Francis Brennan of the Park Hotel Kenmare explains why business is going from strength to strength at a time when others are struggling.
The undisputed local tourist showpiece in Kenmare in County Kerry is undoubtedly the Park Hotel, overlooking the Caha mountains and the Kenmare estuary.
The Hotel opened to the public at Easter in 1897 as The Great Southern Hotel, Kenmare. Formerly owned by Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), in 1977 the hotel was bought for £147,000 as a piece of sheer property speculation by Dutchman Ernst Weeland.
The hotel lay idle for a few years before re-launching in 1980 as the Park Hotel, transformed from a white elephant to a hotel that can compete with the country's best, and indeed most expensive hotels.
As testimony to the success of the Park Hotel’s transformation are the host of awards won since its relaunch, including the Irish Quality Control Association Hotel National Hygiene Award. Head chef Colin O'Daly also won the prestigious ‘A Taste of Ireland’ competition.
The Dublin-born managing director of the Park Hotel, Francis Brennan says that the secret to the Hotel’s success lies in its decision to catering for the top end of the market.
As a hotelier, Francis foresees continued success for the bed and breakfast and deluxe ends of the market. However, he thinks mid-range hotels are facing a difficult future because people can go to Spain and find the same level of quality.
Dublin city centre hotels such as Blooms and the Burlington are experiencing difficulties because they are overstaffed and locked into union agreements. The Park Hotel is not unionised and staff are flexible about where they work.
This makes life easier for us, and the staff understand that they have a job and you know, they’re not too worried about, really, what area they work in.
This episode of 'Ireland's Eye' was broadcast on 10 August 1983. The reporter is Nicholas Coffey.