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APRIL 2018

The VOICE of Northern Ireland’s catering, licensing and tourism industry

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ospitality businesses in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) will be able to source chefs from THE TOP 100 HOSPITALITY outside the European Union, after Irish BUSINESSES 2018: SHOWCASING Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys WINNERS AND GUESTS AT THE approved changes to its Employment INAUGURAL AWARDS IN TITANIC Permit Regulations last month. BELFAST ON FEBRUARY 21 PS16-17 In a move aimed at addressing an acute industry-wide chef shortage, the Irish government has again proved itself to be a proactive supporter of its domestic hospitality sector. RoI businesses already benefit from a 9% tourism VAT rate and, as reported 12TH JUNE - GOLF DAY LOUGH ERNE RESORT in the March HRNI, recently welcomed a further relaxation of Easter trading The Federation’s annual golf day will restrictions, while the wider RoI tourism be held at the Lough Erne Resort on SHAKE MIX MUDDLE: FROM HECKLERS 12th June. industry has benefitted from the removal IN BALLERIN TO RUNNING HIS OWN Air Passenger Duty in 2014. BAR, NIGHTCLUB AND INTERNATIONAL This is always a fun day out.of There will be a two tee start between“With the current shortfall of chefs BARTENDING SCHOOL, PATRICK 11.30 pm and 1 pm and golf will be in Northern Ireland predicted to reach CROWLEY SPILLS THE BEANS PS22-23 followed by dinner and prize-giving 2,000 by 2024, the hospitality industry in the hotel. can only once again look on with envy Contact the office on 028 9077 6635 for more details and toas RoI change their immigration laws book your tee-off time. Theto golfallow restaurants, hotels and bars in day is supported by Henderson the Republic of Ireland to hire suitably Foodservice, Coca-Cola HBC NI and qualified chefs,” said Colin Neill, chief Tennents NI.

executive of Hospitality Ulster. “With this new law, the hospitality sector in the Republic will be able to fill vacancies more easily and continue to grow. In essence, it is another competitive disadvantage for the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.” Announcing the changes, Minister Humphreys said: “My decision to remove certain chef grades from the ineligible lists will ensure that there is a mechanism to address the shortage of qualified chefs in the short-term. I have applied a quota to ensure that, in the longer term, the demand for chefs is met from a steady supply in the Irish labour market and to that end I am aware of the work that is underway to increase the supply of chefs through training initiatives such as the development of a new Commis Chef Apprenticeship and a Chef de Partie Apprenticeship.” Irish Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin welcomed the measure as supporting a tourism and hospitality industry worth €7.2bn in Ireland and supporting 235,000 employees.




ourism NI has launched a new accommodation certification campaign ahead of peak season to encourage all accommodation providers to get visitor-ready this year. With visitor numbers rising as Northern Ireland becomes an increasingly popular tourism destination, the number of accommodation providers is also growing rapidly. The industry-wide campaign, backed by the NI Fire and Rescue Service and Trading Standards, highlights the importance of operating legally and the overall ease of achieving certification. “There has been a 20% increase in certified accommodation from 2016 to 2017; 13% of those certified were @Hosp_ReviewNI

Pictured are, from left, Geoff Somerville, NIFRS; Aine Kearney, Tourism NI; and Sharon Muldoon, TSS.

trading without a certificate,” said Aine Kearney, director of Business Support and Events at Tourism NI. “More importantly, trading without certification could result in legal action against the operator as well as reputational damage to the wider industry.” APRIL HRNI • 3

APRIL 2018

The VOICE of Northern Ireland’s catering, licensing and tourism industry

editorialcomment THE TEAM & CONTACTS Editor: Alyson Magee Manager: Mark Glover Art Editor: Helen Wright Production Manager: Irene Fitzsimmons Subscriptions: 028 9055 4598 (Price £27.50 UK, £37.50 outside UK) Published by Independent News & Media Ltd: Hospitality Review NI Independent News & Media Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road Clarendon Dock, Belfast BT1 3BG Contact: Editorial: Tel: 028 9026 4175 Sales: Tel: 028 9026 4266 The Review is the official publication for: Hospitality Ulster: 91 University Street, Belfast, BT7 1HP. Tel: 028 9032 7578. Chief Executive: Colin Neill Chairperson: Mark Stewart The Institute of Hospitality Northern Ireland Branch Email: Web: Chair: Marianne Hood FIH Vice Chair: Siobhan O’Sullivan MIH Northern Ireland Hotels Federation: The McCune Building, 1 Shore Road, Belfast, BT15 3PJ. Tel: 028 9077 6635 Chief Executive: Janice Gault President: Gavin Carroll Design & Production by: Independent News & Media Ltd Printed by: W. & G. Baird Ltd. The opinions expressed in Hospitality Review are not necessarily those of Hospitality Ulster or the NIHF.

Hospitality Review is a copyright of © Independent News & Media Ltd 2016

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y the time you receive our April edition of Hospitality Review, spring will have officially sprung. And, while there might not be many signs of spring in our inclement weather of late, spring has certainly sprung for our local hotel sector. Indeed, the entire edition could have been devoted to new hotel openings and developments without managing to fit in all the news. Here at INM HQ, we’re pretty excited about the imminent opening of AC Hotels by Marriott a few buildings down on City Quays. The AC Lounge sounds ideal for those moments when a change of scenery is required to get some writing done away from the hubbub of the office, while the Novelli at City Quays restaurant offers a very exciting alternative to the somewhat limited dining options currently available around Clarendon Docks. But the AC is only one of many exciting developments to feature across this month’s pages. Turn to p7 and you can read about the opening of the new £24m Maldron Hotel Belfast City and Ten Square’s £18m upgrade. On p35, meanwhile, a further £2m investment at the Fitzwilliam and £1m renovation programme at the Stormont are highlighted, while our monthly Hotel Hub profile on p37 features Millbrook House Hotel in Ballynahinch, which is also benefitting from an extensive, ongoing refurbishment programme. And there was no space left to fill in the magazine, meanwhile, with the latest detail on Lawrence Kenwright’s plans for The Waring Hotel in the Cathedral Quarter, through his Signature Living Group which is also developing the George Best Hotel in Belfast City Centre and the Lanyon Hotel in the Crumlin Road Courthouse. Kenwright has also

expressed his interest in restoring the Floral Hall in the grounds of Belfast Zoo. Also featured in the April edition are the winners of this year’s NI Hotels Federation Housekeeper of the Year and finalists in the Receptionist of the Year awards (ps 37-39). These may not be highest profile or top salaried jobs in the sector, but are every bit as important. Both occupations play a vital role in the smooth running of hotels, and the provision of a quality service which is likely to determine whether venues attract repeat business or critical positive online reviews, and should be celebrated; particularly with the hospitality sector facing an escalating staff shortage problem. Which brings us onto the more specific chef shortage issue with, as reported on p3, the Republic of Ireland again gaining a further competitive advantage over Northern Ireland by relaxing its immigration regulations to allow non-EU workers to fill chef roles in RoI. Chefs with five years’ experience as executive, head and sous chefs, or two years’ experience as chef de partie, have been removed from the ineligible list; applying to two permits per establishment. As detailed in the p3 story, the Irish government is also supporting further measures to address the shortage including commis chef and chef de partie apprenticeships. For businesses in Northern Ireland, it is just so frustrating to look at all the proactive measures taken over the border to support and bolster the hospitality industry; to recognise its contribution to the economy and support its continued growth. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland… well you’ve heard it all before. No Stormont and no decisions as the countdown to Brexit continues… One glimmer of hope I suppose in the news (p5, opposite) the UK government in moving ahead with the review of tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty in Northern Ireland.

Alyson Magee @Hosp_ReviewNI



In addition to opening IFEX 2018, Jean-Christophe Novelli has revealed the menu for his début Belfast restaurant, Novelli at City Quays, set to open this month at the AC Hotel Belfast. Highlighting the new restaurant’s support for local suppliers are, from left, Walter Ewing, managing director of Ewing’s; Jean-Christophe Novelli; Peter Hannan, owner of Hannan Meats; Jim Mulholland, grand chef at Novelli at City Quays; and Crawford Ewing, Ewing’s.


ichelin-starred celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli is set to officially open this year’s largest food, hospitality and retail exhibition - IFEX 2018. Novelli will fly into Belfast to open the doors of IFEX and its new sister event Meat@IFEX, which will take place from March 20-22 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast. Ahead of the April opening of his Novelli at City Quays restaurant at the AC Hotel by Marriott, Jean-

Christophe will travel to IFEX to meet some of the country’s biggest food companies and artisan producers and student and industry culinarians taking part in the ChefSkills competition. “Northern Ireland is fast-becoming world-renowned for its hospitality offering, and IFEX plays such a pivotal role in the development of skills and securing future business for the 200 plus exhibitors who are participating at the show,” said Novelli.



onfirmation Colin Neill at the Westminster last month. Government is to hear evidence into the potential impact of a cut in Tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty on the Northern Ireland economy, in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement, has been welcomed by industry. “Hospitality Ulster has led on the campaign for a cut in both of these key taxes,” said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster. “We currently have a 20% tourism VAT rate, which puts us at a distinct disadvantage to our nearest competitor and market, the Republic of Ireland, which has a 9% rate.” Further: “It is very clear that APD is a competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland’s tourism sector, deterring visitors from coming and hindering the growth of a sector that benefits the whole economy. “Abolishing APD would allow Northern Ireland to better compete for more flights and routes into Northern Ireland, helping the region grow visitor numbers and the attendant visitor spend.”


NEW LIGHT AND WALKWAY BOOST TITANIC ATTRACTION R B elfast’s offering as a maritime heritage destination has been elevated with the addition of two new attractions, the Great Light and Titanic Walkway, officially opened to the public in the Titanic Quarter last month. The Great Light gave Mew Island Lighthouse on the Copeland Islands its traditional revolving light and guided mariners to and from Belfast Lough until 2014 when the lighthouse was modernised and converted to solar power. In a Titanic Foundation project in partnership with the Commissioners

of Irish Lights, the optic has been given a new role bringing to life the story of lighthouses, their technological developments, their light-keepers and their role in the maritime and industrial history of Belfast and beyond. The new 500 metre Titanic Walkway on Victoria Wharf, meanwhile, connects the Titanic Slipways to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock, allowing visitors to learn about the maritime and industrial heritage of the area on their way to the Great Light. @Hosp_ReviewNI

etention of the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme, and a bump of only 1.5% in business rates, have been greeted with relief by the hospitality sector after Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley unveiled the 2018-2019 Budget last month. “Small businesses are the backbone of the Northern Ireland economy and our members in Hospitality Ulster regularly tell us that their rates bills are a significant financial burden,” said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster. “An increase in rates bills for small business including pubs, cafes and restaurants can mean the difference between success and failure for those businesses and the difference between hiring new staff or letting staff go. “No increase is ever good; however, the 1.5% rise is far less than the 10% which had been the aim of Treasury.” APRIL HRNI • 5


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ndividuals shortlisted across 21 categories have been unveiled ahead of the 23rd Institute of Hospitality Awards for Professionalism, to be held at Titanic Belfast on May 11. The highly coveted awards recognise talented individuals who have contributed to their business and the industry over the past year and are organised by the Institute of Hospitality (NI branch), the professional membership body for individual managers and aspiring managers who work and study in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors. The charity partner for this year’s awards is Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. The finalists are: OUTSTANDING APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Gary Peoples – City Hotel; Martin Robb – Percy French; Rachel Carson – Ballyrobin Country Lodge; and Sinead Tierney – Tara Lodge. HOTEL CHEF OF THE YEAR: Chris Watson – Park Inn; Conor McClelland – Rayanne House; Iain McIntyre – Dunsilly Hotel; Kevin Osbourne – Ballygally Castle; and Stephen McDonald - Hilton Templepatrick. HOTELIER OF THE YEAR: Amanda Holmes – Adelphi Portrush; David Morrison – Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges; Garvan Rice – The Old Inn; and Norman McBride – Ballygally Castle. HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bronagh Lennon – Deli*Lites (Ireland); Julie Beckett – The Old Inn; Julie Brown – Mount Charles Group; Lauren McAteer – Galgorm Resort & Spa; Maeve Morgan – Beannchor; and Stephanie Brooks – Culloden Estate & Spa. FRONT OF HOUSE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Andrew McWhirter – Clayton Hotel Belfast; Grainne Nugent – Silverbirch Hotel; Lucy Waugh – Bullitt Hotel; Sarah Gilmore – Slieve Donard Hotel & Spa; and Sawitree Breen – Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre. LECTURER OF THE YEAR: Daniel Mallon – Belfast Met; Jennifer Bell – SRC; Mairead McEntee – Ulster University; Maria SimoneChateris - Ulster University; Michelle McCarthy – SERC; and Sharon Rolt – Belfast Met. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Caitriona Lennox – Mount Charles Group; Catrina Myers – Everglades Hotel; Jemma Johnston – Ballygally Castle; Naomi Wilson – Clayton Hotel Belfast; and Yvonne McIlree – Titanic Hotel Belfast. CONTRACT CATERING MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Caroline McClelland – Mount Charles Group; David Whiteside – Sodexo; and Matthew Laird – Amadeus. HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT TEAM OF THE YEAR: Bull & Ram; Downpatrick Race Course; Culloden Estate & Spa; The Elk Complex; The Old Thatch Inn; and Spaniard/Muriels. SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR: Ben Kitchingham – Carnbrooke Meats; Gerry White – Jawbox Gin; Heather Boyle – A Slice of Heaven; Karen Alexander – Freebird Tea; and Leah

Toasting the finalists are, from left, Siobhan O’Sullivan, vice chair and Marianne Hood, chair of IoH (NI), alongside host for the awards, Pamela Ballantine.

