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All the Winners, Grinners, Glitz & Glamour from the Night of Gold

OCTOBER 2009

Dunbrody

Delights Kevin & Catherine Dundon’s Dunbrody Country House Hotel Scoops Gold at this year’s Gold Medal Awards

Review of Tourism Renewal Group Report • Dunraven Family Values • Marco Pierre ALSO FEATURING: White’s Niall Byrne • HR Skillnet Conference • five minutes with DCBID’s Richard Guiney HCR oct 09 .indd 1

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Explore the Possibilities

Edhh^W^a^i^Zh

There’s more to Hennessy than V.S. With a variety of cognacs, the premium range offers endless opportunities to discover the pleasure of Hennessy.

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inside... October 2009

h

21st GOLD MEDAL AWARDS 11 SUPREME WINNER Dunbrody Shines on

Night of Gold

15

CATEGORY WINNERS Our Pick of the Best of ‘09

42

GALLERY Party People

ON THE AGENDA 6 NEWS Restaurant Survey Debunks Rip Off Myth 44 TOURISM TRG Report Reviewed

46

11

56

CONFERENCE People Power at Skillnet

HR Conference

PROFILES 46

CHEF Marco’s Niall Byrne

50 FAMILY VALUES Dunraven’s Murphy Clan 62 FIVE MINUTES WITH Richard Guiney of DCBID

58 54

PRODUCTS 53 SERVICES Myhotel Web Launch 54 UNCORKED Aristocratic Wines from

Prinz von Hessen

58 BEDROOMS Between the Sheets

ON THE COVER Dunbrody’s Kevin and Catherine Dundon celebrate winning

50 14:37:33

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the supreme Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009 Image: Mark Boland @ Silver Image

HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ October 2008  29/10/2009 14:04:41


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29/10/2009 14:04:42 12:39:16 29/10/2009


* VOLUME 42 * NUMBER 10* October 2009

Editor: Sarah Grennan ContribuTors: Marilyn Bright, Frank Corr Designer: Jeannie Swan Production Manager: Jim Heron Circulation & EVENTS Manager: Nicola Hickey Administration: Marian Donohoe, Josie Keane Managing Director: Simon Grennan CHAIRMAN: Frank Grennan Printing: Walsh Colour Print, Kerry Hotel & Catering Review is published by Jemma Publications Grattan House, Temple Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin Tel: 01 764 2700 Fax: 01 764 2750 Email: sales@jemma.ie SubSCRIPTIONS: Ireland 1 Year = e69+Vat UK 1 Year = e93 Europe 1 Year = e108.55 Rest of World 1 Year = e142.83 Note: 2 & 3 Year Subscriptions are also available Discounts: Offered on orders over 10 Rates effective: January 2009 Subscription Order Line: 01 764 2700 No part of may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form without the prior permission of Jemma Publications ISSN: 0332-4400

The Champagne Bar at Dunbrody House, winner of the supreme Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009

editor’s letter... Still Gold, Despite the Gloom

To say that this has been something of a challenging year would undoubtedly be the understatement of the century. Never from such a high have we fallen, and rarely has so brutal been the impact. It was with the impact of the recession in mind therefore, that the 10 judges on Hotel & Catering Review’s Gold Medal Awards Jury set off in trepidation this summer to judge the nation’s restaurants, caterers, guesthouses, hotels and hotel groups. We knew that this year would be different to the 20 other judging years that went before it, and that we would encounter businesses fighting tooth and nail for their very survival. Privately, we also feared that the voracious, though very necessary, cost-cutting initiatives in the industry would have a telling effect on standards and that the quality that we have become accustomed to encountering on our annual inspection of the country’s hospitality portfolio would have waned in these turbulent economic times. We’re not going to lie to you, in some cases this is precisely what happened, where businesses have battened down the hatches and recession-proofed their operations within an inch of their lives in the hope that by doing so, they will live on to fight another day. The result to the trained eye was noticeable in some of our visits, though the deals on offer still made them exceptional value and in our minds more than explained any lapses in standards. What really struck us this year, however, is the clever way so many of you have adapted to the challenges 2009 has posed. We knew from your detailed entry forms the changes you had enforced to respond to the downturn, we understood just how constrained you are by margins, and we sympathised with the difficulties the industry was encountering in what was a disastrously poor showing for tourism this summer. What amazed us was the businesses which managed to maintain the quality, or at least conceal the cut in standards, despite the culling which must have been going on behind the scenes. On the Gold Medal Awards Jury we can safely stand over the

quality and standards of all our 65 category finalists, 14 category winners, and our supreme winner of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009. We also recognise that there are so many other wonderful businesses which so narrowly missed the cut this year and we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to enter once again in 2010. So often businesses can miss out on a nomination as finalists by the tiniest of margins and we understand how disappointing this must be for you. It may seem harsh to eliminate you from the list because of a grubby carpet, sullen lounge boy or chipped tableware, but it goes to highlight just how intense competition for the Gold Medal Awards has become. The 65 finalists listed proved themselves to be exceptional purveyors of hospitality, excelling in all areas of their operation and the 14 category winners and one supreme are the very best of the very best. As we wrap up the 2009 cycle of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards our thoughts are already turning to 2010 and the improvements we can make to what is Ireland’s leading independent awards programme. We will be in touch with all those of you who entered this year to discuss our plans for improvement in 2010 and we would be delighted if others would share their ideas with us by emailing goldmedalawards@jemma.ie or calling us at 01 764 2700. In the meantime, congratulations to all our 65 finalists, 14 category winners, and one supreme winner. We hope to see them defend their titles next year, and welcome many more entrants to the Gold Medal Awards.

SARAH GRENNAN Editor

Contact Us… Editorial: Our editor Sarah Grennan can be reached at tel: 01 764 2700, email: s.grennan@jemma.ie or fax: 01 764 2750. She is always happy to hear your news, views and feedback. Advertising: If you have any advertising queries, please contact our managing director Simon Grennan at the numbers above or via email to simon.grennan@jemma.ie Subscriptions: To subscribe to Hotel & Catering Review contact our circulation and events manager Nicola Hickey at n.hickey@jemma.ie or tel: 01 764 2700.

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NEWS

Restaurant Survey Debunks Rip-Off Myth

Gallagher to Lead IHF

• Raw materials – 31% • Labour – 25% • Utility and operational – 14% • VAT & Excise – 17% • Other costs (including profit) – 13%

Derry Signs Up to Sodexo

A new restaurant survey has debunked the myth that Irish restaurants engage in excessive profiteering and reports that Ireland is the most expensive country in the EU to run a restaurant. The research was commissioned by Fáilte Ireland in response to increasing negative comments in the annual Visitor Attitudes Survey regarding value for money in Irish restaurants. Conducted by accountants Horwath Bastow Charleton in the first quarter of 2009, the research found that a typical meal could be broken down into the following costs:

Noting that the research suggests excessive profit taking is not evident in the sector, Fáilte Ireland economist Caeman Wall said: ‘Given that the research underlines that almost half of the cost of a standard meal is fixed, the restaurant sector is therefore vulnerable to fluctuations in demand as these fixed costs need to be spread over as many customers as possible. Given the nature of the costs, a significant drop in a restaurant’s trade can prove very damaging for even the best of restaurants.’ The report was welcomed by the Restaurants Association of Ireland with president Paul Cadden arguing that Irish restaurateurs are ‘burdened down with excessive regulation and weighed down with a multitude of costs and charges’. The RAI further claims that since the report was compiled earlier this year labour costs have soared to between 38-40% of turnover, with revenue falling by 25-30%. It is calling for urgent government assistance on the issues of local authority rates, bank credit and regulated wage rates. ‘The Failte Ireland report proves from its research what we have been saying for

months. Our members are struggling to deal with increasing local authority charges and need to obtain adequate bank credit to survive through the recession. The high regulated wage rates forced on the sector are simply unsustainable,’ said ceo Adrian Cummins. Labour costs, along with all other costs, need to be tightly controlled in the future if the restaurant sector is to remain competitive, the Fáilte Ireland report found, noting that Joint Labour Committees set wage rates in excess of the national minimum wage, while electricity and energy costs are among the highest in Europe. The research further revealed that many of the restaurants taking part in the survey were concerned about local authority charges and how they are determined, especially water charges which are applied differently across local authority areas. It also said that the reasons why meat, fish, fruit and vegetables cost so much more in Ireland needed to be examined. ‘Eating out is an integral part of the tourism experience but high food costs can have a significant impact on a visitor’s perception of Ireland. We now have some valuable information around food production costs to support further rigorous analysis of the issue. Fáilte Ireland will be sharing this data with a number of government agencies, including the Competition Authority and Forfás, to advise the formulation of future policy,’ said Caeman Wall. However, launching the report, Aidan Pender, director of policy and industry development at Fáilte Ireland, explained that researchers found it difficult to get a full sample required for a statistically robust survey. (About 300 of the 2,500 restaurants in the country were required, just 26 took part.) As a result, he said, the authority needed to be careful of the conclusions drawn. ‘We’re not saying this is statistically robust, but we do think it gives us a good indication of what is going on in the industry.’

Paul Gallagher, general manager of Buswells Hotel, Dublin, part of the Quinn Group, was elected as incoming president of the Irish Hotels Federation this month, securing a majority vote ahead of fellow candidates Michael Rosney of Killeen House Hotel in Killarney and Joe Dolan of The Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon. Mr Gallagher will succeed current president, Matthew Ryan of The Grand Hotel in Malahide, Co Dublin, at the Federation’s annual conference at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Galway next February. The election marked the first year in many years that there was competition for the presidency, which is voted for by members of the IHF council in a secret ballot.

Michelin star chef and L’Ecrivain owner Derry Clarke is to assist with the culinary training and development of Sodexo Ireland’s 500 chefs, the catering and facilities management company has announced. ‘Derry Clarke is renowned for his passion and commitment towards using Irish produce, something that is very much aligned with our own ethos. Over the past 12 months, the company spent just over e17m on Irish-sourced local produce, over half of our total food spend,’ explained Jeremy Dicks, managing director, Sodexo Ireland.

Chef Derry Clarke with Sodexo Ireland md, Jeremy Dicks

Second Place for IrELAND at World Skills Pictured celebrating Ireland’s achievements at the World Skills competition in Calgary were Kristina Beale and Breid Devlin with Shane Rafferty, Fáilte Ireland, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and Shaun Quinn, ceo, Fáilte Ireland. The 11-strong Irish team came second overall in the competition, winning three gold medals, two bronze and five medallions of excellence. Kristina brought home a bronze medal in restaurant service while Breid was awarded a medallion of excellence in cookery. Both students underwent an intensive period of training in the build up to the competition with the support of Fáilte Ireland.

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NEWS

Visitor Numbers Students Encouraged to Picktourism CONTINUE TO PLUNGE

Visitor numbers from Great Britain fell by almost a quarter to 369,700 in August compared to the corresponding period in 2008, figures released by the Central Statistics Office show. Total visits for the month plunged by 13%, with visits from Other Europe falling by just under three per cent to 288,500. In more encouraging news, visits from North America rose by 7.1% to 126,600. The picture for the year remains bleak however, with visitor numbers falling by 10.9% in the first eight months of the year, compared to 2008. The Irish Hotels Federation has sharply criticised the Government for its response to the crisis. ‘The bottom has fallen out of the British tourist market, and not a single meaningful action of substance has been taken by the Government to recover the situation,’ said president Matthew Ryan. ‘With visitors from Britain in August down 24% compared with last year, the Government can no longer stand idly by and do nothing. We need imaginative solutions from our leaders, and, in replying to a recent parliamentary question, Minister Hanafin’s rejection out of hand of an IHF proposal to give free travel to old age pensioners from the EU shows a reluctance to grasp the issue and adapt to new ways of thinking. It is no longer acceptable for the Government to dismiss suggestions that could actually give Ireland a competitive advantage in attracting visitors from our main markets. We are calling on the Government to examine, in a “can do” mind-frame, the introduction of such a scheme. A decisive government should insist that such a scheme be part of the condition under which it continues to provide the substantial e350m in subsidies to CIE each year while trains and buses across the country are half empty during off-peak times.’ - In next month’s issue: Frank Corr asks what we can do to reignite the British market.

Organic Pub for Dundrum

Ruairi Maguire’s Bar & Organic Kitchen is to open in Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin next month, creating more than 20 new jobs. The traditional pub will serve 100% organic food making it the only 100% organic gastropub in Ireland. Certified by the Organic Trust, the pub will also serve organic wines, teas and coffees as an alternative to non-organic varieties. The pub will be run by Shane Maguire and Ruairi Cosgrove, who are experienced in the pub trade and farming. They intend to source a percentage of the beef served in the pub from their own organic farm. ‘People deserve high quality food and drink, they deserve to know where their food comes from, and they deserve high quality service, without having to break the bank in the process. We look forward to opening our doors at Dundrum this November, offering this exact service,’ said Ruairi Cosgrove.

Launching Picktourism.ie magazine were Sean O’Malley, education operations, Fáilte Ireland, with students Lucy Boyle, Bar Skills; Hannah Leahy, beauty therapist Marino College; Anthony Gaughan, Culinary Skills; Thomas Bertin, Bar Skills; and Ruth Watkins, professional development advisor, Fáilte Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland has launched a new careers magazine, Picktourism.ie, which is geared at attracting young people into the tourism industry. Produced by Hotel & Catering Review on behalf of the tourism development authority, the magazine supports Fáilte Ireland’s interactive website www. picktourism.ie and provides second-level students with insight into the tourism industry. ‘The aim of the magazine is to emphasise the huge variety of courses available to students interested in the tourism industry. Not only are there courses on “old reliables” such as Bar Skills, but also on adventure and activity

– reflecting tourism as a career which has many possibilities. A career in tourism may be in a hotel or may be in a restaurant, but it also could be in adventure tourism, such as surfing or arts and events, among others. We believe that this magazine highlights the ever increasing options for students in the tourism industry,’ say Sean O’Malley, education operations manager. Picktourism.ie magazine will be distributed to students at a number of large career events around the country and to guidance counsellors in schools. Copies are also available from Fáilte Ireland’s People in Tourism Centre, tel: 1850 256 256 or email: info@ picktourism.ie

Hospitality Entries Sought for Ability Awards

Hotel and catering operations have been encouraged to enter this year’s 02 Ability Awards. Created by the founder of disability organisation, Kanchi and visually impaired social entrepreneur, Caroline Casey, the O2 Ability Awards promote organisations that think and act differently in relation to people with disabilities. Since 2005, over 100 businesses and organisations have received O2 Ability Awards including the Clarion Hotel IFSC, Clontarf Castle Hotel, Radisson SAS St Helen’s Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel and The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group, McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland and Supermac’s Ireland. Businesses can enter on www.theabilityawards.com before 6 November.

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NEWS BITE SIZE New Contract for Brook Brook Catering is continuing its winning ways, picking up a contract worth in excess of e500,000 to supply the catering requirements for Cork City Hall. Recently the group landed the contract to provide a five course banquet for 1,400 diners at the Rose of Tralee Festival.

Food Operations Closed Four food businesses were closed by EHOs in September, the Food Safety Authority has announced. They were Benny’s Restaurant in Balbriggan, Co Dublin; Adezath Superstore on North Circular Road, Dublin 7; Castle Dargan Hotel (main kitchen and ancillary facilities), Ballygawley, Co Sligo and Food Stall chip van (White Toyota Hiace, reg 98 G 3878) in Roscommon Town. A further prohibition order was served on Ben Super Food Store on Phibsboro Road, Dublin 7. Henry’s For Fine Food in Cashel, Tipperary was also successfully prosecuted last month.

Culture to Play Central Role in Dublin Tourism Dublin Tourism launched its Cultural Tourism Strategy and Action Plan 2009-2011 this month, which aims to position the county as a world class cultural tourism destination. Unveiling the strategy at a workshop in The Burlington Hotel, Dublin on 1 October, Dublin Tourism ceo Frank Magee explained that the three-pronged strategy focuses on information sharing among members, coordination of information on events and dissemination of information to tourists. ‘We are targeting one million extra tourists by 2015 and we believe this strategy is the silver bullet for administering that,’ said Mr Magee. In the three-pronged strategy, information-sharing includes networking seminars among tourism trade and

on-street signage for cultural events; creating a downloadable map of each national cultural institution and Insider Guides to the Cultural Quarters for www.visitdublin.com; and developing an insider-style news report on unique/quirky Dublin events and places for blogs, podcasts, Twitter, etc. Cultural tourism is Ireland’s largest tourism sector, accounting for 5060% of holidaymakers each year and worth an estimated e5.1bn to the economy. Positioning Dublin as the ‘City of Living Culture’ will play a central role in the tourism recovery, said Frank Magee, who noted that the city tourism and short break sector is set to be the fastest growing part of the tourism industry over the coming three to five years.

