The Sanctuary Byron Bay
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The Sanctuary Byron Bay
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The Sanctuary Byron Bay embodies luxury and privacy. Though their staff is top-notch and their modalities are varied and effective, it's the surroundings and one-on-one therapy style that set this high-end rehab apart from other treatment centers.
With varying residences in and around Byron Bay, Australia, this facility is not so much one campus as it is a series of separate retreats, each allowing the individual to take time off, get away from the stresses of daily life, family and work; all the while working on himself, delving into psychotherapy, physical activity and other forms of mind and body health techniques. The Sanctuary Byron Bay truly takes a holistic approach, believing that addiction issues, mental health issues or other such issues need to be dealt with not only by dealing with the mind, but with the body as well. Things are all interconnected.
The Sanctuary Byron Bay tries to live up to its name in two ways. Firstly, it's located in Byron Bay, Australia, a historically beautiful and laid back community on the eastern side of Australia's coastline. Secondly, the accommodations are truly sanctuary-like. Residents live in individual residences, houses which may be located beachfront or with beautiful views of Australia's sub-tropical rainforest, but designated only for one resident at a time.
SBB guarantees your privacy, claiming that "not one client has ever been confirmed as being in our care." This may be important to you if you are one of the nobility or CEO's or celebrities from around the world SBB has treated. As each treatment plan is individually tailored by a credentialed staff of practitioners and therapists, everyone's stay will be different, including which residence is chosen for him or her. Also, the daily routine will vary depending the reason for the stay and the individual treatment plan.
Generally, alumni said they stayed roughly six weeks, though a few stayed for shorter terms and one even lived here for three months. Residents are attracted to SBB for obvious reasons, but they do treat myriad issues ranging from drug and alcohol addiction to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, to eating disorders and even stop-smoking problems. One person even said that they "just needed a break and stayed two weeks." But don't let the accommodations and surroundings fool you, almost 90% of recent alumni surveyed claim that treatment quality was one of the factors used when choosing SBB. Almost 70% said privacy was a big concern and only a little over 50% claimed to choose based on accommodations quality.
Nearly all alumni rate the accommodations as "excellent," a 5 out of 5. But more than that, each resident gets his own private chef and a 24-hour carer. So, while you may be alone and isolated from other residents of SBB, they want to make sure you never feel alone.
In addition to your own 24-hour carer, you also have your own, on-call, 24 hour-a-day private chef. So, while you may be alone and isolated from other residents of SBB, you never feel alone. Snacks are always readily available and former residents mostly raved about food saying things like, "The food was fantastic, healthy and well-balanced." However, a few noted that coffee was not available, much to their chagrin. There are "coffee alternatives available," said one resident.
As for the actual chef-prepared meals, individual tastes and dietary needs are easily taken into consideration since each resident has his own private chef. "I asked for help with weight management and that was taken into account," one alumnus noted. "The meals were prepared fresh daily using the best local quality organic produce," another told us. Roughly 85% of alumni rated the food as 5 out of a possible 5, saying such things as, "I don't remember having a bad meal." "Individual catering meant I never had to eat anything I don't like," one insightful former resident proclaimed.
However, there are bound to be occasional misfires. Some residents noted they did not like certain things saying things like, "Sea Urchin was my least favourite. Lasagna, least favourite. Minestrone, least favourite."
Daily life at SBB is a mixture of therapies and relaxation. One might arise to take a walk on the beach, have some freshly prepared breakfast, then go for a massage or meditation, followed by some acupuncture, relaxation time, then lunch, psychotherapy, personal training, self-nurture time, dinner, personal time to watch television or read, then bedtime. Of course the schedules are individualized and vary on a personal case by case basis and from week to week. "There were no chores, but life was kept busy, busy, busy. Healthy, positive. Lots of activities like yoga, art class, swimming, Pilates, bush walking, beauty treatments and therapies, cooking classes, photography classes, dining (casual and fine dining at restaurants) allowed for me to keep distracted. All was instrumental in my recovery."
Another former resident said, "I lived in a house by myself. I would have chefs coming to cook me lunch and dinner. Therapy sessions three times per week. A personal trainer three times a week. Acupuncture, massages, guitar lessons, singing classes and tae kwon do classes twice a week. All one on one."
As one would expect, the amenities at SBB are plentiful and inviting. Some houses come with pools. "My personal trainer took me out often to walk and I also walked on the beach in front of my villa everyday, which was special to me. I would have Sundays off and be taken out for lunch....There were a multitude of activities for me to choose from to do and I was spoiled for choice," as one alum put it.
If you need to work, accommodations may be made for you including setting up work contact and a personal assistant. However, for most residents, electronic communication is limited to an hour or two, in the evenings usually. And, maybe even less than that as one former resident told us: "The internet was at night between 7 and 9 pm, but unfortunately I was in an area where the coverage was rather bad, plus my mobile barely worked there. This was frustrating for me when trying to contact my family."
Though SBB is staffed with professionals, and most rated the medical treatment there as excellent, some former residents said there were no doctors in residence, that "The doctor was on call if required." But one noted, "There was a resident doctor on call for a fee, which I found to be overrated and preferred to go and see the local GP where I could use my Medicare bulk billing."
As usual with treatment facilities such as this one there was more a loving approach to discipline than tough-love. Most former clients said SBB was very permissive, but described it more as "supportive" and, as one put it, "It wasn't a tough-love approach. It was a love approach. The team was there to support, care and guide me through a very challenging and scary time."
Religion certainly isn't emphasized here and the program isn't necessarily 12-step based. Each program is individually tailored to each individual, so 12-step may be suggested as an integral part of some programs, but not others. SBB does have a connection to the local 12-step groups and can work in some meetings if deemed appropriate, but the approach overall is holistic, including psychotherapy and other physical and mental health therapies.
Alumni have fond memories of The Sanctuary Byron Bay, some even want to return. Recently SBB realized the need for a transition for patients from this isolated, luxury pampered lifestyle back to the realities of the real world, so they opened Sanctuary Recovery House, a halfway, or sober living, house. SBB offers a detox program as well. If you want your family to be near by while you are in treatment, they can even arrange for a luxury holiday for your family to coincide with your stay.
If there was one complaint that seemed to be fairly common, it was that in addition to the overall cost, some of the fees charged later seemed over the top and unnecessary. "I think some of the extra charges to my bill were petty. Eg., a $5 charge for directing mail from the Sanctuary office to the house I was in some 5 km away." Another said, "We knew the stay would be expensive, but we were charged for EVERYTHING. Even a dollar or two for mail redirection."
Alumni claim to have been able to stay clear of whatever problem brought them to The Sanctuary Byron Bay and they have fond memories of their stays there: "I think the most memorable aspect of the treatment was that almost everyone who works there has gone through some sort of addiction" said one person. Another raved, "Everything was done so well by everyone. The bar was set very high and every therapist adhered to that structure."