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Where every millimetre counts

Tierney’s IT matters

Cabra Castle

The Corscadden Dynasty

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COVER: Millimetre Design


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Editorial 4 News


Appointments 10 Bookassist


Great National Hotels & Resorts


Fáilte Interview


IT Tallaght

Millimetre Design


Tourism Ireland

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Tierneys 26 Fáilte Industry News


21 Spaces - The Alex


Afternoon Tea


Igor Cikarev, Executive Head Chef at Dublin’s Gibson Hotel

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Cabra Castle Hotel


ITIC 43 Chef Network

Rethinking Sales


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IFSA 48 Java Republic Have awards been devalued?



Looking Gift Vouchers in the Mouth


The Imperial Hotel


Hotel & Restaurant Times, Ireland’s longest established trade publication, is circulated on subscription to Chief Executives, Directors and Proprietors of Hotels and Restaurants in Ireland along with Architects, Interior Designers and Suppliers to the Hotel and Restaurant Industry. Managing Editor: Cyril McAree (01-6285447, Contributors: Pavel Barter, Dr Des O’Mahony, Susan Clarke, Chef Network, Tourism Ireland, Frank Corr, Conor Power, Fáilte Ireland, Lorraine Courtney, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Conor Kenny, IFSA, Marilyn Bright. Graphic Design: Tara Mccormack Printing: Turners of Longford


All paper used in the production of this magazine comes from certifiably sustainable forestry.




Putting a price on hospitality That old chestnut about the price of accommodation in hotels, particularly in Dublin, is bubbling up again. While Ireland has increased tourist numbers, there are concerns about our price perception and value for money. The average room rate in Dublin is around €136 per room.


On another note, the awards arena is becoming a little congested. It seems everyone is handing out awards like confetti at a wedding. In an article in this issue of H&R Times, Frank Corr questions whether we need so many awards ceremonies. Whilst he acknowledges that they have a certain value, when dozens of properties are named Best Restaurant or Best Hotel in any given year, it’s enough to make us question their reliability. While we are still seeing encouraging increases in tourism numbers, worries remain regarding staff shortages across much of the sector. Research indicates a lack of understanding or acknowledgment of tourism as a real career at secondary level. Recent CSO figures show continued growth in most market segments, and a welcomed recovery within the Great Britain market. Credit goes to the efforts of Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland. With limited budgets and limited engagement from Shane Ross, the Minister for Tourism, these bodies are boxing above their weight. The continued investment in new hotels is encouraging. It is estimated that the end of 2019, over 5000 extra bedrooms will be added to the hotel stock in Dublin alone. That will equate to numerous new jobs and tax returns to the exchequer. Let’s hope this is recognised, by way of increased government investment, when it comes to budget time.

Cyril McAree editor




NEWS Hong Kong takes off op travel journalists from Hong Kong, and senior representatives from Cathay Pacific, are pictured at the Guinness Storehouse. The journalists were visiting in advance of the inaugural Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Dublin: the first direct flight from the Asia-Pacific region to Ireland.

You are what you eat Gastronomy experts gathered in DIT, Cathal Brugha Street, to honour Darina Allen and Tom Jaine, who were given the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium Fellowship awards. The awards recognise trailblazers, leaders, mentors, and visionaries in the Gastronomy, Food Studies, and Culinary Education community in Ireland and internationally.

Ireland serves perfect dish in Frankfurt Pictured (l-r) at this year’s IMEX Frankfurt: Ciara Gallagher, Meet in Ireland Manager, Fåilte Ireland; Gillian Griffin, Adare Manor; Seamus Heaney, Cork Convention Bureau, and Rose Finn, Galway Convention Bureau. IMEX is one of the largest worldwide exhibitions for incentive travel, meetings and events and is attended by over 14,000 industry professionals.

One million Italians tune in to Donegal

The most popular travel TV show in Italy, Kilimangiaro, which has more than one million viewers per episode, recently filmed in Donegal. Pictured are cameraman Diego Nicoletti and camerawoman Annapia Chico, with local skipper Paddy Byrne, Sliabh Liag Boat Trips, during filming at Teelin Pier in Donegal.




Getting to the root of cooking The Institute of Technology Tallaght, in partnership with Airfield Estate in Dublin, has developed an Honours Degree in Botanical Cuisine to help chefs to grow their own produce. The one-year part-time programme is the first of its kind in Europe and is aimed at chefs with extensive experience in the industry or those that have previous culinary qualifications. The programme starts in September and applications are now open. For details, contact: Tom Meaney, IT Tallaght. Tel: 01-4042830 or email:

Seasonal feast

Flights of fancy

The month of June is Great Carvery Month, in association with the 2018 KNORR Great Carvery Competition, as venues across Ireland celebrate carvery dishes and local, seasonal produce. Entries for the competition are now open until 30 June. To enter, complete an online entry form describing why your carvery is the best. The shortlisted nominees are informed on the 16 July. Competition details can be found at www.

Croatia Airlines had launched a twice weekly service from Dublin Airport to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The airline, which is part of the Star Alliance, will operate the new service on Thursdays and Sundays between May and October. Pictured (l-r) are: Boris Kolka, Director of Sales and Marketing; Olive Hempenstall, Irish Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia; Jon Woolf, SVP Aviation Business Development; and Ivan Masina, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia.

Down under in Cork Australian radio presenter Chris Smith (left) with celebrity chef Martin Shanahan, in Fishy Fishy Restaurant in Kinsale. Smith, Sydney’s most popular afternoon radio presenter, was broadcasting live from Ireland this week.



Grand Central open for business in Belfast Caitriona Lavery and Howard Hastings, of Hastings Hotels, are joined by John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive to announce that the Grand Central Hotel will open in June, 2018. The first guests to check-in will be a group of international delegates attending the Hosts Global Forum. Â


A fresh approach to the environment

Dublin Airport welcomes service to Reykjavik

The Freshii franchise is planning to become Ireland’s greenest fast food business. Starting this summer, Freshii is introducing a fully compostable range of food containers and cups in all its Irish restaurants. Pictured are: Cormac Manning, CFO Freshii Ireland; Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party); Dave O’Donoghue, CEO Freshii Ireland; Timmy Dooley TD, Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Communications, The Environment & Natural Resources.

A six times weekly service from Dublin to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, has been launched. The new Icelandair service will have onward connections from Reykjavik to 20 cities in North America. Pictured are: Paul O’Kane, daa Chief Communication Officer; Captain Örnólfur Jónsson, Icelandair; Angie Condon, Icelandair Area Station Manager UK & Ireland; and Mr. Bogi Nils Bogason, Icelandair CFO.












Customer service champions Leitrim teen takes top prize Pictured receiving the All Ireland Customer Service Award at the Restaurants Awards ceremony were Harvey’s Point Hotel team members  (l-r): Colin McKee, Sous Chef; Orhan Erinc, Restaurant Manager; and Noel Cunningham, General Manager.

Honesty best policy at Dublin Airport Dublin Airport has teamed up with Marqette to trial a new honesty-based food and beverage take-away offer at Terminal 1. A trial Honest Eats Co fridge was installed at Marqette’s airside location in T1, stocked with a selection of sandwiches, wraps, salads, pastries, snacks and drinks. Passengers can pick the items they want, scan them and pay for them via a cashless self-service checkout that accepts cards and mobile payment applications. Dublin Airport has operated an honesty payment system for its Plane Water brand since 2014.

The right Joyce Irish chef David Joyce has been named Best European Chef for 2018. The competition saw seven professional chefs go head to head in Barcelona in an exclusive competition of European chefs. Now in its third year, the European Chefs’ Cup is a gastronomic competition held by Aramark, one of the leading worldwide catering companies. Pictured (l-r): Paul Bloxham, Aramark’s UK Culinary Director; Stefano Corrias; David Joyce and Derek Reilly, Culinary Director, Aramark Ireland.



Rachel McPartlin has won the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2018. The event was hosted by Foróige, a leading youth development organisation in Ireland, in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Kildare St., Dublin. Rachel took the title with her business Rachel’s Heavenly Homemades, a gluten free bakery at affordable prices.

A galaxy not so far away On International Star Wars Day, a group of top global media from India, Australia, the Middle East, Canada, the US and Europe, who have a combined circulation of 12 million, landed in Donegal to discover why it was named the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet for 2017’ by National Geographic Traveller.

£500,000 to showcase NI’s cultural heritage Nine projects are to share grants of £500,000 to explore new ways to celebrate and promote Northern Ireland’s diverse cultural heritage. The funding is the result of a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Tourism NI and the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division to mark the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH).


Best stay at Bushmills Ireland’s Blue Book has named The Bushmills Inn as Northern Ireland’s Best Hotel Stay 2018 in this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

Top marks for Waterford venue The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford has become the first venue in Waterford to complete the Fáilte Ireland’s Accredited Services Excellence Programme. The Programme is aimed at helping tourism businesses reach the highest standards in customer care. Pictured at the presentation were Dr. Dean Panter, National Development Manager with Enterprise & Hospitality Fáilte Ireland and Adriaan Bartels, General Manager Cliff House Hotel.

In a field of their own FARM Steakhouse in the Amber Springs Hotel, Wexford, has been nominated its second AA Rosette. Owned by Tommy and Paddy Redmond, the steakhouse restaurant was opened in 2016, serving steaks from Angus cattle reared on the Amber Spring’s own Redmond farm.

St Kevin gets stamp of approval The Office of Public Works (OPW) and An Post recently celebrated the life of St. Kevin of Glendalough with the display of “St. Kevin and the Blackbird”, an artwork by Imogen Stuart & Tim O’Neill in Glendalough Visitor Centre, Co. Wicklow, and the launch of An Post’s latest stamp marking the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St. Kevin.

Dublin to Vienna on new service

Austrian Airline Laudamotion is to operate a new direct Dublin to Vienna service this winter. The airline will operate its new service from October 28, 2018 with an Airbus A320 aircraft. Laudamotion, owned by former Formula 1 racing driver Niki Lauda, is an Austrian low-cost carrier focussing on European city shuttle routes from Vienna.




New GM takes reins at Brehon

The Brehon in Killarney has appointed a new General Manager. Sinead McCarthy, a native of Drimoleague in West Cork, joined the team at The Brehon in 2014 and had progressed through the ranks as Food and Beverage Manager, Operations Manager and Interim General Manager, before being promoted to the senior role of General Manager.

Swede dreams are made of these

The MHL Hotel Collection has appointed Stefan Lundstrom as General Manager of The Galmont Hotel and Spa, Galway. Lundstrom, a native of Sweden, started his career with MHL Hotel Collection as Operations Manager in the Limerick Strand in November 2008. In May 2011 he was promoted to the position of General Manager at the Harbour Hotel in Galway. He moved back to Limerick in October 2016, to take up the position of General Manager at the Limerick Strand Hotel.

Making the right call

Dermott Jewell has joined The Firm Hotel & Catering Recruitment in the position of Hospitality Recruiter. Jewell started his restaurant career at L’Ecrivain. He also worked at The Fat Duck under Heston Blumenthal, with The Merrion Hotel, and Saison Restaurant on Kildare Street in Dublin.

Strand and deliver

The MHL Hotel Collection has appointed Stephen O’Connor as General Manager of Limerick Strand Hotel. O’Connor joined MHL in 2015 as Deputy General Manager of the Limerick Strand. He was subsequently promoted to General Manager at the Harbour Hotel Galway, and was instrumental in the hotel achieving a 4* Rating.   10


Raising the bar The Gibson hotel, located in the centre of the Point Village, Dublin has appointed new bar management: Adrian Foy as bar manager and Andrew Brady as assistant bar manager. Adrian Foy

Andrew Brady

A five star appointment Glenlo Abbey Hotel, Galway, has appointed Colin Brown as General Manager. A graduate of Hotel Management at Shannon, Brown spent his formative training years in hotels in London holding various managerial positions with the prestigious Red Carnation Hotel Group. In 2013, Brown returned to Ireland and took-up a position as Rooms Division Manager at Dylan Dublin. Most recently, he was Hotel Manager at The Lodge at Ashford Castle from 2014. 

Avvio bolsters UK and Irish sales team Avvio, hotel technology experts, has invested in its sales team, appointing Penny Crawford head of sales operations “My role is not just traditional sales. I work with both new and existing clients to identify where we can add commercial value,” says Crawford. Peter Norton is the new senior business development executive. He joins Avvio following a successful career in business development spanning FTSE 100, NASDAQ, Fortune 500 and startup companies. His role involves helping hoteliers maximise their revenue growth through Avvio’s Penny Crawford SaaS, digital and web design capabilities. Gillian Halley joined the European sales team as senior business development executive. “I previously worked for Independent News and Media’s ecommerce travel platform where I built relationships within the hospitality sector,” Peter Norton Gillian Halley says Hanley.


TEL: +353 (0) 1 2937977


GDS – An Often Misunderstood Direct Opportunity By Pawel Debakowski, Claire Sawier and Des O’Mahony The Options For Direct

Every hotelier knows the advantage of direct online bookings to their hotel. It’s not just about the commission saving versus online travel agents (OTAs), but it’s about branding and ownership of the customer journey and data. Particularly in a post-GDPR world, forging direct positive links with your customers is critical in order to be able to market to them at a later stage. Also, any extra margin that can be obtained versus third party channels frees up capital for reinvestment in your property and your staff skills, a critical task in a rapidly changing market dominated by reviews and customer experience. But there is more to direct than just bookings on your website booking engine. In recent years, meta search has become a strong option to capture traffic via online marketplaces but fulfil the booking directly with your hotel online. At Bookassist our meta search management team has delivered meta search bookings growth of 130% in the first quarter of 2018 versus the last quarter of 2017. While there is an additional commission for that traffic versus on-website bookings, it is not at punitive OTA levels, and the customer data is the hotel’s and there to be taken advantage of pre-, during and post-stay. Is there anything else that can be done to improve hotel margins, other than playing the game of moving bookings between B2C channels, direct and various OTAs? What if you could be getting additional bookings at a cost much lower than the cost of OTA bookings without cannibalising your direct business? An often overlooked and misunderstood service that can deliver just that is the global distribution system, or GDS. When managed properly as an additional distribution channel, GDS bookings can generate increased margins that can be very attractive indeed.

The Global Distribution System

are continuing to report a record use of the GDS for hotel reservations. The study predicted that GDS hotel booking growth would surpass 68 million reservations in 2017 – an increase of over 2 million hotel bookings generated in 2016. Their business intelligence data also demonstrated that GDS hotel bookings and average daily rates (ADR) generated through travel agents are on the rise. The GDS in particular provides corporate business bookings and agency bookings that in most cases cannot be obtained in any other way. In other words, if a GDS agent/booker is not finding your hotel in the GDS, they will not look for it on other channels they will instead stay within the GDS environment and will book a different hotel that is available there instead. It’s important to note also that GDS corporate business typically delivers a quality customer that usually augments hotel F&B/C&B revenue using his employer expenses to wine and dine in the hotel, in contrast to leisure travellers who tend to spend outside the hotel.

Commissionable and Non-Commissionable GDS Bookings

Fees for GDS bookings can often appear complex compared to the “simple” model of OTAs. With GDS, there is firstly a fee per booking for the use of the GDS systems, often called a transaction or pass-through fee, which is fixed. There may then be additional commissions due to the GDS provider company, and commissions due to the travel agent making the booking. There are two types of GDS booking that can occur, called commissionable and non-commissionable, which refer to whether the travel agent is due commission or not. In discussions with Bookassist, one of the largest networks of TMCs (travel management companies), indicated that over 80% of bookings they now manage are non-commissionable. For the hotel, there are only two costs associated with acquiring a non-commissionable booking - the GDS transaction fee and the provider’s commission.