Robb – Robb Brothers Wine Merchants. INDEPENDENT BAR MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Fra McGuinness – The Devenish Complex; Gerry Hagan – The Hillside Bar; Mehawl Jack – Jack’s Bar; and Roisin McErlean – The Tipsy Bird. RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR: Adam Stockman – The Ivory; Daryl Shields – Bull & Ram; Maria McCaffrey – Souls Restaurant; Pat Courtney – Courtney’s Steak House; and Stevie Higginson – Square Bistro & Clenaghans. DUTY MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Jose Castano – Hilton Templepatrick; Louise McMullan – The Fullerton Arms; Pascal Whitely – Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges; Philip Westerman – Holiday Inn; and Stacey Dummigan – Premier Inn. HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Alla Pahomova – Holiday Inn City Centre; Iris McMullan – The Silverbirch Hotel; Lisa Patterson – Clayton Hotel Belfast; Marie Compier – Armagh City Hotel; Michael Joseph – The Old Inn; and Steven Williams – Culloden Estate & Spa. CONTRACT CATERING CHEF OF THE YEAR: Ciaran Drain – Mount Charles Group; Friederich Machala – Sodexo; Leo Small – Amadeus; and Stephen Chambers – Sodexo. RESTAURANT CHEF OF THE YEAR: Glyn Robb – Greys Restaurant & Deli; John McGinn – Courtney’s Steak House; Jonathan Clarke – The Holestone; Paul Cunningham – Brunels Restaurant Newcastle; Paul Deeney – The Elk; and Stephen Ferris – Underground Dining. COFFEE SHOP/CAFÉ MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Brian Martin – Yahi; Caroline Harty – Delilites Warrenpoint; Cathy Moore – Loaf Café Bakery; Claire Gavin – Eighty One; Hannah Houston – Ground Coffee; and Ita Gray – Amadeus – Stables Café. GENERAL MANAGER OF THE FUTURE: Chris Kilkpatrick – Titanic Hotel Belfast; Colin Tweed – The Fullerton Arms; Eve Mc Gibbon – The Merchant Hotel; John Paul Taggart – Odyssey Bowl; Lesley Kerr – Radisson Blu Belfast; and Seamus Og Birt – The Tipsy Bird. UNSUNG HERO OF THE YEAR: Derek Wylie (nominated by Selina Horshi) – White Horse Hotel; Gillian Adams (nominated by Bill Wolsey) – Beannchor; Laura Wilson (nominated by Suzanne Pollock) – Sodexo; Mateuz Ostradecki (nominated by Paul Rice) – The Old Inn; Ricky Darragh (nominated by Chloe Robb) – Galgorm Resort & Spa; and Susan McKeown (nominated by Gavin Doran) – Belfast Met. @Hosp_ReviewNI Red Bonny® and other trademarks are owned by The “Red Bonny” Spirits Company Limited. ©2018 When We Are Giants. ENJOY RED BONNY RESPONSIBLY.


NEW BELFAST HOTEL OPENING REPRESENTS £24M INVESTMENT Pictured are, from left, Francine O’Hagan, sales and marketing manager; Mike Gatt, general manager at Maldron Hotel Belfast City; and Orlaith McCann, deputy general manager at Maldron Hotel Belfast City.


he doors have opened on Belfast’s newest hotel offering, Maldron Hotel Belfast City. The four-star, 11-storey hotel on Brunswick Street has created 110 new

jobs in the City Centre and, as parentgroup Dalata’s first new-build in almost a decade, represents a £24m investment for the company. Demand has been extremely strong at the new hotel, which was set to operate at full capacity on its first Friday night of trading. It is the group’s fourth hotel in Northern Ireland with its portfolio including Maldron Hotel at Belfast International Airport, Maldron Hotel in Londonderry and the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast. The stylish new hotel boasts 237 bedrooms and five state-of-the-art meeting rooms. Complimentary highspeed fibre-optic Wi-Fi, 43” inch interactive plasma TVs, and USB wall plug-ins make the hotel the ideal technological hub for Belfast’s thriving business community. “We have something really special to offer with a hotel which has the benefits of a city centre location, four-star comfort, state-of-the-art technology, high levels of service and the best quality food and drink which Maldron has become famous for,” said Mike Gatt, general manager.



new spa and gym as well as an additional 66 bedrooms are being created in the latest phase of development at Ten Square Hotel in Belfast City Centre. Loughview Leisure Group, which owns the hotel, is investing £18m with Ulster Bank’s backing to upgrade and expand the hotel including The Loft, a newlyopened rooftop champagne and cocktail bar. The investment will bring the number of bedrooms at Ten Square to over 130 and will include the refurbishment of the hotel’s kitchen and restaurant, with completion expected over the next few months. A business centre with conferencing facilities, function rooms and events space has also been added to the hotel. “We are very pleased to be completing such a significant project which will enhance our guests’ experience and help ensure that the hotel is at the forefront of Belfast’s constantly evolving visitor offering,” said Christopher Kearney,

NORTHERN LIGHTS CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY Belfast bar Northern Lights celebrated the role of women in the craft beer and spirits industry last month, challenging a host of gender stereotypes and clichés about who produces and enjoys quality drinks. On March 8, International Women’s Day, a panel of speakers from across Northern Ireland including Susan Jackson (Farmageddon Beer), Barbara Hughes (RubyBlue Distillery), Helen Troughton (Armagh Cider Company), Minnie Parmiter (Echlinville Distillery) and AnnaBeth Corkill (Galway Bay Brewery) discussed their experiences in a traditionally male-dominated sector. Hosted by Galway Bay Brewery, the event at Northern Lights helped raise money for Little Women NI, which works to encourage pre-teen girls to realise their ambitions.

NEW HOTEL AND CONFERENCE FACILITY FOR HILLSBOROUGH The first phase of a four-star hotel and conference centre in Hillsborough has been approved and will create 20 jobs. Invest In Sport, a sports consultancy company set up in 2014 by Mechelle Law, is behind the “significant” scheme. It will feature two conference rooms, 16 bedrooms, a cafe/ restaurant and a self-catering semidetached property at Ballynahinch Road. It will also have 33 parking spaces. And, if approved, the company will add a sporting element to the project in a second phase, including a 3G pitch.


Pictured are, from left, Stephen Carson, operations director, and Christopher Kearney, Group finance director, Loughview Leisure, and Andy Tew and Gordon Davidson, relationship directors, Ulster Bank.

finance director, Loughview Leisure Group. “The Gym should be operational by July 2018 which will enhance the range of guest services available at Ten Square.” @Hosp_ReviewNI

Property developer Lawrence Kenwright - the man behind four new hotels coming to Belfast has announced his intentions to redevelop the city’s iconic Floral Hall. Kenwright, founder and chairman of Signature Living, has stated his desire to restore the building. The Liverpudlian businessman wants to redevelop the hall as “a leading entertainment, conference and wedding venue” in the city. Situated within the grounds of Belfast Zoo, the Floral Hall was built in the mid-1930s and was one of Belfast’s foremost entertainment venues for over 35 years.





what the region has to offer. The awards offer a fantastic international networking and food showcasing opportunity. We are keen to work with the hotel and Council to maximise this marvellous business opportunity. Our existing work with the Council involves the development of a new Food and Drink Network, the objective of which is to harness the potential of the region’s food and drink and hospitality sectors for the economic wellbeing of the community. An audit has been completed of all the region’s extensive food and drink and hospitality assets and the network is developing a strategy and measures which pull all these together to achieve agreed objectives. Mid and East Antrim certainly has much to promote, great food producers and excellent hospitality facilities. All can help as it seeks to reap the benefits of growing agri-food tourism. It’s a great pleasure to be working with this ambitious Council on the development of a very progressive strategy. One of the key outputs may be the creation of a food tourism trail along the Coast Road that enables visitors to experience the spectacular scenery, enjoy its superb hospitality and sample

the wide range of food and drink from smaller companies. There are already a number of independent operators doing this but it has the potential to be boosted. We have worked with several local councils to support initiatives like this to enhance the performance of food and drink companies. Food NI has specific expertise in marketing our food and drink. We are already working with producers in Mid and East Antrim to help them win more business, particularly with leading retailers and through participation in major trade shows in Britain such as Speciality and Fine Food in London and, of course, our pavilion at Balmoral. At Speciality Food in London last year, we organised a Northern Ireland showcase and will include Mid and East Antrim Council in this initiative. It would also make business sense for other councils to support this and become an integral part of a single and much larger showcase for the entire Northern Ireland food and drink industry, one which would really make a significant impact. There’s a great deal that we can do to assist smaller food and drink companies to increase their competitiveness and win worthwhile business, especially in Great Britain. This will mean active promotion of the companies and the wider region.


performances, street artists, tours, workshops, and talks as well as an artisan street market and street food village. BelFeast is funded by Belfast City Council and sponsored by Destination CQ BID. It is being delivered by the team behind Culture Night in collaboration with Food NI and supported by local producers and the wider hospitality industry. Tickets for all the events can be purchased from individual venues. “We are delighted that Belfast City Council is holding such a fantastic event that showcases local food and drink,” said Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI. “Northern Ireland has a wealth of award-winning producers and chefs who are passionate and dedicated to their craft and this event brings some of the best offerings together at one event. This is definitely a date to add to the food lover’s calendar.”

ood NI has been greatly encouraged in our work with Mid and East Antrim Council to promote the food and drink industry in this important area by the success of the Galgorm Resort and Spa, Ballymena, in winning two prestigious awards including Global Spa of the Year at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in St Moritz. The luxurious Co Antrim resort pipped stiff international competition to be recognised by this global organisation for its world-class facilities and service excellence provided to guests. Each year, a new destination and luxury property is sourced and selected to host the gala celebration, which will take place on July 14. This is an extra special achievement for the resort as it is the first time the awards will have been held in the UK or Ireland, having previously been hosted in destinations such as Qatar, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand. Galgorm Resort & Spa is partnering with the council to bring this highprofile event to Northern Ireland. It will offer the opportunity to showcase the Borough and its excellent food and drink to a discerning international gathering of media, VIPs and luxury spa and restaurant owners. It’s a golden opportunity to show off the very best of

Pictured are, from left, Susan Picken, Cathedral Quarter Trust; Gareth Neill, Destination CQ BID; Lord Mayor, Nuala McAllister; Saoirse Wolsey, Beannchor Group; and Christine Cousins, Food NI.


elFeast, a new three-day food and drink festival, will be taking place during the weekend of March 23-25 with the aim of boosting the city’s reputation as a top food and drink destination by showcasing local produce, the skills 8 • HRNI APRIL

of local chefs and the best of local restaurants, cafes and bars. The foodie festival, based around the Cathedral Quarter, is being complemented by an entertainment programme including live music

For further information, visit www. @Hosp_ReviewNI


Clenaghans Restaurant, Aghalee CRISTINA HIGGINSON, CO-OWNER OF CLENAGHANS RESTAURANT WITH HER HUSBAND STEVIE AND HEAD CHEF DANNI BARRY, TALKS TO HRNI WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU? We offer pre-dinner drinks, snacks, starters, mains and desserts. Dishes proving to be favourites with the customers so far are Scallop, Salt Baked Celeriac, Mushroom and Ham Broth and Hake, Hispi Cabbage, Jerusalem Artichokes, Roast Bone Sauce, while Vanilla Rice Pudding, Blackberry Jam, Candied Almonds and Baked Apple, Cinnamon Arlette, Walnut Crumble, Aerated Custard are fast becoming our most favourite desserts. The menu is Danni.

WHEN DID YOUR RESTAURANT OPEN? Clenaghans opened its doors on November 14, 2017. As soon as we saw the building, we knew we had to give it a go. TELL US ABOUT THE SPACE YOU HAVE We have a fabulous stone building that consists of three rooms; two with lovely open fires that we light daily. The building is full of character and the surrounding gardens are beautiful and will offer another dining experience in the better weather. WHAT FEEL ARE YOU AIMING FOR? We want the restaurant to be a relaxed environment, serving fabulous food, building a regular clientele where everyone feels comfortable and people come regularly.

