by ELOISE WALTON
An Irish property owner has unveiled Europe’s first package holiday for recovering alcoholics at his luxury villa in Monchique.
Andrew O’Loughlin told the Algarve Resident that he found a gap in the market for a sober package holiday after going into recovery from alcoholism.
“Four years ago when I went into recovery, one of the hardest obstacles I had to face was going on holidays,” he said.
“After several horrendous holidays to countries around the world, I realised that my home in Portugal was the place where I felt the most relaxed and happy.”
Andrew started to welcome friends who were also in recovery to visit his property, which he called Renovatio, meaning rebirth.
“They all loved it and said the house had such a serene and spiritual atmosphere, so two years ago I came up with the idea for Sober Holidays,” he said.
“The concept is so new. It’s simple and personal to me because I needed it.”
Andrew now hopes to help others who cannot buy their own haven by providing them with a chance to experience a safe and secure holiday without alcohol “being thrown in their face”.
Renovatio, which will be hosting its first guests from April, is billed for people who have abstained from alcohol for at least 60 days.
Partners can also stay at the villa but there is a zero tolerance policy for all guests towards alcohol and all drugs, with guests being required to honour the principles of Renovatio and respect the peace of mind of other guests.
Although there are no formal meetings or group therapy sessions, full support is given during the holiday, with staff available to drive guests to English language AA, NA and GA meetings held in the region on several days a week.
Aside from the support, Sober Holidays offer a variety of activities for guests to enjoy during their holiday.
“We have a range of activities such as golf, sailing, yoga and meditation or simply relaxing by the pool at the property,” he said.
Guests will also be looked after and entertained by live-in host John Healy, an Irish TV personality and former Maître D’ at the 5-star Four Seasons in Dublin, who is a personal friend of Andrew and will be sharing his enthusiasm for great food and his mischievous sense of humour with guests.
For the future, Andrew hopes to expand Sober Holidays, saying that his goal is to have one venue in every country in Europe.
“I know some people who are in recovery that have not been on holiday for five or even 10 years because there is nowhere for them to go. If with this project I can prevent one person to relapse, then I’m doing a good thing,” he said.
For more information, please visit the website, available in English at www.soberholidays.ie