As Ireland's hospitality industry prepares to re-open, starting with bars and restaurants from June 29th, many of us are beginning to wonder what the coming months will hold as we prepare to 'staycation' or 'holi-stay' this summer.
We move to phase 3 on Mon 29th June. Very low levels of #COVID19. What worries me most now is travel from overseas and I fear many planning foreign trips. 2020 is a year for a staycation. Stay in Ireland, spend locally and follow public health advice. @roinnslainte @HSELive— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) June 27, 2020
Earlier this month, Fáilte Ireland released a set of operational guidelines for the hospitality sector to follow in the wake of COVID-19. Among other things, these guidelines ask that hotels and guesthouses adhere to social distancing restrictions, enhanced hygiene practices, implement a COVID-19 response coordinator, and provide additional training for staff.
Thankfully, as well as adapting to these practical health and safety measures, hotels are getting creative in order to find new and inventive ways to entertain guests in a safe and responsible manner whether it be through al fresco dining or seated sessions.
Here, we have listed just some hotels that are adapting to COVID-19 guidelines, and giving you a staycation worth staying put for.
1. Hotel Doolin, Co. Clare
General manager, Donal Minihane, is confident that his team can alter and adapt Ireland's first and only certified carbon neutral hotel to work within the latest operational guidelines from June 29th.
"There is our main bar, our restaurant, a cafe, our eco-barn for events such as weddings, lots of outdoor spaces and lots of communal areas, but we’ve always had separate entryways to each and all are close to fire exits so it’s not too difficult to keep a safe flow of human traffic amongst them all," says Donal.
When it comes to dining in the bar and restaurant, guests will need to pre-book their dining plans over the phone and, on arrival, wait to be seated by their 'dedicated but distanced' host. As for the menus, these new restrictions may have led to a more eco-friendly fixture for the hotel.
"We won’t be using any menus across our hotel. Mobile menus are quite an interesting change for us as our use of single-use items such as condiments and toiletries is already very, very low in line with our eco-friendly ethos, so we may trial this to see how it would work as a permanent fixture."
For evening entertainment, Minihane insists that now is the perfect time for guests to enjoy the venue's spacious outdoor areas. The hotel had planned to hold its inaugural Folk Festival in June, but was cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, they will now be hosting some socially distanced seated gigs in the Doolin Barn on Monday, July 6th, and Saturday, July 11th.
2. Mount Falcon Estate, Co. Mayo
Since closing its doors in March, owner Alan Maloney and his family have shared the stunning grounds of Mount Falcon Estate with locals, allowing them to enjoy socially distanced walks, listen to the birds, and generally enjoy nature in all its glory.
Now, the luxurious hotel is set to re-open on July 3rd with 100 acres of hospitality offerings - the most notable addition to the stunning grounds being the newly-erected Bamboo stretch tent. Blending perfectly into the beautiful tree-lined area adjacent to the main hotel, this al-fresco dining tent will give both hotel guests and staff the space to dine and work with peace of mind.
As for the menu, head chef Tom Doyle has created an al-fresco-inspired dining experience with BBQ and pizza menus to suit all tastes and dietary requirements, with all ingredients sourced from West of Ireland producers.
Not only that but guests will enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities from scenic walks in the gardens, and exclusive fishing on its own private stretch of the River Moy to an outdoor cinema screen for movie matinees with the family.
3. The K Club, Co. Kildare
Having welcomed front line workers to stay in the hotel at no cost during lockdown, the K Club will officially re-open its doors to guests on Thursday, July 2nd.
With 550 acres of space at their disposal, the five-star resort will customise each guest's stay at the pre-arrival reservations stage to ensure that meals and activities are booked in advance. Guests will have a designated entrance for checking in and express checkout options will be made available.
To keep everyone busy this summer, there will be a myriad of outdoor activities on offer including kayaking on the estate’s private mile-long stretch of the River Liffey, horse riding, fishing, and playing golf on the two Arnold Palmer-designed courses.
For those looking for an indoor activity, the luxurious K Spa along with the fitness and leisure centre will be available to guests.
Golf fans will be happy to note that The Straffan Golf Club will host two Irish PGA Pro-Ams this summer, the first on Friday, July 10th, on the newly renamed Palmer South course and the second on Sunday, August 23, on the newly renamed Palmer North course.
4. Conrad, Co. Dublin
Located in Dublin's city centre, the Conrad Dublin will be kicking off their re-opening with their new Dream Away experience. This will afford guests the freedom to adjust their travel plans during these uncertain times, with late check-out and early check-in (depending on availability), waived early departure fees, a 24-hour cancellation policy, and no deposit.
When guests arrive, they can make the most of their scenic surroundings, with a bespoke experience in the city whether it be a picnic package with champagne in the Iveagh Gardens or a literary tour across the city followed by a private Jameson Masters Whiskey tasting in the hotel.
"We are so looking forward to welcoming our guests back to Conrad Dublin," said Martin Mangan, General Manager.
"Our team have worked hard to ensure a safe and welcoming environment and we are implementing the 'Hilton CleanStay' initiative developed globally by Hilton offering a new standard of hotel cleanliness and disinfection to ensure our guests enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay."
5. Mount Juliet, Co. Kilkenny
With 500 acres to its name, Mount Juliet Estate has plenty of socially distant activities on offer this summer. From playing golf on the Jack Nicklaus signature designed golf course to fishing in the River Nore, visitors will have plenty to keep them busy as the hotel adjusts to their 'new normal’.
To encourage good hand hygiene and less physical contact, the hotel will be using mobile technology such as mobile check-in/out, mobile chat and mobile dining. Additionally, QR codes are under development to provide easy access to digital collateral/menus and updates.
When it comes to the hotel's famed dining experiences, General Manager Mark Dunne says that every step has been reviewed, and adjusted where needed, so as to work within the current restrictions.
"You will have lots of different types of offerings from wonderful picnics to different grab and go offers across the estate available to guests," says Mark. "We have over 500 acres so we have the option of 150 covers for outdoor dining as well as the restaurants and bars."
"We were already quite equipped at social distancing because we have so much space so the big change for guests will be making reservations ahead of time but we will have associates available for guests to interact with so as to ensure their reservations are made for the pool, spa, dining, etc."