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The 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards

Ireland’s Best

Hotels, Guesthouses, Spas, Restaurants, Clubs & Caterers



The Europe Hotel & Resort Crowned Ireland’s Hospitality Champion

For Gold & Glory Honouring Ireland’s Leading Hospitality Operators

Hotel & Catering Review’s Annual Gold Medal Awards have been recognising and rewarding excellence in Irish hospitality for close to a quarter of a century, honouring the businesses at the coalface of our tourism and catering industries who go above and beyond the call of duty each and every day to safeguard Ireland’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest hospitality nations. Spanning a nine-month process from conception to completion each year, members of our Gold Medal Awards Jury travel thousands of kilometres across the land in search of the country’s best purveyors of hospitality. The Jury, comprising independent experts in hospitality with a proven track record in operations, spend months on the road carrying out undercover assessments of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, cafés and spas and, where we can’t sneak in under the radar, pre-arranged inspections of catering operations and member clubs. The assessments are detailed and rigorous, ensuring that only the very best hospitality and catering operators emerge each year to be short-listed as finalists in the hotly contested Gold Medal Awards categories. Considering the high calibre of entries we receive each year, to be selected as a finalist is high praise indeed, but to go one step further and earn a Gold Medal Award is proof that these triumphant businesses are at the top of their game. The winners of the 2012 Gold Medal Awards are no exception. The 17 elite category winners in the ‘Gold Medal Class of 2012’ have proved themselves as standard-bearers of great Irish hospitality and have been identified by the Gold Medal Awards Jury as leading ambassadors for the industry. Chief among them is Killarney’s über-stylish Europe Hotel, the five star resort which was crowned the ‘Best of the Very Best’ in the Gold Medal Awards in autumn 2012 when, after winning the highly competitive Five Star Hotel category, it was selected from the 17 category winners to receive hospitality’s highest accolade, the supreme Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012. The Europe and our 16 other worthy Gold Medal Award 2012 winners are profiled in the following pages.

Top: The team at The Europe Hotel & Resort in Killarney celebrate winning the supreme Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012. Middle: Sarah Grennan, editor of Hotel & Catering Review and chair of the Gold Medal Awards Jury, presents the top award to The Europe team at the Gold Medal Awards in The Burlington Hotel, Dublin. From left: Nicole Barry, spa manager, ESPA at The Europe; Grace O’Brien, front office manager, The Europe Hotel & Resort; Marilyn Murphy; Michael Brennan, general manager; Sarah Grennan, Hotel & Catering Review; Sebastian Ernst, Brasserie Restaurant manager and Alex Nahke, head chef. Above: Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor celebrates The Europe’s gold success with general manager Michael Brennan.



Monart Destination Spa The Griffin Group’s multi-award winning Monart Destination Spa has garnered a glowing reputation both at home and abroad as a haven of tranquillity and justifiably so. Every aspect of this luxury hideaway in Enniscorthy has been carefully thought through to ensure maximum relaxation and care – from the harmonious surroundings to the quality spa products, comprehensive range of wellness classes and programmes and deliciously healthy cuisine. But what really makes Monart stand out from the crowd is the exceptional staff who are devoted to caring for their guests. From the moment you pull up to the front gate your every need is anticipated and provided for. While the spa’s highly-skilled team of therapists soothe the body and soul, every member of the team throughout this five star property ensure that you remain relaxed throughout the duration of your stay. It is little

The Judges’ View:

wonder, therefore, that Monart Destination Spa has become such a hot destination, enjoying phenomenal levels of repeat business. Ireland’s leading spa is not just the country’s greatest wellness operator, it is also an ambassador for great Irish hospitality. 8

Liam Griffin, managing director, Griffin Group; Lorna Murphy, duty manager; and Mark Browne, general manager, Monart Destination Spa, receive the Gold Medal Award for Best Spa from Paul Murphy of Fáilte Ireland (second from right).

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hAngsana Spa at The Brehon, Killarney, Co Kerry hEscape Salon & Spa at The Imperial Hotel, Cork hESPA at The Europe Hotel & Resort, Killarney, Co Kerry hOceo Spa at Seafield Golf & Spa Hotel, Gorey, Co Wexford hSeaSpa at Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford hThe Spa at Aghadoe Heights Resort, Killarney, Co Kerry hThe Island Spa at Inchydoney Island Lodge, Clonakilty, Co Cork HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 

‘Wellness is the name of the game in this jewel of Enniscorthy, where every aspect of your stay is designed to maximise relaxation, care for the body and soothe the soul. Great therapists, excellent products, a well thought-out treatment list, smartly designed spa, luxurious accommodation, top-class food, and an extensive programme of health and wellness classes and activities make Monart the perfect destination to rest and revive the body and mind.’