The GDS is a large computer network that represents a single point of entry to travel agents and travel sites worldwide. (It also deals with airline, car rental and bus and rail services, but we won’t consider those here.) The main players in GDS, who compete with eachother, are Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport (which comprises Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan). GDS services may be provided to hotels by a “provider”, such as Bookassist, who acts as the first point of contact for GDS with the hotel. The main players may also be providers in some cases. The GDS is particularly important when it comes to business travel and corporate travel accounts. Many large companies continue to use travel agents or even internally-based travel desks to manage their travel expenses.

A Source of Incremental Bookings

A 2017 study1 of more than 900 travel agents located throughout 52 countries revealed that travel agents 1

Figure 1 The three main GDS players are Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport (which combines Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan).




For commissionable bookings, you need to add typically 8-10% agency commission on the top of the GDS transaction fee and the provider’s commission. But even at that, you are getting the best available rate (BAR) for the booking, and typically that quality business customer that generates additional spend.

GDS Cost Per Acquisition

So where does the GDS stand in terms of all-important cost per acquisition (CPA)? Because of the fixed transaction fee element, calculation of the CPA of a GDS booking will depend on the hotel sale rate achieved and the length of stay. In other words, it depends on the booking value. For example a transaction fee of €9 could account for 10% or more for a single night BAR booking, while in other cases the transaction fee can be less than 1% when a booking is made for multiple nights and/or the rate achieved is high. In those cases, such bookings often cost as little as 5 or 6% with certain GDS providers. At Bookassist, our GDS team is now achieving CPA averages across all hotels of approximately 14% on the combination of commissionable and non-commissionable GDS bookings, down from 15% in 2017. Our highly-optimised hotels are achieving 12% or less on the mix, with many noncommissionable bookings at 7% or less.

Working the GDS

There are also other opportunities within the GDS environment that can be availed of, such as the commonly talked about ‘consortia’, GDS marketing, GDS preferred listings and more. These services all costs extra and can be effective – but they do not work equally well for all properties. For the individual hotelier, the requirements for applying to consortia or account managing their property on the GDS can be onerous. This is where a managed service such as Bookassist’s comes in, leaving the hotelier free from the day-to-day GDS management but assured that optimised GDS bookings simply flow through. Very few providers offer a truly managed service, but availing of it where possible has a clear positive impact on performance and is definitely recommended.

RFP Management - Open For Business

Similar to how one uses digital marketing to promote the use of the direct sales channel, we can use marketing techniques in the GDS to enhance return. Primary among those techniques is RFP Management. RFP is “request for proposal”, where companies make the market aware of the volume of bednights they expect to need for the upcoming year. Hotels can already greatly benefit from positioning the commissionable, GDS BAR bookings within their online business mix, but it is the proper management of GDS RFPs

Our property has been benefiting from Bookassist GDS service for a few years now and we have been experiencing a steady growth in GDS revenue every year since we started working together. The Bookassist GDS team is always quick to help and their expertise plays an important role in our success with this revenue channel. - Camden Court Hotel

and corporate sales relationships that really let you to show off your revenue management skills. Once a year, hotels have the opportunity to bid for corporate GDS business depending on their location, amenities and the standards set by particular company requirements. RFP management tools and related market intelligence can be of great help in securing the right business. For example, corporate room-night requirements per location worldwide as well as corporate office/production plant locations are available to hotels during RFP season. When managed appropriately, the information can be used to secure valuable incremental business at good margins. While the initial work involved in RFPs can be onerous, providers such as Bookassist can manage the task for the hotelier and deliver the business. The RFP “season” is now underway in relation to corporate room-night requirements for 2019 and represents a real opportunity for hotels near key companies and industries.

Bottom Line

GDS business can be a significant source of incremental bookings and increased margin. Hoteliers have a great opportunity to generate incremental revenue and maximise revenue per available room (RevPAR) through the power of the GDS. When optimised, cost per acquisition is significantly better than OTAs, and the guest spend per stay is likely far higher. The RFP season is now underway for 2019 and represents a real opportunity for hotels to tap into that incremental direct business. It’s time to make sure that you are open for business on the GDS. Pawel Debakowski is Head of Product for GDS, Claire Sawier is Head of Marketing, and Des O’Mahony is CEO & Founder at Bookassist (www., the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide. Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.



Great National Hotels and Resorts

Financial Management for Aspiring GMs David O’Connor, Director, Great National Hotels & Resorts (Assets)

In this article, David O’Connor, discusses how to assist aspiring General Managers in understanding applied key financial indicators for hotels. This is not intended for experienced and financially astute Hotel Owners nor GMs but instead Operational Managers / Deputy Managers in mind looking to move to the top job. In particular, David O’Connor simplifies three key areas of financial information which can be better and more accurately retained but more importantly used to inform business decisions: 1. 2. 3.

Basic Budget KPIs Net Operating Profit Year to Date V Budget Net Operating Profit Year to Date Current Performance (without published accounts) and Forecasting ahead

Deputy Managers in the main will possess mostly operational experience with exposure to financial management likely comprising labour cost control, food and beverage margins and direct overheads. There is little formal financial instruction other than what is learned through college and on the job and yet the most important prerequisite for aspiring GMs is to possess a solid understanding of basic financial management. In appointing GMs with mainly operational backgrounds we sometimes take the view that our financial management systems would be something the new manager would pick up on through ongoing monthly finance meetings and financial reporting structures. In fact, it can be quite an unnerving experience for some. I recall advising a newly appointed GM from a senior operations role that they really needed to know the details of their budget and be on the ball with monthly profit and loss accounts. I also recall later that day reflecting on that advice and that some individuals might ask themselves the question “well there is more than 150 lines in the budget so what or how much of it am I supposed to reel off if asked?” Fair question! In Great National, whilst some managers have a greater understanding than others when it comes to finance, at the end of the day we need to be mindful of first time GM appointments. We need all our GMs to understand, retain and recite when necessary basic yet key financial information. This would include the following:



Know your Budget KPI’s

As mentioned there can be more than 150 lines in a typical hotel budget but at the end of day managers need to know and reel off, at any time during the year, the following six budget points:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Total Turnover Net Operating Profit Average Room Rate / Rev Par Occupancy % Total Labour % Food & Beverage Gross Profit %

This key information needs to be memorised and this will only happen by finding one’s own way of doing so. The rest of the information when looking to dig deeply when certain KPI’s vary against budget will typically be available in the monthly published accounts i.e. comparing Actual v Budget v Last Year. When discussing the business with senior management, the above budget points are KPIs that need to be recited on cue, the rest of the detail can be drilled into on paper when needs be.

How are you doing year to date?

There is only one number that matters really in terms of how the hotel performance is going. That number is contained in the last set of published management accounts and it is called Net Operating Profit Year to Date versus Budget Net Operating Profit Year to Date or NOP YTD v Budget NOP YTD. This one single number tells the entire story of the hotel’s financial performance because it is the bottom line comparison of the annual budget. Management should be in a position to state “In my last set of published accounts I am behind / on par / or ahead of my Year to Date Budget Net Operating Profit” It’s as simple as that and we expect all GMs to know this one number when asked and it’s a reasonable expectation. Even if newly General Managers struggle on the first few occasions in quoting the correct number, as some may confuse the meaning of the question, they will eventually get it right as it is the most frequent off the cuff question asked in my experience.

How is your business performing since your last published accounts?

Knowing the current business performance is where the rubber really meets the road. For GMs to be on the ball regarding key financial information it’s important to know how the business is currently performing. Not all hotels have the luxury of weekly updated revenues and labour costs versus budget.

Great National Hotels and Resorts Ballyroe Heights Hotel, Tralee, Kerry

As management accounts are typically published in the third or fourth week each month, the GM needs to know where the business is at as there will be a number of weeks since actual management accounts were produced. And whilst management accounts are published every month you can be weeks without accounts wondering how your business is performing. The business could be nose diving and unless monitored against budget you are at sea without an oar. As a stop gap, a basic metric by the way will be to understand what level of turnover will give you a breakeven profitability figure.

Grasmere House Hotel, Salisbury, Wiltshire

How to judge your business performance without published accounts Pull the following information together 1. 2. 3. 4.

Total Turnover versus Budget Rooms Revenue v Budget, as any major variance here significantly impacts Net Operating Profit Food & Beverage Turnover v Budget Labour Cost % versus Budget

Once you manage the above you can assume your food and beverage gross profit margins will be mostly on track with budget along with general overheads. You can also assume everything below departmental profit will come in close on budget and if there have been any unscheduled purchases these will need to be allowed for. What this information provides you with, and it really is just a matter of sitting down each week for fifteen minutes, is a guide to comparing actuals to budget and any possible profit warning. This exercise can be done for a full month or for a number of weeks once you pro rata your budget figures against actual.

Forecasting the Month ahead

So now you have a good feel for the past and current key financials for your business, you then need to get a feel for the month(s) ahead. At the start of the fourth week of every

month you should also be sitting down with your Financial Controller to forecast next month’s revenues. This provides a guideline on whether there are potential pipeline issues for example a large shortfall of rooms revenue versus budget or the loss of a wedding or conference etc. This allows for some opportunity to try to address any sales issues and also take a hard stance on costs during the month. Not all hotels have the luxury of a statistical pack being produced weekly to track revenue and costs versus budget. What’s key is that GMs make good the information they do have. If the hotel does not produce updated weekly reports on revenues and labour costs it is a very small task to run a few numbers to compare actual performance versus budget.


It is possible to become engulfed by operational KPI’s, everything from the cost of linen per sleeper to average food and beverage spend etc. By keeping the main financial discussion as simple as possible however it is more likely managers will develop the ability to recite the essentials on cue. Knowing your Budget KPI’s, knowing your NOP YTD v Budget NOP YTD remember it’s just one number and knowing your current financial performance without published accounts plus your next period forecasted revenues is simply invaluable since ‘what gets measured, gets managed’.



fáilte interview

Continuing to Deliver the Experience Orla Carroll is Director of Strategic Development

at Fáilte Ireland. It’s a role that has been an important component of the evolution of how the national tourism development authority goes about its business.

One of the central components of her position is that of combining the work of all the attractions, activities and festivals nationwide. This means looking after those that are in situ as well as trying to come up with new initiatives and innovative ideas to attract more domestic and overseas visitors. This isn’t apparently just another case of moving around the deck chairs on the Good Ship Irish Tourism. This is all about making the national tourism service a more customer-focused and experience-focused one. It’s about making it all work better and more efficiently. By concentrating the area of events and festivals in one Department, the aim is to improve this important offer for the visitor and to tap into new ideas. Orla explains: “We’ve set up a whole product development team which is looking at the area of activities, attractions and festivals. Within that, we have €125 million capital funding in our activities and attractions side of things and with that and we have an excellent working relationship and positive strategic partnerships with the OPW, Coillte, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Waterways Ireland.

Powerscourt Estate 16


“We have approximately 25 projects ongoing with these strategic partnerships while simultaneously we are working on 24 projects that have come through Fáilte Ireland’s large capital grant scheme, with a good national spread. These are projects, which will be funded through our large grant scheme to fund major projects with between €200,000 to €5million in support. We also have a Small Grants Scheme to assist projects in the Ancient East and on the Wild Atlantic Way and will be launching one for Dublin shortly.” A new small grant scheme for the Skellig Coast and Connemara has recently been launched – a place fast becoming something of a global sensation due to its use in two of the recent Star Wars films. . “Some of our capital projects are at different stages, be it at feasibility study stage or at various stages of development… at the larger end of things, there’s the VAULTS.LIVE® in Dublin. The project will transform a former school building as a tourism attraction to be known as ‘The Vaults’. The actor-led experience walks the visitor through 800 years of Ireland’s history with a script composed by Oscar nominated director/writer Peter Sheridan and is due to open for the 2018 season. What drives Fáilte Ireland’s interest? Is it a result of examining best practice elsewhere or responding to marketing feedback from visitors? “It’s a combination of both, I would say. Last year, for example, we did some research where we looked at 99 different concepts for festivals. This is a methodology we call the ‘Innovator’ and in it, we tested 99 different ideas. The research measures ‘motivation and consideration’, and what would motivate people to travel and the considerations they may have in terms of spend It’s a tried and tested methodology used by many in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) area but which was a very customer-focussed way of planning for the future in a national tourism context. “When we were doing this, we didn’t look at any individual places,” Orla points out. “We weren’t analysing Powerscourt or Dublin Castle or any specific places. We were looking at more general concepts of tourism products, such as what an Irish country house and garden means to people. We were looking at the idea rather than individual sites. It’s to help us identify what are the types of experiences that people are most interested in amongst the different markets and so help us choose potential platforms to focus development on, going forward.” Two of the big ideas or grand motivators that were thrown up in this exercise as key elements of Ireland’s tourism offer were (a) access to our landscape and (b) our heritage. “Our landscape and access to it was an important one, be it on water or on land. From that, for example, you have the idea for the Wild Atlantic Way walking coastal path, which we are currently undertaking a pilot study for to identify needs and its feasibility.

fáilte interview

Pictured are Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D., Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland, Maurice Buckley, OPW Chairman and Cllr Cosai Fitzgerald at a recent announcement of funding for the Blasket Centre in Kerry.

“The second thing – our heritage – is something that is, again, unique to Ireland and special to us and to tourists. We have our own unique history and everything that goes with that and there are already numerous standout elements, if you like, of that part of what we have to offer – such as the Rock of Cashel, for example. This is why our partnership with the OPW is so important to improve visitor experiences and optimise the experience of those who come to see them and ensuring that it’ done in a sustainable manner to ensure it is there for future generations, of course.” The structuring of Fáilte Ireland as it is now and specifically, the creation of Orla’s role, involves a new way of looking at the markets in an increasingly competitive global environment. As Orla points out, Fáilte Ireland was structured where it had a “product team” before but the difference now is that the national tourism authority has moved away from that productfocused function to one that is more focused on visitor experiences. “We are constantly looking to ensure that we’re exercising best practices that we’re benchmarking against our competitors with regard to product development.” It’s certainly true that we’re in an era where festivals are more numerous but while the proliferation of festivals means that there are more and more things to see and do for the tourist, it can also prove somewhat unwieldly in terms of conveying a clear message to visitors. When trying to persuade people from the outside to come to Ireland, Fáilte Ireland have opted for a simplification of the palette: “On the festival side of things, we have identified the need for ‘fewer, bigger, better’, if that makes sense… It’s not about trying to limit festivals, but from the point of view of motivating people to visit Ireland, we could do with more festivals of scale that can achieve that.”

