Luxury postnatal retreats draw affluent parents

March 12, 2024

Modeled after recovery centers in Taiwan and South Korea, high-end businesses nationwide are capitalizing on the dearth of postpartum support for Americans, reports Businessweek.

After Ayra Redondiez’s son was born five weeks early last December, she went straight from the hospital to the Village Postnatal Retreat Center in San Francisco.

During her six-night stay, Redondiez, who works in human resources at a software startup, got lactation coaching, baby CPR training and a massage. Her husband joined her, and they were able to sleep through the night while their newborn dozed in a staffed nursery down the hall. They were also able to check back in after health complications for their baby unexpectedly sent the family back to the hospital midstay.

“It’s such a big thing to know you’re not alone and to have that support,” Redondiez says. “For me, that was priceless.”

The cost of her experience? About $6,300—a price that’s far from affordable for the average American family. But as more luxury postnatal retreat centers open across the USA, operators are finding customers among affluent new parents looking for an alternative to at-home recovery. The nascent businesses are capitalizing on the relative dearth of postnatal support services in the US—while also highlighting a gap in access.

For $1,050 a night at Boram Postnatal Retreat in New York City, new moms receive three meals a day delivered to their rooms; round-the-clock breastfeeding support; and hands-on training in baby-care skills, such as swaddling and bathing. Hospital-grade bassinets make it easy to wheel newborns from their parents’ room to the nursery and back again, while cameras pointed at each child allow mom and dad to peek in from monitors.

For $1,045 a night, guests at Sanu Postnatal Retreat in Tysons, Virginia, near Washington, can stay for up to 12 weeks of recovery and education.

Ahma & Co. will welcome parents with its team of doulas, therapists and newborn specialists for $1,650 a night when it opens on March 15 at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Dana Point, California.

Demand is there, operators say. Esther Park, Ahma’s founder and chief executive officer, says her center has 4,000 people on its waitlist. Investors are interested, too.

The rising popularity of doulas—professionals who provide emotional support and guidance during pregnancy, birth and postpartum—suggests the level of consumer interest in related services. The doula and birth coaching market is on pace to generate an estimated $25.7 billion in global revenue in 2033, up 79% from 2023, according to research firm Future Market Insights. An IBISWorld industry analysis specific to the USA also shows steady revenue growth in recent years.

“It used to be that society filled that need” of supporting new moms, says Darcy Sauers, a doula and marketing strategist who helps other doulas build their practices. “Now that’s not happening, so you have a business opportunity to fill that.” Billings and staff at her own postpartum doula agency in the Dover, New Hampshire, area have tripled in the past five years, she says.

This month, New York-based Boram is averaging about eight bookings every night—up 48% from a year earlier. Revenue from corporate partnerships has doubled since 2022, says co-founder Boram Nam, who previously worked in hospitality and decided to launch the business in part because of a difficult recovery after her second child was delivered by cesarean section.

Although the concept is fresh to the US—Boram, the first of these centers, opened in 2022—postpartum retreats are common in many Asian countries. In South Korea, 8 in 10 new moms go to a joriwon after giving birth, where they have access to meals, child-care classes and pampering such as massages and facials.

In contrast, the vast majority of American mothers give birth in a hospital and are sent home soon after; before the pandemic, a parent who gave birth vaginally stayed at the hospital for two days on average.

Research contact: @BW