Couples looking to get out of their relationships probably aren't too enthused about this Valentine's Weekend (because when it's on a Saturday, it can't just be a day-long affair). The sorts of activities and weekend getaways typically reserved for a "holiday" celebrating love and romance might not be particularly appealing when you're on the verge of calling it quits with a partner of several decades -- those quiet, candlelit dinners accompanied by lots of red wine, couples' massages and, um, cuddling.
Naturally, someone, somewhere, has found a way to make a romantic getaway more appealing to the "consciously uncoupling" of the world: By giving married couples all the idyllic perks of a loving vacation, plus a divorce.
The New York Post followed a New York couple, Cathy and D., on their "divorce vacation" upstate to the Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa, the first U.S. resort to join the Dutch company DivorceHotel. The company provides pretty much exactly the services you'd expect it to, offering retreats for the more civil of separating couples that end in divorce:
The entire package costs $5,000, and includes separate accommodations for two nights, a designated lawyer for each party and a mediator to draw up divorce papers. There’s also a welcome basket containing Saratoga sparkling water, red wine, dark chocolate and other goodies, as well as a DivorceHotel information packet. [...]
Since its American launch in September 2014, four couples have divorced [at Gideon Putnam], and Cathy and D., who asked that their last names and his full name not be printed for privacy reasons, are the first from the NYC area. (Hundreds of couples have used the program to divorce in Europe, where it’s offered in six cities and boasts a 98 percent success rate, according to DivorceHotel founder Jim Halfens.)
“It’s for people who are pretty civilized and without complex financial matters,” says $700-an-hour divorce attorney Raoul Felder.
Before couples arrive at the DivorceHotel, they email and chat with mediators to discuss the big stuff -- separation of finances, division of property, child custody and the like -- and then finalize the divorce during their stay. For Cathy and D., the Post reports, that meant eight hours of "working sessions" with lawyers over the course of the weekend, punctuated by trips to the spa and (separate) massages, and concluding with an amicable signing of divorce papers:
Then, as if it’s a regular Saturday night hanging out in their living room, Cathy and D. watch the Union vs. Boston college hockey game on TV. Except they’re signing their divorce papers while it’s on — a 42-page agreement notarized by Martin.
The game’s final score is a tie — symbolic for the warm couple who wanted a divorce that didn’t take either of them down.
“It went so smoothly. This is the way it should be,” says D., over a bottle of red he’s sharing with Cathy to toast the end of their marriage.
Cheers to that, and happy Valentine's Day!