A nip here, a tuck there. A growing number of tourists are traveling to Scottsdale to go under the knife and recover in high-end resorts with top-notch treatment.
Cosmetic surgeons in Scottsdale are attracting patients from all over the United States by partnering with local hotels and resorts to upgrade the recovery experience. Accommodations are made prior to the surgery for guests to recuperate in a resort of their choice, with medical care nearby. Some surgeons say there is untapped potential to capitalize on this trend and create a lucrative partnership.
Doctors say people are traveling to Scottsdale to undergo cosmetic procedures ranging from breast augmentation to facial rejuvenation, with pricetage ranging from $3,000 to $30,000.
“I think Scottsdale is a destination point,” said Dr. Daniel Shapiro, M.D., FACS, of Shapiro Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Shapiro Skin Klinic. “I think it has a very cosmopolitan reputation and usually larger cities with that discretionary income tend to have reputations for things like plastic surgery. We’re selling a luxury. We are providing the best possible results for somebody, with the best possible experience.”
Shapiro has practiced plastic surgery in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley for more than 22 years. He estimates that as many as 40 percent of his patients are from out of town.
“I think a lot of people are very private about whatever they do (in regards to plastic surgery),” Shapiro said. “It’s a win-win all the way around if somebody can have some improvements and go back home and they just look better. It’s at their discretion whether they want people to know. I think that’s why a lot people go out of town and have plastic surgery done.”
Building the brand
Scottsdale hotels and resorts have seen an increase of 3.2 percent in room occupancy and in 8.8 percent increase in RevPAR (room revenue divided by rooms available), according to Megan Doyle, community affairs manager at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Our resorts and hotels are wonderful places in Scottsdale for rest and relaxation,” Doyle said. “I can imagine that anybody recovering from any kind of surgery or simply just needing a vacation can definitely come to one of our resorts and rejuvenate.”
Here’s how Shapiro said the medical tourism industry works in the Valley: After the surgery is completed, the patient and family stay in the clinic’s recovery center for a couple days and are then transferred to a hotel or resort where they will stay for approximately a week to 10 days.
“Whether there is a package deal or not, usually the hotel will basically give revision rates based upon the length of stay,” Shapiro said.
The accommodations depend on what kind of surgery the guest underwent and what his or her needs are. The surgical clinic conducts research based on the patient’s criteria and circumstance. Some special services that are provided are transportation to and from the hotel and clinic, food delivery to hotel rooms, an itinerary for a spouse or significant others while the patient is recovering and an on-call nurse.
“The package varies in terms of what people are looking for,” Shapiro said. “We’re not a deal kind of practice. We’re more of a discriminating kind of taste in population practice. We get what people want and we help them achieve that.”
Dr. Pablo Prichard is the senior partner at Advanced Aesthetic Associates and has two in-house concierges who work in compliance with local hotels and resorts to schedule patients’ stays. Prichard offers a “fly-in program,” where all of the details are scheduled and calculated prior to the procedure.
“Once they have their consultations and decide to have surgery, they discuss the matters with the surgical concierge, who discusses their stay, hotel, food service, nursing service, and transportation,” Prichard said.
Financially, the clinic and resort work together to find a financial fit for the patient based on what he or she needs for a comfortable recovery.
“We do give the options for resorts that are close to us and in different price ranges,” said Jadie Peck, cosmetic concierge at Advanced Aesthetic Associates, “but we do have some deals with the resorts in the area that we give the options for. That way, they are not paying full-price for these resorts. They are nice. They have the complimentary breakfast and things like that so the patients don’t have to go out.”
Peck emphasizes that recovery will take the same amount of time regardless of where the patient stays, but location can aid in a comfortable convalescence.
“We do try and figure out resorts that are higher end so the clients that we have get more of an upscale feel to their surgery and their overall experience,” Peck said.
The business side
One of Shapiro’s recent out-of-state patients received a thigh lift and stayed at the Doubletree Resort in Scottsdale. The thigh lift surgery cost $17,200, an additional $3,230 went for the operation room and $1,598 for anesthesia. A two-night stay at the recovery center was $1,400 and each additional night at the Doubletree Resort in Scottsdale cost approximately $500 per night.
“One of the things they are saving is time and energy,” Shapiro said. “It’s stressful trying to accommodate all of those things. Some of the deals that hotels will bundle is based upon how many days you are going to stay. You can save hundreds of dollars per night as compared with booking it independently.”
This type of agreement is not unusual in the medical industry. The Mayo Clinic has a corporate room rate agreement with Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch for special seasonal room rates, according to Ann Lane, senior director of public relations at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch.
The partnership started with clinics reaching out to the hotels and resorts in Scottsdale, due to the needs of their patients undergoing surgery and wanting to stay for an extended vacation to recover.
“(Clinics) started talking to hotels and resorts because we had out-of-town patients coming in,” Peck said. “We started talking to the hotels and working with them to get a mutual agreement going because we did have patients asking for that and we did it in order to accommodate the patients.”
Shapiro and Prichard both agree that it is a collaborative effort between the clinics and resorts to make a patient’s stay exactly what he or she wants and to recover successfully.
“Collaborative efforts with hotels is important, because a hotel can co-market a surgeon and the surgeon can co-market the hotel on their various websites,” Prichard said. “Co-marketing on a lot of different fronts helps with patients being aware that this is a possibility in that they don’t have to be restricted in one part of the country. They do have wide opportunities to go anywhere they want.”
The increase in the medical tourism industry shows great opportunity for the surgical facilities and resorts in Arizona to work together.
“I think it would be nice if the City of Scottsdale or the Chamber of Commerce would somehow get together with professional organizations and plastic surgeons and have a meet and greet with them and come up with an idea of how they can help each other in terms of public relations, package deals and any kind of incentives,” Shapiro said. “It is not only the traveling and lodging patients are paying for, there is money to spend in recreational activities, such as golfing and shopping. It’s good for business all the way around.”