It all started over five years ago when our founder and CEO of the charity 24 x 7 Special Needs Holiday Trust Andy Mahoney discovered that there was not a single holiday centre in Europe where a family with a member that has special needs, leaning difficulties or physical disabilities could holiday together in a safe, secure and specifically fitted out amenity. He saw for himself that many laid claim they could ‘modify’ rooms or facilities but in truth this often meant that compromise had to be made with beds, shower or bathrooms and other sometimes basic or modest requirements; very often it meant that any interaction with other guests or holiday makers was in many cases almost imposable for the family.
Andy set about finding a suitable building and grounds that would home a new centre dedicated to special needs people he found the perfect place, a virtually derelict family hotel in the beautiful setting of the Algarve in Portugal. It took four years and the dedication of over 480 unbelievable volunteers, to create Centre Algarve. The facts and figures involved are truly amazing, we have laid 18,000 meters of tiles, used 800 gallons of paint and 20,000 metres of cables have been laid, 2,000 ton of cement on our walls alone and cooked 22,000 meals for the volunteers. Our thanks go out to all the volunteers and local people who have helped in our journey.
Local products have been used where possible including Patio Tiles made 4 km away by hand, the doors and windows were made in the local village by the same man that made the original ones 30 years ago.
The Centre Algarve is a truly remarkable place that is equipped to support people with special needs including a swimming pool with hoist and relaxation areas, fourteen bedrooms with 2, 3 and 4 people occupancy options with two bedrooms have adjoining hygiene rooms, a petting Zoo and grassed paddocked areas with a meet Meerkat experience, potbellied pigs, goats, tortoises, owls, fish ponds and fantastic array of wonderful exotic birds, a safe outdoor children’s play area with swings and slides and an education discovery centre including soft and sensory rooms, a class room and an American themed diner and kitchen for anyone to teach their skills! Outside it has a sun lounge area were you can freely mix with other guests and friends.
The whole ground floor tiled area made from local hand made Santa Catarina tiles amounts to 11,000 SQ metres of easy wheelchair access. Our gardens have been designed for wheelchair access with some raised beds so you can enjoy them or be interactive and help! The discovery centre is home to learning, conferences, related talks and variety shows all dedicated to ensuring a holiday for a family, group or school to remember.