With an overview on festivals and events, Orla is involved in administering funding for various projects throughout the year. Just what criteria are used for this is the hot question. What strategy is adopted by Orla’s Department? Is it a case of holding what we have and ensuring that the established projects are kept going or is there more of an emphasis on encouraging new projects? “In terms of funding criteria, there’s a full process of evaluating the best return on our investment. Because it is taxpayers’ money, we have to allocate. With the large capital grants, the applications are completed and fully evaluated based on the outlines of the published scheme. It’s all very open, transparent and competitive. “With our strategic partnerships, it’s a slightly different evaluation process but it all comes down to the question of whether or not the proposed project is going to have an impact to that area or that county. That’s what it’s all about – getting more visitors to that place to add to the economic growth of that town, region etc.” In terms of future-plans, Orla says that there are a number of them in the pipeline in an ongoing process: “We’re working on a number of them at the moment. The 50 that I mentioned are all going to start rolling off the conveyor belt over the next 18 months to three years. For example, Newman House – or should I say ‘MoLI’ (Museum of Literature Ireland) is due to be opening in March 2019 on St Stephen’s Green. This will seek to animate and present Irish literature and history in an entertaining and informative fashion with particular appeal to visitors of all types. We’re working on projects with different providers like Kylemore Abbey and a new project in Dublin Castle – that’s at feasibility study stage where we’re looking at how we can maximise the potential of Dublin Castle.” “We’re also working with NPWS and together have compiled a masterplan for our National Parks. Our National Park are a great asset and while currently being visited by many they are under-utilised and have huge potential. We also need to look at attractions in the round with the objective of ensuring that their potential to attract visitors and economic benefit to the region is utilised to the maximum, while at all times ensuring the sustainability of the asset. “For us, the return for what we do is very much based on two things: first that the attraction, site or festival is up and running and open for business. We would also be monitoring their performance afterwards and ensuring that the numbers projected in terms of growth and visitors are followed through. That’s key to ensure that they actually are following through on the promise. That involves working closely with Fáilte Ireland’s local teams and linking into the relevant experience brand to ensure that they maximise that. “We also have to ensure that these facilities are benchmarked correctly and that their performance is measured year-on-year and that there’s continued improvement. We can have an increase in numbers without there necessarily being an increase in satisfaction, so we want to make sure that those tally and that we continue to deliver on giving fantastic visitor experiences.”



IT Tallaght

Chefs & Their Burren Food Trail Adventure Year 2 Culinary arts students ended their two year programme in May with a trip to Co. Clare to explore food provenance on the Burren Food Trail. An action packed 2 days that included St Tola’s cheese, the Burren Smokehouse, Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Seaweed and wild food foraging with Wild Kitchen, meal experiences in Vaughan’s Liscannor and Kilshanny house, not to mention enjoying the summer sunshine in the Burren itself.

25 Years of Culinary Arts at IT Tallaght Celebrating Success! Graduates and invited guests gathered in Peach Tree East Restaurant, Tallaght recently to celebrate 25 years of culinary arts education at IT Tallaght. A great night was had by all with many mentioning the sense of community that the programme created for them over the years, a community that they still tap into and indeed many have returned to further their studies at degree and masters level.

L-R: Andy Mc Fadden, Julianne Forrestal, Gavin Mc Donagh, Denise Murray From L-R: Christine Bass, Michael Hanrahan, Cathal Kavanagh, Cian Irvine

EIQA Food innovation and Creativity Quality Award 2018 Congratulations to Lisa Garret and Anna Zakrzacka Maxgaj BA in Culinary Arts students,who won the Food Innovation and Creativity Quality Award 2018 sponsored by the EIQA for their final food product development project . Their product was a savoury vegetable wafer, created from sustainably sources natural vegetable pulp.

Professional Development for chefs

Places still available for the following part-time courses BA in Culinary Arts: Contact: Ita Holton 01-4042725 Email: BA (Hons) in Botanical Cuisine Contacts: Tom Meaney 01 4042830 or Vourneen Hennessy 01 4042867 MSc in Applied Culinary Nutrition: Annette Sweeney 014042826 18


Millimetre Design

Design Practice of the Year MILLIMETRE DESIGN Harbour Hotel, Galway Investing in a new brand, new premises or refurbishing an existing one, usually requires significant investment and requires proper planning and budgeting. Along the way you will require the support of many professionals, such as estate agents, solicitors and accountants, to ensure that your project is a success. However, one of the first and most crucial decisions to ensure the commercial success of your new venture is the appointment of a professional commercial design consultant. Today, more than ever, the success of your business depends on the overall look and brand experience that your business delivers. It is critical that you appoint a commercial design consultant who has the proper experience and expertise to create the impact you need for your business to stand out from the competition‌and in a good way!

Morelands Grill, The Westin

Helping with the selection of the right retail premises; creating exciting food menus; navigating building design regulations; advising on the selection of kitchen equipment‌these are all examples of the everyday advice and support that an experienced commercial design consultant can bring to you.



Millimetre Design

Since 2005, Millimetre Design has been helping business owners and entrepreneurs to create impressive brand experiences. An example of one of these businesses includes the incredibly successful franchise business, Freshly Chopped. A successful working partnership within the Hospitality sector, has been with the MHL Collection. Working with this client since 2005, Millimetre Design has, over the years, helped transform the interiors of their growing portfolio of hotels. One of the most recent transformations has been the Harbour Hotel Galway, where renovations have helped the hotel to achieve their new 4-star status. Today, Millimetre Design is well established as Ireland’s leading Interior Architecture and Branding Design Studio for the Hospitality industry. They are currently working on a number of exciting renovation projects throughout Ireland, including Hotel and Spa projects with clients such as Powerscourt Hotel, Johnstown Estate, Glenlo Abbey, Westin Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel, to name just a few. Ongoing restaurant projects include the SpitJack and Dolce Sicily, whilst doors have recently closed on their most iconic Bar project to date, Café En Seine, where refurbishment works have just commenced. Founder and Managing Director, Ronan Holohan, had worked in the hospitality design industry for many years before establishing Millimetre Design in 2005. Over the past 13 years, Ronan and his team have been at the forefront of commercial design in Ireland, particularly in the hospitality and leisure industry. As a multi-award winning design studio they have consistently delivered outstanding design solutions for their clients. “Millimetre Design is all about creating memorable experiences for the end consumer, whilst at the same time designing spaces that are operationally effective for our clients”, says Ronan Holohan. “And in today’s competitive and demanding hospitality market, continuous investment in your brand and interiors is a must”. Millimetre Design operate across Ireland, the UK and Europe, and their loyal client base consists of both indigenous and international hotel chain groups, international property developers, as well as individual hotel, bar and restaurant owners. Recognised by their key clients as crucial to their ongoing commercial success, their services are in constant demand and the past number of years has seen an explosion in the number of projects that the design studio undertakes on an annual basis. The quality of output has not suffered during this time, with the team continuing to receive industry accolades for completed design projects. Most recently, in November, Millimetre Design won the ‘Design Practice of the Year’ award at the annual Fit Out Awards in Dublin’s Clayton Hotel. Millimetre Design offer a complete design service, from conceptualisation and planning, through to design development and project management. An important part of any refurbishment project is getting the project budget right. Millimetre Design helps their clients to do this given their extensive knowledge in planning and budgeting similar commercial interiors projects. They are renowned for delivering projects on time and within budget.



Trinity City Hotel

“Millimetre Design is all about creating memorable experiences for the end consumer, whilst at the same time designing spaces that are operationally effective for our clients”, says Ronan Holohan. “And in today’s competitive and demanding hospitality market, continuous investment in brand and interiors is a must.”

The Spitjack, Cork “We have a team of over 30 talented and hard-working individuals with a deep-rooted passion for design and an unwavering commitment to delivering commercially successful projects for our entrepreneurial clients”, says Ronan Holohan. “Between us we have the greatest amount of interiors and branding design experience that can be found in this country. This experience allows us to add significant value to our clients in terms of design expertise and project cost control. Time and time again we save money for our clients and ensure that their projects are delivered right…and on time. The journey is never an easy one but if you have the right people on board it can be a lot less bumpy!” The Millimetre Design team is highly knowledgeable of current building regulations and knows what works on site. They have a reputation for delivery which stems from the team’s breadth of expertise and exceptional problemsolving abilities.

Furniture suppliers to the hospitality sector We are a furniture manufacturing company. We manufacture sofas, chairs, headboards, barstools etc., and also reupholster all of the above.

Pleased to be Associated with Ronan and his team at Millimetre Design Unit B1, Glasnevin Business Park, Ballyboggan Road, Dublin 11.

Tel (01) 8309658

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But what makes them unique?

By listening and working closely with their clients, the Millimetre Design team has grown to operate successful across a myriad of business sectors and has become a major player in a number of these sectors, as well as the Hospitality sector. Food Retail and Office are two other market sectors where Millimetre Design have a significant share. And this exposure to projects across a variety of sectors, has kept the design team challenged and has heightened their creativity and problem solving abilities. Millimetre Design is predominantly a team of interior architects and graphic designers, complemented by the skills of other professionals such as Architects, 3D Visualisers, Project Managers, as well as Finance and Marketing experts. But what makes them unique?... “Our proposition for many years has been our unique combination of branding, architecture and interior design skills which has helped us to deliver superior commercial design solutions to our clients. We are finding that our competitors are slowly following our lead and some are now attempting to implement a similar service proposition but they are still way behind us in terms of industry experience”, says Ronan. Essentially, Millimetre Design is a one-stop shop for all design services that you may require including brand development, logo design, design of promotional materials (including website), as well as Interior Architecture and Design.

Food Republic, Cork Airport

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tourism ireland

Winging it from China! Some 70 Chinese travel professionals heard all about Ireland and the new direct flight from Beijing to Dublin – at a training seminar in Beijing, organised by Tourism Ireland in conjunction with VisitScotland and Hainan Airlines. Hainan Airlines, China’s largest independent airline, launches its new year-round flight from Beijing to Dublin in June. The flights will operate four times per week; on two days per week, the service will be direct, non-stop flights between Dublin and Beijing and on the other two days, the flights will operate with a stopover in Edinburgh. The objective of the seminar was to highlight the new ease of access between Beijing and Ireland to the travel agents, as well as the many things to see and do here for Chinese holidaymakers. James Kenny, Tourism Ireland, is pictured addressing the travel agents at the event. In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 70,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 175,000 per year, by 2025 (+150% on 2017).

'Big drive' to grow golf tourism Tourism Ireland’s drive to grow golf visitor numbers to Ireland continued at the recent BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, in south east England. Pictured at the event are Joseph Cruise, Tourism Ireland; and Barry McCauley, Lough Erne Resort. One of the European Tour’s biggest golf competitions, the BMW PGA Championship attracts top players and thousands of spectators and international media each year – providing a fantastic platform to highlight our world-class golf.

Ireland wins Best European Destination award For the second year running, Ireland triumphed at The Group Travel Awards in Britain and was voted Best European Destination – beating off stiff competition from destinations like Italy, Germany, Paris, the Netherlands, Austria and Belgium to claim the title. The annual awards celebrate and recognise the best destinations, events, accommodation, transport providers and attractions for the British group travel industry – as voted for by readers of GTO (Group Travel Organiser) magazine. David Wood, Tourism Ireland (second left), is pictured with the award; also pictured are TV presenter Matt Johnson; Ellie Fulcher, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (sponsor); and Sarah Jeffery, organiser of The Group Travel Awards.



tourism ireland

Lord Mayor of Dublin lends a hand to boost tourism from Canada Dublin’s Lord Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha was in Canada recently, helping to promote tourism to Ireland. His busy programme included meetings with the Irish Embassy in Canada, members of the Irish Diaspora, the Mayor of Montreal, Tourisme Montréal, as well as senior representatives of Air Canada and Tourism Ireland. He also attended the launch event of the new Air Canada flight between Montreal and Dublin, which will operate four times per week, providing a significant boost for both leisure and business tourism from Canada to Ireland. Pictured are Michael Hurley, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ireland; Dana Welch, Tourism Ireland; Lord Mayor Mícheál MacDonncha; Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal; David Rheault, Air Canada; and Yves Lalumière, Tourisme Montréal, at City Hall in Montreal.

‘Spanish Steps’ for Ireland Millions of commuters in Madrid and Barcelona are seeing eye-catching ads for Ireland right now. Tourism Ireland has teamed up with Logitravel – one of the largest online travel agents in Spain – for a joint promotional campaign, to raise awareness of Ireland as a fantastic holiday destination and to drive sales of Logitravel packages and coach tours from Spain over the coming months. The campaign will run until mid-July, to take advantage of late booking patterns among Spanish holidaymakers. It is highlighting iconic attractions like Kilkenny Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway and the Rock of Cashel and includes billboard ads in metro stations in Madrid, as well as in train stations in both Madrid and Barcelona – which will be seen by millions of commuters. It also includes TV ads on national stations, which will reach more than 9 million viewers; online ads on popular travel, news and lifestyle websites; ads on digital radio stations; as well as ads in popular travel magazines and in top national newspapers.

Ireland ‘in the pink’ in Italy! Tourism Ireland in Italy has teamed up with, in a new, ten-week campaign to grow tourism from Italy this summer. It includes highly visible ads on bus shelters around Milan – featuring the fun flamingo, which is specially animated to grab the attention of commuters. It also includes online ads and email marketing and is being supported by a Lastminute TV campaign which is under way in Italy right now. The campaign aims to drive holiday bookings for Ireland, with attractive offers featuring prominently on the Lastminute platforms – Lastminute. com and VoloGratis.

Capitalising on new air and sea access to Cork Tourism industry leaders from Cork and the South of Ireland attended a Tourism Ireland event in Cork recently, where they heard about new opportunities to grow visitor numbers from France, Spain and Italy. Collectively, these three markets delivered more than 1.3 million visitors to Ireland in 2017 and have grown by +30% since 2014. Now, with over 5,000 airline seats and ferry capacity for 3,900 passengers each week – directly to Cork – the markets of Southern Europe offer great potential for further growth. Working closely with airlines, ferry companies, airports and ferry ports to build demand for services is a key priority for Tourism Ireland. Throughout 2018, Tourism Ireland will undertake co-operative campaigns with all the sea and air carriers offering services to Cork. Monica MacLaverty, Tourism Ireland’s Manager Southern Europe, said: “Our message for holidaymakers in France, Spain and Italy is that it has never been easier to get to Cork. We are also highlighting Cork as an important gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East to ‘culturally curious’ travellers.”

Pictured at the event are Marina Neirotti, Air France; Daragh Hanratty, Cork Airport; and Monica MacLaverty, Tourism Ireland.




