The Hanley Center 4 stars
Perched beside a turquoise lake in Palm Beach County, The Hanley Center boasts the amenities of a swank spa, the treatment program of a first-rate hospital and the sex appeal of a nunnery.
Headquartered in Palm Beach County, Florida— the “recovery capital of the world”—The Hanley Center is a 140-bed, 16-acre rehab facility propped against a palm-tree lined lake featuring perfectly manicured gardens, an in-house spa and a 1000-square-foot gym with full-time personal trainer. Upon arrival, detoxers are housed in a special ward for 24 to 72 hours and stabilized by a healthy dose of meds before they're moved into the general population. A typical room is a full-sized suite with a private, full bathroom; a bouncy bed; and sliding glass doors overlooking a fragrant outdoor patio. The Center is widely noted for its top-notch cuisine. Tim Pearce, a former chef for the Royal Cartier Polo Match, runs Hanley's deluxe cafeteria with an eye toward taste and nutrition, accommodating all kinds of dietary needs. The kitchen serves up fresh fruit and healthful snacks all day long, and, for clients craving a special midnight fix, the snack bar has coffee and homemade cookies that can be enjoyed in the facility’s 24-hour, fully-equipped computer lounge.
Residents begin their day at 7am with a hearty breakfast, followed by 20 minutes of guided meditation. Lectures, group meetings and individual therapy sessions take up the rest of the day, while on some evenings there are movies or game nights. “Lights out” is encouraged at 11pm. Extracurricular activities include group outings to a nearby ropes course, where clients learn “trust and courage” by balancing on catwalks through a thick curtain of palm trees. Despite the Reiki treatments, Ashtanga yoga sessions and occasional celebrity sightings (radio host Don Imus, baseball player Darryl Strawberry, Burt Reynolds and former US Representative Mark Foley were all reportedly guests here), Hanley is much more than a recovery-themed Canyon Ranch. The facility combines a vigorous emphasis on the 12 Steps with a more holistic approach to recovery that includes art, behavioral therapy and even animal-assisted treatments. The Center also is a strong advocate of recovery science: Clients here undergo brain scans soon after their arrival. For an additional $1,200, they can get new scans of their brains when they are finished with treatment, so they can see improvements.
Though Hanley offers “scholarships” to needy clients, most of its patients are white, upwardly mobile men and women who hail predominantly from the Northeast. Their median age is around 35. The balmy weather, rich cuisine and constant pampering no doubt leaves some of them feeling frisky. But staff here guard against even the most innocent indiscretions like fierce nuns at a Catholic girls' school. Men and women are segregated in separate dorms and attend different meetings. They only mingle in the cafeteria and lecture hall, and even there are strictly forbidden from uttering a word to one another. Clients of the opposite sex who pass in the halls are instructed to avert their eyes and refrain from any conversation. Residents pledge to a “code of honor” in which they agree to inform on their peers if they witness any untoward encounters.
"For the most part, it's a really cool, low-key place. But for some reason they're obsessed with fraternization," giggles a former resident. "It was sometimes kind of creepy. But as long as you keep your thoughts on wholesome, G-rated things, you'll do really well." Most of the facility’s staff is in recovery themselves, so they're empathetic to the plight of their patients. "There's this positive vibe that pervades that place," adds a recent alum. “Everything is so beautiful and clean, and everyone is pleasant and nurturing—not in a fake, plastic, Florida way, but in a way that seems authentic. They understand the pain you're going through because they've once been there, too."
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