DOES YOUR MENU CHANGE OFTEN? Prices, seasons, fashion, demand, supply all affect your menu offering. The menu will be changing seasonally. WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY? We buy the best produce available to us and, when local is the best, then that is what we choose. WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS? The customer is very mixed; we get lots of local people and equal amounts of people travelling from other towns and from the south of Ireland. Sundays are a fabulous family day. HAVE YOU FACED ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO DATE? When in business, every day is a challenge and that is what makes it so much fun. @Hosp_ReviewNI

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR RESTAURANT STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS? Quality food, quality service and a fabulous setting makes us very different from any local competitor. So, get booked! HOW HAS TRADE BEEN? We are very happy with our progress. The next stage for us is to get ready for the better weather, with outdoor furniture and kids’ climbing frames. 48 Soldierstown Road, Aghalee Tel: 028 92652952 Facebook, Twitter & Instagram OPENING HOURS Tue-Sat: 12-3pm and 5pm-late Sun: 12-5pm




Pictured are Dwight Mettleton, front of house; Michael Hartnett, chef; Adam Sarhan, head chef; and Eamon Blaney, owner.


o Down entrepreneur Eamon Blaney has opened Quartisan on Waring Street as a licensed restaurant specialising in Mediterranean food with an Italian twist, hoping to attract trade from both local businesses and tourists. Quartisan first operated as a coffee shop and luxury deli, before Blaney


Pictured are, from left, Niall Davis, co-owner of Jumon and artist Ken Maze (Blaze FX), who designed the restaurant’s interior.


new Asian restaurant specialising in vegetarian food has opened its doors in Belfast. Jumon on Fountain Street, in the City Centre, is the latest eaterie from the team behind Banh Street Food on Upper Arthur Street. Owner Nox, who comes from Bangkok and does not use a surname, said she had “fallen in love” with Belfast since coming here a few years ago. “The idea behind Jumon was a long time in the making and came from our desire to eat the food we wanted that we felt wasn’t available anywhere in Belfast, namely plantbased dishes that are healthy and well-balanced, full of flavour and appealing to meat eaters and nonmeat eaters alike,” she said. Nox teamed up with restaurateur Niall Davis, one of the owners of Howard Street Restaurant, to create Jumon. Davis formerly operated The Permit Room - later renamed The Beringer - from the same unit. 10 • HRNI APRIL

decided to seek a drinks licence and reopen as a restaurant, appointing Adam Sarhan as head chef and Dwight Mettleton as front of house. Sarhan formerly worked as head chef at Home Restaurant Belfast, as well as Mourne Seafood and Hillsborough’s Parson’s Nose. And Mettleton is a former

general manager at The Albany Bar and Restaurant on the Lisburn Road. “Adam has travelled extensively, living abroad for 10 years, and brings with him enthusiasm and expertise,” said Blaney. “To complement the food, Quartisan is delighted to bring a great drinks menu, with fabulous cocktails, premium Italian beer Nastro Azzurro Peroni on draft and in bottles.” Quartisan’s menu features small plates and sharing plates, as well as a full a la carte offer. The lunchtime service will offer a ‘3-7-3’ express menu. “We want to be part of a vibrant Belfast, and we’ve put in a team with extensive experience in food, operations and entertainment to make sure all patrons have the best overall dining experience,” said Blaney.

EASTSIDE AWARDS WIN FOR LITTLE WING L ittle Wing has picked up the Business Contribution to the Community accolade at the recent Eastside Awards recognising and rewarding talent within the East Belfast community. The pizzeria chain was commended for its work in supporting local schools and children’s sporting clubs, demonstrating a commitment to make a positive impact in their local area. Little Wing has, meanwhile, recently opened its eighth branch in Northern Ireland with an investment of £650,000 in Newtownards, creating a total of 20 jobs.

Geri Wright of awards sponsor Phoenix Gas and Jonathan McAlpin, Eastside Awards committee chair, congratulate Jamie Mendez on Little Wing Pizzeria winning Business Contribution to the Community in the Eastside Awards.



Pictured are, from left, Aidan Walker, account director; Barbara Placuk, hospitality manager, Central Bank North Wall Quay; Phelim Byrne, executive chef, State Street, Dublin; Dennis McCarroll, executive pastry chef, Ulster Independent Clinic, Belfast; Nicky Reid, executive chef, Almac, Craigavon; Julianne Forrestal, executive craft development chef; and Sigitas Zubrickas, manager, Central Bank, Spencer Dock, Dublin.

odexo picked up both gold and best in class team in the Contract Caterers Culinary Challenge held at Food & Bev Live on February 7. It was an open competition with no specified fish, meat or vegetable element and each chef took responsibility for a course. For the starter, Nicky Reid, Sodexo Ireland’s 2017 Chef of the Year, opted for linguine with a pecorina emulsion and black truffle, while team captain and competition veteran Dennis McCarroll’s dessert of a chocolate teacake with coconut mallow and mango puree was bestowed the coveted 100% mark. @Hosp_ReviewNI


CHEFPROFILE PAUL CATTERSON, HEAD CHEF AND CO-OWNER WITH HIS WIFE ELAINE OF TRIBAL BURGER ON BOTANIC AVENUE IN BELFAST, TALKS TO HRNI WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING? In secondary school, I studied home economics. In the 1980s, it was virtually unheard of for lads to take that subject but two mates of mine and I thought it would be a good laugh. Little did I know it would be the start of my career in catering. I got a job in Kee’s Hotel in Stranorlar in Donegal when I finished school and have been cooking ever since. HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS? I studied in Sligo for my City & Guilds 706-1 and 706-2 which back then was the basic qualifications for chefs. When I moved to London, I studied part time in Croydon College for my 706-3 advanced kitchen and larder. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE? I spent three years until 1991 at Kee’s Hotel attending college two days a week to get my City & Guilds. I then moved to London to get experience of big city restaurants, spending nearly nine years in London. I worked in the English Garden in Chelsea before joining Sir Terence Conran Restaurants to open Quaglino’s in 1993 under Martin Webb and John Torode. My first head chef position in London came through Conran at Zinc Bar and Grill. After winning an Acorn Award from Caterer magazine, I was asked to move to Dublin to run La Stampa on Dawson Street. A move to Belfast to open Shu on the Lisburn Road was next, and I spent five years at Shu until I decided that it was time for a change and started our own street food and catering company called Burger Republic. In 2016, we took the decision to open our first bricks and mortar site and Tribal Burger followed on Botanic Ave in September 2017. HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER? I would say my time in London was where I was inspired the most. Chefs like Martin Webb, Brian Turner and John Torode all offered different influences on my career and I found I enjoyed

high volume restaurants the most, but that also came with the high pressure of managing a team with maybe 50 chefs feeding 1,000 covers a day. Logistics is one thing I learned and it is a valuable skill in our current businesses. WHAT STYLE IS YOUR COOKING? Bistro/brasserie style is probably the closest thing I could describe it as.

in Downpatrick, who I have dealt with for over 17 years. I also use local suppliers 100% of the time such as Michael Fitzpatrick at Universal Foods for our fruit and veg. We support local business, as I know very well how hard it is for local businesses to survive. WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF? In total, we employ approximately 20 staff between Tribal and Burger Republic. WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE? It’s hard to name any one person in the street food or burger joint industry, as they are fairly new styles of food businesses. Danny Meyer of Shake Shack has got to be admired and anyone who can operate multiple sites doing quality food has got to be congratulated. I would settle for being able to operate a few Tribal Burger joints and succeeding in serving consistently quality food.

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY? I work with Richard McGreevy butchers @Hosp_ReviewNI

HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK? Trying to spend as much time with my wife Elaine, and sons Daniel and Matthew is a priority. We like to travel as much as we can, which generally involves burger joints or coffee shops. Fitness has become an important interest as the business can be demanding physically and I am not getting any younger! APRIL HRNI • 11




n 1988 Yazz dived headfirst into the music charts with The Only Way Is Up but away from the fluoro lights and electronic beats of the music industry back then was a man in Northern Ireland with big dreams, who, unlike Yazz, did rise up. And today his company has become one of Ireland’s largest independently-owned catering firms. Trevor Annon, now chairman of Mount Charles, split himself three ways back then as a cost-saving exercise. “The market was highly competitive and there was no financial support available so Trevor performed the roles of managing director, operations manager and sales manager himself, due to the fact that the business could not sustain additional overheads,” says Cathal Geoghegan, chief executive of Mount Charles, who joined the firm in the year 2000. It wasn’t long before the awardwinning businessman recruited staff and 12 • HRNI APRIL

Diners at George’s of the Market.

won some of the biggest catering contracts around. One of his first was with the RUC, which was regarded as the fifth largest catering contract in the UK. Then followed “a package to supply a full range of services to Parliament Buildings in Belfast,” says Cathal. And so, with some governmental muscle on his client list, Mount Charles took off. Today it counts Moy Park, Bombardier, Ulster Rugby and Southern Regional College, among many more, as key clients that use many areas of its business. Its turnover in year one was a modest but promising £183,000 and, three

decades later, the firm, which has diversified to add cleaning, security, vending machines and even carpark management services to its offering, is bringing in £34m. Cathal says it’s Trevor’s “trademark ambition, energy, confidence and hard work” that has trickled through the veins of the company to sustain such success over the years. And, as a result, that one-man show from 1988 is now a workforce of 2,200. Father of two Cathal is now in the driving seat of the firm. A big task for the Donegal man but his plans are big. “We have created a strategy, ‘the road to £50m’ whereby we have committed as a collective to achieve revenue of @Hosp_ReviewNI




division manager. £50m by 2020,” Beyond the lucrative says Cathal. contracts that span NI, “We have RoI and further afield sought out are the company’s some of the own hospitality best and establishments. brightest They are George’s industry talent of the Market at St and we’re very George’s Market and excited about the Fed & Watered the experienced Cathal Geoghegan is pictured restaurant chain. and dynamic team with Gavin Annon, head of Sales & Marketing at Mount Charles. Both are performing as we have in place to well as the main body of the drive forward on the business and the company has road to £50m.” plans to roll out the F&W group beyond Just ahead of print, the firm its existing sites at Belfast International showed signs of nearing that target Airport, City of Derry Airport, Obel when it revealed that it won a two-year Tower, Titanic Exhibition Centre and cleaning contract worth £1.5m with the Exeter International Airport. Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal When a homegrown firm expands Service. It will be providing its cleaning to the level that Mount Charles has, its services to the NICTS’ 40 sites. So, it would make sense that the target contribution to the local economy cannot be overlooked. of doubling the workforce would be an “All profits generated by Mount organic move. Charles are retained in NI, for the Staff is a great area of investment for benefit of the community and our the firm. Cathal says “organisational change” has been rife over the past year. economic prosperity,” says Cathal. The company’s average net profit And employee headcount has risen 72%. over the past two years was almost £1m. “In the last year alone, we have And with purchasing power of £9m per created or safeguarded 225 jobs, with year (90% of food is sourced locally), a plans to grow from 2,200 to 4,000 by labour cost of £17m, generating around 2020,” says Cathal. £2.5m in National Insurance, tax and New roles added to the team’s head pension contributions, it’s doing its bit office on the Ormeau Road, which for our wee country. opened in 2016, include brand and And it’s spreading that generosity with marketing manager, group development chef, group logistics manager and events the opening of a Dublin base last year to @Hosp_ReviewNI

JOB: Financial director in 2000, moving into the role of managing director in 2013. FALLBACK JOB: If I wasn’t doing what I’m currently doing, I’d dearly like to have been an architect. FAMILY: Married to Eithne, also from Donegal and dad to Ronan, 14, and Ella, 12. HOBBIES: Following Liverpool Football Club, Galway hurling and Donegal football team. Golf at Knock Golf Club. FAVOURITE THING ABOUT HOSPITALITY: The pleasure we, as an industry, afford our customers by the provision of a first-class service. LEAST FAVOURITE? That’s a difficult one…possibly having to call time on our customers when they are still enjoying themselves. FAVOURITE RESTAURANT: After our own George’s of the Market, I’d have to say James Street South. FAVOURITE BAR? The Crown Bar FAVOURITE MEAL? Steak and winter vegetables. TIPPLE? Guinness, Rioja, Glayva (Scottish liqueur). cater to new contracts there. These include deals worth over €8m (£7.15m) with the Public Appointments Service, Ordinance Survey Ireland, Abbey Theatre, National Aquatic Centre and Custom House, home to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. “We see this market as having major scope for future expansion. We have significant plans for the continued evolution and growth of our business in Ireland, which will likely be achieved through both organic and inorganic means,” says Cathal. And on the subject of growth, Cathal quotes Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving. Our target for 2018 is £39m and after a solid start to the financial year, we are already ahead of target after five months of the year.” We still would quote the, probably, less philosophical Yazz if we were to provide a theme tune for the firm born and bred in the 80s. APRIL HRNI • 13


SANTA RITA 120 ‘TAPAS’ INTO FOOD CULTURE N “The promotion orthern Ireland drinks distributor United Wine Merchants, is launching an exclusive off trade consumer promotion, offering a free tapas dish with every two bottles of Santa Rita 120 purchased. The promotion will support the brand in the off trade and will be enhanced with in press and influencer competitions. Helping to further build brand recognition, the tapas dish promotion follows on from the wine’s designation as Reserva Especial (Special Reserve) in 2017 and the launch of the new bottle as a homage to the 120 patriot heroes who sought refuge in the Santa Rita wine cellars whilst fighting in Chile’s war of independence. United Wine Merchants Brand Manager Emma Haughian commented on the exciting new promotion: “We are delighted to reward loyal customers with this tapas dish promotion. The promotion celebrates the Santa Rita 120’s motto, Living la Vida which is focused around sharing great wine and food with people who are important to us. “And what better way to do that than by sharing some tapas? We

are also delighted to be continually building brand awareness with local bloggers and influencers, offering followers the opportunity to experience Santa Rita wine for themselves.” Santa Rita was awarded Winery of the Year 2016 by Wines of Chile, was recognised as one of the World’s Most Admired Wine Brands by Drinks International and has won numerous awards and accolades for its wines, including a Silver Medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards for Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc. Distributed to over 80 markets worldwide, Santa Rita 120 is the #1-selling wine in both Chile and Ireland. The ‘120’ wines are made for drinking now: they are elegant, fruity and

celebrates the Santa Rita 120’s motto, “Living la Vida” which is focused around sharing great wine and food with people who are important to us.” Emma Haughian, brand manager, United Wine Merchants.

perfectly balanced with soft tannins and good acidity. Varietals in the range include not only the traditional Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also a complex and fruity Cabernet Franc, and a soft and velvety Malbec. Exceptional value makes 120 an outstanding range of wines for everyday drinking.