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Masterchefs Hospitality at The Pavilion, UL Masterchefs Hospitality’s bustling restaurant at the shiny new Pavilion at the University of Limerick has been a hit from the start, packing in diners into the stylish space since its launch in February. With a diverse clientele ranging from students and lecturers to corporate and local denizens, not to mention Munster Rugby stars who train on campus, The Pavilion is rapidly becoming Masterchefs busiest outlet – no mean feat in a portfolio which includes operations at Thomond Park and NUI Galway, plus the sibling chain of Café Noirs. ‘The Pavilion has been a huge success for us,’ acknowledges Masterchefs MD, Pat O’Sullivan. ‘The feedback has been incredible and as well as a huge amount of lunch and dinner business, we’re also catering for a growing number of events. The corporates like the feel of a university campus and it is also becoming a popular wedding venue.’ What has driven The Pavilion’s success? A

The Judges’ View:

Joe O’Sullivan of BWG Food Service presents the Gold Medal Award for Best Newcomer, sponsored by BWG Food Service, to Masterchefs Hospitality managing director, Pat O’Sullivan.

winning location has enabled Masterchefs to tap into a broad market, while the stylish environs have proved a hit with customers, but boss Pat O’Sullivan puts the success firmly down to the team. ‘Our greatest asset is our staff. Everyone comments on their friendliness and professionalism and they are very proud of what we have created at The Pavilion.’ Winning a Gold Medal Award after years of multiple nominations as finalists was ‘unbelievable’, says Pat. ‘We have been nominated several times so it was surreal to win finally. The staff were delirious and our customers were delighted for us also. It is remarkable the amount of people who acknowledged our achievement. Winning the Gold Medal Award was great for the team and great for the business. We’re having a great year.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hClodagh’s Kitchen at Arnotts, Dublin 1 hRed Cliff Lodge, Spanish Point, Co Clare hThe Restaurant at Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 

‘The Pavilion has enjoyed a roaring success since its launch in February 2012, impressing with its quality food operation, welcoming staff, great service and stylish facilities. When it comes to catering, Masterchefs has the winning formula.’



The Tea & Garden Rooms

The Judges’ View:

‘The Tea & Garden Rooms is a joy for any lover of great food, great coffee and great hospitality. Jane O’Donoghue and the team wow with their warm welcome, great service, and mouthwatering array of homemade dishes which are crafted with the best of local ingredients.’

It’s not easy to win a Gold Medal Award. To win one twice in a row highlights the special appeal of The Tea & Garden Rooms, the charming tearooms in the beautiful seaside village of Ballyvaughan, Co Clare. The café, which gained nationwide coverage when a certain Mr Steven Spielberg flew into Ireland just to sample its famous homemade berry cheesecake, attracted the attention of the Gold Medal Awards Jury in 2011 also when judges selected the Tea & Garden Rooms for a prestigious Gold Medal Award. Repeat visits in 2012 proved that the Tea & Garden Rooms is still unbeatable, wowing the Gold Medal Jury with its winning blend of heavenly cakes and ribstickling good homemade fare created with the best of local ingredients, great coffee and charming and hospitable service. The Tea & Garden Rooms celebrated ‘Cake & Dessert Table’ has become the stuff of legend, and foodies from all over Ireland beat a hungry path to this jewel of a tearoom first opened by Katherine O’Donoghue 30 years ago and now run by her daughter Jane. Continuous improvement is essential for success, says Jane. ‘In our efforts to continually enhance our establishment we have made improvements this year which include a new conservatory, refurbished dining room and a new menu… Our team of dedicated staff strive towards a high standard of customer service and satisfaction and we believe we deliver what we promise: the best quality, service and choice.’ 8

Jane O’Donoghue collects the second successive Gold Medal Award for The Tea & Garden Rooms from Sean Martin, sales director, Bunzl McLaughlin.

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists h Blas by Café Noir, Limerick h Brown’s Bar & Café by Carton House at Brown Thomas, Dublin 2 h Café Noir, Castletroy, Limerick h The Harvest Café at The Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath h Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co Galway h The Silver Restaurant at Newbridge Silver Visitor Centre, Newbridge, Co Kildare h White Tea Rooms, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin  HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012

Best Casual Dining Restaurant SPONSORED BY

The Cornstore, Cork A ‘casual, warm and lively dining experience in a Manhattan style setting’ is what’s promised at The Cornstore and the Cork restaurant doesn’t fail to deliver on its vow. What you see is what you get at this trendy eatery on Cornmarket Street – great food and snazzy cocktails served by a friendly and skilled team of staff in a stylish restaurant with a buzzing atmosphere. It is little wonder that Cork denizens pack The Cornstore to the rafters and why Gold Medal judges return to Padraic Frawley’s hotspot time and time again. A serial finalist, The Cornstore in Cork went one step further in 2012, muscling ahead of its competitors (including its sibling in Limerick) in this über-tough category to take the Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining, sponsored by Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys. What did it feel like to finally stand on the golden stage after numerous nominations? ‘It was amazing. The staff are ecstatic,’ gushed Padraic. ‘It is

The Judges’ View:

Maud Condomine, Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys, presents the Gold Medal Award for Best Casual Dining Restaurant, sponsored by Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys, to Frawley Group managing director, Padraic Frawley and The Cornstore, Cork director, Mike Ryan.