Bord Bia Hits the Airwaves

Coppershill Asks Coppershill House in Riverstown, Co Sligo is the ‘Just Ask’ Restaurant of the Month for September. The ‘Just Ask’ campaign from Bord Bia encourages consumers to look for information on where their food is coming from when they eat out and advises chefs to provide the relevant information on their menus. Monthly recipients of the ‘Just Ask’ title are picked by writer Georgina Campbell.

Launching a new TV information campaign to increase consumer understanding of the Bord Bia Quality Mark were Tim Cullinan, chairman of the IFA Pigs and Pigmeat Committee; Teresa Brophy, Ireland market manager, Bord Bia; and Ray Carolan, chairman of the Bord Bia Meat and Livestock Board. A Millward Brown IMS survey earlier this year found that while 85% of consumers are aware of the Q Mark, there is a need to increase understanding of what the Mark actually means.

Ikea Boosts Trade The long wait for its opening inspired the play Waiting for Ikea, and now following its launch Ikea is having an even more beneficial effect, not just creating jobs in the Ballymun area but also boosting trade for local businesses. Travelodge, the budget hotel group, reported a 20% increase in room sales in August compared to the previous month, with demand up 15% compared to August 2008. The hotel’s proximity to the store, combined with its ‘flat pack’ room rate of e39 has been credited for the increase.

cultural institutions, venues and event organisers; ensuring consistency in cultural tourism marketing by Dublin Tourism, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland; identifying Dublin’s cultural tourism issues and advocating to address them; and conducting tourist research on cultural interests, activities and attitudes. Co-ordination of event information includes presenting an online calendar of cultural events; providing hotels with options to include in cultural short break packages; and promoting tourism trade use of the online calendar through RSS feeds to their respective websites. Dissemination of tourist information includes producing a City of Living Culture map of Dublin, highlighting cultural quarters and venues; improving

Taoiseach Backs Autumn Campaign

Taoiseach Brian Cowen took a break from canvassing for the Lisbon Treaty last month to launch Fáilte Ireland’s new home holiday campaign for autumn. The campaign included the production of a new Discover Ireland holiday supplement which promoted holiday offers across Ireland in September and October, which amounted to e37.5m in bargains. Approximately 750,000 copies of the brochure were distributed through Fáilte Ireland Tourism Offices and local and national newspapers, each copy of which contained a e50 voucher which could be redeemed in participating venues. ‘This supplement makes good business sense and reflects the spirit of partnership between the public and private sectors which exists in tourism. The brochure is jointly funded by ourselves and the industry – underlining the importance that the tourism sector places on winning business throughout September and October,’ noted Fáilte Ireland ceo Shaun Quinn.

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NEWS

Businesses Honoured for Good Food Maurice Keller of Arlington Lodge Country House Hotel in Waterford and Peter Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary have been announced the Good Food Ireland People of the Year, while Rathmullan House in Co Donegal is the recipient of the Good Food Ireland Top Overall Member Award, sponsored by Independent Newspapers. The announcements were made at this year’s Good Food Ireland Awards, held at The K Club on 22 September when 12 Awards were presented to Good Food Ireland members. They included: • Good Food Ireland New Member of the Year Award sponsored by Silver Hill Foods: Rua, Co Mayo • Good Food Ireland Best Next Generation Award sponsored by Fíor Uisce: Kenneth & Cormac Kelly of Kelly’s Butchers, Newport, Co Mayo • Good Food Ireland Best use of Sustainable Local Fish Award sponsored by Classic Drinks: Connemara Smokehouse & Visitor Centre, Co Galway • Top Regional Member North Award sponsored by Tourism Ireland: Lough Erne Golf Resort, Co Fermanagh • Top Regional Member South Award sponsored by Tourism Ireland: Glebe Gardens and Café, Co Cork • Top Regional Member East Award sponsored by Tourism Ireland: Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, Co Wicklow • Top Regional Member West Award sponsored by Tourism Ireland: Doonbeg Golf & Spa Resort, Co Clare • Good Food Ireland Environmental Energy Efficiency Award sponsored by Fáilte Ireland: Monart Destination Spa, Co Wexford

• Good Food Ireland Host of the Year Award sponsored by Fáilte Ireland: Claire Nash, Nash 19 Restaurant & Food Shop, Cork • Good Food Ireland Best Producer Award sponsored by Bord Bia: The Burren Smokehouse & Visitor Centre, Co Clare ‘The objectives of the awards are to highlight places committed to local Irish food so that consumers can find out and make informed choices on where to go to eat out or stay. Good Food Ireland is the only all-island organisation that brings together a club of like-minded, committed people across all sectors of the hospitality and food industry,’ says Margaret Jeffares, managing director, Good Food Ireland.

Pictured enjoying an Irish artisan picnic on the lawns of The K Club at the Good Food Ireland Awards were Margaret Jeffares, managing director and founder, Good Food Ireland, Miss Universe Ireland Dianna Donnelly and Ian Walker, skipper of the Green Dragon in the Volvo Ocean Race 2009.

Quinn Heads B&B Sector

Fermanagh businessman and former GAA president Peter Quinn has been appointed chairman of Ireland’s national B&B organisation, the Town & Country Homes Association. The appointment follows TCH’s announcement that it is to join with Irish Farmhouse Holidays to form a new all-island body. ‘The core values of the B&B product remain the same and visitor feedback shows that people still want the home-cooked food, local knowledge and one-to-one service they get from a B&B,’ said Mr Quinn.

Time

for Tom

Rugby pundits George Hook and Brent Pope are pictured with Moran Hotel Group managing director Tom Moran (centre) at the launch of the new-look Tom’s Bar in Bewley’s Hotel Ballsbridge last month.

Kerryfresh online

food you can trust and now food you can search. .EWSs0RODUCT3EARCHs0ROMOTIONSs#USTOMER3UPPORT The new Kerryfresh website has everything you would expect from one of Ireland’s leading foodservice providers. We think it's important for our customers to find what they need quickly and easily. That's why we've published a fully searchable online version of our product catalogue. You can search by category, product, part code or keyword. As our team will regularly update the website it will never go out of date.

LoCall 1890 560960 www.kerryfresh.ie

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NEWS

Tourism Targets Race Goers Horse racing is worth millions to Irish tourism, a new report commissioned by Fáilte Ireland and Horse Racing Ireland has found. The research, undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes between June 2008 and May 2009, found that almost 70,000 visitors to Ireland attend at least one race meeting during their trip. Each of these visitors spend approximately e2,028, excluding the cost of travelling to and from Ireland, during their visit, resulting in close to e140m in revenue. About 25%, or 17,000 visitors, come to Ireland purely to attend race meetings, generating almost e35m in revenue. The report also revealed that 60% of all racegoers are from the UK, while 14% are from the US. The quality and atmosphere of the racing were the two top reasons for racing lovers to visit Ireland, with the hospitality of the Irish people coming a close third. Approximately two-thirds of

visitors travelling to Ireland for race meetings said they would return within the next three years. ‘Based largely on these results, we in Fáilte Ireland and our colleagues in Horse Racing Ireland are now in the process of preparing a Winter Racing Campaign in the UK to promote six key race meetings. These fixtures include some of Ireland’s topgraded National Hunt races and attract some of the best horses, jockeys and trainers as well as some of the world’s most enthusiastic racegoers,’ said Fáilte Ireland ceo Shaun Quinn. The Winter Racing Campaign will focus on particular fixtures at Down Royal, Navan, Fairyhouse, Punchestown, Cork and Leopardstown taking place through November and December of this year and will include advertisements in the Racing Post, a direct mail campaign and an online campaign targeting key UK racing websites.

Music Joins Oyster Festival

Fáilte Ireland, together with Diageo, has launched a Galway Music and Oyster Trail to complement the Galway Oyster Festival. The initiative followed the successful Streets of Galway Music Trail which was developed as part of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover and included a comprehensive listing of the entertainment in the pubs of Galway over the Oyster Festival. Pictured launching the Galway Music and Oyster Trail were Fiona Monaghan, general manager of Fáilte Ireland West; Kevin Whelehan, sales manager, Diageo Ireland; Anthony Ryan, chairman, Galway International Oyster Festival and John Concannon, director of regional development at Fáilte Ireland.

Pic of the Month We all need a giggle in these dark economic times, and the above photo of an unknown café in Dublin certainly gave us a laugh in Hotel & Catering Review HQ when it did the rounds on email last month. Share the laughter and send your funny hospitality images to us at s.grennan@jemma.ie.

Tourism Must Plan for Climate Change There needs to be further integration of climate change policies with heritage and tourism policies, a new report on climate change has advocated. The report, Climate Change, Heritage and Tourism: Implications for Ireland’s Coast and Inland Waterways, was published by Heritage Ireland and Fáilte Ireland and builds on the climate change scenarios published by the Environmental Protection Agency in April 2009. It found that: • Ireland’s coastal landscape (which contains numerous cultural heritage features such as Martello towers, castles, historic houses and promontory forts) may suffer damage due to increased frequency and intensity in storm and water surges, and coastal erosion; • Archaeological sites along Ireland’s inland waterways may be affected from both flooding and drought due to climate changes; • Predicted changes in temperature and precipitation patterns may also affect the character of Ireland’s green landscape. • Predicted climate changes such as rising sea levels and changes to rain patterns, may make Ireland unsuitable for existing species of plants and animals currently living here, causing

them to become stressed and possibly extinct. At the same time it could also attract new invasive species to our shores; • Rising air and water temperature could magnify existing pollution problems, putting greater pressure on species of invertebrates, fish and plants such as salmon, thereby affecting activities such as angling. ‘The changes to Ireland’s climate are putting the heritage of Ireland’s coast and inland waterways under increased pressure, impacting seriously on related tourism activities,’ said Michael Starrett, chief executive of the Heritage Council. ‘If we are to cope with the environmental and economic threats we face we need to plan now in an integrated way across all sectors. This report is a first step in informing the heritage and tourism sectors of the risks of climate change and I hope it will bring a more comprehensive approach to climate change at a national level.’ The report also identified the need for heritage and tourism sectors to plan adequate adaptation measures in advance to deal with any possible repercussions of climate change and training for planning for such adaptation measures in businesses within the heritage and tourism sectors.

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The Gold Collection

The Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards came of age last month when we announced our pick of the country’s best restaurants, caterers, guesthouses, hotels and hotel groups at our 21st anniversary awards in The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin on 21 September. In the following pages we list the 65 category finalists, profile the 14 category winners and supreme winner of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009 and reveal why the judges thought they were so special.

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY The 22nd Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards will be held on Monday, 20 September 2010 in The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. Further details of next year’s Awards will be announced in the March 2010 issue of Hotel & Catering Review and on www.hotelandcateringreview.ie.

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Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009 Supreme WINNER

Dunbrody Country House Hotel

A

rthur had a double celebration in September. While St James’s Gate was marking the 250th anniversary of a pint of plain, down in Arthurstown, Co Wexford, celebrations surrounded Dunbrody Country House Hotel when it scooped the hospitality industry’s highest accolade, the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009. Run by Kevin and Catherine Dundon, Dunbrody triumphed to take the top title at this year’s Gold Medal Awards following an earlier win in the Country Houses and Guesthouses category, and so impressed were the judges with this idyllic hideaway in the South East that Dunbrody also picked up coveted nominations in the hotly-contested Fine Dining and Customer Experience categories in this year’s Awards. Opened predominantly as a restaurant with a few rooms in 1997, Dunbrody has grown in size and stature over the intervening years to encompass a 22 bedroom hotel, award-winning Harvest Room restaurant, chic Champagne Bar, noted cookery school and relaxing spa, and the Dundons have plans to expand the Dunbrody brand further with a new food range, self-catering accommodation and second cookery school. Describing Dunbrody as ‘the gem of the Irish hospitality industry’, the Gold Medal Awards Jury raved about this beautiful country house, explaining: ‘Dunbrody has the wow factor. A warm welcome, elegant surroundings, smart facilities, excellent service, and sumptuous cuisine makes this chic country house a must-visit for anyone looking to escape the rat race. It represents the best of Irish hospitality.’ What does the win mean in Dunbrody? ‘We were absolutely over the moon, as were the staff,’ said Catherine Dundon. ‘It was a huge boost at the end of the year. We were so excited to win the Country House Award but to get the supreme award also was amazing. We are thrilled.’ So what’s the secret to Dunbrody’s success? ‘No one will look after your

business the way you do yourself. It’s like another child, you have to nurture it. And you have to love what you do also. We’ve always done what we think we’d like to see if we were guests ourselves and it seems to have worked for us.’

Sarah Grennan, editor, Hotel & Catering Review presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009 to Kevin and Catherine Dundon of Dunbrody Country House Hotel.

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From 300 to One F

The Judging Process Explained

ollowing a call for entries in April of this year, close to 300 entries for the 14 categories in the 2009 Gold Medal Awards were submitted to the Gold Medal Jury this May. By completing the detailed entry forms businesses took their first step on the path to Gold, which saw these 300 category entries judged first on the business case presented on their forms. Submissions were evaluated by judges and compared and contrasted with the cases presented by peers in the respective categories and, from an initial entry of close to 300, 150 entries in the 14 Gold Medal categories were selected to advance to the second stage of the Awards. Hotels, guesthouses and restaurants progressing to the second round of the Awards programme received an unannounced visit by one of the 10 Gold Medal Awards judges over the summer months who assessed the business from a customer perspective. Inspections are rigorous and monitor the quality of the food and drink presented, the service provided and the physical product, all of which are assessed incognito, with judges only announcing their presence prior to departure when they also left a Gold Medal Awards calling card to certify their visit. In the case of the In House and Institutional Catering categories, where it is impossible for us to enter the premises without the knowledge and permission of the client and caterers, judges scheduled a meeting with both the caterers and their clients, conducting a detailed inspection process which evaluated all aspects of the operation. The judging process for the Hotel Groups category is two-pronged and involved a meeting with senior executives in head office where judges examined the policies and procedures implemented by the group. In tandem with this, judges also inspected one or more hotels within the group to confirm whether or not these policies were successfully rolled out throughout the company and judges looked for evidence of procedures being implemented by front line staff. Following two and a half months travelling the length and breadth of the country to conduct the inspections, the 10 Gold Medal Awards judges, plus special advisor to the Jury, Fáilte Ireland registrar Douglas Jordan, met to report on their findings in August. In day-long deliberations, the 65 category finalists, representing 55 businesses, were selected and from these 65 finalists judges voted for the winners in the 14 separate categories. In their final duty in this year’s Awards, the jury voted for their winner of the supreme Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2009 which was selected from the 14 category winners. It is a hugely difficult task given

the quality of the 14 winners and the judges are guided by the principle that the Gold Medal for Excellence must be awarded to the business which proves itself to be the most outstanding operation within its field. And so, from an initial entry of 300, Dunbrody Country House Hotel took four significant steps on the path to Gold, making

it from the original 300, to the 150 category entrants shortlisted for visit, 65 listed as finalists, 14 category winners and finally to the stage as the one winner of the supreme award. It was a most rigorous and demanding of journeys, but one which has been designed to ensure only the very best of the best emerge victorious.8

THE JUDGES The Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards Jury is chaired by Sarah Grennan, editor of Hotel & Catering Review. Joining her on the Jury are: Paul Boksberger, chairman, Food Safety Professionals Association; former president, Irish Hospitality Institute; catering industry consultant Richard Bourke, board member, Fáilte Ireland; former chairman, Irish Tourist Industry Confederation; past president, Irish Hotels Federation; former general manager, Jurys Hotel Ballsbridge Marilyn Bright, food writer and food consultant; former president, Irish Food Writers’ Guild; columnist, Hotel & Catering Review Ray Carroll, former chief executive of The K Club; Irish Hospitality Institute Lifetime Achievement Award winner Frank Corr, columnist and former editor, Hotel & Catering Review; former chair, Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards Jury; fellow of the Irish Hospitality Institute Denis Tucker, chairman, National Hygiene Partnership; former quality assurance manager, Fáilte Ireland

Eugene McSweeney, chef and catering industry consultant; former chef proprietor, Lacken House, Kilkenny Tom Mythen, restaurant consultant; past president, Restaurants Association of Ireland; former head of catering, Irish Rail Mary O’Callaghan, DIT lecturer; wine consultant; former chair of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers Special Advisor to the Jury: Douglas Jordan, registrar, Fáilte Ireland; past president, Irish Hospitality Institute

Read ‘In Pursuit of Excellence: A Year in the Life of the Gold Medal Awards’ on www.hotelandcateringreview.ie/ goldmedalawards Chairman of the Gold Medal Awards Jury, Sarah Grennan, reveals what goes on behind the scenes in the organising and judging of the hospitality industry’s most prestigious awards programme.