Tierneys are regarded as a leading IT provider within the hospitality sector in Ireland and the UK. Offering a premium service to all their clients, the company is celebrating 25 years in business next month. We spoke to managing director and founder of the company Andy Tierney to ask him how it all began. The very beginning for Andy Tierney was April 1993. “I was made redundant from a company based in Shannon. 1993 was a very bad year for the economy, I remember there was less than half a page of jobs advertised in the Irish Times on a Thursday. I had moved from Dublin in 1988 and I didn’t want to move back even though I might have had a better chance of getting work there. But I had £6,300 and at that time that was enough to cover the mortgage for a year so I decided I would go for it and set up my own business”. Andy started the company in July 1993 but the idea he had for the business then never came to fruition and he found himself being taken in a completely different direction. “My initial idea was to develop a product. I had been a research and development manager in my previous role but I hadn’t enough money to do that straight away. So to generate money I started selling PC’s and I never got to develop the product”. In the early years Tierney’s customer base consisted of a variety of businesses, however Andy soon realised that he needed to find a niche in the marketplace that he could concentrate on developing. “By 1995 I realised that if I could concentrate on one type of business, I could train engineers to be experts in that particular area and it just so happened that at that time I



had more business from hotels than anywhere else so I decided to concentrate on the IT needs of the hospitality sector”. “My first big break came from working with the Clare Inn. They had a problem with their PMS and I fixed it in half an hour. IGS saw what I had done and were very impressed and I became the recommended IT supplier for IGS (later Softbrands) until about 2000. During the boom, of the new hotels that were built in Ireland we did over 40% of the IT systems. Between 2010 and 2011 only three new hotels opened in Ireland and we did the systems for them all”. During the downturn Tierney’s thought about diversifying their market and considered expanding their offering into schools and other customers, however, once again remaining within the hospitality sector stood to Andy. “From 2008 until 2011, we had very tough years. However, we managed to only make one person redundant during those years. We worked with customers who couldn’t afford maintenance, we worked out payment plans, we just kept their systems going and that has stood to us. Our customers are extremely loyal and we survived on maintenance contracts”. Since 2012 Andy says he has seen a steady increase in business in the sector. “Since about 2012 properties have been upgrading their systems, replacing equipment that’s on its last legs etc. Approximately two-thirds of businesses have upgraded the old PMS systems now”. Hotels are hospitality people, not IT people, so how does Andy find doing business as an IT company in a hospitality marketplace? “We are not a hospitality company we are an IT company but we are part of the hospitality tribe. We are the biggest IT company

Industry in the hospitality industry and we speak their language, we know what they need and what they’re looking for and in that way we make our customers lives very easy. A very famous hotel told me recently that broadband is now more important to them than water! So, that’s how important a hotel’s IT system is now. It is the backbone of their sales as well as their customer’s experience”. Tierney’s were the recent recipients of the NCR award for innovation across three sectors of business; finance, hospitality and retail in the European, Asia and African regions. Andy says that from the day he can remember he wanted to own his own business. So the decision to take a chance 25 years ago has certainly paid off. Tierney’s now has 38 employees and most of the senior staff have been with the company from the beginning or over a decade. Also, all their senior people have been trained by Tierney’s and training their staff in their expertise has remained a central part of the company philosophy. So where does Andy see the future IT trends within the sector going? “I think we’ll see more and more information being moved onto the cloud. I also think more and more hotels will look for more efficient ways to own their customers data and customer base. I think hotels may start to move away from external booking services like the OTA’s and look at ways to maximise their revenues through more efficient booking systems on their own platforms. There are so many ways that hotel’s IT systems now are helping their staff with systems that can be seen in different languages depending on where the staff member using it is from.” IT is continuing to meet the needs of the changing world of the hospitality industry and Tierney’s remain at the forefront of meeting it’s customers needs through innovation, customer service and hard work.




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fáilte industry news

Fáilte Ireland Awards €2.5m in Major Funding for Tourism Projects in Dublin, Kilkenny and Sligo Fáilte Ireland recently announced the first three visitor attractions to be awarded major funding through its Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects 2020, which is intended to help deliver world-class tourist experiences, boost overseas visitor growth and create jobs. The VAULTS.LIVE® in Dublin, Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery and Sligo Pontoon Jetty are the first of 24 shortlisted projects to be awarded Delivery Grants under the scheme for implementation of their projects. The scheme provides investment to develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland.

Irish Tourism Businesses Position Themselves for New Emerging Tourism Markets Fáilte Ireland held a dedicated event for up to 150 tourism businesses in Croke Park to provide them with the key to win business from new emerging tourism markets. With a particular emphasis on China, India and the Gulf States, the one-day event, ‘Winning Business from Emerging Markets’ examined how best to win sales from emerging overseas markets and included insights and tips for doing business with trade in these target countries.

Ireland’s Top Visitor Attractions Revealed Fáilte Ireland recently published its annual list of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions, which shows that almost all our key attractions - many of which have received Fáilte Ireland funding and support in the past – enjoyed another bumper year for visitors in 2017. Topping the list of ‘free to enter’ attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland surpassed the 1m visitor mark for the first time, experiencing an impressive 41% growth. This was particularly helped by the reopening of its permanent collection halfway through the year, as well as hosting two major exhibitions of Caravaggio and Vermeer. The most popular fee-charging attraction remains the Guinness Storehouse, with a total of 1,711,281 visitors through its doors, up 64,000 on the previous year. The Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo came in second and third place in the same category.

Overall, the top five fee-charging attractions during 2017 were: 1. Guinness Storehouse - 1,711,281 (+4%) 2. Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience – 1,527,000 (+7%) 3. Dublin Zoo – 1,264,300 (+10%) 4. National Aquatic Centre – 1,099,756 (+6%) 5. Book of Kells - 983,410 (+10%)



Ireland’s top ‘free to enter’ attractions for 2017 were: 1. The National Gallery of Ireland – 1,065,929 (+41%) 2. Castletown House Parklands – 666,541 (-) 3. Glendalough Site – 639,826 (-) 4. National Botanic Gardens – 569,652 (-2%) 5. DLR LexIcon (Dun Laoighaire Rathdown) – 525,708 (+12%)

fáilte industry news

Wow Visitors to Win More Business

Wowing visitors with unforgettable experiences and delivering world-class customer care to increase business were the themes of Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Wow Visitors: Win Business’ Customer Experience Summit recently held at the Guinness Storehouse. Representatives from over 200 tourism businesses heard from a panel of international and national experts on the latest in international visitor trends and how exceptional customer service can provide a competitive edge for tourism businesses. Fáilte Ireland brought together a panel of international and national experts to provide the latest in international visitor trends and to help tourism businesses use these insights to become more innovative, relevant and profitable. Insights and topics covered included: • Visitors want easy experiences: Best modern practice is to make the entire customer journey accessible, convenient and seamless. • Visitors want to share their experiences: Helping visitors to connect can help towards business success. • The power of face-to-face encounters: Investing in and empowering employees can ensure better engagement with visitors. • Trends are all about responding to change: Stay aware of what your customers are saying and the use of technology can be greatly beneficial and progress should be embraced. • Visitors want transparency: Show the story behind your visitor experience and take a fresh look at what you do.

Waterford Greenway Set to Become Culinary Capital of the South East Fáilte Ireland has unveiled plans to make the Waterford Greenway a top culinary destination with the potential to attract more overseas visitors and drive significant growth in the area. The new ‘Savour the Greenway’ programme seeks to leverage the growing tourism trend for seeking out locally sourced food and culture in order to maximise the appeal of the Waterford Greenway, a 46km off-road cycling and walking trail from the Viking City of Waterford to the picturesque coastal town of Dungarvan. The Greenway has proven to be a hit with overseas visitors, having welcomed almost 250,000 visitors last year alone. The Savour the Greenway programme forms part of Fáilte Ireland’s new Food and Drink Development Strategy, which seeks to increase the number of tourism businesses engaged with development initiatives, and to increase and enhance the awareness and perception of Ireland’s food and drink offering overseas.

Serving up Change for Ireland’s Food Networks

Fáilte Ireland has announced a new nine-month Step Change programme for Food Networks from Kerry, Sligo and Wexford to improve the impact of visitor experiences locally through food. The new programme will help the Food Networks, which promote food and tourism packages in their local areas, to play an enhanced role in tourism in their region. Through the initiative, networks will receive a food focused visitor evaluation of their destination, participate in a number of structured development workshops and connect with other food network leaders to share best practise and new insights around experience development.



21 Spaces

Dublin’s famous Alexander Hotel got a total makeover and a new name – The Alex Hotel - last year as part of the O’Callaghan Hotel Group’s €30 million renovations of its Dublin properties. The family-run outfit is in the process of renovating each of its four-star hotels in the capital: The Stephen’s Green, The Alex and the Davenport. For designers to distil the essence of a hotel and incorporate it into the interior concept successfully, they not only need to stick to the client’s brief; they must also stay ahead of the game. They have to anticipate the needs of customers, many of whom are tech-savvy millennials and globe-trotting travellers. “Our team created and designed every facet of the property including carpets, rugs, furniture and of course the interior design architecture,” says JohnHenry Boyle, Founder and Director, of architectural design company 21 Spaces. “The project was undertaken in 13 months from concept, statutory, site to completion within a live environment floor by floor.” The Alex Hotel is part of 21 Spaces ongoing work with the O’Callaghan Hotel Group. Innovative and with a highly skilled team, 21 Spaces has a varied client base, with a portfolio that encompasses major hotels and restaurants, retailers, sports and leisure facilities, alongside workplace and office environments. 21 Spaces reach is international, with projects in Ireland, UK, Europe, Dubai, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. Recent activities include Butler’s Cafes in both Ireland and internationally, Port Rush Hotel, Mon Clare Hotel and Bang Restaurant, among many others. “The refurbishment of The Alex could not have been better timed,” says John-Henry. “The demand on a central location and the demographic shift following the relocation nearby of multi-national companies such as Twitter’s European Headquarters has meant that since the redesign The Alex has become a busy and lively all-day destination.” Playful and not too formal, the design brief allowed



for 21 Spaces to create the interiors and design all the bespoke furniture and fittings, much of it made by Irish craftsmen. “All our projects start with forensic exploration of the brief,” says John-Henry. “From the outset we considered The Alex should reflect its environs, customers (past and future) and the vision of the client to create a hotel for the ages. We carefully studied similar models in Seattle, Sydney and London and approached our solution tailored for Dublin.” Moving the hotel’s entrance to the middle of the building opened up the space to natural daylight and allowed 21 Spaces to reconfigure the ground floor layout. By changing the flow, 21 Spaces maximised the use of every corner, creating different focal points, each with its own identity and purpose. Clusters of seats in varying quantities along with new seating areas, has helped to increase interaction within the hotel, drawing in new visitors so that the location is used every day to full capacity, as well as a dedicated library and working area. Fashioned from solid walnut by Irish craftsmen based in Belfast, each desk displays natural markings and cracks complete with butterfly ties, to create character and interest. Metal legs complete the raw industrial aesthetic. Accents of walnut feature elsewhere; from the school-style chairs with stained walnut seating and flooring to the locally inspired vertical walnut veneer pencil panelling on the walls. In a nod to traditional hotels, a series of newspapers hang suspended on walnut rods to encourage visitors to pop in and use the welcoming space. In the new reception, floor tiles reference local building geometric designs, as does the softly coloured triangle stained glass panel that sits behind the reception desk (and back of The Steam Café) with its smart brass countertop and locally inspired vertical walnut veneer pencil panelling base. A variety of seating configurations and bespoke rugs, handmade locally in Dublin by Rugs for Design, add to the relaxed atmosphere. The former hotel entrance has been transformed in to a standalone location with its own separate identity, The Steam Café, a fast-moving coffee shop that serves nearby offices with its own Instagram account. Focusing on natural materials, craftsmanship and a deliberate use of tactile surfaces has helped create an overall design that puts the coffee centre stage. This light and airy paired back interior with new floor-toceiling windows has ash timber lobby doors and distinctive curved ash timber dowel clad walls. The curved design continues in the curving geometric pattern of the service counter with smart brass skirting unifying the area.

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21 Spaces “Design should always reflect and enhance its environment,” says John-Henry. “By doing this it inevitably becomes ‘local’ but one shouldn’t pastiche the past or traditions but understand what makes it Irish. At The Alex we amplified the social aspect of the Irish culture through conversation and meeting zones.” “We also worked with Irish crafts people to reflect the deep and great traditions of Irish craft design. We believe the future of Irish design is rooted in craft and it is incumbent on us to utilise this expertise.” In the main restaurant and bar dark turquoise velvet and striking maroon banquettes are juxtaposed against soft pink and blue textured fabric chairs. Strong pink walls unify the overall colour scheme. Grounding this space, and referencing the local industrial heritage, bespoke black lighting tracks and pendant lighting have been judiciously used, transforming the atmosphere of the space. “Accent and ambient lighting can also highlight the natural colours of food and bring out the colours and vibrancy of fabrics and soft furnishings,” says lighting company, Pro-Light Design & Technology “as well as draw attention to specific areas in your venue and increase the visibility of areas and promotions.” The Alex has achieved this. “A lot of guests may not notice great lighting but they do notice when it’s bad. Like many things in life – when it’s good it’s taken for granted but when it’s bad people start to notice and complain. If you ever want to appreciate the value and significance of lighting just turn it off and you instantaneously appreciate what was always there.” The time when a hotel was just a place to rest your head is long gone. These hospitality hubs are destinations for social interaction, the design of which more often than not can offer an insight into the local heritage and cultural reflection. And 21 Spaces have achieved that here. A high level of detail is found is each of the 105 bedrooms and suites. Against a backdrop of soft dusty pink walls, velvet cushions and soft wool throws from Foxford Woollen Mill in Mayo, large circular metal mirrors are combined with hand crafted customised walnut wardrobes and leather headboards made by O’Donnell Furniture Makers in Cork. Ground floor details such as the vertical pencil panelling are referenced in the fluted water glasses together with brass detailing in every room. Carefully chosen artworks help to give interest and individuality to each space. What does it take to operate at this level? John-Henry’s route into interior design was simple: “a love of art, architecture, people, socialising”. “It’s wonderful to wake up and create something new every day,” he says. “Without question my inspiration comes from experience through travelling and meeting people,” explains John-Henry. “I’m fascinated how we interact with the environment and society; this provides a starting point for each design journey. Places like Barcelona, London and New York are top of my list.” He says that the best project is the one he is about to complete. “We consume all our efforts into each project so the process inevitably leads us in to making the next project better than the last. So in short the next project is the one we favour most. Like Butlers in Riyadh, which is exciting for us as it’s our first in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, having completed projects in Dubai and other parts of the Middle East.”





Afternoon Tea is Trending Afternoon Tea

by Marilyn Bright The latest trend in fashionable dining has arrived not with a bang, but with the discreet tinkling of china teacups on silver. In grand hotels and cottage tearooms around the country, afternoon tea is to the fore as millennials rediscover the pleasures of bygone days and caterers mine a new revenue stream that spans the ages from grannies to swinging singles. Afternoon tea as a small meal was instituted in the mideighteenth century by the duchess of Bedford to quell hunger pangs before dinners that were often fashionably late. Teas soon became social occasions in country houses, smart salons and eventually in grand hotels frequented by the leisured classes, reaching the apogee in London’s Ritz Hotel, which set the gold standard for elegance from Edwardian times. At Dromoland Castle in Clare, executive chef David McCann sees echoes of earlier times in the resurgence of afternoon tea with demand quadrupling in recent times and eclipsing lunchtime service. “ Guests tend to have a hearty breakfast, then go out for the day on the golf course, tennis courts or riding. They come back for afternoon tea in the drawing rooms, which often spill over into the dining room at weekends when people tend to celebrate special occasions.” Tea at dromoland is in the clasic mode with modern touches -- egg and cress finger sandwiches might appear beside miniature wraps, and marble madeira cakes with tiny glasses of trifle. Fruit cake is de rigeur in David’s view, along with scones, strawberry preserves and proper clotted cream, lemon curd nd opera gateau. Formerly, tea was served from 2.30 to 5 p.m.; now it starts at one o’clock and the kitchen is busy straight through the day. On the East coast, generations of Dubliners hold fond memories of strawberry teas in the old coaching inn that is the unchanging Hunters Hotel in Wicklow. Tom Gelletlie runs the family premises that were once presided over by his mother, the famously formidable Mrs. Gelletlie who expected guests to maintain a certain decorum. Her much quoted sign still stands in the garden, “ Ladies and gentlemen will not, and others must not, pull the flowers.” To the delight of mature visitors who recall celebrating their first communions here, Hunters country teas remain as they have done for generations, with generous sandwiches, homemade scones and cakes and summertime strawberries and cream. At Castle Grove Country House by the shores of Lough Swilly, the Sweeney family have experienced the boom in weekday business with afternoon teas attracting parties, “Ninety percent young women”, Karoline Sweeney says. “They’re often organised as charity events and feature entertainment like fashion shows.” Strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries and gooseberries from Castle Grove’s walled garden feature on the home-baked