such an achievement to win a national award. We’ve been slogging away for five years and it’s fantastic to get this recognition. It’s been great for the profile of the business and it’s given the team a big gee up.’ While the restaurant game remains a tough business and the market in Cork continues to present challenges, Padraic reveals that The Cornstore has been fortunate to enjoy year-on-year growth since its launch in December 2007. How does it stay busy? ‘We have been relentless in coming up with initiatives and PR to attract business as well as ensuring that we keep the quality of the product high. The most important ingredient in a good restaurant is the quality of the food and the staff and we are lucky that we have a fantastic team who work hard to ensure customers have a great experience when they come to The Cornstore.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists h Clodagh’s Kitchen at Arnotts, Dublin 1 h The Cornstore, Limerick h Ely Bar & Brasserie, Dublin 1 h Harrigan’s Bar & Restaurant, Newbridge, Co Kildare h Harte’s Bar & Grill, Kildare h The Pins Bar Bistro at The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway h The Old Imperial Hotel, Youghal, Co Cork HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 

‘Padraic Frawley’s busy restaurant never fails to impress the Gold Medal Awards Jury, offering a winning formula of great food, great service and a buzzing atmosphere. It is not hard to see why Cork denizens flock to this restaurant on a regular basis. It gets our stamp of approval for its consistent excellence.’


Enjoy Cobra Sensibly. Visit

Best Ethnic Restaurant SPONSORED BY

L’Arco Italian Restaurant The Gold Medal Award for Best Ethnic Restaurant, sponsored by Cobra Beer, was won by L’Arco Italian Restaurant. Manager David Quinn is presented with the award by Keith Fagan, sales director, Molson Coors, distributor of Cobra Beer.

The Judges’ View:

Where do Gold Medal Awards jurors like to go on their Irish staycation? Right now it’s hard to resist the lure of beautiful Ballyvaughan which is shaping up to be one of Ireland’s hottest gastro-villages. With the multiaward winning Gregan’s Castle (Gold Medal Award finalist 2012 and 2011, supreme Gold Medal Award for Excellence winner in 2010) just up the road and not one, but two Gold Medal Award winners in 2012 – for Best Tearoom (see page six) and Best Ethnic Restaurant, this

sleepy Clare village has firmly marked its place on Ireland’s culinary map. L’Arco Italian Restaurant, owned by George Quinn and managed by son David, has been garnering rave reviews since it opened in 2009, earning a Gold Medal Award nomination as finalist in 2011, and hitting the jackpot this year when judges gave it the seal of approval for its quality Italian fare and great service. Italian chefs trained by the Italian School of Cooking in Dublin have created a range of mouthwatering authentic dishes crafted with the best of local ingredients, which are served by a friendly front-of-house staff. Delighted with the Gold Medal success, David Quinn puts L’Arco’s triumph down to the team’s unending quest for excellence. ‘We are consitently improving our product bit by bit. We always try to do better,’ he divulges. 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hChakra by Jaipur, Greystones, Co Wicklow hRoyal Spice Indian Restaurant, Kilkenny hSpice Indian Restaurant, Wexford HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 

‘Proprietor George Quinn and manager David Quinn are committed to providing an authentic Italian dining experience in this winning restaurant. L’Arco Italian Restaurant is another feather in the cap of Ballyvaughan which is rapidly becoming one of Ireland’s greatest gastro-villages.’



Aldridge Lodge Aldridge Lodge is no stranger to the Gold Medal Awards, last striking gold in 2007 when onlyt a couple of years in operation it caught the Jury’s attention for its remarkable value offering. Great value is still the hallmark of this busy restaurant run by chef Billy Whitty and his partner, Joanne Harding, who leads an accomplished front of house team. It is this remarkable value (e38.50 a la carte dinner, e28.50 for a six-course midweek tasting menu) which has helped Aldridge Lodge emerge from the worst of the recession unscathed. Still as busy as ever, the only change, notes Billy, is that following the crash the waiting list is a little shorter than it was at the height of the boom. It’s not hard to see why local Duncannon diners and visiting foodies pack this cosy restaurant out on a nightly basis. The best of local ingredients, showcased with panache by Billy and his kitchen brigade, and served by a warm and friendly waiting staff, make this Wexford restaurant a ‘must-visit’ destination on any gourmand’s ‘To Do’ list. Aldridge Lodge showcases the best of Ireland – a genuine welcome from the front of house team and

The Judges’ View:

Aldridge Lodge was presented with the Gold Medal Award for Best Bistro, sponsored by Champagne Pannier and Classic Drinks at the 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. Proprietors Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding are presented with the award by Hugh Murray, sales director, Classic Drinks.

great local and Irish produce, including crab and lobster fished by Billy’s father, free range pork from his sister, and veg grown on site. Winning the Gold Medal Award for Best Bistro, sponsored by Champagne Pannier and Classic Drinks, in 2012 was ‘brilliant’, says Billy, although the multiaward winning Aldridge Lodge is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure. ‘It’s always nice to get awards and every year we’ve done well. We’re really punching above our weight. But with the awards brings added pressure – when you don’t win them that’s when people start to notice!’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hAn Port Mór, Westport, Co Mayo hThe Ballymore Inn, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare hThe Brasserie Restaurant at The Europe Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry hThe Exchange Restaurant & Cocktail Bar at The Westin, Dublin 2 hLord Kenmare’s, Killarney, Co Kerry hO’Grady’s on the Pier, Barna, Co Galway hThe Tavern Bar & Restaurant, Murrisk, Co Mayo hVerres en Vers at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin 8 HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 11

‘Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding have created something very special in Aldridge Lodge, which should be marked on any food lover’s map as a “must-visit” destination. Local produce is the star of the show, while the front of house team charm all guests with their naturally warm welcome and polished service. It is little wonder why Aldridge Lodge is booked out so far in advance. It excels at great food, great service and great Irish hospitality.’

