What isn’t included in a vacation package these days? Last year, a Dutch company, aptly named Divorce Hotel, announced plans to spread their message of luxury marital splits to America—and now other companies are following suit. The Dutch business offers a low-rate, all-in-one weekend escape for estranged spouses to settle their differences once and for all. Through partnerships with a variety of hotels in the Netherlands, they bring couples to a high-end retreat for a three-day, paperwork-filled getaway. “We offer you an affordable 5 star divorce made-to-measure,” the website boasts.
While the cost of divorce in the Netherlands usually runs between $5,000 and $10,000, with rates in the U.S. often soaring much higher, Divorce Hotel only charges around $3,000 per couple for the weekend (though more complex cases, like contentious child custody issues or divvying up business assets, can reach higher sums). Here’s how it works: The couple checks into one of the partner boutique hotels and then spends the weekend with lawyers, mediators, and company staff who ensure all the paperwork is completed, assets are divided properly, and guests are emotionally stable. Hotel employees are alerted to the guests’ special status and instructed to be appropriately mannered. All discussions are done in private suites—no public yelling matches in the lobby—so things can be sorted out efficiently and amicably.
Participants are carefully selected through an application process to ensure their split isn’t too vicious or complex for a weekend, founder Jim Halfens told the New York Times. In fact, according to Halfens, many couples enjoy their divorcing vacation—going to the beach, dining together, and even spending a night in the honeymoon suite. Yet, so far, all but one couple have successfully completed the divorce proceedings.
Not long after the Dutch nuptial-nullifying company started gaining publicity, a pilot for a reality show called—what else?—Divorce Hotel was given the green light by Fox. “Are you ready to end the fighting, financial stress, and the painful, drawn out divorce process and start a new chapter in your life?” a casting call on the company’s website asks.
“We’ll show [our process] in an emotional TV show with wonderful moments—something you would never expect in a program about divorce. I want to show that what happens in our hotel is very special,” Halfens told the Huffington Post. “I don’t want to [show] creepy, ‘Jerry Springer,’ horrible shit.”
With its Dutch success, the company now is hoping to spread to America, where the divorce rate has dropped since that ubiquitous "50 percent of all marriages end in divorce" message to around 40 percent. But there may be competition in the market for retreat divorces. A company in Indiana seems to have taken a cue from the concept, and created a program of Destination Divorces for on-the-fritz couples, offering a three-day vacation paired with a divorce, and settled for a flat-fee. A message on their website against a photo of beautiful vistas says, "whether you and your spouse prefer the beach, the mountains, the sun, or the slopes, the destination for your divorce is limited only by your imagination." As long as you don't mind forgoing some of your pool time for a meeting with the lawyers, it all sounds pretty painless.