teatime treats. In July afternoon tea tradition morphs into a strawberry festival for 700 or so, with two bands, a marquee on the lawn and local food stands reflecting the hotel’s proud claim that 75 per cent of the produce used in the kitchen is sourced in the county. Although Natalie Collins instituted stylish afternoon teas in Newbridge Silver”s popular cafe eight years ago, she has seen major growth over the past two years. Tablecloths, Newbridge silver and rose garlanded chine come out at three o’clock, an elegant setting for the array of treats and bakes made in-house, attracting regular customers and groups from Dublin and farther afield. The cafe has established a special niche in catering for diverse dietary requirements. Gluten-free teas feature breads and cakes baked in-house and there are special fruit platters, diabetic chocolates and ice cream. “We want everyone to feel special, “ Natalie says. “Every table has an assigned server so they can feel really well looked after.” Top of the range afternoon teas in the Shelbourne Hotel’s newly revamped Lord Mayor’s lounge run at capacity daily, catering for 100 guests over three sittings and considerably more at weekends. Executive chef Gary Hughes confirms that teas are most popular with groups of ladies, often celebrating occasions like birthdays, usually five or six at each sitting. As numbers have grown, Gary studied ways to streamline service, observing that servers made an average of 13 trips to each table. “We ordered long plates for the sandwiches and commissioned special four-tier cake stands so that service is less obtrusive and doesn’t interrupt conversation.” “We plan menus six to nine monthe ahead, with occasional special themes like our Grace Kelly tea or summer flower tea, but classical afternoon tea is what we do best. Favourites we could never take off would be our smoked salmon on Guinness brown bread, gingerbread teacakes and the chocolate eclair.” Art tea at The Merrion Hotel capitalises on the impressive art collection hanging throughout the 18th century building. Master pastry chef Paul Kelly creates a stylish tea which culminates in show stopper patisseries that echo the designs and colours of three selected paintings, changing each week. Placed at the top end of the market, Merrion teas are limited to two sittings daily, with tables well spaced in the wide Georgian rooms. Christmas teas here are legendary, with spectacular festive pastries, choirs of carolers and log fires. Bookings for these are often made in August for the following December. While the shortage of chefs has been well publicised, pastry chefs are being described as “ like gold dust” and only affordable to top end four and five star establishments. Margaret Lynch of dessert specialists Couverture describes how their hand crafted products have filled the gap for many caterers who could supplement their in-house baking with Couverture’s professionally finished patisserie. After sales declines during the downturn, Margaret has seen catering sales surging ahead over the past couple of years as afternoon teas have grown in popularity. To supply the number of customers in the food service sector, a close eye is kept on international trends. Just returned from a research trip to NewYork, Margaret says that people are looking for different shapes, textures and colour. Asian influences are coming through --nicely structured pastries like sushi, with sharp intense flavours like citrus zest. Salted caramel is everywhere, but being nudges by the introduction of wasabi. Rich blackcurrant is the colour du jour, while eclairs are trendiest of all, with combinations of chocolate and raspberry, apple and toffee. Afternoon teas traditionally end with the special cakes and pastries, but seasoned caterers still insist that an Irish tea isn’t complete without the fresh baked scones, fruit cake and perhaps a bit of ginger cake as well.


Dalata Hotel Group

are capitalising on their food and beverage offerings No longer just a required, unprofitable amenity for guests, the hotel restaurant and the bar component are becoming priority revenue streams as restaurants play a bigger role than ever before in boutique and lifestyle hotels. Today more than ever, eating is a lifestyle, so people increasingly choose hotels which they know have a good restaurant, good chefs, and offer an enjoyable dining experience. Dalata is the largest hotel operator in Ireland, operating the Maldron Hotel brand and Clayton Hotel brand throughout Ireland and the UK, as well as managing a portfolio of partner hotels. Dalata is really focusing on food and beverage development right now and is a great place to work for ambitious chefs. Dalata’s decentralised operating model allows each hotel to develop its own unique personality and this extends to its food and menus. “In fact, Clayton Hotels do not have a standardised restaurant brand – allowing hotels to develop their own identity driven by their individual market and allowing their chefs to express themselves through their own cooking style and menus,” says Edel Morrissey, Group Talent Manager for the Dalata Hotel Group. “A good example of this is The Italian Kitchen in Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport or Globe Bar and Restaurant in Clayton Hotel Cork City which features an “English Market” selection of dishes,” she says. “And even though most Maldron Hotels have a Grain & Grill branded restaurant with some signature dishes each hotel can still develop their own menu and put their own stamp on their restaurant.” The variety of offering ranges from Red Bean Roastery coffee shops and coffee docks through more casual dining right through to full service restaurants as well as banqueting in some of Ireland’s finest banqueting facilities. Case in point is Igor Cikarev, Executive Head Chef at Dublin’s Gibson Hotel. Igor has cooked for many hopeful couples as the restaurant is also the set where RTÉ’s popular TV show, First Dates, is filmed. Named after Led Zeppelin’s final studio

album, Coda is a stylish but informal eatery. With two restaurants with very different cuisines in the hotel, Igor has plenty to keep himself and his team busy though. Coda serves mainly modern Irish cuisine with a European twist and Hemi – the second restaurant - serves pan-Asian inspired cuisine. Igor is originally from Riga. “Latvia has a wonderful capital,” he says, “which has historically benefitted from the cultural and gastronomic waves coming from Scandinavia.” After school he went straight to work in a large city centre hotel, gaining invaluable experience at the beginning of his career. “It was an important phase in my life; it tested me and confirmed my life ambition. In fact, I realised that I enjoyed working as a cook and that it gave me plenty of space for creativity.” He knew then that he wanted to work in kitchens for the rest of his life. “I knew that I wanted to stay in this field but also that I wanted to be very good at it.” Igor was soon hungry for more and gaining experience was going to be crucial. “I needed to enhance my professional reputation and gain experience. That was going to take a lot of effort. So, I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way.” He got this opportunity at “Passage”, a French restaurant in Riga, where he worked his way up to the position of Head Chef. “I am glad I could have enhanced my qualifications at stays in several top restaurants in Riga. Also, I took the opportunity to work on a cruise liner just before I came to Ireland in 2001,” he says. Since coming to Ireland, Igor has worked in several Dublin hotels and now he finds himself working for Dalata Hotel Group. “I mostly work with continental cuisine (and I can’t emphasise enough how much I love French and Spanish cuisines, their aromas, cheeses, wines and natural gastronomic art – they will always be an endless source of cooking inspiration). But I have not forgotten traditional Russian and Latvian dishes and these are strong influences in my kitchen.” The team at the Gibson utilise a number of Irish producers, including Odaios, Little Cress, Iona Farm and Guinan Farms. “I try to use seasonal ingredients and to get the greatest flavour out of each one. And I enjoy serving my own Russian and Latvian flavours to our guests,” he says. Restaurants are driven by chefs’ desire to feed and entertain, and to express themselves, to produce the best possible food, delivered with impeccable service. Igor takes all of these responsibilities very seriously, as well as incorporating his heritage into dishes. “It’s like I’m spreading the good news about Latvia and Latvian people when I serve up our dishes here in Ireland. It’s a huge responsibility, but I enjoy it,” he says.



Cabra Castle

The Corscadden Dynasty The Corscadden family have carved out their own niche in the Irish boutique castle hotel market. Four generations of Corscaddens have worked in the Irish hospitality sector, and a series of shrewd purchases at opportune times over the past few years have grown their impressive portfolio of Irish castle hotels to four. That’s a castle in every province. The family’s most recent acquisition was Markree Castle in Sligo, that has been beautifully restored by its new owners. The other three Corscadden hotels are Cabra Castle in Co Cavan, Bellingham Castle in Co Louth and Ballyseede Castle in the Kingdom. Howard Corscadden’s grandparents started the family down the hotelier path when they ran the International Hotel in Bray during the ‘30s and ‘40s, where its Arcadia Ballroom was hugely popular with that era’s showbands. “My family have been in catering for near on a hundred years now,” says Howard. “My great grandparents had the International Hotel in Bray plus the Arcadia. My own parents had a hotel in Kildare called Derby House Hotel.” Howard is from a family of five, and has two brothers and two sisters. “We’re all involved in the hotel and catering business. My mother, Mitzie, was one of first graduates of Shannon. Me and my sister Marnie, both attended there too. So, you could say we’re steeped in hotels and catering. It’s deep in our blood.” When he finished school, Howard went to study in Shannon College of Hotel Management, followed by his sister. Like most hotel families in Ireland, Howard had started working in the family business as a child. It was there that Howard and his siblings got their first taste of the hotel business. “I started working young and probably illegally. At twelve I was emptying skips and doing the wash up. In fact, we all did our share in the hotel.” He says this early experience shaped all of them. “It was a very good finishing school. It taught us all the value of hard work. We used to get pocket money but we had to earn it to get it. That gave us all a sound background going forward into business.” Time spent abroad to find out where the industry is going, what international standards are like and so on is crucial according to Howard. When you come back, you can then introduce what you learned to



Cabra Castle the business at home While studying in Shannon, he spent stints working in Switzerland, London and the States, before returning to Ireland getting his first job in Dromoland Castle. “I went in there as front of house manager and came out deputy general manager.” “Each country did things differently,” says Howard. “Switzerland was very traditional and old school. America was brash and bold. It was all about quick service and a very differently style of catering. In London I worked in the Waldorf and that was a mix of the two styles so all in all I got a wellrounded education in catering.” Flicking through the property pages of the Irish Independent one day, he spotted a castle for sale. The property had been completely refurbished and was ready to move into. “After my work experience in Dromoland, I knew there was an opening for a four-star hotel in Ireland.” He bought Cabra castle in 1991 and opened it up as a 19-bedroom hotel. Just outside Kingscourt in Co Cavan, Cabra Castle dates to 1760 and has expansive gardens and parkland with panoramic views of nearby Dún na Rí Forest Park. The rooms are all individually designed with lots of canopy, four-poster and half-tester bed. “All my brothers and sisters joined us and we built that business up to its present size - a 110-bedroomed hotel,” he says. “Whilst we were purchasing other properties we never lost sight of Cabra Castle,” says Howard. “Over the last five years we’ve done a yearly reinvestment programme which started with ballroom. Then we refurbished and extended the main bar and over the past few years have refurbished all of our bedrooms, including the six cottages.” They also we did up the restaurant and kitchen.

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Cabra Castle

“Whilst we were purchasing other properties we never lost sight of Cabra Castle” “Last year we felt it was time to look at the exterior – it hasn’t changed its outward appearance since we bought it. We started a two-year renovation programme and on one side we’ve put an Italian garden with water feature and next year we’re doing a new patio an terrace and barbeque are and set down only with a water feature.” The outward appearance of Cabra castle is very much bringing it back to original splendour. “Once you approach the castle on the way up the driveway, you’ll see patios and gardens and all of the cars will be hidden from view so it looks a lot more castle-like and regal. We’re getting great responses to new Italian garden which we called after my mother – Mitzie’s garden.” “While building up the business in Cabra, we figured that one castle wouldn’t be enough for one family. We are all quite ambitious and we all like to be our own bosses.” Fourteen years ago, they bought Ballyseede castle in Kerry. It is Kerry’s only castle hotel and while it retains all its antiquity, it also blends the modern with the old – you could say it’s the best of both worlds. Nowadays it is run by Howard’s sister Marnie and her husband Rory. They’ve just opened their new 16-bedroom extension this year so now it’s a 45-bedroomed hotel and one of foremost wedding venues in Ireland.

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Cabra Castle

The Corscadden family’s third castle purchase came in 2012 when they acquired Bellingham Castle. “Six years ago - during the recession - we saw an opportunity and bought Bellingham Castle in Co Louth. It’s a 19-bedroomed private castle that has been voted one of top small hotels in Ireland by Trip Advisor for past three years. My brother Patrick and his partner Ciara run that property.” It has since become one of the country’s most picturesque and sought-after four-star wedding and conference venues. Business is good for the family right now, having seen out the recession by keeping their heads down and restricting their expenditure. Navigating the recession required reining in on expenses, according to Howard, but the businesses survived without having to let go any staff. “Certainly, we received a number of cancellations due to people losing jobs and deciding a wedding was a luxury they couldn’t afford. And there was a slow down on our business overall. But we managed our costs. We didn’t make anyone redundant but had a freeze on hiring new people and we had very little borrowings. We just rode the storm out.”

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Cabra Castle

“We’d be slightly worried about Brexit and its effect on border counties now. Wedding parties from Northern Ireland have declined, with the uncertainty of the border issue. That effect was immediate, and started once the vote was taken,” says Howard. “We’d certainly encourage the Government to resolve it as soon as they can. Uncertainty isn’t good for business.” Post-recession, they bought Markree Castle in Sligo. It is the first time that the castle has changed hands since it was gifted to the Cooper family in the mid-17th century. The current building dates back to the 18th century, when it was transformed from a Big House to a castle by architect Francis Johnston, who famously designed Dublin’s GPO. Under the guidance of conservation architects, the Gothic beauty of Markee Castle has been reclaimed, although this renovation project was a huge task. After completely refurbishing and rewiring it, the castle is now a 31-bedroomed hotel. They also have fifteen apartments in the old courtyard and Hollywood recently came calling. “It was taken over by Hallmark to make the movie, Royalty Forever, that came out in conjunction with Harry and Meghan’s wedding. It’s now run by Patricia, my sister, and Philip.” What’s next for the Corscaddens? “We have a castle in every province in Ireland, four stunningly beautiful buildings that are now thankfully safe 40


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Cabra Castle

“Every American tourist that comes to Ireland has staying in a castle on their bucket list.” and secure for the next hundred years. Each castle that we purchased had to have a complete refurbishment, and we are proud to hand them down to the next generation.” The Corscadden’s children have all worked in business at some stage. “There are ten grandchildren and all of them have worked in the business at some stage or other. We’re not applying any pressure on anybody and it’s there for them if they want to come into it or if they want to go their own way.” “The nice thing is that we are all family,” he says, “all of us are our own bosses but can pick up the phone and get advice from any of our brothers and sisters. We all do collective marketing. We’re a small group and there’s a nice competitive edge to it as well, over who gets the most compliments, most weddings etc.” In the meantime, further castle acquisitions haven’t been ruled out, although not in the short-term – there aren’t many bargains out there. “We’d like another castle. There’s one member of the family who doesn’t have one yet, so we’re on the lookout. Unfortunately, there aren’t many bargains out there. We might have to wait until the next recession,” says Howard. “It would have to be a castle because this is what we know. I know there’s extra expense involved in running a castle but they always bring in business. Every American tourist that comes to Ireland has staying in a castle on their bucket list.”