CONTACT OUR SALES TEAM TEL (NI): 028 3751 1999 TEL (ROI): 048 3751 1999 Email: Visit our catex stand E3 for further information on products and offers. 19th - 21st February 2013

Bunzl Mc Laughlin, 72 Cathedral Road, Co Armagh, N. Ireland, BT61 8AG. Bunzl Catering Supplies, 30 Loughgall Road, Co Armagh, N.Ireland, BT61 7NX.


Restaurant Forty One You don’t have to be a member to enjoy Restaurant Forty One in Dublin’s swish Residence Members Club, but a meal in this stylish restaurant overlooking St Stephen’s Green might encourage you to join. Executive chef, Graham Neville, and the Restaurant Forty One team have been quietly building a sterling operation in this exclusive Georgian townhouse, garnering a glowing reputation for sophisticated food and polished service. The 50-plus staff at the private club pride themselves on providing five star service to all patrons, and justifiably so – our Gold Medal judges gave them top marks across the board, wowed by Restaurant Forty One’s innovative cuisine which is created by an accomplished kitchen brigade and served by skilled waiting staff. Food is sourced locally where possible, including salads, herbs and vegetables which are grown with love in Residence’s private garden and transported from patch to plate in less than two hours. A slick combination of great Irish ingredients, expertly

Sean Martin, sales director, Bunzl McLaughlin (second from left) presents the Gold Medal Award for Best Fine Dining Restaurant, sponsored by Churchill in association with Bunzl McLaughlin to Eli Dalva, Arvine Goorwappa and Peter Everett of Residence.

prepared and served by a knowledgeable team in a luxurious and elegant environment makes Restaurant Forty One a worthy Gold Medal winner. ‘We’ve proven that members’ clubs needn’t be stuffy, that excellence can be achieved with flair and aplomb,’ claims the Residence crew, and we wholeheartedly agree. 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists

hLa Bohème Restaurant, Waterford hLa Fougère Restaurant at Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo hThe Dining Room at Gregan’s Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare hThe House Restaurant at The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford hThe Lake Room Restaurant at Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Killarney, Co Kerry hThe Munster Room Restaurant at Waterford Castle, Waterford hThe Strawberry Tree at BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow HOTELHOTEL & CATERING & CATERING REVIEW REVIEW • GOLD • GOLD MEDAL MEDAL AWARDS AWARDS 2012 13

The Judges’ View:

‘Restaurant Forty One has it all – innovative and deliciously memorable food created with the best of Irish ingredients by one of the country’s best chefs, Graham Neville, and his trusty kitchen brigade; flawless service from a knowledgeable and welcoming front-of-house team; a buzzing ambience in this popular private members’ club; chic and luxuriously comfortable surroundings; and a location in the best address in the city – Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green.’


Our passion is wine “Maybe it’s eccentric knowing vines individually…but that’s what I do.”

Sebastián Warnier Head of Viticulture, Santa Rita, Chile.

Sebastián Warnier is so highly regarded as an innovator in the world of viticulture, his expertise is sought after all over the world. After twenty years spent cultivating the vineyards at Santa Rita and developing many pioneering techniques, Sebastián’s knowledge of Chilean vineyards is unrivalled. While knowing each individual vine may seem a little unusual, we never fault our people for their passion, because at Santa Rita we believe that passion is essential to create great wines. If you share that passion for wine, you could meet the Santa Rita wine makers and learn first-hand about their craft, in an exclusive gathering at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. See Facebook for details.


The K Club Any house built by the Bartons is going to have great wine credentials, add in an owner with a passion for great Bordeaux, and a cellar which would make even the most impassive of wine aficionados weep with envy, and you already have a winning wine combination at The K Club. But there’s more to a great wine experience than a great list and with sommelier and wine consultant Lisa O’Doherty at the helm, aided by an able team of well-trained wine lovers front of house, Kildare’s landmark K Club bears the hallmark of a truly great purveyor of wine. Lisa acknowledges that she has been fortunate to inherit an exceptional cellar with some of the oldest wines on offer in Ireland, but the commercial reality of a post-Celtic Tiger Ireland means that ‘you’re not selling Petrus seven days a week’ (although she did recently sell two bottles for e7,500). ‘We are very lucky with the collection of fine wines we have in the cellar, but where I have been able to put my mark is more at the commercial level – from the house wines up to the wines in the e60 to e70 region.’ ‘What I love most about the Gold Medal Award

The Judges’ View:

Gold Medal Award for Best Wine Experience, sponsored by Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys, at the 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards on Tuesday, 25th September. Pictured receiving the Award from Maud Condomine, Gleeson incorporating Gilbeys (centre), are Audrey Brophy, hotel operational manager and John Ryan, manager of the Vintage Crop Bar at The K Club.

is that it’s not just about the wine list,’ she adds. ‘It’s about the entire wine experience and that’s something we work hard at in The K Club, from the cellar tours that we run for guests to our commitment to decant every bottle of red wine we serve, no matter how young it is or how much it costs. All red wine tastes better when it gets some air and it adds to the theatre of service and provides opportunities to engage with the guests more.’ Service is one of the vital ingredients in the wine business, acknowledges Lisa. ‘We do a lot of training with the staff. The service of wine is so important and you need to make sure your team are confident in their abilities. It makes a huge difference to your offering.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hAghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Killarney, Co Kerry hThe Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford hEly Bar & Brasserie, Dublin 1 hHayfield Manor Hotel, Cork hResidence Members Club, Dublin 2 hThe Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway HOTELHOTEL & CATERING & CATERING REVIEW REVIEW • GOLD • GOLD MEDAL MEDAL AWARDS AWARDS 2012 15

‘Sommelier Lisa O’Doherty and the team at The K Club are passionate and deeply knowledgeable about wine and this is evident throughout their operation. From a perfectly formed wine list, to slick wine service and a cellar to make wine lovers swoon, The K Club offers the ultimate wine package.’

