Journey Malibu 4 stars
Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?
Location: Malibu, CA
Phone: (877) 673-4225
Price: $53-63,000 a month
Overall: 4 stars
Accommodations: 4 stars
Treatment: 4 stars
Food: 5 stars
Go down PCH and turn up Eastern Malibu's winding Carbon Mesa Road and there you'll find Journey Malibu, an exclusive luxury treatment center nestled in the hills. Founded by Chris Loguidice, an addict who is 26 years sober, Journey has many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains. What they seem not to have is a lot of structure. Journey's residents come from far and wide and all of them get a heaping of luxury during their stay; still, the question is whether appearances match the treatment.
The inside of Journey's hilltop home is pristine, with floors and a staircase made of stone, and there are plenty of enormous windowed doors soaking every square inch of the place with sunlight. The spacious living room area gives way to a dining room and a round therapy room that overlooks a gurgling fountain in the driveway. The co-ed house has space for six in bedrooms, both private and semi-private, though alumni report that they were sometimes juggled around to accommodate new guests.
Residents say Journey is host to a wide range of people. Though many are wealthy, cash-paying folks, one grad says he was "unable to place a stereotype on the demographics.” Clients range from 18 to 70 years old, with "diverse backgrounds, occupations, and incomes." Stays here also vary from 30 days to as long as five months.
The food at Journey consists of balanced meals replete with vegetarian options and plenty of salads, fresh fruit and veggies, all handled by a team of executive chefs who prepare food every day except for Friday, when residents cook together in the evening. All meals get high marks from grads, including vegan quesadillas and Chef Patricia's Shepherd’s Pie, though a few mention that the relatively uncommon "meaty, cheesy, creamy meals" were an unnecessary temptation. Caffeine fanatics take note: coffee is available every day but only until 11am.
Residents report having a stay light on chores and housework, sometimes "awkwardly so." Still, everyone is expected to keep their rooms tidy and handle their own laundry. There doesn’t tend to be a lot of infighting among roommates and some alum report that their friendships lasted long after treatment ended.
Daily life is described as "serene, peaceful and beautiful" by one resident, and generally consists of a morning check-in at 7:30 am around the brick fire-pit, followed by daily one-on-one and group sessions; Yoga and neurofeedback sessions are also available four times a week each. Though there’s a 27-person staff, none of them are doctors or psychiatrists; instead the docs make trips to the facility once or twice a week (though they're still on call 24/7 if they're needed).
Schedules are flexible, and include activities and therapies like yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong, equine therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and neurofeedback, though more traditional therapies such as CBT are also available. Recreational options include trips to the museum and beach, surfing lessons and swimming in the pool.
After initial detox, Journey's approach to treatment is reportedly quite casual. "After the first couple of days, personal time was abundant and open to use as we wished," one resident reports. The official ruling is that cell phones aren’t allowed for the first 72 hours and TV only after 5 pm.
Clients report that Journey is open to 12-step treatment as well as alternative approaches, though the 12 steps are absent from the core curriculum. Still, some mention how much they appreciated Journey's flexibility. "If there was something that wasn't working for me, they would make the necessary adaptations and bring in new or different therapists," one graduate says.
All of Journey's treatment is infused with a new-age sense of spirituality, though they're not religious. "No religion was emphasized," a resident insists, "but open-mindedness and respect were encouraged." Overall, tough love isn't something you'll find much of at Journey—you won't find many rules at all, actually. They actually only become relevant when boundaries are pushed “but even 'tough love' sounds too hard," one client says.
Most residents report having enjoyed their time at Journey, with one saying that it was a "safe haven, second home and house of healing" with "some of the most unique, talented, loving, healing and amazing people I've ever met in my whole life." While many alumni praise the center's compassion, treatment itself receives fewer raves and the inherent organizational issues that come from Journey's approach have been problematic for some. "When you are supposed to be in a group meeting, [they should] require people to attend," one grad admits. "I can't tell you how many group meetings I attended by myself."
Though Journey's residents say they were helped by treatment, close to half that we spoke to report not being able to stay sober after leaving. Still, Journey makes efforts with an aftercare program that sets graduates up with therapists back home, and does plenty of check-ins—something which is aided by the fact that staff and residents reportedly get quite close by the end of treatment.
Overall, Journey Malibu has almost every holistic therapy that exists but little of the traditional 12 steps and not a lot of structure, either. While there's no doubt your stay will be peaceful and individualized, those who need a strict regimen may not thrive. Still, the accommodations are gorgeous and it's sure to be pleasant, and the external beauty may well help some begin to create beautiful lives.