Pictured below: Sarah Grennan, Frank Corr, Tom Mythen, Douglas Jordan, Ray Carroll, Marilyn Bright, Denis Tucker, Eugene McSweeney and Paul Boksberger celebrate the completion of another year’s judging at this year’s Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards in The Shelbourne Hotel. Missing from the picture, Dick Bourke and Mary O’Callaghan.

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FINE DINING RESTAURANTS Sponsored By

The Finalists The Dining Room at Gregan’s Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare The Harvest Room Restaurant at Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Arthurstown, Co Wexford The House Restaurant at The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford Thornton’s Restaurant, Dublin 2

WINNER

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The Dining Room at Gregan’s Castle

arely have we seen Gold Medal judges quite so excited as when they reported on their culinary experiences in Gregan’s Castle. One esteemed judge even went as far as to describe head chef ’s Mickael Viljanen’s cuisine as ‘a seminal moment in Irish cooking’, comparing it with the arrival of Michael Clifford, Patrick Guilbaud or the Ryan brothers in Arbutus Lodge. It is high praise indeed for the Finnish chef, who served as sous chef under Paul Flynn in The Tannery before heading to the Burren to join Simon and Freddie Haden in Gregan’s Castle last year. ‘We were looking for someone to bring the food up to a new level and we were very lucky that we found that person quite easily,’ explains Simon, who took over the helm of Gregan’s when his parents Peter and Moira retired in 2002. ‘I don’t think we even imagined the food would be this good, however. Mickael is extremely dynamic, he is well in tune with what we are trying to do here. He is dedicated to showcasing local produce and he eats, drinks and sleeps his work. We just clicked.’ The changing style of Gregan’s Castle’s food offering has had a dramatic impact on business, with locals embracing the new cuisine with gusto. It has also helped the country house gain a firm footing on the culinary map. ‘We wanted to make ourselves a food destination and we are doing that. Our guests now come for the food and more and more locals are choosing to dine with us,’ says Simon. With winning combinations of flavours and textures chicly presented and expertly served, it is little wonder that so many are now beating a path to the Burren to sample

this award-winning cuisine – among them members of our Gold Medal Awards Jury who can’t wait to return to this food lovers’ paradise. Glowing following their win, Simon enthuses: ‘We are absolutely thrilled with the Award. To be judged by your peers, people who have been in the business for so long, as opposed to just being judged by a hotel inspector or a restaurant reviewer means so much.’ 8

Simon Haden of Gregan’s Castle (left) is presented with the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Fine Dining, sponsored by Paul Jaboulet Aîné by Tim Corbett, sales manager, Gilbeys of Ireland.

A Word from the Judges...

‘The Dining Room at Gregan’s Castle was a revelation. We were bowled over by the magical cuisine served in this dreamy hideaway in the Burren. An exciting menu showcasing the best of local produce was served with real panache. Gregan’s Castle has the wow factor, and its restaurant is set to become one of Ireland’s greatest culinary stars.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 15 HCR oct 09 .indd 15

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Unit 5 OC Commercial Pk, Little Island, Co. Cork. Tel: (021) 4510066 www.classicdrinks.ie

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Bistros & Brasseries

Sponsored By

The Finalists Castle Murray House Hotel Restaurant, Dunkineely, Co Donegal Dylan Restaurant at Dylan, Dublin 4 O’Grady’s on the Pier, Barna, Co Galway The Ballymore Inn, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare The Poet’s Rest, Slane, Co Meath

WINNER

O’GraDY’s ON THE PIER

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finalist in 2007, O’Grady’s went a step further this year when it scooped the much-lusted after Gold Medal Award for Bistros & Brasseries, sponsored by Champagne Pannier at Classic Drinks. It was an accolade well deserved for this treat of a restaurant overlooking Barna pier at the gateway to the Twelve Pins. Opened nine years ago by Mike O’Grady, O’Grady’s on the Pier is a hit with locals and visitors on the Connemara tourist trail and wows diners with its signature seafood. A constant quest to raise standards is what drives the team on, says manager Karen Fleming. ‘We are always trying to improve in terms of service, and we engage in a lot of training for staff. Menus change with the seasons, and while we mainly do seafood, we also offer alternatives for the non-seafood lovers

who might dine with us. The food is very good quality and we keep it simple. We offer good food, served well and, most importantly, we appreciate the customer.’ It’s a recipe for success which is appreciated by O’Grady’s diners, including our Gold Medal judges who were enchanted by the rustic charm of this seafood emporium. Indeed, despite the downturn O’Grady’s is buzzing, with Karen describing trade in 2009 as ‘so far so good’. ‘We haven’t even had to resort to early birds,’ she reveals. ‘We tried it in May as we thought we should give it a go but people still decided to eat off the a la carte menu so there wasn’t much point in continuing with it.’ And what does the Gold Medal win mean? ‘It’s brill,’ gushes Karen. ‘ The restaurant was so busy the night the judge came in that when we saw the card we nearly cried – we were worried we weren’t

Hugh Murray, sales director of Classic Drinks (second from left) presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Bistros & Brasseries, sponsored by Champagne Pannier from Classic Drinks to Fiona Kenny, Brian McMonagle and Karen Fleming of O’Grady’s on the Pier

at our best. We’re so delighted for the girls who were serving that night as it shows that when we’re at our busiest we can keep our standards high. It’s great for the chefs too. We all work so hard here so it’s great to get a pat on the back from people in the business who understand the industry.’8

A Word from the Judges...

‘O’Grady’s on the Pier wows diners with seafood so fresh it’s as if it leaps straight from the sea to the pan and onto the plate. Great food is matched by equally great service, making O’Grady’s a well deserving winner.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 17 12:42:59

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THE BEST FROM DOWN UNDER

Unit 5 OC Commercial Pk Little Island Co. Cork Tel: (021) 4510066 www.classicdrinks.ie

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CASUAL DINING

Sponsored By

The Finalists Andy’s Bar & Restaurant, Monaghan Lohan’s Café Bar & Restaurant, Salthill, Galway Madden’s Bistro at the Clew Bay Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo The Cellar Bar at The Merrion Hotel, Dublin 2

WINNER

T

THE CELLAR BAR

he Merrion is the most decorated hotel in the 21 year history of the Gold Medal Awards, winning the top Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Excellence twice (2003 and 2009) as well as this year’s Casual Dining title for The Cellar Bar, which also got the nod as finalist in the Wine Experience category. Selected by the Jury for its smart food, sleek service, stunning collection of wines by the glass (80 in total, heaven for oenophiles), The Cellar Bar moved from the traditional pub it was when The Merrion opened a decade ago, to a chic wine bar with snazzy food offering today. Changing fashions dictated the move and The Cellar team embraced the wine bar concept with gusto, building an exciting wine list and attracting a strong lunch trade based on stalwart favourites such as bacon and cabbage, pasta of the day, and beef sandwiches. It was simple food executed to perfection and diners loved it. So popular was lunch that The Cellar Bar soon rolled it out into an evening format, developing an eclectic menu with traditional and modern Irish offerings, as well as subtle Mediterranean and Asian influences. Local produce plays a starring role, in accordance with the Good Food Ireland principles which, as a member, The Merrion espouses. Do all the awards still mean as much to The Merrion? ‘Absolutely,’ says general manager Peter MacCann. ‘This award is recognition of everyone’s hard effort and it underpins and copperfastens our whole message about quality. The most important thing in this industry is the staff and guys like Damian Corr, the manager of The Cellar Bar and Restaurant and our executive chef Ed Cooney, as

well as our deputy general manager Paul Heery, are who make the business what it is. They are completely dedicated to doing things right. They are so passionate about everything they do and that shines through in the product.’ 8

Pictured at the presentation of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining, sponsored by Hungerford Hill from Classic Drinks, to The Cellar Bar at The Merrion Hotel was Hugh Murray, sales director, Classic Drinks and Paul Heery, deputy general manager, The Merrion Hotel.

A Word from the Judges...

‘A favourite spot for a casual bite and a glass of wine, this smart city centre bar is characterised by stellar food, great service, an enviable selection of wines and chic surroundings.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 19 12:43:41

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The Kenya Coffee  Company opens its first  high street coffee shop...

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The Kenya Coffee Company changes its name to The Kenco Coffee Company...

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The Kenco Coffee Company in Ireland is a full service coffee company offering tailor-made solutions for all your hot drinks needs. Come and sample our expertise in roast whole beans and ground coffees at our Centre of Excellence in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

We’ve come a long way since 1923...

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Cafés & Coffee Shops The Finalists

Sponsored By

Café Leon, Exchequer St, Dublin 2 Pinocchio, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 Queen of Tarts, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 Stonecutters Kitchen, Doolin, Co Clare The Silk Road Café, The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 2

WINNER

The Silk Road Café

Declan Quinn, away from home manager Ireland, The Kenco Coffee Company, presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Cafés & Coffee Shops, sponsored by The Kenco Coffee Company to Rikke Sorenson and Abraham Phelan of The Silk Road Café

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eginning life a decade ago as a café offering respite for visitors to Dublin Castle’s charming Chester Beatty Library, The Silk Road Café has grown in popularity over the years to become a destination in its own right as Dubliners flock to this little slice of the Middle East in the heart of the city. Influenced by the Middle Eastern collection on exhibit in the Library, proprietor Abraham Phelan has peppered the café’s menu with cuisine from the region, including sumptuously tasty Greek, Turkish and Palestinian dishes. A range of classic and flavoured expertly prepared coffees, are joined by a collection of herbal teas, plus an unusual Arabic coffee made by the café’s chefs. The Silk Road’s loyal coffee following can be witnessed best at the 11am rush, where approximately 75% of the coffee trade is repeat, while lunchtime brings on average 45% repeat customers daily who

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mingle with tourists visiting the Library. Loyalty cards, such as ‘buy nine coffees, get one free’, a new take away option, and an altered children’s menu offering a main course and dessert for e4.99 have helped boost trade in what is a challenging year for all hospitality operators and as well as the café, The Silk Road runs a very successful outside catering arm which serves government bodies, embassies and corporate firms. ‘It’s nice to be appreciated when you’re doing something right,’ says Abraham Phelan, following the café’s win of the Gold Medal Award for Cafés & Coffee Shops, sponsored by The Kenco Coffee Company. And what makes the Silk Road so successful? ‘It’s the team around me. We have a dedicated team that have been with us for years and it is because of each and every person who works in The Silk Road now, or who worked with us in the past, that the café has become so successful.’ 8 A Word from the Judges...

‘The Silk Road Café is a favourite haunt of the capital’s coffee aficionados who flock to this heavenly coffee shop in Dublin Castle’s tranquil Chester Beatty Library. Complementing the coffee offering is an exciting food offering which is laced with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 21 OV2404

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Ethnic Restaurants Sponsored By

The Finalists Ananda, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 14 Bella Cuba, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Chakra by Jaipur, Greystones, Co Wicklow Pinocchio, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

WINNER

O

Chakra by Jaipur

ne of five restaurants in the Jaipur group, Chakra first opened in 2005 and has gone on to become a ‘shining star’ in the family, says proprietor Asheesh Dewan, who explains that the Greystones eatery is the most successful of all Jaipur’s suburban restaurants (the group is also in Dalkey, Malahide, Dundrum and Ongar). The success, he says, is down to the team. ‘Benny and Danesh are the heart and soul of Chakra. Danesh took over as executive chef from Sunil Ghai when he went to Ananda and he is a great, bright young boy. He is brilliant.’ To get the most out of your team, you must take care of them, adds Asheesh. ‘As much as they look after the business, the business looks after them. The next step is to make the management team partners in the business. I’m only as good as they are.’ But as much as the team deserve kudos – the good people of Greystones are also to be credited for their palates. ‘The most adventurous people with food have been in Greystones. This allows us to try new things and we always get excellent feedback from our diners there. Chakra was used as a launch pad for Ananda,’ says Asheesh, referring to the Dundrum sibling which joined it in the finalists’ line up this year. The Chakra diners aren’t just impressed with the modern Indian cuisine which has gained national attention over the last four years however, they’ve also been heartened by the slick service, which is as warm as it is efficient. Our Gold Medal judge is a regular, and notes that the offering, both in terms of food and service, is consistently excellent. Winning the Gold Medal Award has been a great achievement, says Asheesh. ‘It

is one of the biggest morale boosters. The Gold Medal Awards were the first time two of our restaurants were pitted against each other and I was delighted for Chakra as it has been around a while. It’s great for the team there.’ 8

Keith O’Hare, marketing manager of category sponsor Cobra Beer, presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Ethnic Restaurants to Anand Priyadarshi of Chakra by Jaipur.

A Word from the Judges...

‘Serving contemporary Indian cuisine packed with imaginative flavours, and providing flawlessly efficient and friendly service, Chakra is consistently excellent and a must-visit for any food lover.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 23 HCR oct 09 .indd 23

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Congratulations to the winners of IN HOUSE CATERERS

Sodexo at PayPal

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In House Caterers Sponsored By

The Finalists Aramark/Campbell Catering at Telefónica 02 Ireland, Dublin 2 Kylemore Food Group at Bank of Scotland Ireland, Dublin 2 Sodexo at PayPal, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

WINNER

Sodexo at PayPal

Denis Tucker, chairman of category sponsor, the National Hygiene Partnership (second from left), presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for In House Caterers to Sinead Ryan, Finbarr Collins and Liezl Brink of Sodexo.

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long with the coveted Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for In House Caterers, sponsored by the National Hygiene Partnership, the Sodexo team at PayPal in Blanchardstown also get the award for the most excited winners at this year’s Gold Medal Awards. Dancing through the crowds to the top of the stage to collect the Award was general services manager Sinead Ryan, who heads up the Sodexo team at PayPal together with Finbarr Collins, business manager, catering services and Liezl Brink, manager, support services. A total of 27 Sodexo staff look after the 1200 PayPal workers on site, serving them breakfast, lunch, afternoon and early evening snacks and meals. In addition to providing

the core catering provision, Sodexo’s services include a Costa Coffee offering and corporate hospitality for official events, training, meetings and visiting guests, as well as the management of the gymnasium and cleaning services. A commitment to continuous improvement and innovation keeps the offering fresh, something which is appreciated by customers, and Gold Medal judges were also impressed with Sodexo’s dedication to providing healthy cuisine using the best of Irish ingredients. ‘The numbers are growing on the site and with more than 30 different nationalities working with PayPal we have to understand what they need and make sure we can deliver it for them. PayPal

is a fantastic company to be involved with and we don’t want to rest on our laurels, we’re committed to improving our offering there on a continual basis,’ explains Margot Slattery, divisional director, Sodexo. Winning the award was a major boost for the company, adds Margot. ‘Our clients are delighted and it’s amazing for our team there as well. As a company it means so much to us to win also as being able to say we’ve won a Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award when we’re pitching for business is a huge help. It’s the benchmark for the industry and we use it as a selling tool. The Gold Medal Awards are one of the most positive things we get involved with every year.’ 8

A Word from the Judges...

