When I was in secondary school I started working part-time as a waitress and I suppose I caught the hospitality bug back then.
I worked with Cork/Kerry Tourism in Cork City initially and then moved closer to home when Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa opened 21 years ago, and I am still there today.
Every day is different really depending on what’s going on in the hotel. There might be a wedding or a conference in our event space or it could be a sunny day or a wet day and that will dictate how many people are inside enjoying the hotel.
Some days we have a very busy check-in and I’ll be needed to assist the team, then on another day it would be all hands on deck for a busy check-out.
I oversee all areas of the hotel, so I can be at the reception desk greeting guests one minute or in the kitchen the next ensuring the wedding dinner is going out on time. From February to June I am generally busy with interviews for the coming season, recruitment campaigns, as well as continuous training of current and new staff members. There isn’t really a quiet time and no two days are ever the same.
I’ve met great friends along the way while at Inchydoney that I now have for life.
We are a close team and have grown up together really — from engagements to weddings to new babies, first days in school and all the milestones of life. We have gone through them together as colleagues and become a great family over the years.
I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and meeting our regular guests whom we have now got to know really well over the years. It’s always surprising to see them return with their kids who aren’t really kids anymore. I love seeing the loyalty to the hotel pass down the generations.
After 21 years, we have had many guests return time and time again. It’s always great to see a previous wedding couple return for a christening and then a communion or confirmation celebration and in time maybe a bridal shower – it’s fascinating to watch the circle of life. We are extremely lucky to have such a loyal customer base, it really does feel like welcoming family back home.
Anything can happen in this industry and there’s a solution to every issue. I have learned that even if you think something can’t happen, it actually can.
Caitriona O’Keeffe is general manager at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa. inchydoneyisland.com