The Next Wellness Craze:
Medical Institute, Cenegenics Provides Preventive Medicine Program
|By Doreen Hemlock, South Florida
Sun-SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 10, 2007 - Talk about medical tourism, and many Americans think of traveling overseas for more affordable care.
But there's a luxury end to the market too, highlighted by a preventive care center that opened Tuesday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
Cenegenics Medical Institute of Boca Raton caters to the healthy and well-heeled who pay out of pocket for personalized "age-management" services not covered by medical insurance. Clients plunk down about $3,000 for an initial seven-hour evaluation and a customized exercise, nutrition and health program. They can keep access to the institute by paying $1,000-plus every six months.
The newest Cenegenics unit aims to handle 500 to 700 clients a year. Those who are not already members at the Boca Raton Resort & Club will be registered as guests and can use its exclusive facilities. Out-of-town visitors likely will stay at the resort overnight or longer, said Dr. Robert Willix, who heads the center, Cenegenics' third in the country.
"How long our clients stay would depend on their lifestyle. You may have someone fly in on a private plane and leave the next day, or some may stay a week," said Willix, a heart specialist and Boca Raton resident who joined Cenegenics seven years ago.
The institute underscores a trend for the lodging industry to tap surging demand among travelers for health, fitness and medical care. Hotels and resorts increasingly offer spas and exercise centers; team with clinics to serve clients recovering from cosmetic surgery; and cater to friends and family of patients who travel for medical procedures, sometimes to places as far-flung as Thailand, India or Panama.
"It's an extension of the wellness craze," said Scott Berman, who runs the hospitality practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Miami.
The Boca Raton Resort & Club opted to lease space to the "prestigious and reputable" Cenegenics institute to expand the range of its offerings to members and guests, who increasingly seek to live healthier longer, said general manager Daniel Mann.
"It rounds out our services," Mann said. "Resorts are offering what people want."
For Cenegenics, the location at a luxury resort represents a first. The 10-year-old institute also has centers in Las Vegas and Charleston, S.C., and out-of-town clients there stay at nearby lodgings of their choice, Willix said.
"My vision was that we're a preventive medicine program in Boca Raton, and being at the Resort & Club offered an ideal location. We could work with the hotel on menus from our nutritionists, and clients who come here can use the exercise facilities," he said.
The lodging industry is teaming with health, wellness and medical facilities in other ways, too. Several hotels in Broward County, for instance, offer free shuttle service to and from The Cleveland Clinic in Weston, both to serve patients and their friends and family.
The 174-unit Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Weston offers the shuttle from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and depends on the Cleveland Clinic probably for 40 percent of revenues. "It's our No. 1 piece of business," said general manager Alan Pinado.
Hotel clients related to the Cleveland Clinic come from Latin America, the Caribbean and across the United States. Even cruise lines send crew members with injuries to the clinic, and they often stay at the hotel before or after the clinic visits, Pinado said.
Cenegenics of Boca Raton invested more than $1 million in its new facility and will employ an initial staff of about 10, including several doctors, director Willix said.
Doreen Hemlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-810-5009.
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