A new hotel has opened up in the Netherlands and is offering a new kind of resort experience: the divorce kind. Where couples can check in married, and check out divorced. It’s an all-inclusive package. From lawyers to therapists fitted with separate luxury accommodations for both parties.
“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.”
“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.”
There are currently six hotels with this model and program operating across the Netherlands. The Divorce Hotel package typically costs between $2,500 and $10,000 depending on the complexity of the couple’s assets and whether there’s a custody battle. It may be an expensive upfront cost but the premium is something many couples are finding themselves willing to pay to ensure a clean break by the end.
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 has said he is already looking to bring the business model to America, a logical step since currently one in two marriages end in divorce. He also said he has plans to launch a reality TV show about the hotel in the fall. “It’s time to show people this is possible,” he said. “And obviously it would be a great television show.”