Medicine under the sun
Most people associate medical tourism in Southeast Asia with urban centres, such as Bangkok and Singapore, where they can find hospitals resembling five-star hotels, well-trained doctors and nurses, state-of-the-art equipment and personalised service.
So it remains to be seen how the market will react to a facility opening in a resort destination more famous for palm-studded beaches and breathtaking scenery than hospital beds and operating theatres.
Targeted initially at the domestic and Australian markets, the BIMC (Bali International Medical Centre) Hospital Group opened a facility on the Indonesian island of Bali in May. Together with the Courtyard by Marriott Bali Nusa Dua, it is offering the first medical tourism packages and services to be offered in Indonesia.
Located near the hospital in the gated Nusa Dua tourism zone, the Courtyard offers specific aftercare services to complement those at the medical facility.
Nurses from the hospital can visit patients after they have been discharged and are recuperating at the resort.
'In terms of pricing, Bali will position itself as less expensive than Singapore and more expensive than Bangkok,' says Jeff Tyler, Courtyard by Marriott's general manager. 'We carefully looked at services that aid recuperation, such as special diets and nutrition, spa and wellness programmes, and ensuring wheelchair access to all areas of the property.'
One of Nusa Dua's key competitive advantages is its relative peace and quiet - not to mention clean air - that will offer patients recovering from surgery a pristine environment in which to convalesce.
'We are located in the heart of Nusa Dua, which is known for its peaceful and tranquil environment, making it the ideal place for recovery,' Tyler says. 'Compared to Bangkok and Singapore that is a huge advantage.'
The Courtyard is the first property to partner with BIMC, but it is not likely to be the last. Other hotels are expected to develop similar partnerships.
'The Courtyard resort is an ideal spot for pre- and post-procedure rest and relaxation. It is conveniently located and offers complementing services and standards,' says Craig Beveridge, BIMC Hospital Group's founder and CEO.
Meanwhile, few people associate medical tourism with Vietnam, but that country's two largest cities - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City - have a growing list of hospitals and private clinics attracting patients from other countries seeking quality care at low prices.
Vietnam's first dedicated medical tourism resort, Medicoast, is located in the seaside resort town of Vung Tau. It offers travel packages that combine accommodation with professional health care services and recreational activities.