Planning Your Medical Trip Abroad: Recovery Retreat or Hotel?


The needs of the “Medical Tourist” are much different than those of someone traveling on business or vacation. Historically, for a medical tourist, staying at a traditional hotel comes with much apprehension. While a hotel may be very appropriate for someone having dental work done, it may not be very suitable for someone having a cosmetic or bariatric procedure for example. Challenges include; the lack of privacy after the procedure, rooms often times not properly equipped to handle post-surgical issues, medical needs, such as nurse care and massage therapy, are not readily available. This may cause frequent trips to a medical facility for post-operative care and follow up.

Many hotels are trying to make the adjustments. Jim Follett of International Hotel Group, based in Dallas, TX says, “As the hotel company with more guest rooms then any other company in the world, we are focusing on the individual traveling internationally for various medical treatments.”

Jim is the Director of Global Sales in Latin America and has spent much time in Central and South America. “Our research found these individuals have special requirements at the facilities they select for their recovery period. Our brands InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Staybridge Suites are committed to satisfying the unique needs of these guests.”

“The initial markets where we are developing programs for these guests include San Jose Costa Rica, Monterrey Mexico and Sao Paulo Brazil. Each city has multiple IHG brands which will satisfy the different budgets of the travelers. The Real InterContinental San Jose for example offers 24 hour room service, health club and business center which is very important to many of these guests. The newly renovated Holiday Inn San Jose-Aurora located in the city center offers walking access to the guest to the city a plus for individuals interested in exploring the city as they recover.”

“The hotels will have specifically designed programs for the medical tourist. Their recovery needs will vary based on the various medical procedures. Staying with internationally recognized brands will reduce some of the anxiety these patients experience. Additional services such as daily transfer to the facility, special dietary offers and free local phone calls to their doctors will include some of the services these guests will experience with IHG brands. A web site has been established for the industry specifically for the medical tourism providers in the USA and Canada. We anticipate working in concert with these professionals to insure a quality experience for the guests.”

Outside of hotels, many countries in Latin America catering to medical tourists, have left it to the physicians and hospitals to come up with solutions to this need. A plastic surgeon or hospital, for example, may offer an apartment that is nearby to the medical facility with 24 hour nurse care.

Some countries such as Costa Rica, however, have been quick to identify a medical tourists needs and have made adjustments accordingly.

“There are over 15 recovery-type retreats in San Jose alone.” said Raul Cossio, Owner of the Paradise Cosmetic Inn. “Hotels are not medically equipped to handle surgical patients, in fact, many of the local hotels will tell people to contact us instead.” He believes the biggest difference is the 24 hour nurse attention and “the fact that you are among people that you have a lot in common with and can share your experience is a big factor.” “It’s like a big pajama party, everyone is comfortable, it’s the perfect atmosphere for relaxing and recharging which facilitates the healing process.” “By the time the people leave everyone feels like one big happy family planning a reunion at Paradise.”

Like hotels, there are some challenges to the Recovery Retreat for a Medical Tourist. The issues that they run up against involve the limitations on what is available at the facility. This is particularly an issue for those Medical Tourists that bring a spouse or companion. Meal selection and entertainment can be limited and the costs for extra services that may be included in the price at a hotel, needs to be evaluated by the Medical Tourist. Also, after the required period of recovery in which the Medical Tourist needs daily medical attention for Post-operative care, they may “outgrow” the facility. Consideration to changing venues for the remainder of the stay may be a good option.

Consulting the doctor that is carrying out the procedure is very helpful in deciding how and where to stay. Based on their experience, they will be able to provide you with what your expected recovery time should be and how long a recovery retreat would be beneficial.

Both the recovery retreat and a traditional hotel have their advantages. Doing your homework and research to determine what is best for you, the medical tourist, will help make your experience a very positive one.

Lourdes Gasparoni is a proprietor of Premier MedEscape in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and may be reached at info@premiermedescapes.com.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Medical Tourism Professional→