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Best In House Catering SPONSORED BY

ARAMARK Ireland at Oracle A diverse clientele calls for a diverse offering and the 1200 staff at Oracle’s site in Dublin’s East Point Business Park ensures that variety is the spice of life for the ARAMARK team who run two restaurants and a barista-style café in this busy workplace. Serving breakfast, lunch and café service thoroughout the day, the focus is firmly on the best of fresh food created with locally sourced produce, with wide range of influences, from Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine to health and nutrition impacting on menus. But while the quality of the food is vitally important, it is only one part of the offering for ARAMARK, says the group’s VP for foodservices, Grainne Kelliher, who underlines the importance of great service. ‘We’re very passionate about our frontline staff and we’ve invested in them – they’re our business. We’ve rolled out an engagement programme to drive engagement with our team so they in turn can engage positively with their customers. Research shows that workers only get 20-30 minutes downtime during the day and so this time is sacred. It is our mission to make it the best it can possibly be.’ The ARAMARK brigade at Oracle, who last won a Gold Medal Award in 2002, are delighted to have grabbed gold a decade on. ‘The team are very proud

of their work at Oracle and they run a very good operation. To win this award means a lot to them,’ says Grainne. 8

The Judges’ View:

The ARAMARK Ireland catering team at Oracle in East Point Business Park won the Gold Medal Award for Best In House Catering, sponsored by Keelings. Keelings Farm Fresh managing director, Colm Bury, is pictured (centre) presenting the award to ARAMARK’s Caroline Lloyd, Daragh Feighery, Noeleen Fox, Grainne Kelliher and Donal O’Brien.

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hBaxterStorey at Paddy Power, Clonskeagh, Dublin 24 hBaxterStorey at RTE, Dublin 4 hSeasons (ARAMARK Ireland) at Guinness Storehouse, Dublin 8 hSodexo Ireland at Amgen, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin hSodexo Ireland at Coca-Cola, Drogheda, Co Louth hSodexo Ireland at Dell, Cherrywood, Dublin 18 HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 17

‘The ARAMARK team are committed to excellence, driving standards across the three sites for their client where they serve close to 1200 customers daily. The team have designed an expansive offering to serve the changing tastes of the varied workforce.’

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Best Institutional Catering SPONSORED BY

Haven Bay Care Centre Innovation is the name of the game at Haven Bay Care Centre, the retirement village and nursing home in Cork’s gastrohub of Kinsale. As well as catering for the residents of the 75-bed nursing home and 44 apartments in the retirement village, the busy catering department at Haven Bay also provides Meals on Wheels in the community and has recently opened a new state-ofthe-art production facility making a range of meals specifically created for older palates. The modified consistency meals suitable for hospitals and nursing homes are sold in bulk, while Haven Bay has also begun selling individual portions of the meals in the local Tesco and Spar stores. Catering for the varied dietary requirements of the various customers can be a challenging task for any healthcare caterer, but the team at Haven Bay personalise the dining experience for each resident, tailoring menus to suit their palates and encouraging them to try new dishes and flavours as much as possible. ‘We try to get our residents to sample various dishes but we are often catering to a traditional palate so it can be challenging trying to

The Judges’ View:

Haven Bay Care Centre collected the Gold Medal Award for Best Institutional Catering, sponsored by IFSA – the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance, at the 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. Head chef, Emanuele Ferri receives the award from IFSA executive director, Garret Buckley.

sell it to them,’ concedes Emanuele Ferri, head of catering. ‘We have quite an international staff here at Haven Bay so we have run themed days, serving the native cuisine of staff from different countries and that helps. We’ve also introduced new products such as our own dips and crackers for residents who are underweight – but it can be a challenge to encourage older diners to try things like hummus!’ Their efforts are paying off, however, and the feedback from residents and their families following the win has been fantastic, says Emanuele. ‘We threw a big party to celebrate and the residents are very proud. They are very happy for us and all the staff are delighted with the win.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hARAMARK Ireland at the University of Limerick hThe Central Production Unit at Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar, Co Westmeath hCluain Lir Care Centre, Mullingar, Co Westmeath hGMIT Catering Company, Galway hMasterchefs Hospitality at Moffetts Restaurant, NUIG, Galway HOTELHOTEL & CATERING & CATERING REVIEW REVIEW • GOLD • GOLD MEDAL MEDAL AWARDS AWARDS 2012 19

‘Innovation key at this leading nursing home and retirement village in Kinsale. The team’s relentless quest for excellence has inspired them to create a first-class catering service for Haven Bay residents.’