‘Sodexo runs a hugely successful and efficient operation in PayPal. It achieved near flawless marks from our Gold Medal judges, who were highly impressed with the dedication, service and innovation evident throughout the entire catering department. This is a quality operation which is highly deserving of our Gold Medal Award.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 25 15:35:39

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Congratulations to the winners of INSTITUTIONAL CATERERS

ArAmArk HeAltHcAre At mount cArmel HospitAl

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15:36:24

INSTITUTIONAL CATERERS

Sponsored By

The Finalists Aramark Healthcare at Mount Carmel Hospital, Churchtown, Dublin 14 The Black Olive Catering Company at Barretstown, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare Kylemore Food Group at St Francis Hospice, Raheny, Dublin 5 Skibbereen Residential Care, Skibbereen, Co Cork Wheatfield Prison, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

WINNER

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Aramark Healthcare at Mount Carmel Hospital

he Aramark Healthcare team were marking the end of their first year at Mount Carmel Hospital when they scooped the coveted Gold Medal Award for Institutional Caterers, sponsored by the National Hygiene Partnership last month. While great news for the 50 Aramark staff on the Dublin site, it was also a bonus for the company which has recorded back-to-back wins in this category, collecting the Award last year for its operation in University Hospital Galway. ‘The team are delighted and I am thrilled for them. I felt they deserved this recognition,’ says Mary Callanan, client account manager, Aramark Healthcare. ‘It’s also fantastic for the company as this is the second year we have received this Award. Our clients are also delighted. Together, we strive for excellence in all aspects of the operation and this Award reflects that.’ Catering seven days a week to 134 patients, 550 employees and visitors, plus day-care patients six days a week, the team at Aramark also manages the laundry distribution, offers a laundry service for some small items, and provides corporate hospitality for events at the hospital. As expected in hospital catering, nutritionally healthy food plays a starring role and the Aramark team work hand in hand with dieticians to devise patient menus catering for a variety of diets, including coeliac, low salt, high protein, diabetic, halal, soft and liquidised. Menus run on a two week cycle and are reviewed regularly to reflect the seasons, while the

restaurant menu is also updated with the seasons and changes daily on a two-week cycle. Partnership is key to the success of the Mount Carmel catering operation and Mary Callanan reveals that Aramark has a very close working relationship with the clients. ‘It’s all about working together as part of a team, and our team are tireless in their approach to their work. They are committed to doing the job well and always strive for improvement.’ It is a savvy strategy which has paid off. 8

Joan O’Shaughnessy, chief executive, Aramark/Campbell Catering and the winning Aramark Healthcare catering team from Mount Carmel Hospital, Margaret Russell, Liz Whelan and Dolores Tempany are pictured receiving the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Institutional Caterers, sponsored by the National Hygiene Partnership from Ray Ellard, trustee of the National Hygiene Partnership.

A Word from the Judges...

‘The Aramark Healthcare team at Mount Carmel impressed our judges with their dedication and professionalism in all areas of the business and scored highly for their healthy food, special dietary options, innovative menus and partnership with Irish suppliers, which sees them serve the best of Irish produce to patients, staff and visitors. Their continuous drive to improve was evident throughout the entire operation.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 27 HCR oct 09 .indd 27

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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE The Finalists Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, Adare, Co Limerick Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Arthurstown, Co Wexford Harvey’s Point Hotel, Lough Eske, Co Donegal Hayfield Manor Hotel, Cork Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry Moy House, Lahinch, Co Clare

Sponsored By

WINNER

‘G

KILLEEN HOUSE HOTEL

eraldine and I have always held the belief that what makes Ireland stand out is the first class Irish

people.’ So says Michael Rosney who, together with wife Geraldine, runs the award winning Killeen House Hotel in Killarney, which followed on from its success as last year’s Three Star Hotel winner in the Gold Medal Awards to pick up the inaugural Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Customer Experience, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland this year. ‘While we were delighted and honoured to win previous awards, this is by far and away the Award that means the most to us and the staff,’ says Michael of the Customer Experience win. ‘It goes back to our ethos of putting people first. At Killeen House what we try to do is under-promise and over-deliver. We don’t have the power to put extra space on the building, or order the sun to shine for our guests, but what we can deliver is a warm Irish welcome.’ The Rosneys’ skills as hosts are legendary in the industry, and it is little wonder therefore that 75% of the hotel’s business is either directly repeat, or referrals from other guests. The knack, says Michael, is to empower staff to do whatever it takes to ensure guests are happy. ‘We have 17 staff, most of whom have been with us for 10 years or more and we pride ourselves on our low turnover rate. The customers love to see the same faces when they return and our staff know most of our guests by name. The majority of them are from the locality so they have a great knowledge of the area and they are able to pass this on to guests.’ Introduced this year, the Customer Experience category is sponsored by Fáilte Ireland which is working in collaboration with Tourism Ireland’s Shine initiative to reinforce the importance of the unique

Irish welcome. While this year’s category was intensely competitive, Killeen was an obvious winner, wowing judges with its natural, warm, friendly service and charm. It is this service which is uniquely Irish, says Michael Rosney. ‘We Irish are innately a warm, natural people. Sincerity always shines through in service – you can’t manufacture it – and what we try to do in Killeen is give all our guests a genuine welcome.’ 8

Michael and Geraldine Rosney of Killeen House Hotel receive the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Customer Experience, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, from Sean O’Malley, manager of education operations at Fáilte Ireland.

A Word from the Judges...

‘Killeen House Hotel is famed far and wide for its warm and welcoming service. Staff go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure every guest’s stay is perfect, and Michael and Geraldine Rosney’s skills as hosts are as legendary as the craic in Rozzer’s Bar. Nowhere is the spirit of the famed Irish fáilte more alive than in this star of The Kingdom.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 29 HCR oct 09 .indd 29

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WINE EXPERIENCE The Finalists

Sponsored By

The Cellar Bar at The Merrion Hotel, Dublin 2 The Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 West at The Twelve, Barna, Co Galway

WINNER

W

THE FOUR SEasONS

ith Four Seasons sommelier Simon Keegan also serving as president of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers we knew we were in for a treat when we visited the sumptuous Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin’s leafy Ballsbridge. And we’re delighted to report we weren’t disappointed. Renowned for its hospitality, the hotel excels in all areas of service, including wine, where a dedicated team led by Simon and food and beverage director Marco Cirauli, expertly advise and serve diners in the Seasons Restaurant. An extensive wine list of more than 200 wines from across the globe is constantly evolved and training is regularly undertaken to keep the team up to date, either through in house training or with principals from the wine companies who are introduced by suppliers. Whether a connoisseur or a wine novice, there is something for everyone on the Four Seasons list which is assembled in an easy-to-follow format including a breakdown of wines by region and grape format. Sections include Great European Whites, Grapes of Bacchus (Italy), Rhone Rangers and Merlot & Friends and feature helpful little notes detailing taste and style. Cost is of course an issue in these pre-boom days (a far nicer term than recession, we think) and just as the list offers something for every palate, it is also conscious of catering to every wallet. Prices range from e22 for a Domaine Talmard to e1950 for a La Pin pomerol. Although the hotel still attracts its share of high rollers, Simon Keegan notes that ‘people are much more conscious of what they’re spending now, even if they have it,

they don’t want to be seen spending it’. As a result, the hotel has tweaked its list to offer a more affordable selection, though Simon affirms that quality has not been sacrificed. The hotel, which was also nominated as a finalist in the Five Star category, is delighted with the win. ‘The Award is mostly for the guys on the floor. They’re always trying to improve and expand their knowledge base,’ says Simon. Long may it last. 8

Stephen Meehan and Simon Keegan of The Four Seasons Hotel are presented with the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Wine Experience, sponsored by Gilbeys of Ireland, by Terry Pennington, commercial director, Gilbeys of Ireland.

A Word from the Judges...

‘The knowledgeable staff, carefully sourced list and fairly priced wines make the Four Seasons Hotel a delight for wine lovers.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 31 HCR oct 09 .indd 31

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Country Houses & Guesthouses Sponsored By

The Finalists Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Arthurstown, Co Wexford Gregan’s Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare Mount Falcon Country House Hotel, Ballina, Co Mayo Moy House, Lahinch, Co Clare Rathmullan House, Rathmullan, Co Donegal Rathsallagh House Hotel & Golf Club, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow

WINNER

Dunbrody Country House Hotel

N

estled on 300 acres in Arthurstown, Co Wexford, Dunbrody House began its endeavors as a commercial enterprise in 1997 when husband and wife team Kevin and Catherine Dundon turned it from a private house into a restaurant with a handful of adjoining rooms following their purchase of the property from Lord Donegal. The restaurant, and Kevin’s signature cooking, rapidly gained recognition, and over the following years the couple refurbished Dunbrody’s 10 guestrooms, and went on to rebuild a wing of the house in 2000 with the addition of a further eight bedrooms. More bedrooms followed, along with the popular cookery school, spa and buzzing champagne bar, and following the Dundon’s recent purchase of the Steward’s House, where Lord Donegal had continued to live, the couple have added a self-catering house to their facilities. But the expansion is not complete, and the success of the week-long cooking masterclasses which were introduced this year has led the Dundons to consider the addition of a second cookery school, and plans are afoot to convert some of Dunbrody’s outbuildings into further selfcatering accommodation for students. In addition, the couple are looking to open a shop on the estate to sell their hugely successful Dundon Food Experience range, plus professional cookery equipment for students of the cookery school, the Uspa and Elemis products which they use in the spa, and other little treats such as the gorgeous baskets made by the estate’s gardener. It is just one more innovation from the Dundons who have constantly honed their offering over the last 12 years. Adapting to the changing fortunes of the Irish economy,

the couple created the Dundon Food Experience range of homemade jams and marmalades last autumn as a way to keep staff busy when trade started to wane, and added Christmas cakes and puddings in the build-up to the festivities. The range sold out the first two weekends it went on offer, and though the Dundons had no intention of continuing, demand was so great after Christmas that they have returned to production and now distribute to delis and craft butchers throughout Leinster and some parts of Munster. ‘It’s all about making ourselves more productive and the space at Dunbrody more productive as well,’ explains Catherine Dundon when talking about the new initiatives. ‘It’s been a tough year and the summer was very strange, there was so much pressure without the American visitors, that you need to do things a bit differently and be more productive.’ It is these clever business initiatives, along with the unrivalled customer experience, which endeared Dunbrody House to the Gold Medal judges this year, with members of the jury raving about the warmth of the welcome, the comfort of the facilities, the quality of the food, and the stunning gardens surrounding this little gem of the South East. Along with its triumph in the Country Houses & Guesthouses category, and of course the big win as this year’s Gold Medal Award for Excellence recipient, Dunbrody was also nominated in the Fine Dining and Customer Experience categories. The Dundons were stunned when they won the top award, divulges Catherine, explaining that they had their heart set on the Country Houses title. ‘That was the big one for us and we were so thrilled when we won it, we couldn’t believe it when we won the supreme award as well.’ 8

Joe Quinsey, general manager of Gilbeys of Ireland (right), presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Country Houses & Guesthouses, sponsored by Laurent-Perrier, to Catherine and Kevin Dundon, proprietors of Dunbrody Country House Hotel.

A Word from the Judges...

‘Dunbrody House, led by husband and wife team Kevin and Catherine Dundon, is a true standard-bearer for the Irish hospitality industry. This smart country house wows guests with its warm atmosphere, sumptuous facilities, stunning gardens, wonderful cookery school and spa, flawless service and its sophisticated, modern Irish food served in its award-winning restaurant. It is the perfect hideaway.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 33 HCR oct 09 .indd 33

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THREE STAR HOTELS Sponsored By

The Finalists Claregalway Hotel, Claregalway, Co Galway Clew Bay Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry

WINNER

S

Claregalway Hotel

eptember proved to be a very good month for Claregalway Hotel director Paul Gill who, following the hotel’s triumph in the Three Star category of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards, celebrated the birth of his first child, Ríon, a week later. While Ríon’s arrival was expected, the Claregalway team were completely caught off guard when they were announced winners of the Three Star category at the Awards in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. ‘When we sat down at the start of the year and listed our goals for the year ahead a nomination as finalist in the Gold Medal Awards was top of the list,’ explains Paul. ‘We wanted to be listed as one of the four best three star hotels in the country, that was our benchmark, and we were working towards a win, possibly in 2010 but thinking it might take us until 2011. There are so many great hotels who have been finalists many times. For us to win it in the first year we were selected as a finalist is amazing. We can’t believe it.’ Opened in 2004, the 48-guestroom Claregalway Hotel enjoys a strong wedding and corporate trade, catering predominantly to domestic visitors and locals. It has established itself at the heart of village life in Claregalway, becoming a popular gathering spot for local diners, clubs and social groups. Clever sales and marketing initiatives and a constant quest to improve standards have led the hotel to keep on top despite the tough economic environment now dictating the pace in the Irish hotel industry. The secret, says Paul Gill, is the great people who work in the hotel. ‘We have an amazing team and we try to keep them motivated through learning. We train all the time. The hotel is only bricks

and mortar, it is the people who give it personality.’ Paul and the team also constantly keep an eye out for ways to improve the business. ‘We know what we enjoy ourselves and we have our own expectations of what a good three star hotel should be. We don’t want to try to be a four star hotel, we want to be the best possible three star. We pick up tips and ways of improving all the time and if we see a good idea we implement it straight away, we don’t hang around. We’re always upping the ante.’ And this is something that was witnessed by our Gold Medal judge who spent a wonderful 24 hours in the

Receiving the Gold Medal Award for Three Star Hotels, sponsored by BWG Foodservice, on stage were Donnacha O’Malley, general manager, Michelle Bell, HR manager and Paul Gill, director, Claregalway Hotel, with Brian Daly, commercial manager, BWG Foodservice

hotel, enjoying the hotel’s facilities, quietly assessing the excellent service, and mingling with the locals and guests who raved about the hotel. And it is little wonder they love it so much, as our judge says: ‘Claregalway is a little jewel of a hotel ’.8

A Word from the Judges...

‘Claregalway Hotel is a fine example of the best of Irish hotelkeeping. Our judges raved about this jewel of Galway, which excelled in all areas of hospitality, providing great food, comfortable surroundings and warm, friendly, efficient service.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 35 HCR oct 09 .indd 35

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FOUR STAR HOTELS

Sponsored By

The Finalists Harvey’s Point Hotel, Lough Eske, Donegal Jurys Cork Hotel, Cork Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Galway Westport Plaza Hotel, Westport, Co Mayo

WINNER

Harvey’s Point Hotel

H

arvey’s Point is no stranger to the podium in the Gold Medal Awards, last winning the three star title in

2003. Since then a lot has changed in this idyllic retreat on the shores of Lough Eske, the hotel expanded considerably in 2005, achieved four star status with Fáilte Ireland, upgraded its facilities again last year, and opened a popular new steakhouse this summer. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Harvey’s Point is a work in progress, says proprietor Deirdre McGlone, who adds that this year’s Gold Medal win ‘gives us the confidence to say we’ve done things right and spurs us on to improve further in the future.’ The award is a great source of encouragement for management and staff, she explains. ‘We are keener than ever to improve now and keep the flag flying for Donegal.’ While the hotel industry has had a difficult year, Deirdre reports that Harvey’s Point has had a good summer. ‘We took measures last winter to tighten up the business and it has stood to us. We’re focussed on three things now, happy guests, happy staff and profitability. You

need to have all three if you are to succeed.’ And what is the most vital ingredient in success? ‘Attention to people. It’s the people that make a hotel – not the size of the spa or the scale of the golf course, of which we have neither. Most importantly are the staff and the guests. It’s all about good hotelkeeping and hospitality in the true sense of the word, a warm welcome and attention to detail.’ Our judges agree and so charmed were they by the warmth of the service that they also nominated Harvey’s Point as a finalist in this year’s Customer Experience category. The Irish welcome is alive and well in Co Donegal.8

Brian McGuinness, brand manager of Remy Martin at Barry & Fitzwilliam, presents the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Four Star Hotels, sponsored by Remy Martin to proprietors Deirdre McGlone and Marc Gysling.

A Word from the Judges...

