It’s all about the personal touch and pampering the customer — that’s the recipe for success in the hospitality business, according to a multi-award winner.
An internationally-known guesthouse in Dingle, Co Kerry, has been ranked sixth in the world for service in what is regarded as the most influential global travel guide.
Castlewood House, operated by husband and wife team Brian and Helen Heaton, has been lauded by Tripadvisor for its world-class service.
The hotel, which was previously named the number one bargain hotel in the world, can add the latest accolade to a long list of awards from the user reviews for hotels, attractions, and restaurants voted on by millions of travellers from all over the world.
“We really appreciate this and it’s just wonderful to know that so many people have been so happy to stay with us,” said Helen.
“There’s no doubt that this business is all about looking after the customer, making sure their stay with you is an experience and something they’ll remember.
“We live on site, work on a seven-day basis, and like to engage with our customers and help them to enjoy all the delights of Dingle and the peninsula. You really have to show them a little piece of yourself.”
The couple, who worked in hotels all around the country, met in Ashford Castle, Co Mayo, and opened in Dingle in 2005.
“We both always wanted to have our own business and Dingle provided us with the opportunity. We both love what we do and constantly look at ways of improving what we can do for our guests,” said Helen.
“The customer here is king. People are here on their holidays. They are here to be pampered and looked after.”
One guest said: “It’s impossible to list all the ways in which every member of the staff does the most to make sure your trip is incredible. Suffice to say that we arrived as guests and departed as friends.”
Twelve-bedroom Castlewood House was the only Irish hotel ranked in the top 25 hotels for exceptional service, with the exotic Riad Kheirredine Hotel, in Morocco, at number one.
In a nutshell, Ms Heaton maintained that “old traditional hospitality” at its best was the secret of their success.
The guesthouse is graded boutique accommodation and every room is different.
Ms Heaton said they put a lot of thought into their famous breakfast, which includes homemade breads and cakes and dishes such as “slow-poached nectarines with vanilla” and “poached plums in a light star anise-flavoured syrup’’.
Organic smoked salmon comes from Ted Browne, also in Dingle, and sausages from Annascaul, while other local produce is also served up.
“Everything is cooked to order. We are constantly looking for new things to put on in the realms of what people will eat for breakfast,” said Helen.
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