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Eva's escape Dr Eva Orsmond tells how fixing up rundown hotel helped her reconcile with husband

"I wouldn't recommend it if you want to fix your marriage - to 'buy a ruined hotel and it will be all happy days',"

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GETAWAY: Dr Eva is preparing to open a boutique 
hotel in Portugal

GETAWAY: Dr Eva is preparing to open a boutique hotel in Portugal

GETAWAY: Dr Eva is preparing to open a boutique hotel in Portugal

TV doctor Eva Orsmond first set eyes on her tumbledown hotel in spring 2017. She probably knew then she was at the beginning of a Dermot Bannon-style adventure as she picked her way through the storybook grounds with her 80-year-old mother.

"It was just beautiful," she says. "I remember when we walked into the lobby I said to the agent, 'there is no point going any further, this is exactly what we have been looking for, this is it'."

Now, almost four years on, she is tantalisingly close to throwing open the front doors of Solar Alvura outside the whitewashed Portuguese town of Moncarapacho - with a definitive date of May 1 next year after taking the first online bookings.

"When I heard about the vaccine, obviously I was extremely happy. I hope people will want to travel even more, having been locked down for so long," she says.

The boutique resort will have the doctor's stamp all over it. There will be a strict 'no alcohol' and 'no smoking' policy, while menus will be tailored to weight loss.

"We call it a health hotel. The minimum stay is five days because my whole idea is that I would like people to see and feel the difference."

The path to this oasis of tranquillity has been anything but smooth sailing, however. Dr Orsmond and her husband Wyatt have had to deal with shaky foundations, the risk of losing their €135,000 deposit and the destruction of their wild garden. To date the project has set them back €3.2m.

Her TV series, Dr Eva's Great Escape, gave a glimpse into the spiralling budgets and building snags which came with the property. However, the cameras didn't capture the entire magnitude of the gamble.

As she was dealing with her fairly new marriage separation, she initially thought the hotel was out of reach, but something made her phone her husband and business partner in Jamaica to tell him about the property.

The following week they were on a plane and the couple have since reconciled. A new series will show the completed project to RTÉ viewers next year.

"I wouldn't recommend it if you want to fix your marriage - to 'buy a ruined hotel and it will be all happy days'," she says.

"There have been wonderful things and I wouldn't give away a moment because life is all about challenges. Nothing really comes easy."

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