SINK Fats, oils & grease block sewers. Dispose of them properly. Or flooding & potentially prosecution could sink your workplace.


Find out more at @Hosp_ReviewNI




he search to find Northern Ireland’s top hospitality hot spots came to a dramatic conclusion on February 21, when The Top 100 Hospitality Businesses were revealed at a Gala Ball in Titanic Belfast. The coveted list, compiled by industry body Hospitality Ulster in conjunction with a panel of top industry experts, was unveiled at a prestigious ceremony hosted by comedian Tim McGarry and attended by VIP guests including boxing legend Carl Frampton. From Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star hotels to buzzing city centre nightclubs, gastropubs, quaint country pubs and hotels, Hospitality Ulster’s Top 100 shines the spotlight on Northern Ireland hospitality at its best. In recognition of the huge contribution of each and every winner, the Awards were presented in alphabetical order, with each winner receiving equal recognition for their role in driving forward industry standards. “These Awards are unique as they are the only awards awarded by the industry to the industry, recognising every sector of our industry, the diversity of our offer and the people who make our industry great,” said Mark Stewart, chairman, Hospitality Ulster. The full Hospitality Ulster Top 100 can be viewed online at www., and in Hospitality Review’s exclusive The Top 100 publication available in a digital edition at https://hospitalityreviewni. com/latest-previous-editions/.

Nina Doyle, Heineken and Ronan McLaughlin, Harp Bar, Belfast.


Gareth Devlin, Coca Cola and Danny Coyles, Anchor Bar, Portstewart.

Cathy Fox, Counterpoint and Kelan McMichael, Bull & Ram, Ballynahinch.

Cathy Fox, Counterpoint and Aaron Logan and James McCabe, Café Parisien, Belfast.

Greg Elliott, Dillon Bass and Paul O’Hare, Duke of York, Belfast.

Greg Elliott, Dillon Bass and Joanne Honeywood, Fratelli Ristorante Pizzeria & Bar, Belfast.

Greg Elliott, Dillon Bass and Colin Johnston, Galgorm Resort and Spa, Ballymena.

Finn Maguire, Richmond Marketing and Jack Creighton, Ownies Bar & Bistro, Carrickfergus.

Conor Murphy, Tennent’s NI and Scott McNally, Ruby’s Bar, Larne. @Hosp_ReviewNI

Top100 1.








1. Bill and Petra Wolsey. 2. Barra Best, Pamela Ballantine, Carl Frampton and Pete Snodden. 3. Nina Doyle and Maura Bradshaw. 4. Miles Skinner, Mikey Bailey, John Creighton, Dave Lindsay and Jack Pitman. 5. Charlotte Fogarty, Joel Neill, Colin Neill and Laura Carland (the Hospitality Ulster team). 6. Claire Halle, Gordon Harvey, Marianne Hood, Terry McCartney, Aine Kearney and John McGrillen. 7. Michael O’Sullivan, Niamh Mervyn, Vincent O’Boyle and Lucy Waugh. 8. Ciara and Conor McAleer. 9. The Hospitality Review NI team.

9. @Hosp_ReviewNI








ne of life’s great myths is that ‘all wine gets better with age’. People often come up to me after tasting, full of excitement about the bottle of wine they found in their granny’s house and they want me to tell them that they should sell it for a fortune and retire early. Normally I’m just informing them that it’ll probably only be good enough for putting on chips. 99% of the world’s wine is produced to be drunk immediately. Some wines will soften up after a few years in the bottle but, in the main, if it’s on the shelf of your local off licence, it’s ready for drinking. There are of course a few exceptions. Premium Bordeaux reds and sweet whites, Rhone Valley reds, ports, Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva, Super Tuscans, top end Californian reds and a few locations in Australia and South Africa. Arguably the best value is Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva. Take the Marques de Caceres 2012 Reserva, which received 93 points from Wine Spectator. This is exceptional value which you could enjoy now but will also age well for at least another 20 years. From an investment prospective, it has to be vintage port. When released, these wines are very closed and need many years aging in bottle before they reach their peak. During this time, the wines almost always increase in value. What’s the worst that can happen if they don’t? You’ll have to drink it with some friends. Unlike shares, if they fall in value you’ll hardly eat the certificate. If you do chose to buy some wines from a special year, maybe the birth of a child, marriage or you’re celebrating a divorce, the important thing is to get the right advice. Visit a local independent wine merchant who will steer you in the right direction, depending on your budget. If you in turn do invest in something, make sure you store it correctly. Wines to be aged need to be kept at a constant temperature. Extremes of hot and cold will destabilise the wine and could accelerate the aging process. A cool dark place with a constant temperature is perfect. Whilst waiting for the wines to reach optimum drink pleasure, you should occasionally google it and hopefully see that someone has tasted that vintage and given an update on when it will be best for drinking. For me I have a Euro Cave, a temperature-controlled unit with all my top 100 wines aging gracefully. I’m also constantly rotating this with fresh stock. I’m very fortunate that my two daughters were born in 1996 and 2000. These were two exceptional vintages in Bordeaux and, whilst I’m aging lots of wines from these years, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to get them. They are for my wife and I to consume and celebrate their lives. Anyway they are both much too young to appreciate a good bottle of wine yet.

Guigal Cote Rotie.

Fonseca Vintage port


T Taylor’s Vintage port

Marques de Caceres 2012 Reserva



iageo unveiled a new light Irish lager, Rockshore, last month and will support the launch with a heavyweight through-theline marketing campaign encompassing TV, outdoor, digital, PR and experiential activity from April. “We are absolutely delighted to introduce Rockshore - a light, refreshing tasting lager inspired by the West Coast of Ireland from our brewers here at St James’s Gate,” said Niki Maccorquodale, head of Beer Innovation, Diageo Europe. “Undoubtedly, one of the most captivating parts of Ireland, the West Coast is home from home for many of us. From weekend trips with mates, to the salty spray of the Atlantic sea, when the people, playlists and pit stops matter more than anything else in the world, at that moment in time. “People are increasingly looking for choice, particularly among beers and lagers offering a refreshing and light taste. Brewed using only four quality ingredients, Rockshore is the best light tasting lager our brewers have ever created and we can’t wait for people to try it.”


he sights, sounds and scents of springtime in Italy are set to take over the heart of Belfast, as St. Anne’s Square becomes home to The House of Peroni Presents: La Primavera over April 5-7. Riezzo, global A celebration of the start Federico brand ambassador for of spring and the season’s Peroni, showcases the speLa Primavera infusion new bounty, including the cial created for La Primavera famous Italian citrus fruits, Belfast. La Primavera is marked in Italy with food festivals, which take place during Festa della Primavera. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is bringing La Primavera to Belfast for the first time with a three-day pop-up market open to the public, and offering visitors the chance to sample the flavour and savour the aromas of the Italian springtime. Some of Belfast’s finest Italian eateries including Coppi, The Chubby Cherub and Belfast Woodfired Pizza Company, will unveil delicious seasonal offerings, some with a citrus twist, which can be enjoyed al fresco at St. Anne’s Square or taken home to share with family and friends. Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Peroni Gluten Free and Peroni Ambra will be served to accompany the food on offer, as well as Peroni-infused drinks, inspired by Italian citrus, created by global brand ambassador Federico Riezzo. @Hosp_ReviewNI


Love whiskey. Love Whiskey Club. When you aren’t drinking whiskey at home, what bars do you like?


There’s a bar in Portrush called Kiwis Brew Bar which is brilliant. It has a fantastic selection of craft beer and probably the best Irish whiskey selection on the North Coast. If I’m down in Belfast generally my ‘go to’ bar is The Duke of York. It’s just one of my favourite bars in Belfast.

What would you say to someone who’s new to whiskey and wants to try it?

Tell us a little about Causeway Coast Whiskey Reviews? It started with me and a group of friends who always got together to drink whiskey, try new products and chat about them. I bought a few bottles recommended by blogs and I personally felt that the quality didn’t match the review, so my friends convinced me to launch a site to give my personal appraisal!

Would you call yourself a collector or an enthusiast? Definitely an enthusiast. I’ve never really had the ambition to have a massive collection to sell on or to show off my whiskeys. I’m just intrigued by whiskey, the variations of it and want to try as much as I can.

You like whiskey from all over the world. What are your thoughts on Irish whiskey? The initial attraction for me to Irish whiskey was living on the Causeway Coast in such close proximity to Bushmills Distillery. In general I think pot still Irish whiskey has such a unique taste profile and it’s completely unique to Ireland. I remember the very first time I tried Redbreast 12 YO and that basically sold me straight away.

I think Irish whiskey is a really good starting point, especially some of the blends like Jameson which is a very approachable whiskey. I hate using the word smooth but I would say Irish whiskey is a lot more approachable and easy to drink compared to other styles.

What’s your favourite Irish whiskey at the moment? Probably Redbreast. I’m interested to see what some of the newer distilleries such as Dingle, Echlinville and Waterford are up to. I think it’s an exciting time for Ireland.

What do you think the future is for your blog and malt-review?

How do you generally drink your whiskey? It depends on my mood and situation. I’m not adverse to mixed whiskey drinks and during the summer I do enjoy a Jameson Ginger & Lime - it’s one of the best mixed drinks. With the likes of Redbreast or the Spot whiskeys, I tend to prefer neat, preferably in a Glencairn or copita glass so you can really explore all the aromas and flavours.

What about cocktails? Do you think they’re a good fit for Irish whiskey? Yes, I’m quite partial to an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. I’m interested in how people are using whiskey in the mixology scene. It’s a great way of introducing people to whiskey and demonstrating that there’s really no right or wrong way to drink it. It’s down to personal preference. From my point of view I prefer to taste things neat to try and review whiskeys on their flavour profile but if you want to have a long drink or a cocktail then work away!

On Malt-review and my own blog people interact with us, commenting and saying they appreciate our honesty. Sometimes industry influencers don’t want to say anything negative but sometimes if you see a practice that you think is not going to push forward the whiskey industry, it’s a good thing to call out. I think people appreciate integrity and honesty and that’s why I started all of this. For many people spending £50 on a bottle of whiskey is a significant investment so I want to give people an honest appraisal of what’s out there.

Phil’s own blog is and he also contributes to

WHISKEY OF THE MONTH: Midleton very rare 2017 STYLE:


Blended Whiskey @Hosp_ReviewNI





Rich and buttery. Vanilla, sweet baked bread and tropical fruit. Oranges, stone fruits and ripe banana.

Viscous and complex. Lovely toffee and caramel followed by juicy orchard fruit. Plenty of cinnamon and wood spice.

Long and warming with the sweeter notes eventually being dominated by rich pot still spice.





APRIL HRNI • 19 @Hops_ReviewNI




ver 100 specially invited guests descended on The Dark Horse Bar in Belfast to enjoy an evening of outstanding Irish whiskey, live music and sumptuous canapes in February, marking the official launch of Slane Irish Whiskey in Northern Ireland. The evening was hosted by Alex Conyngham (co-founder of the Slane Distillery) and Michael Brown (Slane Whiskey Ambassador UK), with organisation of the event led by the Bacardi Brown-Forman team responsible for Northern Ireland. Throughout the night, guests were treated to a selection of Slane Irish Whiskey signature serves, paired with several canapes courtesy of Hadskis. The Alex Conyngham discussing all things Slane.

soundtrack to the evening was provided by Red House - a local, up and coming band which recently won a Jack Daniel’s Battle of the Bands competition, held in the Goat’s Toe in Bangor. Their evening’s set featured a catalogue of headline songs synonymous with Slane Castle and its many famous concerts. Alex Conyngham spent time regaling those in attendance with a whistle stop tour of Slane Castle, touching on its many chapters – including his own family history and its ties to Slane, his favourite memories growing up at Slane Castle while unforgettable artists played, his active role in Slane’s journey from rock and roll to whiskey and finally his own ambitions for the brand.

The night concluded with a Slane Irish Whiskey Cocktail Competition, one which was launched to bartenders across NI a month in advance of the evening and one which drew over 20 entries from a wide variety of venues. The end goal was to develop a Slane cocktail inspired by legendary bands that have played there with the victor winning a behind the scenes trip to the distillery. On the night three contenders took to the stage: Paul Rocks (Love and Death), Jonathan Shaw (A.P.O.C) and Shane Sullivan (Berts Jazz Bar), providing a fitting tribute to Thin Lizzy, Oasis and Bruce Springsteen respectively. A panel of Alex and Michael judged an animated and hotly contested final. Paul Rocks proved triumphant in the end with a passionate performance of a cocktail inspiration ignited by the spirit of Phil Lynott, the late front man of Thin Lizzy (see right). See

Michael Brown preparing a ‘Paradise City’.

20 • HRNI APRIL @Hosp_ReviewNI

advertorial Paul Rocks (Love and Death)

Paul Rocks (Love and Death),

Shane Sullivan (Berts Jazz Barr)

Alex Conyngham with competition winner, Paul Rocks.


