'Divorce Hotel' Offers Weekend Escape
A new kind of hotel offers couples a quick getaway - from each other.
At the Divorce Hotel, unhappily married couples can check out of their marriages with a weekend package that includes lawyers and luxury accommodations - separate, of course.
"They arrive on Friday and we give them everything they need to leave Sunday with their divorce papers," said Jim Halfens, the Dutch entrepreneur who came up with the idea. "Divorces can cost a lot of money and a lot of time. Here, it's done in three days."
Couples check into one of six boutique hotels in the Netherlands for the Divorce Hotel package, which typically costs between $2,500 and $10,000 depending on the complexity of the couple's assets and whether there's a custody battle.
"We have everything they need: lawyers, mediators, psychologists," said Halfens. "The marriage failed, and that's negative. But it's also a new start, and that's positive. The only thing we can do is offer a better solution than fighting for years."
Soon Halfens plans to bring Divorce Hotel to the U.S., where one in two marriages ends in divorce.
"People are very interested because what we're doing is so unique," Halfens said, explaining how divorces in the U.S. can stretch over months and even years. "At first, you're very angry with each other but there's one moment when you say, 'Let's do this in a positive way.' That's when you come to us and we'll do it fast."
Halfens invited Demi Moore and Aston Kutcher, who split in November, to be Divorce Hotel's first stateside guests.
"They would be perfect for our program," Halfens said, stressing the hotel's commitment to privacy. "We wrote to them and said they are very welcome."
Moore and Kutcher did not respond, Halfens said.
Although the name "Divorce Hotel" drums up images of a sad place where guests sob over stiff drinks at the bar, Halfens said the reality is quite the opposite.
"We once had a guy that said, 'I want a bottle of champagne,' and did a toast to his wife," said Halfens. "He said, 'I had a wonderful time with you, and I wish you a nice future. Please wish for me a nice future as well.'"
But not all divorces are so amicable. Halfens said the hotel only works if both parties are keen to make a clean break.
"We can't split up everybody," he said, adding that couples who are "aggressive" or "childish" usually need a traditional and somewhat lengthy divorce. "First, we invite them to our head office for a conversation; we ask them about the situation. If it's possible, we book them into the hotel. If not, we help them with a traditional divorce."
Halfens said he hopes to launch a reality TV show about Divorce Hotel in the fall.
"It's time to show people this is possible," he said. "And obviously it would be a great television show."