Gourmet meals, masseuses, 500-thread-count sheets and private rooms with a fireplace and a view of one of the city’s most exclusive beaches. It sounds like a high-end resort and it is — for the rich and famous looking to kick an addiction.
Called Promises Residential Treatment Center, it’s the place Britney Spears is supposed to call home for the next month while she attempts to grab control of a life that looked to be spinning out of control.
In a little over a week, the singer reportedly checked in and out and in and out and then in again to rehab, shaved her head and got tiny lips tattooed on her wrist. And this flurry followed months of hard late-night partying in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
By entering Promises, for the second time, on Thursday, Spears joined a long list of other celebrities who have trekked to the lush Malibu facility to overcome addictions. Promises alumni includes Ben Affleck, Charlie Sheen, Diana Ross and Matthew Perry.
Treatment doesn’t come cheap. A 30-day stay is $48,000.
What kind of perks can patients expect for $1,600 a night at the 16-person facility? A personal trainer, beautician, private counseling session and no chores. The sprawling grounds of the Mediterranean-style villa tucked in the Santa Monica Mountains include tennis and basketball courts, two pools and nearby horseback riding facilities.
“These people are wealthy, wealthy,” Malibu Mayor Ken Kearsley says of the clientele. “They don’t call them gourmet cooks there, they call them ‘recovery nutritionists.”’
A typical recovery lunch: Korean short ribs, pot stickers, sashimi, Thai chicken coconut soup and teriyaki chicken.
If the perks alone aren’t enough to keep her at Promises, Spears need only reflect on the possibility she could lose custody of her two young children to estranged husband Kevin Federline if she doesn’t complete the program.
Promises helped launch the so-called “Malibu Model” of rehab when it opened in 1989. There is also a facility in West Los Angeles and The Promises Foundation for low-income single mothers in Culver City.
Some proponents of the high-life approach to kicking drugs and alcohol have criticized more traditional institutional facilities for being too draconian. Such facilities provide Spartan conditions and can require clients to make their own coffee and mop the floors.
Malibu is the high-end detox destination. In this 27-mile-long seaside enclave of 14,000 that many celebrities call home, there are about 25 rehab centers with inviting names like Harmony Place, Renaissance and Cliffside Malibu.
“Even though we created this very exclusive model of treatment we’re firmly grounded in the 12-step tradition which differentiates us from a lot of other programs,” Promises founder and CEO Richard Rogg says.
The facility’s Web site shows rooms decorated in serene shades of blue, a couple laughing playfully beside lapping waves and a woman with her hand outstretched to a horse. The site promises an “unparalleled recovery experience” and refers to itself as the choice of business executives and government officials in addition to celebrities.
“The London Times, People Magazine and Time Magazine, among others, have extolled our virtues on their pages,” the Web site boasts.
Steve Cron, a Santa Monica criminal defense attorney, has visited numerous clients at Promises and played pingpong by one of the pools.
“I’ve often said if I had nothing else to do and a substance abuse problem and had $40,000 lying around I’d go there for a vacation,” he says. “All kidding aside, it’s an outstanding program.”