‘One billionaire at a time’: inside the Swiss clinics where the super-rich go for rehab

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If the sky is clear, it is possible to lean out of the windows of Paracelsus Recovery, a luxury rehabilitation clinic in Zurich, and gaze along the lake to the Alps in the distance. It is the kind of view, of blue water and white peaks, that promises immediate rejuvenation, a purity close to holiness. The clinic, meanwhile, offers more elaborate treatments at a cost of between 95,000 to 120,000 Swiss francs (£85,000-£107,000) a week for the typical six- to eight-week stay.

I was not a typical arrival at Paracelsus, named after the 16th-century Swiss physician who believed, contrary to popular opinion at the time, that those suffering from mental illness were not possessed by evil spirits but deserved humane treatment. My rucksack was marked by old coffee stains and my coat had a hole in the back from which feathers regularly drifted. The staff here are used to people who do not carry their own luggage, and for whom a million in any currency is a forgettable sum. Clients are typically members of Middle Eastern royal families, self-made billionaires, famous actors or sports stars, and the troubled children of all these types, who have inherited their wealth and its attendant burdens.

More striking than the material luxury of the Paracelsus office, with its high ceilings and rows of white orchids, was the quantity of attention bestowed as soon as I walked through its doors. I was not here for treatment but would be staying in one of their apartments while I interviewed the staff. Even so, well-groomed nurses, doctors, administrators, and nutritionists emerged from every room, smiling with the kind of knowing purpose often glimpsed on the faces of clergy and psychotherapists, or anyone who believes they have access to a pain-alleviating truth.


https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/8b7b9deb5ce8eaff83d8f7e250f225b1cf1e5e2e/0_1_4996_2998/master/4996.jpg?width=1900&quality=85&dpr=1&s=noneIllustration Harriet Lee – Merrion/The Guardian



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