One of the most well-known doctors in Ireland, Dr Eva Orsmond is back, and this time instead of tackling Ireland’s health problems, she and her family have taken on the mammoth task of renovating a derelict hotel in the beautiful Portuguese countryside, all of which will be shown on RTÉ.

Moving house

The Orsmond family previously lived in Wicklow but have now moved to Portugal and purchased a small apartment in Dublin city centre for when they return to Ireland.

“I remember how much I was in denial about moving. I was like, ‘Our house is quite minimalistic, there isn’t that much’.

“We got a 50-foot container and we couldn’t fit everything in there. It was so stressful,” Dr Eva.

Dr Eva first saw the hotel in March 2017.

“It was tough, but don’t the experts say that people need this type of project in order to keep them interested? It’s positive to challenge yourself, but obviously within limits.”

Moving can be complicated, emotional and stressful, there are no two ways about it, but there are obvious upsides to it as well.

“We sold the house, made this big move to go to Portugal and we now have a little apartment, a tiny one in the city centre and it’s been amazing.

“Like suddenly being in the city centre, not having to travel 30km into town. So if somebody asks me to go out in the evening when I’m Dublin, I’m going.”

Health hotel

Dr Eva first saw the hotel in March 2017, when she was still filming Ireland’s Health Divide and it took them four months to buy it.

“We hadn’t even bought the place and I could see that this could be an interesting project. This place was so derelict and had lots of challenges with it, many people dream about this type of project.”

One of the plans for the hotel is to remove the orange trees and replace them with vegetable crops.

Now in 2020, Dr Eva is optimistic to have it finished by the end of the year. She still has time to laugh about the experience so far.

“You can build a 300-room hotel in this frame of time and we haven’t got 21 rooms ready. You think it’s going to be difficult, but it’s actually going to be 100 times more difficult.”

It will be a place of rejuvenation for people

Formerly the resident doctor on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, Dr Eva is a strong advocate for leading a healthy lifestyle and following a good diet. That being said, if you are planning to visit the hotel you can be assured that it will be totally alcohol free, smoke free and gluten free and while there will be high-speed Wi-Fi the aim is to limit it.

“It will be a place of rejuvenation for people. You don’t need to worry that you’ll be there eating and somebody with be sitting with a gin and tonic next to you. You will be with similar-minded people in the same boat.”

Grow your own

The hotel sits on 4.2ha and comes with almond trees, olive trees and a big orange grove. The plan is to remove the orange trees and have an area for vegetable growing and a greenhouse.

“Oranges unfortunately, have fructose and orange juice is not something that I would be able to just make, because one glass of orange juice is over 100 calories.

Dr Eva hopes that the hotel will be a place of rejuvenation for people.

“It’s not the type of food that a person who wants to lose weight should be consuming, so we can’t offer it.”

The Orsmonds are going to be strict with visitors to the hotel. Dr Eva explained in between fits of laughter.

“We were just laughing the other day that we need to make sure that there are no orange trees so visitors don’t escape to the trees. That’s how strict we’re going to be.”

Irish attitude

We all tend to overindulge ourselves over the holidays. Dr Eva believes that the Irish attitude has to take some blame for the health issues in this country.

“I think it is partly down to the Irish attitude of enjoying every day. If there’s an opportunity to go have a pint, people will say, ‘I’d rather live one day less then give up on the quality of life’.

“People don’t realise, that you don’t need to be sticking to the diet all the time, but you need to stick to it most of the time and it will come back in health and longevity.”

Plate half full

Dr Eva’s recommendation would be to fill half your plate with vegetables.

“You should have a half a kilo of vegetables a day. So if you have a little bit of carrots on the side, that’s not enough – or the very Irish thing of potatoes having to be with every meal.

“I’m not saying you can’t have potatoes but even if one day you just have carrots and broccoli and no potatoes.”

I would value myself enough to cook for myself

Dr Eva also believes actions speak louder than words when it comes to parents and their children’s health.

“I would value myself enough to cook for myself. How can you expect your children to be healthy if you’re not healthy yourself? Because it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”

Catch Dr Eva’s Great Escape episode one is on RTÉ player and episodes two and three will be aired on 26 January and 2 February. Check out Solar Alvura Health Hotel on Instagram for more on her hotel.

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