Inside the $115,000-per-week medical facility favoured by Middle East's ultra rich

Billionaires from around world are jetting to The Kusnacht Practice to seek help for a range of issues

Mansions are transformed into private treatment hubs at The Kusnacht Practice. Photo: The Kusnacht Practice
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Nestled along the shoreline of Lake Zurich's golden coast is a town called Kusnacht, a serene Swiss suburb dotted with ornate estates.

The late rock star Tina Turner bought a $76 million waterfront mansion here to escape the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. It's also where billionaires escape for a luxurious mental health retreat.

“It's no different than booking a beautiful villa on Zurich Lake and going there on holiday,” says Eduardo Greghi, founder and chief executive of The Kusnacht Practice.

Except, it is not a holiday or a simple retreat, he clarifies, because people come to them for “serious issues”.

The Kusnacht Practice operates 10 villas and two penthouses across Kusnacht and Geneva. They are transformed into medical hubs to treat people who are suffering from a range of mental health illnesses, from addiction to eating disorders.

The luxury facility swaps hospital rooms for extravagant mansions where ultra-high-net-worth individuals, or families even, pay $115,000 per week for temporary residence as teams of doctors attend to their every need. Each villa comes with maids, a butler, a private chef and a live-in counsellor.

“We have single-standing villas where our clients have full privacy and, at scheduled times, our doctors and therapists go to the villas to provide treatment there,” Greghi explains.

Depending on the initial observation, each client can receive six to eight one-on-one sessions a day in their own villa. The sessions are often a combination of different treatments.

“Even if you're only treating somebody for addiction, say in prescription drugs, we learnt that when you really want to treat somebody there are so many other issues going on in their lives,” Greghi says. “It usually comes with other health problems, such as some kind of inflammation, cardiovascular illness or skin problems.”

These problems also bleed into other concerns, he adds, such as relationship issues, traumas and, in general, feelings of being lost.

The Kusnacht Practice didn't start like this. First set up in 2007 as a rehabilitation centre, it focused on treating clients with addiction problems. Since then, Greghi has grown its network of professionals to provide a robust treatment regimen.

Psychiatrists and psychotherapists, internal medicine doctors, longevity experts and other medical professionals are at their clients' disposal.

This co-ordinated approach to medical care is what draws their clients in, Greghi says, “not the luxury element”. He describes the hefty price tag as an “investment”.

Completely aware of their niche, Greghi says this is also why the level of hospitality is this high. Their clients come from wealthy backgrounds, and are used to a certain kind of lifestyle.

“Nobody comes to us because of the hospitality. Our clients probably have it so much better at their own homes. They have bigger houses, bigger villas,” he says.

“We try to replicate the luxury they have at home, so when they are with us, they feel like home.”

“It's not a resort though,” Greghi clarifies, because the villas are embedded within the community, which is another selling point that wealthy clients specifically ask for: privacy.

“Of course our treatment is 100 per cent private,” he says, adding that Switzerland, as a country, is a discreet place. “You don't see paparazzi, and people generally respect each others' privacy,” Greghi adds.

While there are rare incidents, such as when British tabloid Mirror reported on the late singer George Michael's time at The Kusnacht Practice, Greghi, who wasn't chief executive at that time, says they have robust mechanisms in place to guarantee confidentiality and privacy.

“We need to comply to Swiss regulations of course,” he clarifies, adding that, even within the practice, different teams have different levels of access to their clients' data.

Billionaires from the Middle East

The Kusnacht Practice has a local partner in Abu Dhabi, psychiatric doctor Samer Makhoul, who occasionally refers clients to the Swiss centre.

“We are already very advanced in the region when it comes to medical care,” Mankhuol tells The National, but there are patients, he adds, who might require “special needs and a more personalised form of care”.

“Our client might be suffering from depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, and even up to the point of substance abuse or misusing medication,” he explains.

“When we have clients like this, their needs are different. They need more attention. They need more customised care which is sometimes difficult to provide.”

Cultural differences are not a concern for The Kusnacht Practice. Head of psychiatry Dr Laszlo Urogi says they train their professionals to understand these nuances because they receive patients from all over the world.

He says their experts and employees are not just multidisciplinary, but are also multicultural, meaning they come from different ethnicities.

In addition to the cultural sensitivity, five-star hospitality and state-of-the-art medical tools, there are other important considerations. As is the case with other rehabilitation and mental health facilities, treatment at The Kusnacht Practice is increasingly measured by the provision and quality of the aftercare service on offer.

Greghi says they have built a dedicated team who plan the lives of their clients after treatment. Clients leave with a “recovery calendar” that can go as far as two years into the future. It is as detailed as having a weekly fitness schedule, for example, even recommending specific gyms, yoga teachers or therapists to book.

“Sometimes our clients would go home and take our chefs to teach them the healthy recipes they have tried while in treatment,” he explains. “They would also sometimes take the live-in counsellors who would accompany them for the next few weeks after their Swiss residence.”

The ultimate goal, he emphasises, is to ensure that healing and recovery resonate far beyond the tranquillity of Kusnacht.

Updated: December 27, 2023, 9:53 AM