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The challenges of regional branding Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO, Irish Tourism Industry Confederation

The Wild Atlantic Way is often referred to as the great success story of Irish tourism in recent times. And it is. It has effectively defined a region in an easy-to-understand, distinctive manner to an overseas audience and helped build profile and awareness of Ireland’s Western seaboard. The irony of course is that the Atlantic Coast of Ireland has been there since time immemorial. However a clever branding proposition and concept has elevated the region to a new level on the tourism radar. First conceptualised in an Irish Tourism Industry Confederation report in 2011 on tourism challenges in the West of Ireland (New Directions for Tourism in the West) which called for a “branded Atlantic coastal route”, this was then brilliantly brought to life by Fáilte Ireland and local authorities with the launch of Wild Atlantic Way in 2014. The brand may only be 4 years old but it immediately gained traction amongst international visitors as well as the domestic market. It is intuitive; 2,500 kilometres of Ireland’s Western seaboard from Cork to Donegal. Like other international routes – the Garden Route in South Africa, Route 66 in the USA, the Sunshine coast of Australia – it has a scale and marketability that can be promoted globally. However like any consumer product the Wild Atlantic Way needs to be more than a marketing wheeze – it is vital that the natural beauty of the seaboard is supported with ongoing investment. Many times international visitors drive from Dublin to Galway and then turn left to enjoy attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry and West Cork’s beauty. Far less traffic turns right at Galway to enjoy the likes of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal. Why is that? Put simply we as a country need more and better tourism activities and attractions, and more marketing investment, to drive demand to the North West. This would lead to a more balanced Wild Atlantic Way with the regional benefits of tourism spread more evenly. And while we are at it why not think big and develop a greenway that transcends the Wild Atlantic Way – now that would be hugely transformative and be a tourism experience that would deliver long-term and ongoing returns.

Signature points of interest, and attractions of scale and international appeal, must be developed and this should be a strategic goal of exchequer funding of tourism. The private sector - hotels, restaurants, activity providers - will all row in but often the public purse has to make the first investment in creating attractors which are not commercial in their own right. Since the Wild Atlantic Way, Fáilte Ireland have developed a Dublin brand identity to mixed reviews as well as a brand concept, Ireland’s Ancient East, which although less intuitive aims to act as a tourism identity for counties predominately east of the Shannon. Of course there is a great swathe of the country that is neither on the Wild Atlantic Way nor comfortably part of Ireland’s Ancient East. This is Ireland’s Midlands which, as so often, seems to have been largely forgotten. The Irish tourism industry has campaigned for some time for a Midlands brand; from the Shannon corridor to Clonmacnoise and Ireland’s natural peat boglands, the area is rich with potential. It gets very little tourism traffic currently but is that because it is not in the shop-window? TD Kevin Boxer Moran and the Independent Alliance managed to get this in the Government manifesto and just last month “Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands” was launched by Fáilte Ireland. It is a welcome initiative and the Irish tourism industry are very supportive of it. However it needs ongoing and long-term support; €2 million has been allocated to it initially and this needs to be built up over time if the brand is to generate business for tourism enterprises within it. The perils of regional branding. Some work some don’t. The Wild Atlantic Way is certainly the template for success that other regional brands should try and mirror. And with 4 regional brands now covering the 26 counties, all under the over-arching “Jump into Ireland” brand umbrella, now is the time to say enough. It’s important to avoid proliferation of tourism identities and instead work on investing and developing the current brand propositions. Tourism is one of the very few sectors that can provide regional jobs and economic activity and how those regions are promoted and conceptualised is a key ingredient of that success.




KITCHEN CULTURE The Chef Network community brings together chefs at all level from all sectors across Ireland. In a Hotel & Restaurant Times regular column we will meet some of those members and hear from them what inspires and motivates them, their career challenges and opportunities, and how they believe we can improve the industry.

In this edition, we meet 24 year old chef Laura Dent, Sous Chef with Gather&Gather at LinkedIn Dublin

“I almost walked away from it. I’m so glad I didn’t because it’s still very much me” Why did you become a Chef?

When we were finishing school and looking at CAO, we were pushed to look at university courses. But there was nothing there I wanted to do. I always had interest in food and cooking and also photography. Knew I wanted something hands-on, active. I wasn’t lazy in school but getting high grades wasn’t my thing, I was more practical than academic.

What was your path to where you are today?

I got into professional cookery in Dundalk and then transferred to IT Tallaght after one year because I was commuting from Dublin. I really settled in IT Tallaght. I did the professional cookery certificate and then an additional year to get the degree. I started working right away in first year in Hartley’s in Dun Laoghaire, I really wanted to work. I worked weekends through college and full time in the summer. I was there about two and a half years in total. Then I want to America on a J-1. I worked in kitchens there too, day-time work.

thought there was no way I would ever get into workplace catering. I thought it was just about throwing stuff in the oven, no prep, no progression. But eventually I was talked into meeting Mark and doing a trial with Gather&Gather. I absolutely loved it. It was totally different to what I expected it to be. I was working with chefs who were really passionate, who had come from fine-dining restaurants, hotels, all sorts of backgrounds. I have been with Gather&Gather for just over two years now. It is so different in many ways to a restaurant kitchen but still a buzz, of a different kind. I’m still working with the same kind of people with the same sense of humour and attitude. There’s still the same kind of rush. I was lucky I took the chance and did that trial. I almost walked away from it. I’m so glad I didn’t because cooking and kitchen work is still very much me.

What is the most important ingredient in your success to date? There were definitely moments in my career to date when things were

When I came back to Ireland I went back into the night time restaurant scene, back into that fast- paced environment. It was tough at times, I loved cooking and loved the buzz of it all, but came to the point where I was asking myself; “How long can I put up with the screaming and shouting and the hours?” I loved food, but I wondered if there was a better way of doing it.

“I thought there was no way I would ever get into workplace catering” I had reached the point where I was considering going back to college and re-training in something else. A friend who works in Linkedin suggested I meet with Mark Anderson [Culinary Director for Gather&Gather]. I said no at first. I



Laura sharing her story at the Chef Network ‘Kitchen Culture’ event in Linkedin last year.

Industry tougher than they needed to be, but I do think that for the position I am in now, the experience I had toughened me up. It is important to get experience in the fast-paced environment of restaurants early on. There were a few moments where I was pushed too far, but the ‘keep your chin up, keep your head above water’ type training has helped. I’ve learned to listen. You have to listen to people. Even people I worked with earlier on that I work with now, I see how they have changed, how they have learned to listen to people and it has made them better at their job.

“It’s a pretty passionate, hardworking, fair team”. How important is the team you work with?

There are a lot more females in this kitchen than any I have worked in. It is good to have a balance. When it is too male oriented it is almost uncomfortable being a woman in the kitchen, it can put you in positions where you have to go along with things, or act like one of the lads, to fit in or make your way. That’s what makes the team we have great. The girls bring something the guys don’t bring and vice-versa. It’s the more equal than any other kitchen I’ve been in. There is a serious feeling of teamwork when you go into that kitchen. Everyone feeds off each other. A lot of us have been there almost from the very beginning, we’ve had hardly had anyone leaving, that builds a strong team. It’s a pretty passionate, hard-working, fair team.

Have you seen a negative side to the industry?

More so when I was starting off. Things are changing, but we have a ways to go. There is still this idea that you have to be tough and we need to change that. There was one time in a previous job that the chef lost the plot with me. I knew if I wanted to keep working there I had to say something, I couldn’t go back in otherwise. I came in the next day and said to the chef that it wasn’t acceptable to talk to me that way, that I wasn’t comfortable with it. The chef was deeply and genuinely apologetic. I think people lose it in the moment because of pressure and because at a lot of stages in their career they have been able to do that, there was no question of controlling what you say to people. The kitchen is an environment that is relaxed in the sense of not being formal, but not relaxed in that it is pressured…if people get away with certain kinds of behaviour it becomes acceptable.

“You are always learning, learning, learning” How can chefs create a positive culture in their kitchen?

I do think that bit of pressure is important. In that environment things don’t get done if people are fluting around. But listening is key, on all levels. From the top levels all the way down the ladder, everyone needs to be listened to. It’s not always possible in the middle of services but in general you need to make the time to listen to people and give them your time. If something is going on during the day or someone is not getting their work done, you need to take the time outside of the heat of the service to give them the chance to explain what was going on with them. Once you start doing that you can give people chances, and then you can work out yourself if this is someone I can help or if they are just taking the mick. I think a lot of chefs need to get out of the idea that we are all hardcore and that is the only way to do things. You also have to give something back to people, everyone needs to see that they are getting something out of what they are doing, that they are learning from it and it will stand to them. I learn more every day and every week where I am now than I have anywhere else. Absolutely everything is prepared from scratch, our Exec and head chefs are really strong on that. Stocks, sauces, everything


What I love most is…when you take on something challenging and you’re not sure if it is going to work out but you totally nail it and someone senior acknowledges that. Can be cooking wise, but also dealing with a situation or management wise. The biggest challenge is… probably situations where something happens and you have to try and confront someone on it in a constructive way and get them to see things from your perspective. The challenge is never really the cooking, it’s everything else around it. The most rewarding thing I’ve done is…. I went to Dundalk because I hadn’t gotten the points to go to IT Tallaght or DIT, but then I got the grades to transfer to Tallaght and there I got the highest grades in my year two years in a row. It made me realise that once I was doing what I loved I could do really well. I realised that the system might tell me I am not good enough but I am good enough. I have learned that… Hard work definitely stands to you Put up with the tough work for a while until you have developed You should always walk in to a kitchen ready to listen to whatever people have to say. It is really negative for someone to come in thinking they know everything. Even if you don’t agree with everything, don’t challenge things on the spot. Have respect, trust and listen, get on with the job and over time form your own opinions and way of doing things.

Creating a Better Industry

This Autumn Chef Network will host industry seminars and round tables on Future-Proofing our Industry, Creating a Charter for Better Kitchen Workplace and Kitchen Culture. We want YOU to BE PART OF IT. Be the change you want to see in your industry. Sign up Free at


Subsidised Professional Development Training for Chefs Leadership | Business | Culinary


Leading & Managing People (QQI Level 6) | Cost Management & Profit | Workplace Wellness | Culinary Masterclasses & Handson Workshops in Meat, Fish, Pastry, & Baking & more

Get the Autumn Training Calendar and Be Part of the Network. Email

Join CHEF NETWORK free today at to connect, communicate and collaborate with your chef community H&RT JUNE/JULY 2018



Rethinking ‘Sales’ © conor kenny & associates. All rights reserved. 2018

I Don’t Like Mondays

Bob Geldof is famous for many things but, to my generation, his defining legacy is ‘I don’t like Mondays’ It is as fresh today and perhaps more relevant. If you are in Sales and if you don’t like Mondays then you are probably in the wrong job. Or, as the saying goes “your attitude to the job may just defeat you before you even begin.” To succeed in sales you have to love your customers, your job and Mondays.


Years ago we had ‘Bus Conductors’ they were generally relaxed easy going people with a job that was not too demanding. They collected your fare and sat idly on the drivers token door chatting. Every so often there was a moment of high energy as the bus came to rest. With a confident voice the cry of “All change” rang out. It was a polite way of saying “Get off my bus.”  Today; it’s all change and time to get off the old road. Old roads can sink collapse and disintegrate. That leaves two choices. Wait for the old road to return or cut a new path. However, it’s not a decision that can wait. Fuel is precious and time too. If you idle too long, the engine will die. Change is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. As Alan Cohen said; “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power”  

Reset Your Compass

Before you race off in search of sales you need to reset the compass and refocus the lens. The landscape has changed and new paths need to be built. That means revisiting your business, your message, your offer and your vision. But what is this mystical magical word all about? Vision is an idyllic place. In the beginning it has no boundaries, no rules, it is unclaimed territory, it is new, it is pure and it has yet to be created. The picture can be dreamy but some dreams come true. True leaders follow their dreams. Some succeed, some keep trying.



If we have a dream we must at least aim for it. If we miss we can start again. Far better then to aim high than aim too low, hit our target and not even realise it. Think big, then think bigger and reach beyond the stars. The late Lord Ballyedmond was better known as Eddie Haughey, founder of Norbrook Laboratories. I had the enormous pleasure of being in his company in the past. Incredibly successful, he combined humility with a passion, energy and drive that is inspirational. Here is what he said on ‘Vision’  “If you don’t have a vision, it’s very difficult to have a starting point. A vision is a dream. If you don’t bring a dream to fruition, to realisation, then it’s an hallucination.”  

The Dip

In today’s turbulent world it’s easy to be suspicious about the business owner who tells you everything “is just great” It’s not, unless they live in some make believe world. The reality is that it’s tough, turbulent and testing. But, ‘good’ emerges with focus, energy and heart. The world is in a dip. The high grazing pastures above the canyon seem remote but read the wisdom of American Author, Seth Godin. In his bestselling book ‘The Dip’ this is what he has to say;  “If you haven’t already realised it, the Dip is the secret to your success. The people who make it through the Dip – People who invest the time and energy and the effort to power through the Dip – those are the ones who become the best in the world. They are breaking the system because, instead of moving on to the next thing, instead of doing slightly above average and settling for what they have got, they embrace the challenge. For whatever reason, they refuse to abandon the quest and they push through the Dip all the way to the next level” It’s no coincidence that few climb to the summit of Everest. It’s no coincidence that there is little room for more than one at the top.  

Challenge the Status Quo

Everything. Attitude, behaviour, learning’s. How we buy, how we sell. How we decide. The recession has created a greater awareness of price, of value and of what is worth what. The Web has created easy access to information. It’s easy to research, it’s easy to compare. It’s easy for a customer to be equipped with facts and competitive data. If the sales person is about to do battle, not a bad idea to check their ammunition first.


Today, customers will haggle. That needs a strategy. They will have more information on you than you may have on yourself. Think of the influence of Trip Advisor and Message Boards. That too needs a plan. Marketing will see the death of paper and the growth of online emarketing. Connecting with others will be driven by social media and if you don’t understand Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can prepare to fail. Many years ago petrol stations served oil and petrol. Today, they are branded supermarkets with petrol attached. As a young man living in London it cost £170 to fly to Dublin. Today I can fly the same route for €20. That’s what happens when someone has a vision, sees a gap and challenges the existing norm. Isn’t it time your selling did the same?

The Ice Cream Van

Marketing is often not understood. It’s wrapped neatly into the ‘Sales and Marketing’ cupboard. It shouldn’t be, they are two halves of a whole. All the global research indicates the need for more marketing in a recession. Here is what John Quelch, Harvard, has to say; “Don’t assume a return to normal. The longer and deeper the recession, the more likely consumers will adjust their attitudes and behaviours permanently. Their coping mechanisms may become ingrained and define a new normal. In addition, the competitive landscape will have changed. A competitive shakeout along with new product launches may mean consumers are looking at your products and services through new lenses. Listen closely to your customers and revise your market segmentation assumptions” Last Summer I was working with a fabulous team. At our Workshop, Helen, a wonderful, sharp and wise young local girl was talking about marketing and how people attract customers. Helen wanted to explain ‘marketing’ to her colleagues. This is what she said; “It’s a bit like an Ice Cream Van. Think about it. They come dashing in to your estate creating a stir. The first thing is a big bright colourful van – that gets your attention.  Then, just in case you are indoors and didn’t see the cheerful bright colours, they play loud music hall tunes to get noticed. Next, there’s a man in a sparkling white coat – he looks like he really knows Ice Cream. Then, when you buy your ‘99’ – the sale - they always had that little extra wow factor. Remember? The strawberry sauce?”  Marketing folks is a little like that”  

From Good to Great

There is no such thing as a definitive list that will teach you the fundamentals of good selling. Like everything, it’s a lot to do with common sense (or as the wise owl once said; “the problem with common sense is that it’s not very common”) Recently, I was asked “What’s important when selling something?” Here’s my 10 point take on it; First you need to be working with a product or service that the market decides they are willing to purchase because – it makes their life/work better. Second, you have to communicate that – effectively. Third (and most importantly) you have to ‘understand’ not where you are coming from but – where the customer is coming from.