Carton House Golf Club It was a back-to-back win for Carton House at the Gold Medal Awards 2012 when it scooped the Best Member Club title for a second successive year. What makes Carton House so unbeatable? The team’s continuous quest to innovate and improve the standards and service in this dual-coursed club makes it a force to be reckoned with, believes the Gold Medal Awards Jury. The club, which will host the Irish Open in 2013, is not one to rest on its laurels, introducing a raft of improvements since it took the inaugural Gold Medal Award for Member Clubs in 2011. Over the last year it has invested in a new GPS system for all golf carts; upgraded its smartphone app with course information and booking facilities; introduced calories to menus in the clubhouse; enlisted the support of a new resident golf pro, Shane Lowry; filmed and uploaded a range of golf tips to YouTube; and Carton is currently in the process of moving the first and 18th hole on the O’Meara course to the approach of the house, a significant investment that will ensure the Palladian mansion will be the star of the show when golfers hit the home stretch in the Open next June. ‘We have a great culture of continuous improvement at Carton House,’ acknowledges the resort’s general manager, David Webster. ‘We’ve invested significantly in our operation over the last

The Judges’ View:

Carton House Resort general manager, David Webster, is presented with the Gold Medal Award for Best Member Club, sponsored by Tech Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, by Barry Hennessy, group account manager, Tech Refrigeration & Air Conditioning.

year but that has stood to us. We are committed to raising standards for our members.’ To win the Gold Medal Award twice in a row was a great achievement, he acknowledges. ‘We were over the moon with it. To win it once is fantastic, twice is amazing. We hold the Gold Medal Awards in the highest regard as we believe they are the top industry awards. It really means a lot to us to win for a second year.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hFota Island Golf Club, Cork hResidence Members Club, Dublin 2 HOTELHOTEL & CATERING & CATERING REVIEW REVIEW • GOLD • GOLD MEDAL MEDAL AWARDS AWARDS 2012 21

‘Carton House keeps ahead of the curve, consistently reinvesting in the product to keep it fresh for members. A comfortable and stylish club house, great team of staff, and of course, two of the best parkland courses in the country, make Carton House a winner all round.’


BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village The Gold Medal Awards’ Customer Experience category, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, sums up what Irish tourism is most about – a warm welcome and genuinely hospitable customer care that has become our USP internationally. While it’s true to say that every Gold Medal Award nominee and winner must offer prodigiously good service as a base requirement, our finalists in this important category go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their guests and customers enjoy a truly memorable experience during their visits. With so many great tourism ambassadors operating in the industry, this is the category which can be the most challenging to judge each year and 2012 was no exception, proving exceptionally competitive as our finalists went that extra mile to care for their guests. BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village emerged triumphant from the category as it wowed judges in every facet of its operation. While a haven for gourmands with a solid gold reputation for great wild and organic Irish food, you don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy what Macreddin has to offer. The Doyle brothers’ resort offers something for everyone – from the Wells Spa and Macreddin Golf to walking tours, orienteering challenges, horse riding and plenty of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Foodies flock to the Wicklow hideaway for the renowned Strawberry Tree, Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant, but guests can also choose from a wide array of F&B outlets, including La Taverna Armento Italian eatery, The Orchard Café, Acton’s Pub and The Waterside Lounge. But while the facilities are extensive and the activities on offer numerous, it is not the surroundings in this lush resort in Ireland’s Garden County which impressed Gold Medal judges so much, it was the devoted team of staff whose unrivalled customer care form the bedrock of the business. In terms of great hospitality experiences, BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin

The Judges’ View:

BrookLodge’s Valerie O’Toole, Evan Doyle and Joe Kelly are presented with the Gold Medal Award for Best Customer Experience, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, by Paul Murphy, Fáilte Ireland (right).

Village is hard to beat – it showcases the best of Ireland, from our wonderful bounty of food and stunning landscapes, to our friendly people who are dedicated to caring for visitors. ‘We treat every guest that comes through our front door as if they are our only guest,’ says Evan Doyle, and that’s clear to see. 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hBallyfin Demesne, Ballyfin, Co Laois hBallynahinch Castle Hotel, Connemara, Co Galway hBallyseede Castle, Tralee, Co Kerry hCulloden Estate & Spa, Belfast, Co Antrim hDruids Brasserie at Druids Glen Resort, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow hHarvey’s Point, Lough Eske, Co Donegal hKilleen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 23

‘BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village is a foodie’s paradise, offering a delightful array of free range, organic and wild food options to tantilise any lover of good food. But while BrookLodge is justifiably renowned for its culinary talents, the team’s dedication to providing unrivalled customer service must be commended also. The staff go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure every guest’s stay is extra special.’



Lough Inagh Lodge

The Judges’ View:

‘Our Gold Medal Jury can’t help but fall in love with Lough Inagh Lodge each time they visit. This cosy country house offers an idyllic base to escape from the rat race, with a charming team led by owner Maire O’Connor and general manager, Dominic O’Morain, who impress with their naturally warm and friendly hospitality.’

