concept of luxury rehab, but at the same time it’s a five-star treatment program”.
“And that really sums it up, ” laughs Simon Joseph Mott, the founder of Hope Rehab. “I don’t want to dismiss the fact that we have domestic staff who cook and clean and look after our clients, and we have beautiful facility, and we have swimming pools and this, that, and the other , but the idea of going to a warm climate, and having a comfortable room and having all their needs met – that’s not always the right thing for patients. The reality of rehab treatment is trying to pull people out of the isolation that comes with addiction. And not only that, it’s teaching people – or re-teaching people – how to cope with everyday life. So we have a very, very busy program that’s challenging both psychologically and physically.”
Simon previously worked in Thailand’s rehab sector at The Cabin, but eventually decided to go it alone because he had a slightly different vision. “And I also wanted to be by the coast, ” he points out. “ That was a big driving force for me. When I took this property it was quite limited in terms of space. Just the 140-year- old Thai traditional main house, and a couple of smaller houses. But I built rapidly. We have 35 beds now, but there was just seven when we started in 2013.”
One of Hope’s most high-profile clients – willing to be openly identified – was English bad-boy rock star Pete Doherty (who actually did a stint at The Cabin before returning to Thailand to check in at Hope). “He’s managed to put his life back on track,” says Simon, adding that the two still keep in touch.
“We’ve had quite a few musicians and actors,” he goes on to say, before adding that he also works hard to keep things affordable. “One of the reasons we keep our product costs low is because we want people to stay two or three months, or even longer, because that will help them overcome their addiction and start a new life. I’ll just say that Hope overdelivers, and undercharges.”