Fourth, you must do ‘the right thing’ – that’s the truth. That’s trust, that’s integrity. Five, you must work with their timetable – not yours. Six, you must deliver ‘exactly what you promise – not more, not less. Seven, it must be a good deal – for both. Eight, you must seek feedback – no matter how uncomfortable. Nine, you must know when to pull back – and avoid being a pest. Finally, you must love it – or it will show.

Good Ideas

Innovation and a constant stream of ideas are as important as cash flow. They excite, motivate and energise. They must become part of your DNA, culture and ethos. The challenge is simple. You must stand out from the crowd and they must make you different. As Tom Peters said; “Successful companies are not hundreds of percent better than you in every way; they are 1% better in hundreds of ways” Even better, as A. Whitney Brown said; “There are a billion people in China. It’s not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it, more than a billion people. That means even if you’re a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you”  

People Power

In an earlier edition of Hotel & Catering Review I summarized the importance of people. It’s a quote that caught fire and it’s worth repeating. It makes the point; “People create atmosphere. Nothing else, full stop. Good design and comfort merely facilitate that. The secret to a successful outlet is to understand and develop your own DNA. Develop your points of difference. Develop what you do best, what you know best and make it absolutely relevant to where you are and who wants you or could want you. A hotel is like a theatre. Every night when the lights go down the show is over another day is done. The next day, no matter what has gone before it, the show will have a new audience, often a first time audience, and today’s show must, at the very least, be better than the day before. The actors who will deliver the show are your people. If you do not invest in them in many ways you will have an average show. After all, what is the point of a beautiful comfortable cozy theatre with great sets, great seats and great lighting if the guys on stage have no idea what they are doing?”  

Tread Carefully (but have fun too)

It’s all too easy in a storm to blame the Sailors. Even easier to shout and roar. People remember and people are the key to your future. Treat them well, trust them, invest in them and they will reward you. After all, no sale worth celebrating will exclude people. Be an optimist and learn from Winston Churchill; “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” Finally, when you have done that, celebrate success, celebrate life and as James Dean said; “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

Conor Kenny is the principal of Conor Kenny &

Associates, Ireland’s leading independent training, learning and professional development company for the hospitality and service sector. He is the author of 3 books; ‘It’s Who I Am’ , ‘Dancing at the Fountain’, ‘Sales Tales’ You can read more at All Rights Reserved. 2018. Conor Kenny & Associates



IFSA news

New recycled Tork Xpressnap® can enhance a restaurant’s sustainability

CATEX 2019 - Ireland’s Largest Foodservice Event

CATEX 2019, will take place in the RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion on the 26th – 28th February 2019.  Running for more than half a century, CATEX is Ireland’s definitive foods service event, gathering over 250 suppliers, and stakeholders at the RDS every two years to meet, inspire, entertain and do business with over 11,500 top hospitality operations and foodservice buyers. 2017 saw CATEX deliver both in volume and in buying power with over 11,500 visitors attending the show over 3 days, with 99% saying they would return in 2019.  98% of our 250 exhibitors in 2019 agreed that CATEX was worthwhile for meeting new customers in an extremely fragmented market sector. Supported by a multimedia marketing campaign, we are confident that the 2019 event will again sell out. We would urge all associated with the foodservice industry to consider joining Ireland’s largest foodservice event. Special IFSA member rates available. To book a stand and learn more about the opportunities available to you contact Margaret Andreucetti on +86 814 0544 or email for further information.

Tork has responded to these concerns by introducing a recycled version of the Tork Xpressnap® napkin for use in cafeterias, fast-food restaurants and canteens. This unbleached, undyed product is made from FSCcertified tissue.   “We have observed that an increasing number of consumers are unhappy about creating unnecessary waste,” said Senior Product Manager, Julia Wood “Many food outlets have even responded with actions such as banning the use of plastic straws. We at Essity are also making our own efforts to provide the sustainable solutions that customers increasingly demand.” The Tork Xpressnap dispenser has the built-in sustainability benefit of reducing napkin consumption by at least 25 per cent. This is because napkins are given out one at a time instead of in clumps as with most other units. “When diners take out more napkins than they need, most of these will end up going to waste,” said Julia. “The fact that the Tork Xpressnap dispenser gives out napkins one at a time helps to improve sustainability and reduce costs while also offering a hygiene benefit, since each diner touches only the napkin they use.” The dispenser also features an Ad-a-glance panel for displaying the venue’s own messages. “Besides being a handy window for promoting offers and products, this can also be used to reinforce the venue’s wider environmental messaging,” said Julia. “Together with unbleached Tork Xpressnap napkins this can help a restaurant or cafe to position itself as an establishment that really cares about the environment.” Learn more at

Chef Network Working Towards a Better Industry Chef Network and, its training arm, Chef Network Skillnet will launch a series of initiatives and training events this Autumn aimed at creating a better industry. Kitchen Culture, Wellness and Sustainability are key themes across their online community platform and events, which employers and suppliers, as well as chefs, have the opportunity to be part of. In September, Chef Network Skillnet will host a best practice visit on reducing Food Waste to Amass Restaurant in Copenhagen. Later that month it will host a joint seminar with IFSA on ‘Future-Proofing Foodservice – working in partnership for a more sustainable industry’. Chefs will share their vision for creating a kitchen that is kinder to the environment, while supplier members will have the chance to showcase innovations that assist with this aim. Throughout October Chef Network will run a series of regional Round Table events to develop their Better Kitchen Workplace Charter, aimed at creating a set of peer-led guidelines that both employers and chefs themselves can follow to improve working life in the kitchen. This work will culminate in a Kitchen Culture seminar for chefs, employers, suppliers and media in November, an event which will look at ways that we can make the industry a better place to train and work, but also explore the opportunities available to chefs and promote the profession. Throughout the year, is sharing practical tips and blogposts from chefs on wellness in the industry and hosting regular monthly discussions on current topics, encouraging chefs to share ideas and learnings with each other on themes like reducing plastic use, food waste, food fraud to kitchen leadership. Training courses from Chef Network Skillnet this Autumn, available at a subsidised rate to members, include Leading & Managing People (QQI accredited), Cost Management & Profit, and Wellness at Work, as well as a range of culinary topics. To get the CHEF NETWORK SKILLNET AUTUMN TRAINING CALENDAR and get involved in the network as an Employer, email Chefs of all levels can sign-up to Chef Network free at Suppliers who wish to get involved with or support these initiatives should contact



IFSA news New company vision and markets prompt formation of

RELGROUP Due to their continued expansion and development in recent years; Carlow company REL have formed a group- RELGROUP. This has resulted in the formation of three sister companies- Emer Water, RELTEC and REL. This new comprehensive branding focuses on a fresh company vision and new market opportunities. “With the new RELGROUP branding, the key was to create unique brands that depict their own unique character and personality through colour and graphics for that specific industry. However, all the branding could be grouped together and have a visual relationship through subtle design elements, colour and fonts.” says John Foy, Managing Director of design company ‘Vision Identity’. Since their establishment in 1954, the company have been continually expanding into new markets and have gone from being pioneers in commercial refrigeration and dispense systems to providers of airconditioning, mechanical and heating, together with a suite of asset management services. 2018 has seen even more expansion for the company. A strategic innovation partnership with IT Carlow’s ‘Design+ Gateway’ and Enterprise Ireland will see the development of a smart refrigeration system. As well as this, beginning the 11th June 2018, the group through their Emer Water company will become the official Irish distributors for Brita professional products. “RELGROUP epitomises the development our company has seen over the years. I am sure this new branding will expedite our growth further and demonstrate how far we have come to become leaders in environmentally friendly bespoke solutions for the food service, hospitality, healthcare and corporate industries” says group CEO Liam Byrne.

Hoshizaki is a leading

manufacturer of commercial kitchen and food service equipment, with a range that range now features an extended line of kitchen and food service equipment including ice makers, dispensers, refrigerators, freezers, and sushi cases. Hoshizaki have been working to create access to durable, functional equipment for all those in the hospitality industry. Merging with Gram commercial in 2017, the company now has a portfolio that encompasses the best in Danish and Japanese design, engineering and manufacturing. Developments in technology and manufacturing capability have led to the introduction of super energy efficient refrigeration and ice making technology. With multifunctionality, ice is used primarily to chill a beverage or glass, while in some cases hotels will use ice to intentionally add water as melting occurs, diluting the mix to create the optimum blend in cocktails and such. Hoshizaki’s latest innovations in ice now see the creation of dense cubes and slow melting ice, which successfully achieves its aim of chilling a beverage, without melting and diluting a drink. The Emerald Class range of ice machines is ideal for the hotel industry, utilising the naturally occurring R290 refrigerant, while innovative technology monitors and manages the production process to ensure the optimum amount of ice is produced at any one time, helping to further reduce consumption of water and electricity. Hoshizaki’s offering of ice machines gives the opportunity for a range of hotels and restaurants to produce drinks and servings that suit a range of guests and diners, all whilst keeping energy costs low and sustainable.

Dawn Meats Launches On-line Ordering App Dawn Meats Foodservice have proudly launched their new online ordering app which now enables their customers to place their order at a time that suits them, directly from their smart phone, tablet or PC. Neil Lanigan (Commercial manager Dawn Meats Foodservice) feels that this technology will not only help make the ordering process more efficient, but it will also allow their customers browse the extensive range of meats that are available, complete with high definition images. “Obviously technology is the way forward so we are delighted to be first to market within our sector, this new facility will help our very busy customers manage their ordering anytime and anywhere with a few simple clicks!” To sign up for the app please contact Neil Lanigan on 086-8226566.

Robot Coupe It is in France, in the heart of Burgundy region famous for its gastronomic culture, that Robot-Coupe has invented the first professional food processor in 1960-s. Since that time, Robot-Coupe has grown into an industry leader that has been continuously working on inventing a professional electromechanical kitchen equipment to meet the increasing demand of its clients. From mixing the most delicate ingredients to grinding almonds and spices, from emulsifying to cooking, Robot-Coupe has a solution for any of chefs’ needs! A continuous quality Improvement and launching of new concepts of kitchen machines made Robot-Coupe the leading manufacturer in this field with worldwide operation and service centres. Today Robot-Coupe produces over 90 models and 6 main groups of equipment: vegetable preparation machines, cutters, kitchen processors, Blixers, hand mixers and juice extractors. Robot-Coupe equipment is trusted by the professionals of food preparation all over the world for its quality, robustness, productivity and design. One of the latest inventions – the first professional Cooking Cutter-Blender - the Robot Cook, has been appreciated by many professionals for being an ideal assistant for preparation of a multitude of attractive, hot or cold, savoury or sweet recipes. The biggest operators at the market of food service equipment trust Robot-Coupe and maintain a longterm relationship in order to meet the most sophisticated needs of professional chefs, artisanal, kitchen planners, and many other clients. Robot-Coupe equipment and service allow professionals to express their creativity, imagination and talent. H&RT JUNE/JULY 2018


Java Republic

Java Republic A glimpse into Rwanda and its renowned coffee industry Part 1 - David McKernan founder of Java Republic recently travelled to Rwanda on a coffee origin trip. He shares his insights in a three-part article on the country and its strong coffee export.

Though it was only four days in Rwanda, from what we saw, our ‘Western Democracy’, or the distinctly Rwandan flavour of democracy appears to be working just fine. I’ve visited Africa before, on several coffee origin trips, and frankly, what President Paul Kagame has salvaged from the Rwanda of the 90’s is remarkable. In East Africa, it seems no democracy is better than a weak democracy.

Why Rwanda?

For years I’ve heard Rwanda described as the ‘Switzerland of Africa’ by Schluter Speciality Coffee, one of our coffee partners. And having chosen and worked with some stunning Rwandan coffees over the years, we decided it was time to visit the East African nation. We chose to visit a collection of farmers in the southern province of Ruhango, a region known locally as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills.’ Ruhango is a rolling carpet of a million verdant grassy peaks, with mountain cities, towns and villages dotted throughout the hills that swoop and dive across the landscape like a rollercoaster. Our group consisted of eight people: from the Java Republic head office there was myself, Vini Arruda (Coffee Development Manager) and Jolanta Turowska (Production Manager); distributors David Newman (Galway Bay Coffee), Kieran White (The Island Beverage Co Ltd), Fintan Stanley, and last but not least, Ross Nicholson from Schluter Coffee and our brilliantly talented photographer Joe Were.


Rwanda is a third the size of Ireland but is home to nearly 12 million people, two-thirds of whom are women. A landlocked country, enveloped in the unstable embrace of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi - who have each experienced their own genocidal campaigns between Hutu and Tutsi people.

Some have likened Rwanda to Singapore, but for me it felt more like Marrakech. It is a beacon of hope shining in the centre of East Africa. Everyone walks. Women, dressed in beautiful kitenge fabrics, walk effortlessly balancing every imaginable good on their heads. Bicycles laden down with cooking fuel and products for sale pass by. No one sits around, allowing mothers and women to do all the work. Kids as young as four can be seen carrying kettles of water for miles with their brothers and sisters. Teenagers, turned out in the standard Rwandan blue school uniform walk to and from school in green Crocs provided by the government. There are no fat people in Rwanda. At least, I saw none. And I was shocked to realise, they are often a great deal younger than they look. Life in Rwanda does take its toll. Farming here is tough, physical labour.

Safety in Rwanda

Heading out to Rwanda, people asked, ‘Isn’t it very dangerous?’ On our return we were welcomed home with a chorus of ‘great to see you home safe again.’ I think it’s vital, at this point that I state - having travelled the world, heading on numerous coffee origin trips, travelling for business, even just going on holidays - I have never felt safer in another country than I did in Rwanda. I implore you to buy its coffees. I implore you to visit its cities, towns, villages and countryside. I want you to invest in Rwanda. Support Rwandan businesses. Offer financial support to Rwandan projects. By this, I don’t mean offer them charity - having had a bad experience with a water project in Ethiopia, I know now that charity is not the answer - investing in and supporting local businesses is more effective. Give them the means to prosper.

A Quick History of Rwanda’s Unfair Reputation

Before Kagame ascended to power in 1994, throughout its colonial history Rwanda was at one point or another at the mercy of the Germans, Belgians, French, and the Catholic Church. Resource extraction was the sole motivation for being in Rwanda. Thus, the colonial powers manipulated the once peaceful relationship between the Hutus and Tutsis, creating an atmosphere of suspicion, rivalry and racial hatred. By denying access to education and jobs, they engineered the ill-feeling which would boil over into genocide. Genocidal violence reared its ugly head in 1959, 1963 and 1990 before the most infamous 1994 campaign carried out by Hutus, resulting in the death of over a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people. To date, the Belgians and the Catholic Church are implicated, directly or indirectly in nine genocidal campaigns in Rwanda and its neighbour Burundi.


From the 7th April to July 15th, 1994 - men, women, neighbours, old friends and militias butchered one another.



Java Republic In ninety days one million Rwandans were murdered hacked to death with machetes imported from China. Hundreds of thousands of women were raped. Today there are estimated twenty-four-thousand 24-year-olds living in Rwanda, the children of rape and genocide. Rwandans called upon the UN, the Belgians, the French and the United States. None answered quickly enough, resulting in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands. During our brief trip we visited the Genocide Museum. We also noticed flower strewn monuments commemorating the dead in the small farming communities we visited. All of Rwanda was affected by the events of those few short months. We took a personal tour, which I won’t put you through here. It affected our group badly. At one point I regretted pushing for us to go on the tour, but now I recognise that it was something we had to do.