For a display in Irish hospitality at its very best you don’t have to look much farther than Lough Inagh Lodge, the gem of a hideaway in Connemara which scooped the hotly-contested Gold Medal Award for Country Houses for the second successive year in 2012. Proprietor Maire O’Connor and general manager, Dominic O’Morain, lead a team which are dedicated to providing the very best care to all guests and their naturally warm and welcoming service marks them as true ambassadors for Irish tourism. Winning the coveted Country House award, sponsored by Champagne Pannier and Classic Drinks, for a second year in a row was ‘a shock’ admits Dominic. ‘It was phenomenal – we couldn’t understand it. We really weren’t expecting it. We don’t do anything differently at Lough Inagh. We just try to do what we do to the best of our ability. We’re very lucky with the environment that we’re in and most importantly we’re very lucky with the team that we have, many of them have been with us for a long time and they understand what we are trying to do here. Great customer service is at the heart of the business here in Lough Inagh and we want to make sure that every guest feels truly taken care of when they stay with us.’

Lough Inagh Lodge won the Gold Medal Award for Best Country House, sponsored by Aon, for a second successive year in 2012. Maire O’Connor and Dominic O’Morain are presented with the award by Declan Greene of Hotel & Catering Review (centre).

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists

hBallynahinch Castle Hotel, Connemara, Co Galway hBallyseede Castle, Tralee, Co Kerry hThe Castle at Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co Monaghan hDunbrody Country House, Arthurstown, Co Wexford hMount Falcon Country House Hotel, Ballina, Co Mayo hMoy House, Lahinch, Co Clare hRathsallagh House & Golf Club, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow 24 HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012


Ariel House It’s been a defining year for Ariel House, the elegant townhouse on Dublin’s leafy Lansdowne Road, which has enjoyed its best year in business in 2012 and followed up with a swathe of awards, not least of which is the inaugural Gold Medal Award for Best Townhouse. Celebrating 10 years under the current ownership of the McKeown family, this elegant guesthouse has recorded a strong growth in occupancy and rate in 2012, supported by the numerous events in the capital this year, plus its loyal base of repeat guests. Spend one night at Ariel House and you’ll soon understand why it is doing so well. A little oasis in the heart of Dublin 4, it excels in every aspect of its operation, from its sumptuous breakfast and delightful afternoon tea (complimentary for guests) to its comfy beds and effortlessly stylish décor. The owners’ commitment to the business is what has kept Ariel House on top, explains general manager, Deirdre McDonald. ‘They have invested a lot of time and effort in the business and it has paid off. When things got tough we didn’t get involved in the race to the bottom on rates, instead we raised standards further through staff training and initiatives such as our complimentary afternoon tea with freshly baked treats from the kitchen.’ Winning the Gold Medal Award is a big deal for the team who are delighted with the achievement, says Deirdre. ‘They are very proud of Ariel House and they work so hard to look after our guests that it is great for them to get this recognition from their

The Judges’ View:

Deirdre McDonald, Ariel House general manager, is presented with the Gold Medal Award for Best Townhouse, sponsored by Aon, by Declan Greene of Hotel & Catering Review.

peers. That’s what I really like about the Gold Medal Awards – they are judged by independent experts from the industry and it is such an honour to have people with such experience to rate your business.’ 8

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hCastlewood House, Dingle, Co Kerry hPembroke Townhouse, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 hNo.1 Pery Square, Limerick HOTELHOTEL & CATERING & CATERING REVIEW REVIEW • GOLD • GOLD MEDAL MEDAL AWARDS AWARDS 2012 25

‘Ariel House never fails to impress. This elegant guesthouse offers guests a calm oasis in the heart of Dublin 4. Stylish décor, cosy beds, a truly great breakfast, and some thoughtful touches like lovely freshly baked treats, add to the charm of this homely townhouse, while the team, ably led by general manager Deirdre McDonald, really make Ariel House special.’


Downhill House Hotel The Moyletts of Ballina represent the best tradition of Irish hotelkeeping, running the three star Downhill House Hotel in the bustling Mayo town for three generations. Evolving from the fivebedroom guesthouse opened by Frances and Michael Moylett in 1936 to the 60-room hotel with leisure centre today, the hotel has remained at the centre of Ballina society, building up a loyal clientele who flock to this family-run business to celebrate their own family events, from births, deaths and marriages to everything in between. It is little wonder that Downhill House Hotel’s motto is ‘Let our family look after yours’. While locals have remained loyal, so too have visitors and the hotel enjoys an enviable repeat business rate of over 70%. Why do guests keep coming back for more? The great service provided by the hotel’s equally steadfast staff which forms the bedrock of Downhill House’s hospitality offering. Nominated as a Gold Medal Awards finalist in 2010, the hotel at the heart of Mayo’s salmon capital went one step further in 2012 when it beat off stiff competition from leading three star hotels across Ireland to take golden honours, impressing judges with its great Irish hospitality.’ More than threequarters of a century after its launch, Downhill House Hotel continues to go from strength to strength. 8

The Judges’ View:

The Gold Medal Award for Best Three Star Hotel, sponsored by Tourism Ireland, was scooped by Downhill House Hotel. Rachael, Ann and Karen Moylett are presented with the award by Sinead Grace, Tourism Ireland (second from right).

