Self-Help Business Booming in Sedona, Despite James Ray's Death Lodge Tragedy

The sale of snake oil seems to still be a hot commodity in Sedona, despite "spiritual warrior" James Ray's October sweat lodge ceremony that killed three people and left dozens injured.

Businesses in Sedona, as well as other self-help retreats, say the sweat lodge incident hasn't hurt business, and that it may have even helped.

"We're getting tons of questions about what's going on here," Dennis Andres, who leads guided tours of Sedona's red rocks tells ABC 15. "So even though this was a tragedy, in a way it's also an opportunity." 

Sure -- a classic case of "when life hands you lemons..."

Karen Koebnick, organizer of an upcoming "personal growth" conference in Sedona, says the Ray fiasco hasn't slowed her sales a bit and -- in fact -- she's seeing a rise in people looking for "personal growth" in Sedona. 

"It seems to have increased Sedona's popularity overall," she says. "We've had people register from Switzerland, Norway, and Canada. That's never happened before."

Apparently cooking three people to death in a makeshift sweat tent is a tourist-grab -- who knew?

Ray charged $10,000 for people to participate in the "spiritual warrior" retreat, but John Assaraf, a fellow "self-helper," says despite what happened, Ray held the event out of "love" and "caring."  

"We are ultimately responsible for what occurs in the environment we bring others into. Will[James Ray] take responsibility?  I hope he does.  I think he will." He followed up this statement with, "There are some snake and oil people out there, but most people, James included, have the intention of loving and caring."

It's probably not too hard to "love and care" when that snake oil is sold for $10,000 a pop. 

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James King
Contact: James King