It’s Paul’s Rwanda with Paul’s rules

Paul Kagame left Rwanda for Uganda at an early age with his family, as a result of their being Tutsi. He subsequently went on to raise a Rwandan rebel army which was central to the ousting of the Hutu-led Rwandan government in 1990. A Civil War ensued and the alleged assassination by Hutu extremists of the new Rwandan President Habyarimana sparked the atrocities of 1994. Kagame leveraged the power of his rebel force to fight back against the militias and genocidaires, eventually seizing control of the entire country in mid 1994. Kagame was appointed Vice President in the post-genocide Rwandan government, and his rebel army was installed as the Rwandan national army, making him the new-de-facto leader of Rwanda. He officially took office in 2000. Though questions have been raised about Kagame’s ruling style, there is no questioning his vision and ambition which has rebuilt Rwanda’s economy, health, housing, security and their standing in international circles. He has tackled poverty in his nation, created efficient systems of local governance, embraced technology and farming communities have been given grants to electrify and install modern infrastructure. At 60%, the Rwandan parliament has the largest number of female members worldwide. Equally, Kagame has proven his genius for attracting foreign aid, which makes up 55% of the country’s GDP. He may be playing on international guilt, but at least Kagame can be trusted to spend it well. Kagame has managed to place both food security and general security at the forefront of his mission in rehabilitating Rwanda. He has avoided seeking justice for the genocide. He has not pursued the genocidaires for their crimes, a challenge that may be too monumental even for Kagame. 80% of the population are Hutu. Hundreds of thousands partook in the violence. Seeking retribution, though wholly desirable would understandably distract from rebuilding the country. It would seem, Rwandans would prefer to forget the events of recent history. At one point I foolishly asked a Rwandan, ‘what religion are you?’ I was scolded, and told, ‘no talk like that. I am Rwandan.’ A concerted effort to claim a unified identity, neither Hutu, Tutsi, or Twai (the smallest Rwandan tribe) is now embraced by most people. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone other than Kagame could have made the changes we now see in Rwanda. From our comfortable Western perspective, it can be easy to judge and cluck our tongues, but the economic growth experienced by Rwandans, in particular the poorest Rwandans, should provide pause to our criticism. However, next it must be seen how Kagame handles the transfer of power to the next generation of Rwandan leaders. My one hope is that Rwanda, and its incredible people continue to enjoy the countless more years of peace they so clearly deserve. to be continued... H&RT JUNE/JULY 2018



Have Awards Been Devalued ?

Asks Frank Corr As yet another Awards Season draws to a close, more than a hundred hoteliers, restaurant owners and caterers have acquired framed certificates or Perspex trophies proclaiming that they are the ‘Best’ in one of many categories within their industry. Most paid significant sums of money to attend award ceremonies and a multiple of the winners, who received ‘Nominations’ and also bought tickets, came away empty-handed. It seems like another age since hospitality awards first arrived in Ireland. That was in the early 1980s when Gilbeys joined with ‘Hotel and Catering Review’ to recognise excellence throughout all sectors of the industry. This was done by assembling an expert panel drawn from Bord Fáilte, IHCI and the NI Tourist Board who selected businesses whom they knew to be exceptional. One business was chosen each month and at the end of the year a Gold Medal was presented to one of the monthly winners at a festive lunch hosted by the sponsors. The scheme ran successfully for more than a decade until the sponsorship ran out. A new awards scheme then emerged, based on the ‘Cateys’ in the UK. Hospitality businesses were invited to apply for an award in one of six sponsored categories and criteria were drawn up. The adjudication panel was expanded and the premises of entries which met the criteria were inspected. Nominations were announced and the nominees were invited to buy tickets to an awards dinner. This format has since been adopted by many awards promoters within and outside of the hospitality industry. It soon became obvious to promoters that awards could provide a new revenue stream and that income from the schemes could be increased by expanding the number of categories, recruiting more sponsors, expanding the number of nominations in each category and maximising ticket prices. This is the business model on which many award schemes are now operated and it is clear that the revenue generated is a significant element in the overall business of many promoters. The hospitality sector certainly has an appetite for awards. Most ceremonies attract several hundred patrons and there is no shortage of entries. What is less clear is the intrinsic value of the awards. Being declared ‘Best Hotel in Ireland’, for instance, merely means that the winner has been selected by a panel of judges from among those hotels which have applied for an award. Equally an award for ‘Best B and B in Leitrim’ does not necessarily guarantee that this is so. Awards can of course be used as tools in a marketing strategy. One award-winning hotel might hang the certificate in the manager’s office, while another might ‘celebrate’ the win on social media or in a press release. Serial award winners sometimes choose a wall in the premises on which to display their trophies, creating an impression of widespread approval rather than differentiating between the awards themselves. Differentiation among awards is however significant. Not all are the result of the ‘many categories/many nominees’ model and therefore their currency tends to be more valuable. Perhaps the best example is the Michelin Guide, which despite its undoubted imperfections, is



trusted and followed by a significant coterie of diners from many countries. Michelin does not invite applications, it does not have sponsors (apart from the eponymous French tyre company) and it certainly does not seek to profit from award ceremonies. It is therefore widely accepted to be objective and a restaurant receiving a star or even a ‘Bib Gourmand’ is likely to be rewarded with incremental business. In the Irish context, Georgina Campbell’s guide provides a similar, but by a distance, less prestigious, service, as do John and Sally McKenna with their quirky, personalised publications. The Automobile Association presents three annual awards which are based on the experiences of their professional inspectors and are therefore, like Caesar’s Wife, ‘beyond reproach’. The currency of these awards is also enhanced by their relative scarcity and by the hosting of the presentation ceremony by the AA itself. Winning one of these accolades can bring practical benefits because the honoured establishments will be promoted by the guide publishers. Printed guides may be in decline, but most publishers also now have on-line versions and there is a decent chance that potential customers will consult the guides when shopping around for accommodation or dining. And it is the realisation of the power and influence of the Internet that puts many of the traditional awards into perspective. A significant majority of all hospitality sector customers now avail of on-line reviews and booking engines. Before any decision is made they are most likely to consult TripAdviser, Trivago or similar sites. There they can access a selection of reviews by real customers and can use an amalgamation of these reviews as a basis of choosing a hotel, guest house or restaurant. The reviews posted on these sites are of course personal and can be biased one way or the other. TripAdviser however seems to have eliminated most of the abuses, including glowing reviews by staff members, with the result that its content is both used and approved by millions of users worldwide. Perhaps the most valuable of all hospitality industry awards therefore is a top rating from TripAdviser because it will be at least seen by an enormous audience and is likely to be believed by most of them. TripAdviser reviews are also used as a basis for ratings issued by Trivago and some booking engines. Like Michelin, a hotel or restaurant cannot apply for a TripAdviser rating, but it can encourage its existing clients to post reviews, and it can interact with both positive and negative reviewers. This involves continuous attention to reviews on the site -but the potential rewards are significant. Be it ‘The Hotel of the Year’ or the ‘Best Ham Sandwich in Cavan’, all awards can be used in a positive manner. They create an ideal opportunity to celebrate with staff and to reward them for a special effort. Some, like the Bord Failte Excellence Standard and EFQM are powerful motivational tools for management and staff while even an award from a local newspaper can be part of a marketing programme. It is however also wise to view awards in a spirit of reality, flavoured perhaps with a tincture of scepticism. From the Hollywood ‘Oscars’ to the ‘County Endeavour’, many awards are made on a subjective basis. Some schemes are highly commercial, criteria are not always transparent, and the sheer number of categories and nominations can devalue their currency. But, by no means, is all that an argument against seeking out awards, exploiting them to the advantage of a business-and even having a good night out.


Looking Gift Vouchers in the Mouth “Most vouchers aren’t actually used,” said the marketing manager of one hotel in Ireland. “It’s a funny area because we put a use-by date on it of 18 months from the date of issue – which you’d think would be long enough – and yet people are constantly ringing us looking for extensions.”

Gift vouchers can make really wonderful gifts but what a lot of recipients (and donors) might not initially realise is that there is currently no legislation governing their expiry dates. Often, one might get a gift voucher that has an expiry date written into it but if there isn’t one, then many venues feel quite reasonable in declaring after, say a year or so, that the voucher is null and void. Even if there is a use-by date on the voucher, is that really fair? After all, the company has taken money and/ or committed to providing a service to one of their clients, so should they not honour no matter when the client wishes to avail of it? I received a voucher last summer for two nights in a luxury hotel. On the ticket, the expiry date was printed as being the end of January of this year. It didn’t afford me much time, but I made plans to use it on the last weekend of January. When my own plans changed and I couldn’t use it, I was told that it wasn’t normally possible to extend it. But what difference did it make whether I used it in January or February? They’re both relatively dead months in the hotel trade and it suddenly seemed a bit petty of them to be arguing over the expiry date. It’s hardly in the spirt of giving – the one in which I received my voucher. It took a bit of persuasion but the hotel in question did allow me to extend my voucher by an additional week. At the other end of the scale, I had a voucher from Ballymaloe House in Co Cork. Their policy seemed to be to honour a voucher no matter how old it was and I was able to enjoy a spot of lunch using a voucher that was 13 years old. For hotels and restaurants, vouchers can be a bit troublesome to manage. Perhaps policy regarding vouchers is often coming less from a customer-oriented focus and rather on an accountant-oriented one. What every accountant would like is for the fiscal year to be over and done with and a line drawn underneath it. This doesn’t sit well with someone who may have got a voucher as a wedding present in 1995, had no time to use it while the children were small and would now like to have their lunch that’s already been paid for.

According to the press office in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, there have been no test cases on the duration of gift vouchers so up to this point, it has been left very much to the discretion of the company issuing the voucher to decide on their own policy. In 2013, a survey was undertaken by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) with regard to usage of gift vouchers. In it, almost half of all respondents said that they had had a gift voucher at some point in their lives that had gone unused. The press office in the Department Business, Enterprise and Innovation puts the percentage of unused gift vouchers at an even lower estimate: “Industry estimates that up to 10% of gift vouchers usable in a single retailer or service provider may go unused,” said spokesman Dermot Kavanagh, “while 1-2% of vouchers usable across a large number of retailers and service providers may go unused. We have no information to suggest that restaurant gift vouchers are generally valid for longer than those for hotels. While durations vary, one year would appear to be a common duration for gift vouchers for hotels and restaurants.” In the restaurant trade, the RAI’s general position appears to be that vouchers should be honoured irrespective of the date. At the same time, they are slow to comment on the latest initiative from the Minister as it’s not yet clear whether this legislation proposes to affect new vouchers or to impose a new rule retrospectively on older vouchers. “I can see what the Minister is trying to do,” says Chief Executive of the RAI Adrian Cummins, “and to be fair, when the vast majority of businesses are presented with a voucher, they will honour it… but it all needs to be teased out so that there will be no grey areas in this regard. “The normal time-frame for vouchers in the restaurant business is 12 months,” says Adrian. “That said, I’ve seen ones for longer periods such as 18 months and 2 years. It’s not something that has ever been discussed at any meeting, thought. It’s just the normal practice in the restaurant sector. “I have spoken to the President (of the RAI) about the new legislation that’s due to come in and he agrees and is very much in agreement with the idea that all vouchers should be honoured irrespective of the date on them. It would be good for customer relations and service. We’re in the business of serving customers so it would make sense to us.” Adrian says that he personally disagrees also with certain gift cards that decline in value after an initial period. All in all, it would seem to be a very welcome move by the Minister to legislate for and regulate an area that has been in the grey area legally for far too long. For hotels and restaurants, it will solve a conundrum. The law will look after this area and they won’t need to spend a second thought on it any more. For Joe Public, meanwhile, it will clarify the situation and mean that the voucher for a weekend away with the missus that he got for Christmas four years ago will still be valid – no argument.



The Imperial Hotel

Enhanced Luxury at

The Imperial Hotel Cork’s iconic Imperial Hotel has recently completed a €400,000 renovation which saw 45 bedrooms renovated to the highest standards. Cork’s most centrally located hotel has been part of the fabric of life in the city for over 200 years exuding an old-world glamourous charm. We spoke to General Manager Frits Potgierter to discuss the renovation project at the Flynn family owned hotel. According to Frits the renovation project at the Hotel is the most exciting project he’s been involved in during his 22 year career in the industry. “It’s just such an iconic hotel and to have been able to be part of the next stage of the hotel’s development is very exciting. I was very conscious that whatever we did, we had to stay connected with the history of the building as well as what it means to Cork and Corkonians. This project was a continuation of the way the property progresses and moves forward; but an important aspect of this was to remember the iconic stature of the hotel, and while upgrading, to stay true to that and maintain the classic feel.” The hotel’s team worked closely with Global Design Concepts (GDC) from a concept art level. Frits explains, “This project saw us create bespoke fabrics for our rooms. We had samples of what we created made up and we added these into 3-D schemes, like mood boards, which helped us finalise designs for the rooms. We wanted to maintain the classical style of the building but add a fresh and a luxurious feel.” A vibrant colour scheme of orange, contrasting with light blue has created inviting spaces for guest to enjoy and relax in while maintaining the character for which the hotel is so famous. Each room has King Koil Club Pocket luxury beds, newly installed state-of-the-art flat screen TVs, and upgraded bathroom facilities include; rain head showers, heated towel rails, luxury towellery from Lissadel as well as Orla Kiely bathroom amenities.

As well as the 45 bedroom renovation, which sees the culmination of an overall renovation which began four years ago, the hotel has spent €100,000 on upgrading its air conditioning programme. Frits elaborates, “It is a system by Mitsubishi called ecoCOOL. It allows us to heat and cool the hotel in the most cost effective way possible. The system allows each client to heat and cool their own room to their individual preference so the comfort of the room is in the hands of the customer. Finally, from an industry perspective, how does Frits see the market in Cork? “Although noises are extremely positive, Cork is not at the same level as the Dublin market. The UK market is definitely down, however the US market is definitely up, in fact it’s up by 70% in some quarters. Cork and Shannon Airports have also been doing a huge amount of work to increase flights into the region and that has been very beneficial to the city. We’re like a lot of the country though, we’ll have to wait to see what Brexit will bring.” Regardless of what outside influences bring, the renovations here mean The Imperial Hotel in Cork remains the iconic Cork icon it always was.

Iveagh Garden Hotel Hotel The Imperial

With no fabric being used anywhere in a room twice, did this attention to detail pay off? “The response has been incredible”, says Frits. “30% of our clients are return clients and we have received a hugely positive response from them as well as very positive responses on social media. We are delighted. We spent €300,000 on 45 bedrooms. We went with white tones, with different textures to create a feeling of opulence, and it has worked incredibly well.” Given the hotel’s iconic stature, did Frits feel a weight of responsibility when undertaking the renovation. “Absolutely! I felt a huge responsibility. We have a wall of memories with pictures of people who got married and celebrated special occasions in the hotel back through the years. We have photos of four or five generations of the same family who have celebrated their special day with us. It was so important to us that people would come back and love what we have done. That was critical for us”. Being a family run hotel, how involved were the owners in the project? Frits explains, “The family were very involved. We worked really well together with the team at GDC and everything was based on joint decisions.” GDC offered the hotel a turn-key renovation and design which was very important to the hotel allowing it to stay open to guests while completing renovations of entire wings with minimal disruption to guests.


H&RT JUNE/JULY 2018 + 353 (0) 1 8660700


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Hotel & Restaurant Times June/July 2018  

Latest edition of Hotel and Restaurant Times

Hotel & Restaurant Times June/July 2018  

Latest edition of Hotel and Restaurant Times