40ml Slane Irish Whiskey 10ml Fernet Branca 10ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino 30ml Spiced pineapple purée 25ml Lemon juice 10ml Orgeat syrup 2 dashes Pistachio tincture 1 egg white

Jonathan Shaw (A.P.O.C)

Berts Jazz Bar

The Black Rose

Michael Brown, Richard McCluskey, Elif Cavusoglu, Alex Conyngham, Lauren Hollinshead, Carla McGreevy, Mark Boyle, Ryan Brown. @Hosp_ReviewNI

Red House on stage.



A DAY IN THE LIFE denying that the hospitality industry is challenging too, with styles and tastes going in and out of vogue all the time. Staying ahead of this curve is a hard challenge, but luckily I am motivated by wanting to work with the latest technology, the newest products and brands, while at the same time catering for the needs of the public. If you don’t listen to what your customers want then you’re on a slippery slope, so paying attention while not compromising your beliefs and ethics will go a long way to relieve those challenges. OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY A day for me is almost like two 9-5 jobs. During the day from 9am to 5pm, we will be working with students on different courses, which could be anything from learning cocktail flair skills, to teaching about the history of alcohol or what type of ice belongs in what drink. Then in the evening, if I am at home, I will be in either the bar or nightclub I own, working with the staff there from opening till close. PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE I know it sounds cheesy, but when our first students passed their courses with us at Shake Mix Muddle. I’m so privileged to be involved in the hospitality industry and seeing other people wanting to learn these skills and adapt to them so well was a great feeling. It makes me proud to know that the industry will be improving because of these students.

PATRICK CROWLEY MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SHAKE MIX MUDDLE WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE? I am the owner of Shake Mix Muddle, an international bartending school which I set up 18 months ago. We’re an educational service to provide qualifications to the hospitality industry covering everything from bartending, cocktail services, wines and spirits to coffee. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? For over 16 years, I have been involved in the hospitality industry, working most jobs in the venues from glass collecting to venue management, right the way through to today where I own and run both a cocktail bar and nightclub as well as Shake Mix Muddle. WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB? The best and the worst part of the job is actually the same thing for me and that would be the travel. It is amazing to be able to see so many places the world over and get to meet so many keen and skilled students but, at the same time, spending time away from family and friends is always a hard part of the job. WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR? That’s a good question. I always like a challenge and you find that you improve as a person when challenged. There’s no 22 • HRNI APRIL

BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL SECTOR The great thing about travelling with the job is getting to see lots of local communities the world over, but nothing beats being able to return home to Ireland and work with people that in one way or another you’ve either directly or indirectly known your entire life. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK? Away from work (if such a thing exists) I like unwinding by watching movies. I’m a big fan of all the current blockbusters and try whenever I can to get to the local cinema to see the latest films, or watch them on catch-up on Netflix. I do find myself travelling a lot with the job and so, if I get the chance, I do enjoy sourcing local small-scale vineyards, breweries and distilleries and visiting them to get a real appreciation for the craft of boutique products. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW I once got tricked into ordering a chicken Phall in an Indian restaurant not knowing how spicy it was, I won’t ever make that mistake again! I was raised in Donegal, and my parents and aunts/uncles are all from the north of Ireland. My earliest childhood memories of being around a pub is visiting my aunt and uncle in Ballerin, near Garvagh, and a real treat was sitting on a high stool in the Hecklers Bar sipping a coke and feeling very special! After all, none of my friends were that lucky! I had no idea at that stage of my life that owning my own bars would end up being my career. @Hosp_ReviewNI




nternational bartending school, Shake Mix Muddle, is stirring up the traditional world of bartender training with their ‘travel to you’ business model – a world first in an industry where pricey fixed location training is the norm. The school, which offers a variety of training options for students at every level, cuts out the costs of sending staff away on expensive courses by bringing their accredited qualifications direct to the client. It is the only one of its kind in the UK and is expanding globally to meet growing demand. Shake Mix Muddle Founder, Patrick Crowley, set up the school after spotting a gap in the market for high quality, yet fun accredited training courses. “Cocktail culture has made a serious comeback in recent years and this shows no sign of slowing down, fuelled by trendy new drinks popping up on social media feeds all over the world. This is such an exciting time to run a bar, but that means it’s more important than ever to have the best staff, serving the best drinks,” he said. “It’s no secret that finding great, professional bartenders is tough, and we realised that’s largely down to a distinct lack of training opportunities. Often

schools are expensive and, when you add travel and staff costs on top of that, it all adds up. Our sell-out courses are operated with a 1:7 ratio of tutor to students policy, and are tailored to suit our client’s needs. This means that we can spend one on one time with every single person, ensuring that they gain valuable insights, practical experience and confidence after each training session. “We’ve had a truly incredible response to our approach so far, and would encourage anyone who’s looking to train their budding bartenders to the highest possible standards to give us a call – we’d love to work with you.” Shake Mix Muddle’s courses are fully accredited by the United Kingdom Bartending Guild and International Bartending Association. Its trainers work on a daily basis serving world-class cocktails, bringing years of on-the-job experience to the classroom for a truly comprehensive learning experience. Students can expect to learn all the skills needed to run a successful bar, from professional cocktail making to the theory of bartending. Many of the world’s leading spirit brands, including Absolut, Havana and Chivas, have recognised Shake @Hosp_ReviewNI

Mix Muddle due to the standard of excellence it instils in its students. The business also assists hotels, bars, resorts and casinos all over the world with consultancy services and bespoke menu development. For more information, please visit APRIL HRNI • 23



olson Coors welcomed a new beer, Pravha, to its Northern Ireland portfolio at a launch event at The Perch in Belfast in February. Attended by Molson Coors representatives including NI director Ryan McFarland, the event also welcomed trade representatives from across the region and a number of

local media and influencers. The night was hosted by Q Radio presenter Stephen Clements and included a few words from Molson Coors beer experts and complimentary beer and pizza, as well as the chance to win a number of great prizes. Pravha, from the brewers of

Staropramen, has all the iconic flavour and bitterness of a high quality Czech pilsner but is unexpectedly crisp, light and refreshing. At 4% ABV, Pravha is now widely available at outlets across Northern Ireland. Outlets interested in installing Pravha should email nisupportteam@

Molson Coors’ NI Director Ryan McFarland with Off Trade Director of Sales UK & Ireland Alpesh Ministry.

Molson Coors’ Customer Activation Manager NI Leanne Leckey with Brand Manager Staropramen and Pravha Michelle Fisher.


Tom Rhodes and David Purdon. @Hosp_ReviewNI


Nicole Selby, Megan Boylan, Mark McCormick and Mark McIlrath (The Grouse).

Molson Coors’ Brand Manager Staropramen and Pravha Michelle Fisher and Paul Hanna.

David McKenna and Andrew Porter (Quinn’s Bar).

Noel Anderson, Robert Craig and Paul Donnelly (Chekkers Wine Bar).

Ciaran Torrens, Carmel- Ann Torrens and Steven Mallon (The Spaniard).

Daniel Young, Aoife McLoughlin and Conor Rodgers (The National).

Shea Clarke, Shannan Rosie McKenna, Conor Boyle and Teale Stanton (The Cloth Ear). @Hosp_ReviewNI






ounterpoint have deep roots across the island and a heritage of invention and innovation. Our journey started in 1773 when we invented soda water in Trinity College, Dublin. Ginger ale was invented in Belfast in the 1850s by Doctor Cantrell of Cantrell & Cochrane, the brand we now call Club Ginger Ale. Club Orange, famous for its quality, was invented in the 1930s by expert syrup maker Oliver Grace uniquely using the entire orange, for the Gentleman’s Kildare Street Club in Dublin. Counterpoint and Britvic’s journey to help consumers make healthier choices through reformulation and innovation began five years ago and was based on insights derived from local research into consumer desires to make positive changes to their lifestyles and those of their families to improve their health and wellbeing. With 75% of our total brand portfolio exempt from or below the tax threshold, we’re confident that we face

the levy from a position of strength. Britvic have been reformulating Counterpoint’s portfolio of soft drinks with no compromise on taste or quality. We’ve expanded variants in many of our ranges, for example, Club Orange will be available in the original full sugar and also in a new Club Zero

“Britvic have been reformulating Counterpoint’s portfolio of soft drinks with no compromise on taste or quality.” bottle. Another category leader 7UP has its no sugar alternative 7UP Free, our increasingly popular no-sugar cola Pepsi Max will be available beside Pepsi and the new award-winning Club Tonic will have its Slimline choice available. Our family favourite, MiWadi, is also

available in full, no added sugar and 0% sugar. Where possible, we ensure consumers have the full range to choose from. Over the past year or so, we’ve been inspiring customers with innovation around soft drinks. Our new innovation company WiseHead Productions is producing premium crafted soft drinks and mixers for adults using distilling techniques for exceptional quality. Our new brands from WiseHead include the exceptional London Essence Co. range of distilled, low calorie mixers and crafted sodas. Our portfolio of traditional and contemporary soft drinks and mixers support our customers’ business and the expectation of consumers by offering choice and new original products so consumers can enjoy added sugar soft drinks as a treat within their balanced diet and lifestyle while on other occasions no or low sugar soft drink options.


O ab w im cu

A f

Club Tonic & Club Slimline providing the choice consumers want post sugar levy! “New Improved Club Tonic, awarded Superior Taste Award 2017 from the International Taste and Quality Institute”

26 • HRNI APRIL @Hosp_ReviewNI





On Trade consumers in Northern Ireland are demanding more quality, innovation, premiumisation and above all choice, to meet their everyday needs. With the arrival of the ‘Sugar Levy’ it is essential that we provide soft drinks that meet consumer’s needs for low and no sugar soft drinks. It is also hugely important that popular category leaders such as Club Orange and 7UP are provided as the treats your customers expect. Choice is the balance that your customers want and your business needs.

A portfolio of great soft drinks for your customers for all occasions

Club Zero, 7up Free, Pepsi Max, Club Slimline Tonic, Cidona and MiWadi all tax exempt from Sugar levy in the Counterpoint portfolio.

If you have any questions please contact your Counterpoint Account Development Executive or the Customer Care team on 0808 1011 610.




he Soft Drinks Industry Levy is part of the government’s childhood obesity strategy, first announced as part of the Budget 2016. The levy will make soft drinks companies pay a charge for drinks with added sugar, and total sugar content of five grams or more per 100 millilitres. That is about 5% sugar content. There is a higher charge for the drinks that contain eight grams or more per 100 millilitres, or about 8% sugar content. Pure fruit juices won’t be taxed, because they don’t contain added sugar. Neither will drinks that have a high milk content, because they contain calcium and other nutrients that are vital for a healthy diet. In England, the new levy revenue will be invested in giving school-aged children a brighter and healthier future, including programmes to encourage physical activity and balanced diets. For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Barnett formula will be applied to spending on these new initiatives in the normal way.



evenue from a sugar tax due to come into force this month should be used to tackle obesity and type 2 diabetes in Northern Ireland, an MLA has said. SDLP politician Mark H Durkan was speaking after a report predicted the number of people with type 2 diabetes will hit 100,000 by 2020. Type 2 diabetes affects regulation of blood sugar levels by the body. Numbers diagnosed have increased by over 70% since 2004. A report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office said an opportunity was missed to improve care for sufferers here. Auditor general Kieran Donnelly said he was disappointed at limited implementation of a 2003 review pointing the way towards best practice. He noted a failure to introduce a comprehensive strategy until late 2016. “This was clearly a missed opportunity to slow the growing prevalence of the disease, and to reduce the numbers of serious complications which can arise, including blindness and lower limb amputations,” said Donnelly.

Durkan called for more resources to address the issue. He suggested using resources from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which is due to come into effect from April. It is aimed at high-sugar drinks, particularly fizzy drinks. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free to decide how to spend their share. “Three-in-five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed,” said Durkan. “In order to tackle the obesity epidemic here, we need a joinedup approach working on a crossdepartmental basis. “It is my opinion that the revenue generated through the new sugar tax, which will come into effect from April this year, should be ring-fenced and spent on tackling conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.” In the report, Donnelly states: “The projected growth of type 2 diabetes creates a real risk that the current model of care provision will become unsustainable.”


Our unique distilled essences give each expression its exceptional taste. Each is precisely crafted to flatter the spirit of the occasion and create our signature style. All available in 200ml, Classic Tonic available in 125ml. Sugar Levy Exempt - Naturally Light & Low in Calories

TI ME TO RE A PPRA I SE Introducing the new premium light and low calorie mixers collection An entire range below the soft drinks industry levy

28 • HRNI APRIL @Hosp_ReviewNI




Some 48% of NI consumers had drunk standard cola in the last month, while 46% of NI consumers had drunk diet or zero-sugar colas; highlighting the market dominance of brands such as Coke and Pepsi. Men were found to be likely to use standard colas and non-colas, while women exhibited higher usage of diet carbonates; being more likely to worry about their diet and health. Mature consumers also indicated overall lower usage of full-sugar drinks, and were most likely to avoid too much sugar for health reasons. Energy drinks saw strongest usage among younger consumers, with opportunities for added functionality such as protein to appeal to those who regularly engage in sports and fitness activities.

orthern Ireland’s soft drinks sales, including sports and energy drinks, are forecast to grow by 1.2% year on year to €448.7m (£390.6m) in 2017, according to the latest report by Mintel. Continued growth in consumer prices for soft drinks has helped to boost the sales value for NI, with soft drinks sales most likely to occur in off-trade channels (eg supermarkets, convenience stores), making this the main route to market for soft drinks brands. Sports and energy drinks are the main driver of soft drinks sales, with sales in the category increasing by 2.6% on an all-Ireland basis between 2016 and 2017. However, juice remains the largest category within the soft drinks market. MARKET FACTORS Weight continues to have a significant impact on Irish consumers’ health, with six in 10 Northern Irish consumers said to be overweight or obese (Health Survey NI 2016), and a quarter of NI children aged 2-15 classed as being overweight or obese in 2016 (Department of Health NI). Sugar-sweetened drinks are seen as a leading contributor to obesity, with the Chief Medical Officer in the UK (March 2016), the British Heart Foundation (March 2016) and the Obesity Alliance (December 2016) agreeing that sugarsweetened soft drinks are the single largest source of sugar for children and teenagers. SUGAR TAXES BEING INTRODUCED IN 2018 The UK, including NI, will introduce a Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) that will see an 18p levy introduced on soft drinks that have 5g of sugar per 100ml and a 24p levy added to those that contain 8g or more per 100ml. The SDIL will also be introduced in April 2018. SOFT DRINK PRICES INCREASING IN UK The introduction of the sugar tax in the UK (and RoI )in April 2018 will likely see prices of soft drinks increase.