‘Harvey’s Point is one of the country’s best-loved hotels. Famed for its genuinely warm and welcoming hospitality, this hotel is a real treat, offering superior service, fabulous food and a relaxed atmosphere, all wrapped up in a stunning environment.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 37 HCR oct 09 .indd 37

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Just when you think things can’t get any better

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FIVE STAR HOTELS The Finalists Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, Adare, Co Limerick Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Killarney, Co Kerry Dylan, Dublin 4 The Europe Hotel & Resort, Killarney, Co Kerry The Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Hayfield Manor Hotel, Cork

Sponsored By

WINNER

I

The Europe Hotel & Resort

t has been quite a journey for The Europe Hotel in Killarney, which reopened in March 2008 following an 18 month, multimillion euro refurbishment, and has attained widespread critical acclaim ever since. The Awards have come thick and fast for this stunning hotel in the heart of The Kingdom, including the recent Best Building in Landscape Award at the Irish Architecture Awards and Best Spa Design at the Hotelworld Global Hospitality & Design Awards 2009. But while all awards are joyfully received, it is the service awards which mean the most to The Europe team, says general manager Michael Brennan. ‘To win this award is amazing as the Gold Medal Awards set the standard for the industry. They’re the awards that people want. To be classed as the best five star hotel in the country is fantastic. We hope to win it again next year, when we also want to win the supreme award!’ If The Europe achieves this target it will be a double celebration for the hotel, which also marks its 50th anniversary in 2010. And while much has changed over the half century, and the hotel looks dramatically different to when it closed its doors for refurbishment in 2006, much has remained constant, including the loyal staff, some of whom have served in the hotel for its 49 years. ‘I worked here when I was in college, and when I came back in 2002 all the heads of staff were still here, bar one who had retired,’ explains a very proud Michael Brennan. ‘We have an incredible team of staff here, so many of whom have been with us for a very long time and that is a huge plus as we also have a tremendously loyal customer base and the staff recognise everyone when they come in the door.’ The reasoning behind the multimillion euro refurbishment, which has been in the

ji ]

r

Pictured at the presentation of the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Five Star Hotels, sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co, were Alex Nahle, The Europe Hotel & Resort; Andy O’Hara, sales director of Edward Dillon & Co; Michael Brennan and Grace O’Brien, The Europe Hotel & Resort.

planning since early in the millennium, was to return the much-loved Europe to its former glory. ‘The hotel was always regarded as a fine property in a fantastic location with a great team of staff and we wanted to bring it back to that. We wanted to reposition The Europe as a resort destination at the heart of Killarney and the finest hotel in Ireland,’ says Michael. It’s certainly achieved that, with the hotel scoring near flawless marks for service, offering, facilities and welcome in this year’s Awards making it unbeatable in this year’s Five Star category. Will The Europe achieve its goal of landing the supreme Gold Medal Award for Excellence 2010? We’ll have to wait until the Awards in The Shelbourne Hotel on 20 September next year to find out.8 A Word from the Judges...

‘This stunning hotel wowed our judges with its superior service, magnificent facilities and exciting food served in its busy Brasserie restaurant. The Europe’s loyal customers return time and again and it’s not hard to see why. The hotel is a jewel in the crown of The Kingdom.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 39

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HOTEL GROUPS The Finalists Carlton Hotel Group Hotel Partners Maldron Hotels Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts Ireland

Sponsored By

WINNER

A

Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts Ireland

finalist in this category in 2008, Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts Ireland went on to win the title this year when it pitted its skills against the best hotel operating groups in the country. First entering the Irish market 10 years ago with the five star Radisson Blu St Helen’s Hotel in Stillorgan, Co Dublin, the group has since grown its presence to take in 12 hotels across the country, employing 950 staff. ‘We are a very hands-on company,’ says the group’s regional manager for Ireland, Han Oldenburger. ‘We have a very small head office and a very flat organisation which makes it very easy to make quick decisions and that is a tremendous advantage. We have a very solid structure, we are an honest, straightforward employer and we are well-known for our “Yes I Can” catchphrase which empowers staff. The concept has even been adopted by the American President.’ Judges adjudicating in the group category conducted their assessment in two parts, the first in a meeting with senior group executives to discuss the policies and procedures in place, and the second in an unannounced hotel visit where the group was assessed from the customer experience, and policies were tested to ensure they were implemented by front line staff. Radisson impressed the jury on both fronts, supporting the group operation with strong policies and standards which were evident at the coalface of the business. ‘Winning this Award has been great for the staff. The news was posted on our company intranet the next day and we have had a fantastic reaction from

Above: Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Galway, a finalist in the Four Star Hotels category, which was sponsored by Remy Martin Right: Brian McGuinness, brand manager, Barry & Fitzwilliam (second from left) presents the Gold Medal Award for Hotel Groups, sponsored by Allied Wines at Barry & Fitzwilliam to Tim Whyte, financial controller, Pauline Corcoran, national director of sales and Han Oldenburger, regional director, Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts Ireland.

our colleagues in the 380 hotels across Europe. This year has been a very tough year for the industry. We’ve had to restructure and cut our costs and we’ve made possible things that we didn’t even know were possible. To win this award is a great boost,’ says Han Oldenburger.8 A Word from the Judges...

‘Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts impressed judges with the high standards which were evident across the board. Policies set at head office were visible on the front line, and the group’s “Yes I can” attitude not only ensures a good experience for guests, it also clearly empowers staff.’ HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 41 HCR oct 09 .indd 41

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Gold Party

The great and the good of the Irish hotel and catering industry gathered in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel on 21 September to celebrate the 21st Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards. Among them were representatives of the 65 category finalists, 14 category winners and supreme Gold Medal for Excellence winner, plus our 14 generous sponsors and representatives of leading industry bodies. 1.

2.

3.

4.

9.

10.

8.

7.

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1. Sinead Conway, Alison Cosgrove and Anna Marie Corcoran, Westport Plaza Hotel 2. Sodexo’s Sinead Ryan takes to the stage to collect the In House Caterers Award 3. The Shelbourne’s Kate Draper and Tara Costello 4. Sive Hartel, The Four Seasons Hotel and Rhys Whalan, Societe Les Clefs D’Or 5. Kevin Thornton and Sabastien Gottoherr, Thornton’s Restaurant 6. Michael Kearney, Carlton Hotel Group, Anita Higgins and Sarah McDaid, Adare Manor Hotel 7. Margaret Clapham, Sodexo and Nick Clapham, Seapoint Restaurant 8. Ethel McKenna, St Francis Hospice and Simon Purcell, Kylemore Food Group 9. Carol Kennelly and Denis Tucker, National Hygiene Partnership and Gold Medal Awards judge 10. Clare Hallinan, Knockranny House Hotel and Gillian O’Loughlin, Host PR

6.

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1.

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11. 3.

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1. Grace O’Brien and Marlene Murphy, The Europe Hotel 2. Simon Haden, Gregan’s Castle and Breda and Eugene McSweeney, Gold Medal Awards judge 3. Lisa Foran and Marie Chawke, Aghadoe Heights Hotel 4. Tom Haughey, ITIC, Hugh Friel and Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland 5. Michael Flannery, Catering Equipment Association and Simon Grennan, Hotel & Catering Review 6. Nina Horan and Declan Furlong, The Black Olive Catering Company 7. Margaret Mythen, Sean O’Malley, Fáilte Ireland and Murial O’Malley 8. Ettienne Van Vrede, Hayfield Manor and Siobhan Ryan, Cliff House Hotel 9. Deirdre McGlone and Marc Gysling, Harvey’s Point Hotel 10. Phyllis O’Reilly, Deborah Heise, George Heise and Leona Wilkins, The Poet’s Rest 11. Georgina O’Sullivan, Ballymore Inn, Kevin Dundon, Dunbrody House, Kay O’Flynn, Rathsallagh House and Barry O’Sullivan, Ballymore Inn u

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TOURISM

‘Every Little Helps’ – but the Pratt Report Lacks Vision FRANK CORR digests the Tourism Renewal Group Report launched this month.

M

aurice Pratt has our sympathy. As the former boss of Quinnsworth, Tesco and C&C, and chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), he has seen his fair share of challenges and now he has the unenviable task of heading the Tourism Renewal Group. The very word ‘Renewal’ smacks of crisis, and indeed that is what this latest committee of experts has faced as it tries to pick up the pieces of ‘New Horizons’, the strategy which drove Irish tourism growth up to 2007, when everything began to go pear shaped. Even when a previous committee produced a mid-term report on ‘New Horizons’, it was awarded at least a ‘B’. The revenue targets up to 2006 had not been met, but otherwise tourism was moving along nicely. Within a few months of this fairly positive assessment appearing on the DAST website however, the economy and the tourism market imploded. The Government response was to set up yet another expert group to seek a way forward and the man it chose as its head was Maurice Pratt. The TRG has now produced its report, which acknowledges the utterly changed economic environment within which tourism exists today and the further cuts to investment and spending looming just over the horizon. ‘The pace, scale and nature of changes to the global and domestic economy have been exceptional and unanticipated,’ it says. ‘Tourism has been affected like every other sector worldwide. The reduction in household disposable income, the erosion of consumer confidence, the impact of fluctuating energy costs and currencies on the cost of travel and the viability of tourism operators, are issues in every market, affecting the vast majority of destinations.’ This we all know, and what the industry has sought from TRG is solutions. What we have got however, is a report which is long on analysis, short on solutions and devoid of any real creativity. In a nutshell, it seems to be the result of much beavering by public servants with little input from creative minds or an attempt to think ‘outside the box’. The report does offer a list of ‘Survival Actions’ which, it says, should be introduced urgently and while these are perhaps worthy, they are also highly predictable. The TRG for instance wants the Government to scrap the Air Travel Tax, as does every sane person within the tourism industry. Indeed it would be something of a surprise if this tax survives the upcoming Budget. Next the TRG wants to ‘maintain the overall level of investment in international and domestic tourism marketing in real terms’, but it fails to call for an actual increase in spending which is probably needed if the current slide in visitor numbers is to be halted. The phrase ‘real

terms’ could also result in a drop in actual spending, because of the current rate of deflation and it is not clear if TRG would be happy with this. The report also wants the Government to ‘cut access costs’ which might be achieved by reducing airport charges. On the other hand, an upward trend in oil prices which is likely to be a feature of the next year or so, could actually send air fares on an upward spiral again. Maurice and his colleagues would like to see the tourism industry ‘sweat the assets’ by having owners and operators of heritage and cultural assets work more closely together, which is an OK idea, but is unlikely to have much of an impact on visitor numbers. It also wants to ‘keep people at work in the tourism industry while enhancing their skills’ and suggests job creation or training programmes in research, the development of iWalks or the employment of City or Town Ambassadors. It is a nice thought, but it is hard to see cash-strapped agencies or local authorities picking up the tab. TRG wants to coordinate tourism spending which is now spread across agencies like Fáilte Ireland, LEADER Groups and County Development Boards, a move which might produce some efficiencies but, as the report admits, would be difficult where EU funding is involved. It also wants to ‘keep enterprises in business by minimising costs, including wages, utility costs and local authority rates and by ensuring access to working capital’ and suggests (at a minimum) the freezing of the minimum wage at its present level. The report also suggests exploring means through which students could work in the industry at a low cost, presumably below the minimum wage. These proposals are however aspirational and could only be implemented by the Government in the context of a wider strategy. And that is the sum total of the TRG’s Survival Strategy which offers no proposals related to the near collapse of the British market, the crisis caused by the weakness of sterling, difficulties in the US and European markets, what to do with thousands of unoccupied beds, airline route cuts and the talent drain from the industry.

T

here is more to the report of course than short term proposals. Its remit was to look at the period 2008-2013 and it responds with an analysis of economic and tourism trends and three possible scenarios. It bases its ‘Realistic Scenario’ on an assumption that the headline policy actions suggested in the report are implemented, that the tourism industry responds and the external environment and global economic and tourism growth ‘follow reasonable mid-range trends’, including air access,

What the industry has sought from the TRG is solutions. What we have got however, is a report which is long on analysis, short on solutions and devoid of any real creativity. 44 HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 HCR oct 09 .indd 44

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Pictured at the publication of the Report of the Tourism Renewal Group are Maurice Pratt, chairman of the Tourism Renewal Group and Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen.

‘which is a key variable, significant changes in respect of which would fundamentally alter outcomes’. If these circumstances prevail, TRG expects that overseas visitor numbers will stabilise at 2009 levels and return to growth by 2011, with growth rates remaining modest at between three to four per cent per annum up to 2013. This would mean that overseas visitor numbers would be between 7.5m and 7.9m by 2013. (The ‘New Horizons’ target was 10m.) This scenario would see a fall in revenue this year and next and a return to ‘modest growth’ in 2011. Ireland would hold its share of the North American and European markets and the decline in British visitors would be reversed. The scenario also predicts that the domestic market will return to growth in 2011/2012 reaching 8.3m trips by 2013. The report also speculates on a more optimistic Best Case Scenario which assumes that the policy actions listed under the Realistic Scenario are implemented to the maximum extent possible and the tourism industry responds effectively to the policy actions, while negative developments are avoided in related areas such as air access, and independent variables (even the weather) are also favourable. In these happy circumstances the 2007 peak in eight million visitors would be matched in 2013 by which time domestic trips would reach 10 million, growth in spend would exceed numbers growth and Ireland would increase its share of key tourism markets. For this to happen however the world economy would have to get back to rapid growth, oil would be down to $60 a barrel, credit would be freely available, public finances would be stabilised, there would be an absence of health scares and (this column’s suggestion), the Dubs would win the All Ireland. For those of us who prefer our glass to be half empty, the TRG report also posits a Worst Case Scenario in which

its policy recommendations fall fallow, global economies would fail to grow, oil prices would remain volatile with frequent spikes, competition among carriers would decline, credit would remain tight, the euro would remain strong against major currencies, Ireland would fail to become more competitive, there would be more pandemics and terrorism and (again the columnist’s suggestion), Leinster would beat Munster in the Heineken Cup final. If this Doomsday occurred, the TRG predicts that overseas visitor numbers will continue to fall, down to six million by 2013 and domestic trips would dip below six million by 2013. Ireland would lose share in all major markets. The ‘Realistic’ and ‘Best Case’ scenarios assume the implementation of a list of ‘Recovery Actions’ which the TRG suggests. These include Government commitment to tourism development, strengthening the ‘innovative and knowledge content of tourism’, sustaining investment in the Ireland Tourism brand, helping tourism enterprises to retain staff, helping workers to strengthen their skills, ensuring diversity of skills and labour, renewing investment in public attractions and infrastructure and securing more World Heritage Site designations. The TRG also wants the Government to ‘make Ireland a world leader in tourism ebusiness’, by ‘enabling enterprises to have an effective web presence, by rolling out broadband nationally and enhancing enterprise supports for e-capability’. Other Recovery Actions include prioritising market segments where Ireland can gain a competitive advantage and maintaining support for employment within the industry. Finally it proposes making access into Ireland easier and making immigration procedures for tourists, ‘cheaper, easier and friendlier’. Now, that’s one suggestion that may well have come from Maurice Pratt. u

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CHEF PROFILE

Marco’s

Man

N

MARILYN BRIGHT meets Niall Byrne, head chef of Marco Pierre White’s Steak House and Grill in Dublin.

