READY FOR CHANGE: Plans have been lodged to transform the Retreat Hotel near Nebo.
READY FOR CHANGE: Plans have been lodged to transform the Retreat Hotel near Nebo. Kirsty Dykes

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THE historic Retreat Hotel near Nebo could be transformed into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre before the end of this year.

Mike Haber and Gerard Falzon, who have owned the Epsom establishment for nine years, confirmed they lodged a development application for the project with the Isaac Regional Council recently.

But the idea was hatched more than two years ago, as the publicans and project facilitator Kelly Haber noted the shortage of rehabilitative support services throughout the country.

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They believed the country setting would be ideal for the facility, to be named Central Queensland Holistic Services, and said it would accommodate about 30 people at a time.

"You ask what two publicans would know about opening a holistic rehabilitation facility? We've each been in the hospitality industry more than 30 years and have helped a lot of people previously," Mr Falzon said.

"It's about helping people reconnect with the community, and to make them feel like they are worth something again."

Mr Haber said the facility would strive to meet the mental, emotional and physical needs of its clients.

"There is a national demand for this. You read about it on all levels of media every day," he said.

The pair also liked the fact that, since The Retreat ceased trading in December last year, the plan could see it go "the complete circle" and be put back into use by the community.

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However, further details about the project won't be divulged until next week.

According to the Mackay History website, The Retreat Hotel tracks back to 1866, when it was owned by Charles Heinemann.

A Mackay Hospital and Health Service spokesperson said currently there was one rehabilitation service in Mackay that offered live-in accommodation - OzCare.

Other services like community groups, the hospital and GPs provided support services.

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