Additionally, sterling’s weakness against the euro and other major currencies since the UK voted to leave the EU will see the costs of transportation and importing key ingredients increase. The upward pressure on prices could see soft drinks brands come under pressure as Irish consumers reduce their consumption of soft drinks. Consumers may also switch to lowercost own-label variants, providing growth opportunities for discount retailers, particularly in NI as cashconstrained consumers look to manage their household grocery budgets. CONSUMER TRENDS Six in 10 NI consumers surveyed in September 2017 had bought bottled water in the last month, making it the most popular soft drink overall in terms of usage. The desire among Irish consumers to lead healthier lifestyles has helped boost overall usage of bottled waters. NI consumers continue to be more prolific users of concentrates such as cordial and squash, with RoI consumers somewhat less likely to use these types of non-carbonates due to the consumer perception that these products have high levels of sugar and are highly processed. @Hosp_ReviewNI

2017 SEES CONSUMERS CUT BACK ON SUGARY DRINKS Almost six in 10 NI consumers noted they are more likely to avoid sugary carbonated drinks in 2017 compared to 2016, with consumers in mature age groups more likely to agree. Half of consumers also noted drinking more tap water, likely motivated in part by trying to reduce their intake of sugary drinks, but also to reduce the amount of packaging they waste. NI consumers were 10 percentage points more likely than RoI consumers to have shopped for soft drinks in pound shops/ euro stores in the last 12 months, highlighting the impact of increased costs of living in NI in 2017. Some 79% of NI consumers noted that they would be interested in a money-back bottled return scheme for soft drinks, thinking it would help to reduce packaging waste, with women in Ireland being more inclined than men to agree as such. Despite three quarters of consumers noting they feel drinks manufacturers need to do more to reduce sugar content in soft drinks, four in 10 consumers note that they feel overall taste is more important than containing low sugar. APRIL HRNI • 29



30 • HRNI APRIL @Hosp_ReviewNI



oca-Cola Zero Sugar is driving cola category growth, with a 26% increase in value and an additional 7.7million transactions delivered through the brand in 2017 versus prior year. While the zero sugar brand accounts for 17% of all cola sales in the grocery channel, it currently delivers just 1% in the on-trade, representing a huge opportunity for growth. To help capture this growth opportunity for its on-trade partners in 2018, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland has launched a new 200ml glass pack for mixability, in addition to the 330ml pack for the ‘straight-drinking’ or ‘with food’ occasion. The expansion in pack range for CocaCola Zero Sugar comes in advance of the introduction of the Government’s tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks, which is scheduled to come into effect from April 6, 2018. As a direct result of the government tax, the price per litre of Coca-Cola Classic will increase from that date, but the no sugar options in the Coca-Cola range, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke, are not affected by the sugar-sweetened drinks tax. In line with ongoing efforts to respond to consumers’ changing tastes and demands, Coca-Cola is continuing its focus on its ‘Hero Zero’ marketing strategy, which makes low and no sugar variants the easier choice for consumers. These variants, which are tax exempt, will also offer greater value for wholesalers, retailers and consumers from April 2018. Across the island of Ireland, CocaCola HBC already sells more low and no-sugar beverages than any other company. Forty-three percent of all cola sold has no sugar and the company envisages that this will increase to greater than 55% by 2020. In addition to a continued marketing drive behind the no-sugar drink, this ambition will be achieved through the increase in distribution of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar across all licensed outlets with the newer 200ml and 330ml packs. Matthieu Seguin, general manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, explains: “In line with our overall strategy, we are increasing the marketing and availability of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar across licensed outlets. “The introduction of the new 200ml glass pack, in addition to the 330ml pack, comes in advance of the introduction of the Government’s tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks which will come into effect in April. As a direct result of this tax, the price per litre of CocaCola Classic will increase. However, our ‘zero sugar’ colas will be exempt from the soft drinks levy, offering value for both consumers and our retail partners. “We are continuing our reformulation programme to reduce sugar across our portfolio, while retaining the same great taste @Hosp_ReviewNI

of our drinks. By April 2018, more than 60% of our sales volume will be made up of drinks with less than 5g sugar/100ml and will, therefore, be tax exempt.” Since 2010, Coca-Cola has reduced sugar across its portfolio by approximately 13%. While the recipe for Coca-Cola Classic will remain unchanged, sugar reductions have already been made in most other brands across the Coca-Cola HBC range. Following initial reformulation of Fanta Orange in 2017, it will undergo further sugar reduction ahead of April 2018 to bring the sugar content below 5g per 100ml. Furthermore Sprite, which is already a mid-calorie drink, will move to no sugar in Q1 2018. Thanks to these efforts, both Fanta Orange and Sprite will be exempt from the government’s tax on sugar sweetened soft drinks. As the core Schweppes range continues to deliver growth in the category, all key variants will be reformulated to reduce sugar to less than 5g sugar per 100ml. The new lower sugar recipes for Tonic, Bitter Lemon, Elderflower, and Ginger Ale will ensure that they will be tax exempt and affordable. This work is part of ongoing efforts across the globe to respond to consumer needs and will also help to reduce the impact of the new government tax on sugar-sweetened drinks on retailers and consumers alike. Across the on-trade, the only drinks from the Coca-Cola HBC portfolio that will be applicable for the new tax will be Coca-Cola Classic, Monster Original, Schweppes White Lemonade, and the premium 1783 range from Schweppes. From April 2018, the sale cost of relevant products to our retail and wholesale partners will include the cost of the new Government tax. It will be applied to all products subject to the tax and in line the taxation bands. It will also be reflected in our recommended sale prices (RSP). However, as always, the sale prices of our products are at the discretion of our wholesale and retail partners.

“As a direct result of this tax, the

price per litre of Coca-Cola Classic will increase. However, our ‘zero sugar’ colas will be exempt from the soft drinks levy, offering value for both consumers and our retail partners.”

Matthieu Seguin, general manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland




40ml 1800 Silver Tequila 15ml Yellow Chartreuse 15ml Creyente Mezcal 15ml lemongrass syrup 25ml fresh lime juice 4 pieces muddled celery 2 dashes Hellfire Bitters Topped with anejo chilli oil



In the latest of a regular series, we ask local bartenders to showcase a signature serve featuring the superb premium spirits brands presented by Proximo. Billy Duffy, head bartender at Bootleggers in Belfast creates a classic cocktail featuring 1800 Silver Tequila and Creyente Mezcal. 1800 SILVER TEQUILA The featured spirit in this month’s signature serve is 1800 Silver Tequila.

THE HACIENDA 40ml 1800 Silver Tequila 15ml Yellow Chartreuse 15ml Creyente Mezcal 15ml lemongrass syrup 25ml fresh lime juice 4 pieces muddled celery 2 dashes Hellfire Bitters Topped with anejo chilli oil

about the bartender Billy Duffy has spent his entire career in the trade at Bootleggers on the corner of Church and Ann streets in Belfast City Centre. “I’ve worked here since day dot,” he says. “I started bar backing here in 2014, and have just worked my way up from bar back to bartender and then head bartender last year.” For Billy, the best things about the bar trade are the social aspect and opportunity to try new things. “I like meeting new people, seeing a fresh face every day and there’s always new conversation,” he says. “And you get to be creative. When new products come through the bar, you get the chance to experiment and put your own creative stamp on things.”

METHOD Muddle celery, add ingredients & shake with ice Double strain into a frozen coupe glass “Our chef was looking for a savoury cocktail to complement our food menu, and I just started putting things together and came up with the drink,” says Billy. “I

Billy Duffy, head bartender at Bootleggers in Belfast.

really like celery and I think it pairs well with spicy food, so I just paired it all together with strong savoury, sweet and spicy notes coming through.”



‘THE IRISH FLIGHT’ TAKES OFF IN BELFAST’S CATHEDRAL QUARTER and I feel a personal responsibility to champion that,” said McAdam. “For the authentically Irish flavour combinations in ‘The Irish Flight’ we use only highest quality produce from Moira, Enniskillen and Hillsborough to name just a few.” Jorge Lopes, Diageo Northern Ireland country director, said: “We’re seeing record numbers of visitors arriving into Northern Ireland. This exciting new menu from The Cloth Ear offers visitors the chance to taste quality Irish produce at its best – the true taste of Ireland.”


oodies who share a taste for fine Irish produce have even more reason to venture to the traditional surroundings of The Cloth Ear public bar, located in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Head Chef Ian McAdam has unveiled a new food and drink offering featuring the finest of Irish ingredients, paired with three much-loved Irish drinks. Created in partnership with Guinness, Roe & Co. and Hop House 13, The Irish Flight has been designed specifically for those who struggle to decide what to choose and invariably end up with food

envy when plates arrive at the table. ‘The Irish Flight’ consists of three small plates each perfectly matched with carefully selected premium beers and whiskey which enhances the character and flavours of the food; Salted Smoked Oxtail Potato Croquettes or Chilli and Olive Arancini with Guinness; Mini Brisket Burger or Tomato, Basil and Roast Pepper Bruschetta with Hop House 13; and Scotch Egg or Panko Crusted Avocado with Roe & Co Blended Irish Whiskey. “We are lucky to have phenomenal local produce in this part of the world


Pictured are, from left, Hugh McKinty of Towergate Insurance, Tony Magee of Donnelly Group, William Noble of Ruby’s Larne, Drew McVeigh of Donnelly Bros, and Scott McNally and Lynsey Noble of Ruby’s.


hile nobody left empty handed at Hospitality Ulster’s fabulous celebration of The Top 100 Hospitality Businesses 2018 in Titanic Belfast on February 21, the team from Ruby’s in Larne left with just a little more than they

had bargained for. Much to owner William Noble’s surprise, Northern Irish former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton drew their name out of a hat containing the Top 100, to win a Fiat 500 for a year courtesy of Hospitality Ulster partners Donnelly Group and Towergate Insurance. “With the formalities winding down, I had already loosened my tie and relaxed,” he said. “Suddenly I hear our name and see confetti raining down. It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. “We’re grateful to Hospitality Ulster, Towergate and the Donnelly Group; it’s the icing on the cake. We’re based in Larne, but with multiple outlets spread across Northern Ireland, the car will be put to very good use.” @Hosp_ReviewNI


Hospitality Ulster and Retail NI recently held meetings with local political leaders and the chief executive of Fermanagh Omagh Council with the aim of supporting businesses in the region. “With both Belfast and Derry/ Londonderry pushing for City Deals, it is vitally important that we do not forget the importance of rural towns like Enniskillen and ensure they get a fair deal from government too,” said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster. “Investing in our rural towns should be on the list of key infrastructure projects. Enniskillen has very strong retail and hospitality sectors and could be stronger still if we get the right changes to business rates, skills and taxation.”


Recognising the importance of a clean water supply as the Northern Ireland tourism industry and hospitality sector continues to grow, Hospitality Ulster has teamed up with NI Water. Des Brown from NI Water said: “Working with Hospitality Ulster gives us a great opportunity to keep hospitality businesses up to date on how they can reduce both costs and risks through gaining water efficiencies, understanding water fitting regulations, ensuring good practise in disposing of fats, oil and grease and making use of leakage allowances that may be available.”