iall Byrne bounces into his interview looking much younger and more vibrant than the father of a 10 week old baby has the right to be – especially when the arrival of Byrne junior has coincided with the opening of Marco Pierre White’s new venture in Dublin, with Niall at the helm as head chef. Marco Pierre White’s Steak House and Grill in Dawson Street is a joint venture with the well established Fitzers restaurant group. As head chef at Fitzers flagship restaurant, Niall was involved in the transition from the early stages, spending time in each of the MPW enterprises – The Yew Tree gastropub, the Steak and Alehouse in London’s east end and the clubby fine dining restaurant in Chelsea Football grounds. It’s been an exciting time, Niall concedes, seeing the workings of the MPW operation, absorbing the different styles of food offerings and adapting them to suit the Dublin market while retaining the distinctive MPW stamp. Niall can’t remember a time when he wasn’t surrounded by food and busy kitchens. His mother’s baking skills have established her as ‘the cake guru of Portumna’, Niall jokes, and she supplies baked goods to two supermarkets

as well as celebration cakes for christenings and weddings across a wide swathe of the west midlands. His aunt and two cousins are chefs, so there was no shortage of advice when Niall set off on his own career path. As a teenager, Niall’s first professional posting was at the local Shannon Oaks Hotel, making sandwiches. Then it was off to Galway Mayo Institute of Technology for serious training, where he considers himself to be fortunate to have had John Kelly, the well known competition chef, as a mentor while gaining work experience at Galway’s well regarded Ardilaun Hotel. ‘Mostly starters and desserts,’ he recalls. After college, Niall went to the vibrant town of Kenmare, taking a place in Matt D’Arcy’s restaurant, by that time run by his widow. ‘It was a small kitchen and you had to learn to do everything, so it was great experience,’ Niall says. After two years, the young chef transferred a mile or so down the road to a completely different world, the stunning super luxury of Sheen Falls Lodge and its internationally rated fine dining restaurant, La Cascade. Chris Farrell was head chef then and it was an intensely busy kitchen, working flat out

under the direction of then manager Adriaan Bartels to regain their Michelin star. ‘All the stops were pulled out,’ Niall remembers, ‘and the menu included everything from an assiette of foie gras five different ways to caviare and truffled main courses. I don’t even think we had a kitchen budget. Everyone worked hard and I realised it was my opportunity to pick up as much as I possibly could. They were great times and Benoit Lorge, who now has his own chocolate company, was pastry chef. We lived in the grounds and though we worked hard, there was a great social life, so it was ideal.’ After two years of the Kerry idyll, Niall came to Chapter One in Dublin to hone his skills. He found a great atmosphere in the kitchen headed up by Ross Lewis and Garrett Byrne, with great emphasis on flavour and menus driven by good quality, locally sourced ingredients. Niall confides that he much prefers restaurant kitchens to hotel work where ‘you might have to stop in the middle of dinner to make sandwiches for room service’. With a vague plan of returning to Galway, Niall filled what he expected to be a stopgap, taking a place as senior chef at Fitzers in Dawson Street. Fate was to intervene, however, and within a short time he was offered the job of sous chef. ‘It was too good an opportunity to pass up,’ he says. ‘Up to this point I had concentrated on food and cooking, but I knew I needed experience on the management and business side.’ In charge of a brigade of 10, he acquitted himself well and when the position of head chef became vacant a year later he was asked to step into the job, becoming head chef at the age of 26. The past year has been a challenging one for Niall as the transition to the MPW branded steak house began well in advance of the official opening earlier this year. Joining MPW staff for stages in each of the London establishments opened the doors to a wealth of new experience. ‘In the gastropub, emphasis is on a lot of game, which you dealt with from the fur and feathers stage – everything from venison to grouse, partridge and pheasant. Pies are a whole section of the menu and I learned working with hot water crust pastry, made terrines and stocks. Nothing is wasted and dishes like roasted venison liver sell well there, which wouldn’t be the case here.’ Niall has worked with Marco to create an appealing hearty menu that bears the distinctive MPW stamp yet conforms to Irish tastes. With a line-up of well priced crowd pleasers like fish pie, pork belly and beef and Guinness pie changing daily, fresh prawn cocktail, aged Hereford steaks from the grill and a smashing e12.95 Sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings, the premises has been busy since day one, clearly hitting the right note with Dubliners and the times that are in it. And working with Marco Pierre White? The seemingly terrifying television persona in Arab head dress has the respect of his staff, Niall says. ‘He’s an understanding person. He doesn’t talk much, but he sees everything and he listens – that’s very important.’

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Niall’s Recipe Selection

NEWS

Halibut Steaks Nicoise

6 x 180g halibut steaks, skinned and pin-boned 12 cherry tomatoes, halved 100g green olives, pitted and halved 100g black olives, pitted and halved 50g lilliput capers 100ml extra virgin olive oil 100g micro basil 12 baby fennell Place halibut skin side down on a hot pan and cook until golden. Turn over and cook for 30 seconds more. Put tomatoes, olives and capers into a pot with olive oil and leave in a warm place. Blanch fennel, toss in butter and season. To serve, plate halibut and fennel on plates, arrange tomatoes, olives and capers over and sprinkle with micro basil. Makes six portions.

Fillet Steak Au PoivRe, Raisin Sec 150ml roasting juices (recipe below) 60g dark raisins 6 x 8oz beef fillet salt, cracked black pepper

Make Madeira roasting juices and keep warm. Simmer raisins in water for five minutes, then strain. Season fillet with salt and press cracked pepper on one side. Heat pan and fry steak peppered side down first, then turn; remove from pan and rest. To serve, melt butter in a hot pan until it foams, drop in poached raisins gently until plump and add a dash of brandy. Arrange a spoonful of raisins on each steak, with roasting juices around. Serve with big chips and roast tomato.

Roasting Juices 4 chicken legs 250ml vegetable oil 250ml rich Madeira 500ml veal stock

Preheat oven to 180oC and roast chicken legs in oil for 25-30 minutes until golden. Place pan with chicken on stove, add Madeira and reduce slightly. Add veal stock and return to boil, simmer and correct seasoning. Pass, squeezing chicken legs to get the most liquid and flavour out of them. The sauce should be split; ratio of stock to oil should be around 3:1. This gives the sauce that ‘roast dinner’ flavour. u

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FAMILY VALUES

Murphy’s Family Law Rules in Adare

FRANK CORR travels to the picturesque Limerick village to meet the Murphy hotel-keeping clan.

T

he Dunraven Arms Hotel in the historic village of Adare, Co. Limerick, has been owned by just two families since it was established in 1792. For the first 190 years, it was owned and operated by the Wyndham-Quinns, Earls of Dunraven, whose stately home is now the Adare Manor luxury hotel. Then, in 1988, the ‘Arms’ was sold by Lady Nancy Dunraven to Bryan Murphy and Carl Shanahan, a Limerick-born businessman who owns a successful contract cleaning company in Stamford Connecticut. He sold most of his holding in the hotel to Bryan Murphy and his brother Louis in 2000 and they now operate the hotel with members of their respective families. Adare is not just one of the most picturesque villages in Ireland, it is also steeped in history. The Normans had a strong base here and it later became an important ‘monastic city’ with abbeys and friaries established by the Franciscans, Augustinians and the Trinitarians, a small order dedicated to redeeming Christians who were taken prisoner at the time of the Crusades. Remarkably, and thanks to the benevolence of the Dunraven family, the abbeys and friary remain in a fine state of preservation, with two in daily use as places of worship and the third surrounded by the family burial ground. Not surprisingly therefore, Adare has attracted visitors over the centuries and the Dunraven Arms was originally built as a coach house where travellers from Limerick, or even Dublin, rested on their way to Killarney. They stopped for refreshment or maybe stayed overnight and may also have paid a toll to the local Earl for permission to travel on his road. From the 20th century, the ‘Arms’ became a small hotel catering for hunting and fishing visitors, a tradition which continues today. Managed

by the formidable Miss O’Hare, it offered pristine accommodation, good country cooking and, always, a warm friendly environment. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace stayed there during a visit to the area in 1961 and another regular guest was Charlie Blair, the flying boat captain, who was married to actor Maureen O’Hara. ‘We still attract both celebrities and royalty,’ says Louis Murphy. ‘Our honoured guests in recent years have included Princess Anne of England and the Munster Rugby Squad.’ When Lady Nancy agreed to sell the family hotel in 1988, she knew that it was passing into good hands. Bryan Murphy had already worked there since 1977, becoming general manager a year later and had become a family friend. Indeed when Bryan married his wife Iseult, they were offered the use of Adare Manor, then a private family home, by the present Earl, Thady Wyndham-Quinn, as a wedding gift. Bryan also had a strong hotel pedigree. ‘Our grandmother ran the Railway Hotel in Athenry for many years,’ Louis Murphy recalls. ‘It was a really high class establishment, run with absolute discipline and attention to detail. Everything had to be correct and perfect, from the sharply-ironed linen to the polished silverware, embossed with the hotel logo.’ The Murphy tradition in hotel keeping continued through Rory Murphy, the distinguished manager of the Great Southern in Galway and later Ashford Castle, who is an uncle of Bryan and Louis. Their father was a veterinary surgeon and sometime horse trainer, but it was to the hotel industry that the boys turned after completing their education. Bryan headed for London via GMIT and worked at the renowned Charing Cross Hotel, before

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NEWS returning to Ireland and the Dunraven Arms. Louis followed by graduating from Shannon College of Hotel Management, then working in Dortmund, Germany, at Grosvenor House in London and at the Shelbourne in Dublin where he joined a management team headed by Gerald Lawless. ‘When Bryan invited me to join him in Adare in 1990, I was delighted to accept,’ he says. Little wonder, for Adare offered both professional satisfaction, business opportunity and a near-idyllic lifestyle. ‘Both Bryan and I, together with our wives and families, were able to combine work that we really enjoyed with our love of horses and the countryside,’ he says. That love for horses and equestrian sport has been key to their success at the Dunraven Arms. ‘For many generations the hotel was a meeting place for the local hunts. We were honoured to continue that tradition. From the beginning Bryan and myself organised equestrian and hunting holidays for guests who came from all over the world, particularly the UK and America.’ This core aspect of the business is now managed by Bryan’s son, Hugh, who shares management of the operation of the hotel with Louis. ‘I grew up here in the hotel and wanted to be part of the industry from an early age,’ says Hugh. ‘I graduated from Shannon and worked in Geneva and the G Hotel in Galway before joining the team in Adare about 18 months ago.’

A keen horseman, he has taken over responsibility for the hunting holidays for which the Dunraven Arms is famous. ‘It is a dream job,’ he says. ‘Not only do I get to hunt and ride locally, but I also go on promotional trips to the USA. I was told by my Dad that the best way to sell hunting is to hunt – and that is what I do on those trips.’ It is not all fun and games however, for both Louis and Hugh put in long hours at the hotel. ‘We strongly believe in the family hotel ethos,’ says Louis. ‘Any guest who

Opposite: Hugh and Louis Murphy Above: Dunraven Arms Hotel

comes through our door at any time of the day on any day of the week, will be greeted by a member of the Murphy family. Either Hugh or myself are here all of the time. We are present at every wedding and function to make sure that our guests feel welcome and enjoy their stay with us. That is what makes a family hotel unique.’ Guests at the Dunraven Arms are likely to have their expectations met or exceeded. For 20 years now the Murphy family has invested continuously in the property. ‘Originally we had just 30 rooms and over the years we have expanded this to 90 of which 30 are suites. From the outset we decided to invest in quality, so our rooms are large, many have views of the garden and the surrounding countryside and they are furnished with antiques and artworks.’ Iseult Muphy is responsible for the interior design which retains a traditional ‘coach house’ ambience while incorporating a range of modern amenities from air conditioning to wifi. Interesting features include wooden 8

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FAMILY VALUES

floors in the bathrooms and the original ornate tiling in the main corridor. The hotel is one of many listed buildings in the heritage village and all development must comply with very strict rules, down to the precise shade of the dark yellow paint on the outside walls. The Murphys have been more than happy to comply with these regulations and the bedroom extensions surrounding the garden have been seamless. An exception, however, is a just-completed conference centre in a standalone building, which is white and pristine, with clear, sharp lines, contemporary minimalist interior and modern, efficient catering services. The bright, white meeting rooms have views onto the surrounding rolling landscape and the neutral walls and ceilings are complemented by brightly coloured seats which create a stunning visual effect. The centre has already attracted a number of small to mediumsized conferences. ‘At an early stage we recognised the potential of the leisure market, so we invested in a state of the art facility,’ says Louis. ‘This includes a 17 metre swimming pool, gym, steam room and massage rooms, which are popular with guests and a large local membership.’ Business at the Dunraven Arms includes several key markets, according to Louis Murphy. ‘The domestic market has become highly important for us this year as visitor numbers from the USA and elsewhere decline,’ he says. ‘We are lucky to be in an area which has many major industries including Wyeth and Aughinish Alumina in Askeaton and the major medical and IT companies in the Raheen Industrial Estate in Limerick. Executives like to stay here as it is relaxed and removed from the business environment. We also attract leisure visitors for weekend and mid-week breaks which we advertise regularly in the newspapers. We create value packages which are targeted at specific groups such as senior citizens or families and we also use these to promote our high quality bar food.’ Weddings are also a significant market, he says. ‘We cater for just two weddings a week – one each on Friday and Saturday and we offer a very personal service. One of our first developments was the expansion of our ballroom which holds up to 300 and is the focal point of our wedding package. Couples also love to be married in Adare, which is a truly romantic place and of course our gardens are a big attraction.’ Louis says that wedding bookings are remaining solid but the recession has resulted in families operating on a tighter budget. Golf is another niche market for guests who want to play the two local courses or the famed Ballybunion and Lahinch links which are also within easy reach. ‘We also get

our share of FIT and Incentive Travel business due to our proximity to Shannon Airport. We are founder members of Manor Hotels and we are also in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.’ The food offering at the hotel centres around the Maigue Restaurant which has been awarded three rosettes by the AA. The cuisine is typical ‘country house’ with an emphasis on game in season. The Murphys also own a thatched restaurant on Adare’s main street, which is currently leased. When autumn leaves begin to fall it is time to go hunting in and around Adare and the Dunraven Arms hunting guests begin to arrive. ‘We look after everything,’ says Hugh, ‘including hiring experienced horses who know every inch of the terrain, the hunts themselves and a valet service for cleaning boots and clothing. We also support the industry and host the annual National Hunt Awards every year.’ Hunting and horses are also part of the Murphy family’s lives. Bryan, who holds a training licence, now lives on a farm near Adare and all the family members either ride or have some connection with horses and farm animals. ‘Hunting is very much part of the local tradition,’ says Louis. ‘The farmers love to hunt and so do their children. It is a traditional country sport which everybody enjoys. We never have any trouble.’ Louis says that family values are at the core of the hotel’s success. ‘We inherited a sense of hospitality, quality service and dedication from our grandmother, and it has remained with us,’ he says. ‘It is a family team effort. I am listed as proprietor, Bryan is engaged with development and strategic planning, Hugh is hotel manager, my wife Helen is HR manager, Iseult is our interior designer and this year we have been joined by Bryan’s daughter Slaney who has graduated from the Smurfit School of Business and is taking on the sales and marketing function.’ People are at the top of the ‘family values’ list at the Dunraven Arms. ‘We invest in continuous training,’ says Helen Murphy. ‘Every week we close down all operations for 45 minutes for a training session. Guests really appreciate this and we have never had a complaint about full service not being available over this time.’ Staff is a mix of locals and international workers and many employees have worked at the hotel for more than 25 years. ‘In some cases the daughters and now the grand-daughters of staff are working with us,’ says Louis. ‘I was once told by Murray Koffler, the legendary co-founder of the Four Seasons Hotel Group, that they allocated 80% of their promotional budget to training and 20% to marketing. I have tried to follow that piece of advice.’ As with all Irish hotels, the Dunraven Arms has had to manage for the recession. ‘We have reduced our costs and overheads,’ says Louis, ‘but we have not cut anything that could damage the quality of our product. We still employ two full time painters, for instance. Our response to the current business environment is that we are all working harder and longer hours, but we remain confident about the future.’ As indeed they might, in a hotel which has welcomed guests for more than two centuries and whose continued success is driven by the strongest of family values. u

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SERVICES

Myhotel.ie Aims to Shake Up Web Marketing A new website has plans of revolutionising the way a hotel markets its business and wants to do so at a fraction of the cost of established online marketing channels. Myhotel.ie is the brainchild of Matt and Dave Sherlock, the sons of wellknown hotelier Matt Sherlock, whose experience in the industry prompted them to question the existing online marketing model. Matt Jnr, who worked in hotels for a number of years before moving to Needahotel.com and later CentralR, has a broad experience in online hospitality marketing but felt hoteliers were being confused by the myriad of different options on the market. As a result, they weren’t always getting the best deal, he says. ‘A lot of it was down to sales and marketing managers panicking as they weren’t necessarily educated in online marketing and didn’t understand what their options were.’ The brothers also learned from Matt Snr’s experiences. ‘Dad always questioned why hotels should be charged hefty commission on booking engines. He said it should be the company’s privilege to put their software on a hotel’s site. We thought this was pretty funny at first but when we thought about it we recognised he had a point and so we sat down with Dad and asked him what he and his peers would look for in an online marketing platform.’ The result is Myhotel.ie, an innovative new website which the Sherlocks believe is poised to shake up the online market. It operates as a comprehensive resource tool for consumers, providing detailed hotel information in a simple, easy to use format. A home page includes a Google

map, county-by-county breakdown of the hotel market, details of upcoming events and special offers and more. A click through to the county landing page shows all the member hotels in the area, county attractions, plus details of upcoming festivals and events, while the individual hotel page (example pictured) features information on the hotel and an area map, along with contact details for the general manager, sales and marketing manager and reservations manager, as well as details of future events, special offers, local attractions and a facility to download the conference and wedding brochures and restaurant menu. Users can click through to the hotel’s own website, or can book through the booking engine on site which Myhotel.ie will provide to hotels free of charge. ‘We didn’t think it was right to charge hefty commissions on bookings. If hotels are out there doing all the marketing then they should not be punished for that,’ says Matt. ‘Our booking engine offers packages and add ons and does everything you need. We’re not saying it is the best in the market, but we are saying that it’s there and available to use if you want it.’ So what’s the catch? ‘There’s no catch. We wanted to make the system as transparent as possible. If a hotel gets a reservation or a customer transfers through to their website or downloads a brochure we consider it one call to action. For every call to action we charge 79c, rather than take a 15% commission of the overall booking. There is an initial set up fee of e795 plus VAT. However, hotels don’t have to pay that if they don’t want to – instead they can pay it over time by paying e1.50 instead of 79c for their

first 1,000 clicks. Those paying up front get 100 free clicks however, and anyone availing of our free booking engine must pay up front also.’ Myhotel.ie is due to go live in January 2010 and the Sherlock brothers have set a target of getting 200 hotels signed up prior to launch. They have also signed Sandra Maybury of Netassist as a Munster agent and they have set aside a substantial marketing budget to promote Myhotel. ie to consumers next year. For further details, contact Matt Sherlock, tel: 087 231 3350, email: matt@myhotel.ie or log on to www.myhotel.ie.