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hKilleen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry hQuality Hotel & Leisure Club, Clonakilty, Co Cork hThe Lakeside Hotel, Killaloe, Co Clare hThe Old Imperial Hotel, Youghal, Co Cork hTemple Bar Hotel, Dublin 2 HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 27

‘This familyrun hotel is one of the stars of the Irish hotel industry. Operated by three generations of the Moylett family, the hotel is a standardbearer for great Irish hospitality, providing a warm and welcoming service to locals and visitors to Ballina.’




The Lodge at Castle Leslie Estate One of the last great Irish estates still in the hands of its founding family, Castle Leslie is celebrating 20 years in the hospitality business, growing from the charming tearooms opened by current custodian, Sammy Leslie, two decades ago to one of Ireland’s finest purveyors of hospitality today. Afternoon tea is still a popular ritual in the Leslie enclave, but the Monaghan estate has spread its hospitality wings over the years – expanding to include elegant country house accommodation in the historic castle and a chic four star hotel located in the converted Lodge. Both the Castle and the Lodge on the 1000 acre estate were nominated as finalists in the 24th Annual Gold Medal Awards, blowing judges away with their exceptional hospitality. The Lodge proved it had the Midas Touch once again in 2012, following its Customer Experience win the previous year with a second gold for Best Four Star Hotel, sponsored by Digiweb. With Snaffles fine dining restaurant and Conor’s Bar, the 29-room Lodge is the social hub of the estate, popular with Glaslough locals and visiting guests. An able team, led by general manager, Brian Baldwin, are great ambassadors for Irish hospitality, wowing with their naturally warm and friendly service, keen attention to detail and total devotion to top-notch customer care. 8

The Judges’ View:

Top: The Lodge at Castle Leslie collected the Gold Medal Award for Best Four Star Hotel, sponsored by Digiweb, at the 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. General manager Brian Baldwin is presented with the award by Damien McCann, hospitality solutions specialist, Digiweb.

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists hBrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow hThe Brehon, Killarney, Co Kerry hCarton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare hRadisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin 8 hThe River Lee Hotel, Cork hWaterford Castle Hotel, Waterford hWineport Lodge, Glasson, Co Westmeath HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 29

‘It is not easy to win a Gold Medal Award, and many hospitality operators enter for years with no success, but the team at The Lodge have achieved gold status for two years running because they excel in all areas of their operation. The staff are champions of Irish hospitality.’


FINEST French know-how; flawless Irish



The Europe Hotel & Resort Nominated as a finalist three times in the 2012 Gold Medal Awards (Five Star Hotels, Spas, Bistros & Brasseries), Killarney’s super-stylish Europe Hotel & Resort blew judges away with its consistent excellence evident in all aspects of its operation. Nestled on the banks of Lough Lein and enjoying breathtaking views of the Lakes of Killarney, The Europe has benefited in recent years from a multimillion euro makeover courtesy of owners the Leibherr Group which has transformed it into one of Ireland’s most beautiful and comfortable hotels. But it is not the view or the décor, or even the exceptional facilities, which makes the resort so special, it is the dedicated staff who are committed to delivering unrivalled customer care for all guests. It is this winning brand of hospitality which helped The Europe triumph in the exceptionally competitive Five Star Hotels category, sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co, and which ultimately led it to take home hospitality’s highest accolade, the supreme Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012 – a title bestowed on the ‘Best of the Best’, the greatest of the 17 Gold Medal category winners. To win, first in the Five Star category, and then take home the top award of 2012, was ‘fantastic’, explains general manager, Michael Brennan. ‘The Gold Medal Awards are so prestigious – we were so

The Judges’ View: The Europe Hotel & Resort triumphed at the 24th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards when it won the Gold Medal Award for Best Five Star Hotel, sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co. Michael Brennan is presented with the award by Kevin Behan, Edward Dillon & Co. It was a night of golden honours for The Europe, which went on to win the top award of the night, the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2012.

factors – the generous support from the owners, the Liebherr Group, who are committed to investing in the hotel, and the loyal team who work in the hotel who, between them, have built up hundreds of years of service. ‘Money is important and it does help, but the most important element in a great hotel is the people. The bottom line is that we like what we do. We love looking after our guests and we get a buzz out of ensuring they enjoy their stay.’ u

The Best of the Rest 2012 Finalists

thrilled to win both awards.’ Michael puts The Europe’s success down to two

hAghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Killarney, Co Kerry hBallyfin Demesne, Ballyfin, Co Laois hCulloden Estate & Spa, Belfast, Co Antrim hDromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate, Newmarket on Fergus, Co Clare hHayfield Manor Hotel, Cork hThe K Club, Straffan, Co Kildare hThe Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW • GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 2012 31

‘The Europe isn’t just the best hotel in Ireland. In our opinion it is one of the best hotels in Europe, wowing with its sleek surroundings, breathtaking views, topnotch facilities and warm and caring staff.’

en h W Us n i o J ver l i S rns u T Gold Next year we will celebrate the silver anniversary of Ireland’s leading independent hospitality awards programme when we launch the 25th Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. For entry details and Gold Medal Awards’ news stay tuned to us on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for Gold Medal Awards’ reminders at and read Hotel & Catering Review magazine for tips for getting ahead in Ireland’s premier hospitality programme.

Gold Medal Awards 2013 Launch: Spring Judging: Summer Awards: Autumn

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RDS 2013 AWA

Hotel & Catering Review  

The report supplement from the 2012 presentation of the Gold Medal Awards