Cian Landers, general manager at the Fitzwilliam Hotel is pictured with David Harte, project manager at Edgewater Contracts.


second phase of development is underway at the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast, with the £2m investment set to upgrade rooms and increase capacity at the Great Victoria Street hotel, bringing the total invested in the premises to £4m since 2016. The latest phase follows an initial £2m refit completed in November 2016, which saw the lobby, 113 bedrooms and facilities updated with new sumptuous, art deco-inspired colour palettes and


furnishings. Existing bedrooms and meeting spaces on the eighth and ninth floors will be transformed into city view rooms and an additional luxury penthouse, with panoramic views over Belfast, representing a 15% increase in bedroom numbers to 150. The 26-week project is scheduled for completion in July. The new luxury penthouse on the ninth floor, named ‘The Residence’, will be a stand-out space for visiting VIPs while, for the first time, the hotel will be offering family-friendly rooms. The increased capacity will also create 17 new hospitality jobs in front of house, the bar and restaurant and accommodation, bringing staff numbers to over 100. “Northern Ireland’s hotel industry is experiencing strong growth and, with the increased demand, we are delighted to be able to contribute to the stock of premium hotel rooms in the city,” said Cian Landers, general manager of the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

STORMONT HOTEL COMPLETES £1M RENOVATION PROGRAMME Andy McNeill, recently appointed general manager of the Stormont Hotel, worked at the Europa Hotel for 19 years before joining the Stormont.


he Stormont Hotel has completed a renovation programme totalling a £1m investment over the last 18 months, and including the doubling of its lounge to include a new bar and coffee station. Further, the capacity of its Grand Ballroom has increased from 340 to 400, the restaurant has received an extensive redevelopment and 20 bedrooms have been upgraded. “As a group, we pride ourselves on


continuous investment to ensure we make the most of our properties and offer our guests the first-class service they know to expect every time,” said Andy McNeill, general manager of the Stormont Hotel. “With this ongoing investment in the Stormont Hotel, we are confident that we can continue to maintain standards and cope with the growing markets for overseas visitors while providing the very best of Northern Ireland hospitality. “As well as the refurbishment of the bedrooms, we have increased the capacity of our Grand Ballroom, doubled the size of our bar and lounge areas, upgraded the Confex Centre and the kitchens are now the most modern within the group. “In keeping with our location, we have renamed the restaurant The Assembly Chamber and the private dining suite beside it has been renamed The Senate Chamber.”

Belfast has been named as the ‘rising star’ for hotel investment in the UK in 2018, according to a new poll. And the city took the top spot in terms of ‘revenue per available room growth’, showing a 12.6% increase over the past four years. According to the latest UK Hotels Market Index by Colliers, the city rose 16 places. Colliers said the rise was due to the city’s ‘relatively low land site prices’. Belfast ranked third overall with a score of 3.78, pipped to the post by Edinburgh (3.97) and Bath (3.90).

CIE TOURS NAMES CULLODEN BEST IN IRELAND The Culloden Estate & Spa has been named Best Hotel Accommodation in Ireland by leading Irish tour operator CIE Tours International, at its Awards for Excellence ceremony held recently at the National Gallery of Ireland. With 86 years of experience, CIE Tours International is the largest tour operator into Ireland and winners were chosen according to feedback from 30,000 customer surveys. The Europa Hotel was also presented with an Award of Excellence for consistently exceeding the expectation of guests.

GRAHAM CONSTRUCTION REPORTS A RECORD HIGH Development of the Grand Central Hotel is among projects contributing to a record high of £400m in live construction projects for Co Downbased Graham Construction. Graham Construction was recently named Major Contractor of the Year at the annual UK Building Awards in London, and is Northern Ireland’s largest construction company. “We couldn’t have achieved this growth and sustained development without our fantastic, dedicated staff. Their experience and expertise is one of our unique selling points,” said Michael Graham, executive chairman, Graham Group. @Hosp_ReviewNI




aying that all hotels need a good booking engine seems almost redundant these days but with so many providers out there to choose from, what should you consider before you get lost in the sales pitch? • It should never be about the numbers. Never get enticed by a provider with low commission.They need to ‘want’ your business and be hungry for every booking as that is how they drive revenue for themselves so, if the commission level is so low that they are making very little return, then why on earth would they be incentivised to drive conversions through your site? • Booking engines are all about conversion but to get people right to the end of their booking process, you need to be found on search engines; have strong pay-per-click and re-marketing campaigns; great SEO; fantastic web design and a seamless interaction from your website to your booking engine. Can your booking engine provider do all that? • Guests now expect recognition through the booking process. Does your booking engine welcome back customers who have been to your site before? Does it know if a customer checked dates and can it direct them right back to that date? If a customer books, does it remember their name and welcome them back and personalise their journey based on the rate they have booked? Does it even do the simple stuff like remember address or payment details? • An obvious one, but is it mobile adaptive? • How easy is it to manage rates and availability on the ‘back-end’. The shiny customer facing stuff is great but if the back-end management is a pain for your team, then this will lead to frustration and potentially mismanagement. • Can it micro-manage every single part of your inventory? Your booking engine should be an extension of your revenue management strategy, so make sure all of those wonderful revenue decisions you make at hotel level can be transposed through your booking engine. • We all have international guests, can you offer multiple currencies, presented in multiple languages? • Can your preferred supplier integrate to your PMS? This isn’t always the case but ideal if possible as this saves hours and hours of manmanagement time inputting bookings and updating availability. • Excellent reporting is a must. Do the reports meet the needs of your business strategy? • Ask your provider for their development road-map. You should have visibility on just how forward-thinking they are and what they plan to release in the future. Does this sit within your own strategy? Booking engines might be software but your provider should be all about the service. Do not engage with a provider who sells, trains and leaves. You need great support and regular meetings. You should NEVER have to pay for these meetings. As a hotelier, make sure you are armed with information and make sure your provider gives you great advice. And trust me, that advice should rarely be to drop rates - to earn more commission for them, if they get volume on this reduced price. If this is the message you keep getting from your provider, then it is time to change provider!

Visit or email @Hosp_ReviewNI


Tara Moore, spa manager, together with other staff members and guests, celebrate Galgorm’s success.


algorm Resort & Spa is to host the 2018 World Luxury Spa & Restaurant Awards on July 14, following its Global Spa of the Year 2017 win at the World Luxury Hotel Awards in St. Moritz. Held in December, the awards saw the Co Antrim resort recognised for its world-class facilities and excellence in service. This prestigious win put the resort on the radar of the Awards organisational committee which, after a successful site visit to Northern Ireland at the end of 2017, announced Galgorm as host property for the 2018 World Luxury Spa & Restaurant Awards. Each year, a new destination is selected to host the gala celebration, with Galgorm’s honour representing the first time the awards will have been held in the UK or Ireland, having previously been hosted in destinations such as Qatar, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand. Galgorm is partnering with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to bring the event to the region. “We were blown away by the genuine hospitality of the staff, the sheer beauty of the grounds and surrounding nature, the incredible spa and thermal village and the range of dining and entertainment options available on site,” said Joanna Evans, executive manager for the World Luxury Spa Awards. “It was an easy choice for us on check-out that this was to be the resort to host our event.”



top Belfast hotel is to partner with a TV channel in a unique deal which will enhance the experience of guests. The Titanic Hotel Belfast and US-based have agreed a service agreement for a new venture which will broadcast original Titanic documentary programmes to guest bed rooms. John Paul Doherty, creative director of Harcourt Group which owns seven hotels world-wide including the Titanic Hotels in Belfast and Liverpool, says the deal is unusual and provides guests with an unparalleled Titanic experience. “This is a world-first for hotel entertainment options. has produced a schedule of unique and fascinating programmes,” said Doherty. “This means that guests will experience something not available anywhere else.” APRIL HRNI • 35




ince taking over the property five years ago, the Maguire family has embarked on a programme of upgrades at the Millbrook House Hotel, which was one of a small group of hotels recently named among The Top 100 Hospitality Businesses 2018. “The hotel has gone from strength to strength especially over the past five years, and has made its name as a very popular wedding venue in Co Down,” says Gerty McCaugherty, general manager of the Millbrook House Hotel, and a member of the Maguire family. “A total refurbishment programme was rolled out four years ago, with all areas of the hotel upgraded. The main function suites were totally refurbished with an additional courtyard area with a waterfall added, and a beautiful new gazebo placed within the Wedding Garden.” While carrying a three-star rating, Millbrook House delivers a four-star standard, says McCaugherty, with its renovated Gilmore Restaurant recently


awarded accreditation by Taste of Ulster for a second consecutive year. “The upgrade of the quality of food and dishes available is down to the hotel’s new head chef Gerard Sands, the former head chef of Nick’s Warehouse, Belfast,” she says. Sands was heading off to Italy on March 17 to represent Northern Ireland in the World Pesto Championships and is a well-known figure in the local hospitality sector, serving as a director of the Salon Culinaire at IFEX 2018 and sitting on the NI Chefs Steering Group. “The bedroom block was the next on the refurbishment list and all 16 bedrooms, which now include one suite, three master bedrooms and 12 executive bedrooms, have been brought up to a very high standard, presented with a modern feel but a Georgian twist,” says McCaugherty. “The final phase of this programme was completed last year with the most popular room in the house, The Orangerie, opening on August 1 last

HOTEL OPENED: December, 41 years ago OWNERSHIP & HISTORY: The hotel was originally added to an old Georgian Rectory with many of the features still in place by Jim Scott, a local beef farmer and publican, and his family. Approximately five years later, it was purchased by the Maguire family who still own it, along with their second hotel, the Ivanhoe Hotel in Carryduff, which they purchased two years later. Both hotels are run by the “girls” in the family, with Paula in the Ivanhoe and Gerty in Millbrook. EMPLOYEES: 30 full-time and 50 part-time staff ROOM NUMBER: 16 STAR RATING: three-star STYLE: Modern with a Georgian feel. MARKET POSITIONING: The hotel is a very sought-after wedding venue, and also a popular place for guests to gather for family and social events. Millbrook House prides itself in offering a hotel to make special memories within. GUEST PROFILE: Families, travellers and locals. USPs: Family-run hotel, sitting in six acres of beautifully mature gardens offering local produce with staff who have worked for many years in the hotel, know its guests and go the extra mile to deliver what its visitors deserve and require. FOOD & BEVERAGE: Taste of Ulster-accredited food and drinks are on offer in the Gilmore casual dining restaurant. year. This suite was built for the purpose of welcoming weddings into the hotel but has proven to be a very desired room for birthday parties, private dining and meetings alike.” The next phases of the ongoing refurbishment, meanwhile, will see an additional bedroom block and spa area added to the property. @Hosp_ReviewNI


WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT DINNER IN TEMPLEPATRICK More than 140 hospitality professionals gathered to celebrate excellence in housekeeping at the NIHF Housekeeping Awards 2018. Sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland, Bunzl Rafferty Hospitality, Ecolab, Robinson Services, Linencare and Respa Beds, the awards were presented to finalists and winners across two categories. The gala ceremony which had an ‘in the pink’ atmosphere took place at Hilton Templepatrick on Wednesday 14 March 2018.


Tara Lodge (Belfast) and Belmore Court & Motel (Enniskillen) were named joint winners in the under 90-bedroom category with a runner up award going to Bishop’s Gate Hotel in DerryLondonderry. In the over 90-bedroom category, the Fitzwilliam (Belfast) scooped this top accolade with a runner up award going to Holiday Inn (Belfast City Centre). For Tara Lodge, who retained the title for the fourth year running, this is a significant achievement.




FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR GALA DINNER ON 18TH APRIL Receptionist of the Year, now in its 15th year, kicked off with an assessment day in Clayton Belfast. Individuals from hotels across Northern Ireland tackled a series of teambuilding activities and tests. A shortlist was drawn up and each person interviewed. From this, a further shortlist led to the finalists who were interviewed again. Meanwhile, team entrants received a series of mystery phone calls and visits from Shopper Anonymous. The event finishes with an awards dinner in the Everglades Hotel on 18th April.

Hotel Receptionist of the Year Carl Woods, Belmore Court and Motel; Emma Love, Killyhevlin Hotel; Gary Mulhall, Clayton Belfast; Helen Crawford, Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport; Karen Lynagh, Bullitt Hotel; Katey Smyth, Jurys Inn Belfast; Katherine Gould, Galgorm Resort & Spa; Louise Tinsley, Malone Lodge Hotel & Apartments; Niamh McConway, Tara Lodge. Hotel Reception Team Bishops’s Gate Hotel; Bushmills Inn Hotel; Everglades Hotel; Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre; Malone Lodge Hotel & Apartments; Tara Lodge; The Old Inn; The Strangford Arms Hotel.

The finalist for 2018 are: Most Promising Hotel Receptionist Alex Coyle, Shipquay Boutique Hotel; Emer Gallagher, Shipquay Boutique Hotel; Jessica Knowles, Fitzwilliam Hotel; Louise Denvir, Titanic Hotel Belfast; Naiomh Ashford, Everglades Hotel; Paul O Doherty, Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre.

The Hotel Recpetionist of the Year awards are supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, Net Affinity, Shopper Anonymous, Right Revenue, Derry City & Strabane District Council and Life: One Great Adventure.

» Over 60 receptionists took part in the assessment day, held in the Clayton Belfast.

DON’T MISS 12TH JUNE - GOLF DAY LOUGH ERNE RESORT The Federation’s annual golf day will be held at the Lough Erne Resort on 12th June. This is always a fun day out. There will be a two tee start between 11.30 pm and 1 pm and golf will be followed by dinner and prize-giving in the hotel. Contact the office on 028 9077 6635 for more details and to book your tee-off time. The golf day is supported by Henderson Foodservice, Coca-Cola HBC NI and Tennents NI.