Stylish Spa Uniforms Launched Cork workwear company Coppinger has launched a new salon and spa range for the Irish wellness industry. The Coppinger Salon & Spa uniform collection features six new styles of tunics and a range of different trouser lengths: city shorts, capri pants or full length. Tunics come in a flattering empire line with diamante detailing, satin trims and practical pockets. Coppinger has supplied a range of uniforms for beauty salon staff for a number of years but felt there was a demand for more stylish yet practical work wear for beauty salon and spa staff. ‘The beauty industry is glamorous and people working in it want to look good at all times. However, giving beauty treatments is a physical job so we decided to add

new items to the range that would look great but would be practical and stand up to the demands of work in a busy salon environment,’ says Noreen Coppinger, director of Coppinger. The new collection comes in a choice of three fashionable colour ranges – black, earthy browns and beige and shocking pinks/purples. Conscious of keeping costs low in the current environment, the company has agreed to an online price freeze with prices for the Salon & Spa collection starting at e39.50 (inc VAT). The collection can be ordered online at www.coppingers.com, by mail order or directly from Coppinger uniform stockists nationwide.

Established by Mary Coppinger 32 years ago as a nurse’s uniform manufacturer, the company was bought by Mary’s sister Noreen Duklow in 2000, which she now runs in conjunction with daughters Karen and Lisa (pictured). u

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UNCORKED

A German Aristocrat W

Below: Prinz von Hessen Inset: The von Hessen Winery

FRANK CORR meets Prinz Donatus von Hessen

ine has an egalitarian characteristic both in itself and among those who produce it. The vast volume of wine made around the world comes from grapes grown by small farmers who sell them to co-operatives or larger winemakers, if they do not have a winery themselves. These wines tend to be comfortably ‘ordinary’ in terms of quality and the price they achieve. At the other end of the spectrum is a small elite group of aristocratic families who tend to produce high quality wines which are rare, and sell at very high prices. And of course there is a lot in between. Donatus von Hessen resides in the aristocratic/ elite sphere, albeit within the democratic environment of modern Germany. Together with his father, Landgrave Moritz von Hessen, he runs a diverse family business whose revenues go largely to the upkeep of several castles and estates which the family retained through various wars and revolutions. The von Hessens have been around the Rheingau region of Germany since the 13th century, occupying prime land and sturdy castles. They were left with most of the castles and some of the land by the Prussians who, Prinz Donatus remarks with wry humour, ‘also left us the costs’. Like some landed gentry here and in England, the von Hessens responded to their new situation with pragmatism and creativity. They converted some of the castles into luxury hotels or visitor attractions, and got stuck into agricultural enterprises ranging from forestry to horse breeding, golf courses to wine. ‘All things on which you can potentially lose money,’ says

the Prince, when we meet in The Merrion Hotel. So far however the businesses have been going pretty well and the wine estates which have been developed since the 1950s have been producing some very high quality award-winning rieslings. ‘Germany is at the Northern limit of where you can grow grapes, but we have been making wine for around 2,000 years,’ the Prince says. Reisling, with its ability to thrive in cool climates, has been their saviour and Germany continues to account for 62% of all the reisling grown throughout the world. It involves a lot of careful planning and hard work however as the grapes must be planted on south-facing slopes and often worked on terraces overhanging the steep banks of the Rhine or Mosel. The von Hessens have been fortunate in owning some of the most prized of vineyards at Johannisberg, in Rheingau, and over the years have paid close attention to both ‘terroir’ and winemaking. They were rewarded in 1999, when wines from the estate qualified for the classification ‘Erstes Gewachs’ (First Growth) which is awarded to only the best wines in the region. Since then the estate has moved up a further notch with the appointment of Dr Clemens Kiefer as director. A former ‘German Young Winemaker of the Year’ who also has business management qualifications, he is the son of Professor Wilhelm Kiefer, a legendary viticulturalist in Rheingau. His first project was to closely examine every square metre of the vineyards, increasing planting in some and selling off others. Plantings of Mueller Thurgau and Scheurebe grapes were pulled up and the estate was devoted entirely to reisling. He also convinced the family to invest heavily in the winery and cellars. ‘We are now in the middle of a learning process and within the next five to 10 years we want to become one of the absolutely top wineries in the Rheingau,’ says Prinz Donatus. ‘We also want to offer wines that are easy to understand.’ And easy to understand they are, although aromas and flavours are complex. We tasted the Dachsfilet (fillet of badger) Riesling 2007, a pale yellow, soft and gently spicy wine, made from grapes grown on the ‘Hill of the Badger’, a Winkeler Jesuitgarten which had a nice balance of fruit and acidity and other rieslings from Hasensprung and Johannisberg Klaus vineyards. These are reislings of exceptional quality placed at the upper end of the market which will appeal to diners with a detailed knowledge of German wines. They will also pleasantly surprise others who are adventurous enough to opt for them on a wine list. Distributed here by Classic Drinks, they are already featured on wine lists in The Merrion Hotel; The Farmgate, Midleton; the Hotel Kilkenny; The Morrison; La Bouche in Cork; Gleeson’s Townhouse, Roscommon; Café Sol in Kilkenny and Midleton Park House.

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Rising Stars from Spain ‘The Rising Stars of 2009’ was the title given by Wines of Spain to a tasting in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. A small number of producers seeking distribution in Ireland came to meet the trade but the main section comprised Spanish wines already on the market presented by their distributors. The tasting was notable for both the volume and variety of Spanish wines now available here and for the modest pricing across the quality spectrum. Most of the big names in the wine trade were there including Febvre & Co, Edward Dillon, Barry & Fitzwilliam, Irish Distillers, Findlater Grants and Cassidy Wines, but the tasting was also interesting for the many lesser-known Spanish wines offered by smaller distributors such as Spanish Flavour Ltd from Bannow Road in Dublin, Approach Trade Ireland from Carrick on Suir, Mary Pawle Wines from Kenmare, Quintessential Wines from Drogheda, Tubridy Wine Merchants from Baltinglass and Vinos Tito from Dublin. This latter company showed wines from Navarre, Valencia, Alicante, Somontano, Madrid and other less well known regions, with RRPs between e13 and e30. Approach Trade showed a total of 32 wines from several regions, notably a well priced La Cruz Tempranillo Syrah at e9.99 and a similar blend but altogether superior quality Mauro 2006 at e37.15. Among the major suppliers, Barry & Fitzwilliam showed Raimat Abadia Tinto, a red wine from the makers of Codorniu cava and excellent Gran Reserva rioja from Don Jacobo at e25, Cassidy Wines distributes the very popular and consistently reliable Marques de Caceres range

including the popular Crianza and Classic Drinks showed a compact range that included an attractive Pago del Oro from the Toto region at e14.99. The Febvre & Co offering included Monopole Rioja, Vina Real Crianza and a big Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja from CVNE selling at e33.99. Findlater Wine & Spirit Group showed the wines of Marques de Riscal and Gran Vina Sol from Bodegas Torres in Penedes which is good value at RRP e12.99. The Gilbeys range included Faustino One Gran Reserva and another Faustino wine, Portia, a Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero region, which had a nice balance and sells at e19.49. Campo Viejo was featured by Irish Distillers and Quintessential Wines showed a range that included the splendid Clio from Bodegas el Nido. A blend of Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon from Jumilla, Clio represents Spanish contemporary winemaking at its best, a fact reflected by the price tag of e44.95 – but worth every cent. You will find it on a few wine lists around the country including The Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Robert Smith of Mackenway Distributors has built up a list of Spanish wines which have won many awards for good value. They include El Coto Rioja at entry level (e9.69-e12.95) and Reservas (e15.99-e26.99) and the popular Ebano from Ribera del Duero, a Tempranillo which sells at around e14.95 retail. The tasting reflected the wide range of good value Spanish wines now available and, for importers with gaps on their list, producers not represented here to date were there to talk business. Hopefully they did so. u

Villa Maria for B&F

Barry & Fitzwilliam has secured the contract to supply New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate wines in Ireland. ‘Ireland is extremely important to us because the market is dynamic, expanding and benefits from having some innovative retailers, both in the on and off trade. Over the past decade and more, Allied Drinks have done a fantastic job building a premium position for the Villa Maria brand in Ireland and we look forward to going from strength to strength with our new partner. We are fortunate to have teamed up with Barry & Fitzwilliam, a company highly suited to exploit these opportunities. Our objective is clear: to be the number one premium New Zealand brand in Ireland,’ commented Charlotte Read, European market manager for Villa Maria.

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HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 55 HCR oct 09 .indd 55

29/10/2009 14:15:28


CONFERENCE

International Workers

a Positive Influence, says Dragon FRANK CORR reports from the Skillnet HR Conference.

I

nternational workers have had a most positive influence on work practices in Ireland, says Bobby Kerr, chief executive of the Insomnia coffee shop group and Dragons’ Den entrepreneur. He told 90 HR professionals in the tourism and hospitality industry, who attended the Hospitality Management Skillnet People Management Conference in the Grand Hotel Malahide, that nonIrish staff have given the hospitality sector ‘a well deserved root up the ass’ through their example of punctuality, attendance and dedication to their jobs. ‘We have a staff of 180 of which 170 are international workers. They come to work every day, they turn up on time, they appreciate their jobs and they enjoy what they do. When I was manager of the Bewleys cafés, I would get up to 36 employees calling in sick every Saturday. This does not happen with the international employees who are exemplary. Our main worry during the current recession is that some will return home and that we will lose their experience and work ethic,’ he said. He said that the Insomnia chain had grown from 15 to 50 outlets in three years and now sells more than four million cups of coffee per annum and 3,000 sandwiches every day. ‘We are the fifth fastest-growing coffee shop chain in Europe.’ The Irish directors, he said, are currently seeking to buy back the 51% shareholding held by the Icelandic Pennin Group, which it bought for e8m two years ago. Insomnia operates in a highly-competitive market, he said, against giants like Starbucks and several Irish groups. ‘We intend to be the last man standing,’ he told the HR professionals. Lawyer Adrian Twomey, director of Advokat Employment Law Services, described Irish employment law as a ‘spider’s web’ which even lawyers cannot explain. ‘Good employers are losing cases because they do not know what the Law demands of them,’ he said and called for consolidation of employment law into a single Act. ‘At present, employers must comply with 21 EU Directives, 30 State Laws, 71 Statutory Instruments and an array of Codes of Practice. There are 30 laws and regulations dealing with various forms of leave and five ways of suing for unfair dismissal. Little wonder that neither they, nor the legal profession, know exactly what is required.’ Referring to the controversial JLCs, he said that they were originally established in 1946 to cover industries in which employees were routinely treated badly by employers. Since then, the labour relations environment has changed utterly and a national Minimum Wage has also been introduced. ‘Do we really need dual minimum wage protection?’ he asked. He said that systems of adjudicating on labour disputes also overlap and are expensive. The average cost of a Labour Court case is e3,456, an

Employment Tribunal hearing is e2,227 and an LRC case is e727. ‘It could all be done by a Rights Commissioner – quickly, efficiently and at very little cost,’ he said, adding that ‘no fault dismissals’ would also save time and cost. ‘In every employment contract there should be a clause which allows the employer to dismiss the employee by paying an agreed sum of money.’ He advised hospitality HR managers who may be contemplating redundancies to talk to their employees in advance. ‘Keep them in the picture and try to

achieve voluntary redundancy. If this is not possible select people fairly,’ he said.

I

rene Mundi, research manager at the Employment and Competitiveness Unit of Dublin-based EU agency, Eurofound, said that employers throughout Europe are being innovative in finding alternatives to redundancies by introducing short time working, unpaid leave, sabbaticals and share purchase schemes for employees. ‘Employees are more likely to accept such proposals if they include the prospect of retraining or the guarantee of a return to their job after a period of time,’ he added. The event was organised by Hospitality Management Skillnet, led and managed by the Irish Hospitality Institute in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, and the speakers included Alan Nuzum, ceo

Shane Cookman, IHI president, Mary Hall, manager, Management Development, Fáilte Ireland and Natasha Kinsella, ceo, IHI at the People Management Conference in Dublin’s Malahide Hotel

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ADVERTORIAL

Caroline Jones, Equality Authority, Linda McFadden, The Firm and Eimear Herron, National Convention Centre at the People in Management Conference.

of Skillnet who said that the funding of the networks in the future remains uncertain. ‘We have been operating for 10 years now and the Hospitality Management Skillnet has been a very successful network. While we are experiencing uncertainty about future funding, we must nevertheless plan ahead and this process is underway,’ he said. Inevitably Skillnet will ‘have to do more with less’, and it is important that it sets priorities, ‘so that we do the right things’. Skillnet may have been ‘all things to all people’ in the past, but needs to be more focused in the future. He suggested that its mandate might be updated so that workers made redundant in a sector could be included in Skillnet training ‘so that they remain in the work environment’. Tony Shone, a consultant to Hospitality Management Skllnet, said that a return on investment study of the Skillnet had shown very positive results in terms

of improvements in staff friendliness, efficiency, cleanliness and food quality. Marion Shaw, head of HR at Diageo, outlined the group’s ‘Destination 2011’ programme which encouraged and trained executives within the group to become leaders and work towards strategic objectives while Elaine Hill, HR manager at the Maryborough Hotel Cork, outlined the benefits of the hotel’s participation in the Fáilte Ireland Optimus Programme. During the conference, Natasha Kinsella, chief executive of IHI, launched the 2009 Diversity Awards which will be presented on 5 November in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin and with criteria for the awards set against the IHI booklet called 10 Steps to Equality and Diversity for the Irish Hospitality Sector. Edward Gallier of U Flourish was chairman of the conference with over 90 people in attendance on the day. u

‘We have been operating for 10 years now and the Hospitality Management Skillnet has been a very successful network. While we are experiencing uncertainty about future funding, we must nevertheless plan ahead and this process is underway.’

Horeca supplies a competitive edge. Horeca was established in 2009 with the objective of supplying and servicing the highly progressive and growing Contract sector. Horeca, an Irish company, brings together nine familyowned wholesale cash and carry businesses, which together have a combined turnover of e350m per annum and boast more than 60 years experience in the industry. With 14 warehouses, employing 340 staff, geographically spread across Ireland, Horeca is ideally placed to service nationwide contracts. The combined buying power of the nine member companies enables the group to offer a more competitively priced tender, while maintaining the high levels of service, attention and commitment that customers have come to expect. Catering to the Foodservice and Retail sectors, Horeca stocks all leading brands and, as members of the Stonehouse Group, also offers the White Hat brand of specially packed and prepared dried and ambient products.

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email: info@horeca.ie or visit www.horeca.ie. HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 57

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BEDROOMS Sleep Tight with Silent Night

Bedroom Cutbacks

As room rates tumble to an unprecedented low, hoteliers are under pressure to pull back on bedroom costs.

Above: The Heavenly Bed at the Westin Dublin. The Heavenly Bed celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year.

Y

ou get a good idea of the lie of the land when you’re travelling around the country judging the Gold Medal Awards. Not that we needed to trawl through the nation’s hotels to know things are tight. Rock bottom rates mean wafer thin margins and spell the end for luxuries such as fresh fruit and turndown chocolates and we couldn’t help but notice the number of hotels who have cut back on items such as complimentary mineral water and free morning newspapers as they battle to reduce costs and weather the recession. In today’s tough climate it’s all about being lean, but the key is to do it without appearing mean, which is quite a knack as any accommodation manager will tell you. The hallmark of the predicament that hoteliers now find themselves in is that, while guests are demanding cheaper rates, they still entertain lofty ideals of standards. Expecting to pay e50 for a room with all the frills still thrown in is a little demanding we think. But there are, of course, some standards which are non-negotiable, the most basic among them being clean sheets and towels, a clean bedroom and bathroom, a comfortable bed and a bottle of shampoo/shower gel. Spare a thought therefore for the poor young general manager who was found running from room to room with a bottle of Pantene recently because the hotel’s owner hadn’t paid the toiletries bill. His tale of woe is one that is surely being repeated in many hotels across the land and, as food and beverage departments are being put under pressure to slash costs, so too are the accommodation teams. ‘Some hotels are now cleaning rooms for as low as e7, which includes labour costs, sheets etc. Housekeepers can’t cut back any more than that,’ says Angela Kennedy, president of the Irish Accommodation Services Institute. ‘We know a good few accommodation managers have been let go recently and I worry that all the cost cutting in hotels will have an impact on standards. I have

heard anecdotally that in some hotels which use a top sheet and bottom sheet, for instance, they are only changing those sheets and are leaving the duvet covers. It’s all about trying to cut back on time and materials.’ Together with the IASI team, Angela is about to embark on a tour of the nation judging in the Institute’s annual accommodation awards and she worries that they will identify a lapse in standards. ‘The question you now have to ask is are accommodation staff cleaning to a standard or a cost? The attention to detail is not what it was and that is because many hotels are no longer run by general managers, they’re run by the financial guys who are demanding lower costs.’ In the four star Athlone Springs Hotel, IASI vice president Geraldine Cooney agrees that all accommodation managers are under pressure to turn over rooms at a fraction of previous costs. ‘It is extremely competitive out there, both from the hotels, and the suppliers’ point of view. With room rates falling hotels are fighting to get things done at the cheapest possible price and it’s all about making cutbacks,’ she notes. So what can a hotel do to lower bedroom costs? ‘It is really up to the accommodation manager to source whatever they need and to bargain with suppliers, while the staff are expected to do more rooms. I feel sorry for suppliers really as it’s very hard for them out there right now. You get a price from one supplier and the next one will cut it by a cent,’ says Geraldine. These pressures are borne out by the number of supplier companies reporting difficulties in recent months, among them Linen Supply of Ireland, formerly CWS-boco and before that, Irish Linen, which secured the appointment of an interim examiner in the High Court in September, citing falling occupancy in the accommodation sector, and subsequent squeezing of margins. But while in the budget, three and four star markets hotels have been able to shave standards

What do Hilton, Conrad, The Four Seasons and Radisson all have in common? They all use Sealy beds. Available in Ireland through Silent Night, Sealy beds are durable and long-wearing, and can be tailor- made to suit individual contracts and preferences, whether soft, firm, or in between. Comfort and support is provided through a Posturepedic technology, which sees bed edges trimmed with a steel rod to which outer springs are clipped to ensure maximum comfort across the entire surface. Patented offset springs have a hinging action that allows the mattress to follow the line of the sleeper’s body while the Torsion 2000 grid bar sprung base consists of a sprung Torsion bar grid which is used to prevent side sway and improves mattress life and performance.

Direct Service

Based in Finglas, Dublin, Laundry Direct sells a range of linen to the accommodation sector, with a variety of lines suitable for hotels, B&Bs, self-catering and hospitals. Running for six years, the company is headed by a team with more than 30 years’ experience in the textile industry. Offering a 24-hour delivery service countrywide, the company provides a range of mattress protectors, sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases, duvets, pillows, towels and more. Pricing is very competitive, reflecting the need to keep costs low in the hotel sector, says Garry McMahon, managing director at Linen Direct. It is a strategy which has reaped rewards, as Garry says the company has recorded an increase in business over the last year. ‘We’re growing into the market,’ he says. John McIvor, who has many years experience in the hotel sector, has recently joined the sales team.

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to achieve savings, in the five star end of the sector cutting back is not an easy option if hotels wish to hold on to their luxury label. In hotels such as the Westin, accommodation managers are trying to save through smart buying rather than making noticeable cuts to standards as guests are unforgiving if hotels withdraw luxuries. Rather than taking costly items out of the bedroom, in Dublin’s five star Westin Hotel, the accommodation team are investing more in amenities. The hotel celebrated the 10th anniversary of the group’s Heavenly Bed this year, which features 10 layers of a luxury mattress, 350 thread count linen, six goose down, foam and boudoir pillows and a duvet and hyper allergenic blanket. As well as maintaining the Heavenly Bed, Westin introduced a range of white tea bathroom products specially made by Bliss last year, while the hotel has also maintained its standard of 550g-650g towels including bath sheets despite other hotels moving to

lighter weights to reduce spend. Next year the hotel hopes to invest in iPods and docking stations for the suites, explains Dympna McGlinchey, executive housekeeper and green leader, who adds that the Westin invests twice yearly in new linen. ‘The good thing about buying expensive linen is that it washes better so you get a longer life out of it.’ The attention to detail is worth the effort, she says. ‘The Heavenly Bed is a selling tool for us so that is something we cannot cut back on. We’re making savings by buying better and managing the time of our associates more efficiently but we are not taking anything out of the rooms.’ It is the add-ons which make the difference, Dympna notes, with clever innovations such as the two workout rooms in the hotel, which feature treadmills, yoga mats and DVD players for exercise videos, proving popular, as are items such as the Baby Westin welcome bag which includes socket covers and rubber ducks. Here at Hotel & Catering 8

Linen Fit for a King While many suppliers are finding the going tough in the current environment, one linen company, Kings Laundry, is bucking the trend and expanding. The firm, which started life as a domestic laundry in Dun Laoghaire 12 years ago, has gone from strength to strength, moving into the restaurant market, and more recently the hotel sector. Launching a new linen rental service for hotels earlier this year, Kings has created 40 new jobs at its plant in Tallaght since June, with a further 30 staff to be recruited over the next year. The firm currently employs 150 staff and expects turnover to rise by 23% to e8m in 2009. Doubling its share of the hotel market over the last two years, Kings Laundry has recently won accounts for the Westin, Morgan and Beacon Hotels in Dublin and the Galway Bay Hotel, Sheraton Athlone and sister Hodson Bay Hotel. These join existing clients such as The Shelbourne, Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Moran Hotel Group, Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Group and FBD Hotels. The key to the firm’s popularity is its dedicated linen service, explains sales director Alan Murphy. ‘We buy linen for individual hotels which we only return to them, it doesn’t go anywhere else. We can do this as we spent e2.5m on software, plant and machinery which enables us to segregate linen and keep it separate. Not only can we deliver savings to hotels as we have very good purchasing power and can guarantee a saving on price per sheet, we can also guarantee time and mistake savings as housekeepers no longer have any ordering to do. We provide for all their requirements.’ A low middle management structure in the company has also helped Kings Laundry to keep costs low, says Alan. ‘We’re the Ryanair of the laundry business. We’ve been able to keep costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality so we can give clients value for money.’

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HOTEL & CATERING REVIEW ❖ OCTOBER 2009 59 HCR oct 09 .indd 59

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BEDROOMS

• Sealy is the worlds largest selling bed & one is sold every 3 seconds worldwide. • You’ll find sealy beds in 1* right up to 5* accomodation. • The world famous patented torsion 3000 divan base and Sealy’s posturepedic spring unit is designed to eliminate tossing & turning. • All beds are designed in conjunction with orthopedic surgeons in America & come with a 5 year warrantee.

Don’t you think it’s time you looked at Sealy. For further information, contact John Dolan on 087 6596065 or email dolanj@silentnight-ireland.co.uk Silentnight Group/Ireland Unit 1 Central Park, Mallusk Road, Mallusk, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, BT36 4FS

Review we are often asked what judges look for when adjudicating in the Gold Medal Awards, and thoughtful initiatives like workout rooms and plug sockets for babies certainly earn extra brownie points for hotels. We love the attention to detail evident in many hotels, including Dylan in Dublin, a finalist in the Five Star Hotels category this year, which offers supersized 150ml bathroom products made by Etro and bottled for the hotel (by the way – they’re some of the very best bathroom products in Irish hotels right now), sanitary towels for female guests, GHDs, iPods with walking tours of Dublin and karma sutra kits in the mini bar for extra special occasions! But you don’t have to be a luxury operator to wow Gold Medal judges, and rooms are judged according to the hotel’s classification and benchmarked against competitors in its category. As this is our annual Gold Medal Issue we thought we would include a list of the things which float our boat in Irish bedrooms: 1. Cleanliness. It’s next to Godliness. Most guests would be happy to pay a euro or two extra if it meant clean sheets and a clean room. A sloppily cleaned room is not acceptable at any level. 2. The bed. It has to be comfy, it can’t sink in the middle, and if it’s a double room it needs to be larger than four foot wide – whatever the standard of the hotel. 3. Pillows. Not too lumpy with hyper allergenic options available. 4. Facilities to match the target market. If it’s a corporate hotel, then there must be adequate desk space, sockets and reading lights. If it is a spa resort, then good quality bathroom products are essential. In family resorts, rooms should be child friendly. Not everyone can afford games consoles or DVD players but there are plenty of cheaper options. Remember colouring books? 5. Full length mirrors. Non negotiable. 6. Shampoo, shower gel and other bathroom products. Must match the standard of the rest of the hotel, and the room rate. 7. Water, tea and coffee

facilities, newspapers... If room rate or classification allows. Although some five star hotels prefer not to include them and provide tea and coffee through room service, we appreciate being able to do it ourselves. Fancy coffee machines, which began making an appearance in the halcyon days of the boom, are all well and good if they’re easy to operate, but if you need an engineering degree to figure out how to use them then forget it. Ditto for convoluted air con systems. 8. Hangers. Enough, including at least one skirt hanger please. 9. Robes and slippers. Extra brownie points, unless in a five star hotel, in which case they are expected. 10. Information. Including a TV sheet explaining the channels, notes on local attractions and amenities, important numbers, restaurant and spa menus and special offers for the spa if applicable. 11. A working remote control. Please save us from the 10 second delay. Hairdryers are also tested. 12. Trouser press/iron. Where relevant. If not stocked in room, an iron and board must be delivered within 10 minutes of request. 13. Safe. Particularly in four and five star hotels. Must be laptop sized. 14. Mini bar. Only essential in five star hotels, must be stocked. Extra points for other grades. 15. Free wifi or broadband. Gone are the days when customers think it is acceptable to pay extra for it. 16. A power shower and safe, easily accessible bath. Separate bath and shower in four and five star new build hotels in line with Fáilte Ireland requirements. 17. Enough towels. Three per person: bath, hand and face cloth. 18. Rates, emergency exit notices and fire alarms. 19. Evidence of environmental practices. Towel and sheet washing programme a minimum. A note should be on display in bathrooms, not hidden away in a folder. 20. Sound proofed doors and walls. It doesn’t matter how fancy the room is, if you can’t sleep because you can hear revellers running down the corridor in the night, or next door’s alarm goes off at 5am then it defeats the purpose. u

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Linen dir


WE SELL LINEN. NEXT DAY DELIVERY Unit 6, Finglas Business Centre, Jamestown Road, Dublin 11 T: 00 353 1 864 6412 F: 00 353 1 811 0719 E: info@linendirect.ie W: www.linendirect.ie Linen HCR direct.indd oct 09 .indd 1 61

02/10/2009 29/10/2009 12:25:19 14:15:58


FIVE MINUTES WITH...

Richard Guiney The ceo of the Dublin City Business Improvement District explains the theory behind this month’s Dine in Dublin week.

What exactly is a Business Improvement District? The model was first tried in the US in the late 1980s and early ’90s. American cities were suffering from the doughnut effect where people decided to stay in the suburbs to work and play which created a vacuum in the city centre, with the result that the drugs, sex and crime industry moved in. It then became a vicious cycle as people would refuse to go into the centre because of the crime. The Americans have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to reverse this and the results have been phenomenal. The Dublin City BID was primarily driven by the Dublin City Business Association which noted that a small number of local businesses were doing all the work in the city centre. The Christmas lights were a prime example. The same people paid for them all the time and the others slid into a corner. How does the BID work in Dublin? The area covered by the BID stretches from Parnell Street on the northside of the city to St Stephen’s Green. We have 2,000 members which is huge for a BID. In the UK most BIDs only have about 500-600 members so we’re about half the size of the biggest in the world. A quarter of our members operate in the hospitality industry, including 200 restaurants and 40 hotels and hostels, 60% are in retail and 15% are offices. What are the costs and do you have to pay it? Once you’re in our area you are automatically in the club. You receive two bills, one for your rates and the other is your BID levy which is one 20th of your rates. We operate independently of Dublin City Council but we have a close working relationship with it. So what have you been doing with the money? We began in March 2008 but we had our formal launch that September. We began by sending the lads out to the street, where they called to businesses, told them what we were doing and set up a database of members. We got involved in graffiti removal, monitoring the cleanliness of the streets, and introduced the new Christmas lights. We also launched the Dine in Dublin initiative in April and we had the second one this month. What’s the deal with Dine in Dublin? The plan is to run Dine in Dublin as a biennial event, which we will top and tail with the tourism season. The first one will be held in the week before St Patrick’s Day, which is traditionally a quiet time for the

Richard Guiney is pictured with participating chefs at the launch of this month’s ‘Dine In Dublin –Restaurant Week’ including Kevin Cleary, head chef the Westbury Hotel and Niall Byrne, head chef, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill.

industry, and the second will run in the second week of October every year. The message is that if you want to come to Dublin then this is the time to do it. We worked with the Irish Hotels Federation this time around and a number of hotels participated in the promotion, offering 10% off their best available rates as well as the value menu in their restaurants. Fifty restaurants took part in the promotion in April and they did 17,500 covers during the week which shows that despite what’s going on in the economy people will still come out if there’s value to be had. This month, 51 restaurants took part. It’s about getting people to go to restaurants that they wouldn’t ordinarily think of going to. Once they experience it then they can go back for special occasions. What do you have to do to take part? Restaurants must offer a menu of five starters and five mains, which they charge e25 for, or e30 if the menu warrants it. Most go for the e25 rate and there’s no point really doing the e30 offer unless you are a Michelin star restaurant as you won’t get the business for it. Where did you get the idea? I borrowed the idea from Philadelphia. They started it, then New York followed. I just happened to be in Philadelphia once and saw just how successful the event was there. The restaurants were heaving, the menus were great and people tended to spend more money on wine as they were getting great value on the food. It is an enormous success and restaurants do wild business during the week, even the shops stay open later to cater to the crowds and the organisers noticed that

people take their vacations to coincide with the festival. What else is the BID doing? We’ve begun a new awareness campaign encouraging people not to litter the streets with cigarette butts. The council spends e40m on cleaning the streets every year and 50% of all rubbish is cigarette butts so you can take from that that we spend e20m on picking up butts from the street. Imagine what you could do with that money. You could light up the city if people didn’t litter, you could improve the parks, clean up the pavements, plant more flowers. The citywould be a much nicer place. We’re also spendinge400,000 on new Christmas lights for seven more streets this year so there’ll be lights in 18 of the city centre streets. We’re going to introduce entertainment such as story telling and puppet shows for the kids and I’d really love to do a Christmas market in the future too. Business is tough out there for a lot of people who have been losing money all year. It’s important Dublin has a good Christmas. What about the future? I’d like to take it up a level for next year and I’ve spoken to Dublin Tourism about the possibility of placing information kiosks on the streets with touchscreens where people can book hotel accommodation, tickets for the theatre etc. We’re also liaising with members to see what they think we should do. We’re asking what works on their street and what doesn’t work, what could be done that would make the street work better, whether that’s widening the pavements to include tables and chairs or providing better access to carparking. u

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Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard thanks you, our customers, for your support over the last year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

DYNAMIC PEOPLE, DYNAMIC BRANDS

www.irishdistillers.ie

Enjoy ALCOHOL Sensibly. Visit

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HOTEL AND CATERING REVIEW  

Business to Business Magazine for the Irish Hospitality Industry

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