Pictured are, from left, Howard Hastings, chair of Visit Belfast; Mary Jo McCanny, director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast; Cllr Mairead O’Donnell; Mr FU Baifeng from the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China; and Ms WANG Zifei and Dr Tony Lenehan, both from the Centre for Competitiveness and COTRI (Ireland).


isit Belfast has been recognised as ‘China Ready’, another major

accomplishment in the tourism agency’s efforts to maximise the city’s growing popularity with Chinese tourists. As Belfast and NI’s flagship visitor information centre, it also becomes the first on the island of Ireland to secure this market status. Tourist trips from China to the UK and Ireland have doubled in a decade and the new China Ready accreditation, which helps identify global services that Chinese visitors can trust, means both the Belfast Welcome Centre and Visit Belfast’s sales and marketing teams understand this market’s special needs and are properly equipped to meet demand. Being China Ready recognises the measures Visit Belfast has taken to cater for the increasing Chinese visitor

market, a key growth market for the UK and Ireland. Europe is a major global destination for Chinese tourists, with more than 10 million trips* made in 2016. Chinese visitors tend to stay longer, and are also among the biggest tourist spenders. The UK is already their top destination to visit in Europe and new direct flights to Dublin from the Asian economic powerhouse will see visitors to the island of Ireland rise further this year. Around 50,000 are expected to have visited the island of Ireland** in 2017 and up to 350,0000 trips to the UK*** are expected to be made this year. *European Travel Commission. **Tourism Ireland ***Visit Britain



he United States offers significant potential for tourism, according to a new Tourism Ireland strategy, which aims to both build on recent success and anticipate opportunities and challenges in the years ahead. The strategy sets out ambitious targets to grow American visitor numbers by 23% by 2021. The US is the second-largest market for tourism to the island of Ireland, generating growth of +60% in American holidaymakers and +70% in revenue from American holidaymakers in the period 2012-2016, driven by direct flights and effective sales and marketing.

Research undertaken by Tourism Ireland has identified the need for a more distinctive Ireland ‘brand’; more vivid and arresting communications to get Americans to ‘book now’; greater visibility across all travel platforms and channels; development of offline sources such as special offers/prices, travel TV shows and books; and provision of personalised, authentic experiences. “We are aware that continuing to deliver the level of growth seen in recent years will be challenging, as the competitive environment is becoming increasingly crowded,” said Niall

Pictured at the launch of the new strategy are, from left, Mark Rogers, Dalriada Kingdom Tours; Rosemary Lightbody, Tourism NI; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland; and Janice Gault, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. “But, we also know that this is a market with a strong affinity with Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland and we believe that it can yield good growth in the years ahead.”

FORGING MAJOR LINKS FOR IRISH GOLF M ajor golf winners Jack Nicklaus and Sir Nick Faldo were among golfing legends to take an interest in Irish links golf at this year’s Honda Classic event in Florida. Golf marketing company North & West Coast Links Golf Ireland was flying the flag for Irish golf at the event, 40 • HRNI APRIL

showcasing some of the best links courses in the north and west regions of Ireland through its new brochure and website. North & West Coast Links Golf has been in Florida to tee up interest in bespoke golf tour packages to some of the top links courses Ireland has to offer, including Ballyliffin, John McLaughlin, CEO of North and West Coast Links Golf Royal Portrush, host venue for Ireland, is pictured, right, with The Open in 2019, Carne, golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

Enniscrone, Donegal, Narin & Portnoo, Rosapenna, Castlerock, Portstewart, Ardglass, Galway Bay, Westport and Portsalon. “It’s clear that Ireland continues to hold a special place in the golfing world and the attraction to our links courses from some of the sport’s major stars gives us confidence that links golf in this part of the world will continue to grow from strength to strength,” said John McLaughlin, CEO of North and West Coast Links Golf Ireland. @Hosp_ReviewNI




ruise Belfast has confirmed details of its 2018 cruise schedule, heralding another record cruise season for Belfast and Northern Ireland with 117 ships expected to dock in Belfast Harbour bringing more than 200,000 visitors to Northern Ireland. A quarter more ships are booked to arrive in Belfast Harbour compared to last year. These include eight new Cruise Lines which have added Belfast to their itineraries, joining the cruise industry’s leading operators Carnival, Royal

Caribbean and Cunard. The city is also becoming increasingly popular with ‘Exploration and Adventure’ ships which operate at the luxury end of the market. More than half of the ships calling will each bring over 1,000 visitors to Belfast with the largest ship, the 330m long Royal Princess, bringing more than 61,000 passengers to the city during her 12 calls. August will be the busiest month with 26 cruise calls bringing over 40,000 passengers and crew.

Among the new lines calling is Swiss-based Viking Line which has recently diversified into ocean going cruising having previously concentrated on the popular European river cruise market. Viking Line has scheduled four calls to Belfast in 2018, bringing almost 6,000 visitors in total. Other first-time callers include ‘mega-yacht’ operator Variety Cruises, which is scheduled to call 10 times this summer. The length of Belfast’s cruise season has also extended with the first call due in mid-March and the last call in mid-October. For the first time it’s expected that passenger and crew numbers to Belfast will break the 200,000 mark, up almost 50,000 in a year. “Our partnership with Visit Belfast on the Cruise Belfast initiative continues to bear fruit,” said Michael Robinson, commercial director of Belfast Harbour. “Belfast’s popularity as a cruise destination continues to grow and this is evidenced by the record numbers of passengers and ships due to call this year.”



ourism Ireland has teamed up with P&O Ferries, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to promote the Causeway Coast and Northern Ireland as a ‘must see’ destination in Scotland. The new tourism campaign kicked off on March 5 and will run until the beginning of April. The campaign will reach millions of Scottish ‘culturally curious’ holidaymakers; typically people aged over 45 years who want to broaden their cultural experience. It includes radio ads, which will reach almost 1 million listeners on DAX, a new digital platform similar to Spotify; ads in eight different newspapers, including the Daily Record, Glasgow Evening Times, The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News; two articles in the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail; online ads on popular travel websites; and social media promotions, including extensive advertising on Facebook. “We will continue to create ‘stand out’ for Northern Ireland, in Scotland and elsewhere around the world,



highlighting attractions and experiences like the Causeway Coastal Route, Titanic Belfast and our wonderful National Trust properties,” said Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland head of Great Britain. “We will also continue to leverage our connections with Game of Thrones. We are committed to ensuring that Northern Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business.” @Hosp_ReviewNI

BY ANDREW MADDEN cottish airline Loganair is launching a new Glasgow to Londonderry air service, just one week after Ryanair announced it would be stopping its service on the route. Loganair’s new service will start operating from October 28 - the day after Ryanair’s service ceases. The route will operate five days a week, with the airline using a 33seat Saab 340 aircraft on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, switching to a larger, 50-capacity Saab 2000 aircraft for Sunday evening services. Dublin-based Ryanair recently announced it would be closing its base at Glasgow Airport. David O’Brien, the airlines’s chief commercial officer, said the decision was made because Glasgow “simply can’t bear the burden” of air passenger duty (APD). The lead-in fares for Loganair’s new service start at £49.99 and include a 20kg baggage allowance and complimentary in-flight refreshments. Extra flights will be added around key travel times including Christmas and New Year to meet demand. APRIL HRNI • 41



Pictured are Joe McGirr, owner of Boatyard Distillery and Jenna Mairs, investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners.


he Boatyard Distillery has secured a £100,000 loan from the Growth Loan Fund to increase production and

fund working capital requirements. The investment will create six new jobs to support product development and help fulfil export contracts recently secured in Switzerland, Denmark and the USA. Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investors. Situated at Tully Bay on the shores of Lough Erne, The Boatyard Distillery was set up in 2016 and currently produces a double gin, an Old Tom gin and vodka. “Our double gin has secured over £250,000 of sales in its first year and all

1,200 bottles of our Old Tom gin sold out within 48 hours of launch,” said Joe McGirr, owner of The Boatyard Distillery. “It is a very competitive market but we’ve managed to stand out among some strong local brands. “The loan has enabled us to purchase two additional stills to increase the distillery’s productivity. We’ve been working on our vodka product for the past year and we’re excited to bring it to market.” For more information about the Growth Loan Fund’s criteria, please contact or go to www.



usinesses from across Northern Ireland are invited to compete in the 15th annual Chamber Business Awards hosted by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Local winners will then compete against 11 other regions across the UK, culminating in a Gala Awards Dinner at Tobacco Dock London in November. “We were delighted to have scooped the Excellence in Customer Service Award at The Chamber Business Awards,” said Colin Johnston, general manager of Galgorm Resort & Spa, a 2017 winner. “Recognising and rewarding excellence in business, these

Colin Johnston, general manager of Galgorm Resort & Spa is pictured, second left, with NI Chamber’s Nicola Woods, John Quinn and Gabi Burnside, launching this year’s Chamber Business Awards.

awards are one of the most contested and prestigious business award programmes. “They represent the best of this

country’s entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and hard-work and give every business the opportunity to recognise their achievements and outstanding performances; and to inspire others.” Companies can enter nine categories: Small Business of the Year; Export Business of the Year; Best Use of Technology Award; Employer of the Year; Workplace Wellbeing Award; Customer Commitment Award; Digital Communications Campaign of the Year; Education and Business Partnership; and High Growth Business of the Year. The closing date for entries is Friday, June 29; see www.chamberawards. for further information.



newly launched public relations consultancy, Fiona Brown Communications, has been awarded the account for Northern Ireland’s largest independent hotel group, Hastings Hotels. With over 14 years’ experience, Fiona Brown has built a solid foundation in the communications industry in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and has previously been responsible for the creation and execution of a wide range of public 42 • HRNI APRIL

relations strategies for organisations including Tourism Northern Ireland, Hastings Hotels, Jet2, Molson Coors, Subway and Forestside Shopping Centre. Since launching at the end of 2017, the new consultancy has also been working with a number of other clients including the Institution of Civil Engineers, local drama company Bright Young Things and leading Irish make-up artist Aimee Connolly. “I have been fortunate to work with some great companies over the last

Fiona Brown of Fiona Brown Communications is pictured, right, with Julie Hastings, marketing director of Hastings Hotels.

14 years and I look forward to using industry knowledge and credible relations, with traditional and digital media, to create bespoke, effective and proven strategies for organisations of all sizes,” said Brown. @Hosp_ReviewNI







DEADLINE: Editorial: FRIDAY 30 MARCH Contact: Alyson Magee T: 028 9026 4175 e: Advertising: FRIDAY 6 APRIL Contact: Mark Glover T: 028 9026 4266 e: @Hosp_ReviewNI





Ryan Brown 07971 508739 Carla McGreevy 07971 508732 Tel: 01962 762100

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and I love dining out, but we recently enjoyed an amazing meal in Prologue in Gdansk and it was really memorable. LAST HOTEL YOU STAYED AT: Five-star Hilton, in the old town of Gdansk. LAST BAR/NIGHTCLUB YOU VISITED: I don’t party quite so much anymore, but my last night out was on our staff do and ended up in Filthy McNastys. INDOOR CONCERT OR FESTIVAL: Saw Bombay Bicycle Club in The Mandela Hall; it was a great gig and night out. LAST HOLIDAY: Cuba. Such a place.


FAVOURITE HOT DRINK: Coffee FAVOURITE SOFT DRINK: Diet Coke BEER OR CIDER: Beer - Polish beer Zywiec is my favourite. WHITE OR RED WINE: Red all the way. WHISKEY OR BRANDY: Whiskey GIN OR VODKA: I know I’m Polish, but it has to be gin. COCKTAILS OR BUBBLY: Cocktails WHAT FOUR PEOPLE WOULD YOU INVITE TO A DINNER PARTY? My two best friends, Lucia and Veronicka, and also my two work besties Judith and Bronagh ONE ITEM YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? My phone.


I worked part time in a supermarket as a cashier when I was in university.





WINE WAITRESS HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THIS ROLE? One and a half years. DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY? Get up before 10am, feed my cats, enjoy my breakfast while catching up on some Polish television. I usually go to work around 12pm, work lunch, enjoy my split reading up on new wines and having a coffee. After work in the evening, I enjoy spending time with my partner and a glass of wine. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? 50 • HRNI APRIL

FAVOURITE TV SHOW: Friends FAVOURITE FILM: It has to be Vanilla Sky FAVOURITE ALBUM CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: I’m not listening to an album as such but I really enjoy the B.I.R.P Playlists on Spotify currently. It’s a good mix of eclectic music. FAVOURITE BAND: Love Alt-J LAST BOOK READ: Jane Eyre FAVOURITE CELEBRITY: I know her as the Polish Gordon Ramsey, she is a Polish restauranteur & quite famous back home. Her name is Magda Gessler.


FAVOURITE FOOD: I adore duck breast. FAVOURITE RESTAURANT: My partner

WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE? Natalie Portman WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL JOB? I’m not exactly sure, but definitely something to do with wine and hospitality. I love this sector and I’m really enjoying doing this at the moment, and learning every day. FAVOURITE QUOTE? A good life is a collection of happy moments. THE MOST IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT? Cherish the time with my loved ones while they are still around. INSPIRATION IN YOUR LIFE? My dad. @Hosp_ReviewNI





Choose Choose better value Did you know, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is the fastest growing zero sugar brand, contributing +26% in value for the cola category*

The Government’s tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks will come into effect on the 6th April. As a direct result of this tax, the price per litre of Coca-Cola Classic and some of our mixers and energy drinks will increase from that date.

IOI Nielsen Sales MAT Grocery Nov 17

However, no and low sugar drinks are not affected by the tax. !




Stock up on the new 200ml or 330ml Coca-Cola Zero Sugar glass packs today! Contact your local Coca-Cola Market HBC Developer or Customer Services on ROI 1890 26 22 26 | NI 02892 620520 for further details




Profile for Helen Wright

Hospitality Review NI April 2018  

Hospitality Review NI April 2018

Hospitality Review NI April 2018  

Hospitality Review NI April 2018