'Phones hopping' as Munster's hospitality sector gets ready for busy season ahead

“That 60th birthday party that was put on hold, or the 30th wedding anniversary, they’re the events that are going to happen now."
'Phones hopping' as Munster's hospitality sector gets ready for busy season ahead

Donnacha Gleeson with mum Fiona and Louise Brosnan enjoying lunch at Benners Hotel in Dingle, County Kerry, today. The hotel's general manager, John Foley, said the easing of restrictions has brought a sense of settling down and positivity about the year ahead. Photo: Don MacMonagle

With the lifting of restrictions last weekend, suddenly weekends away, events and celebrations are back in full swing, and across Munster those in the hospitality industry say bookings are flying in.

Lisa Argue, marketing manager for Dream Ireland Holiday Homes, says their phones have been “hopping” since Friday, mostly from the domestic and UK market.

“It was a very busy weekend, and this week the phones are hopping as well. A lot of our properties are very full already for the summer, which is great. Not as much from overseas, the news hasn't trickled that far away yet that things are lifted over here, but we're very much hopeful that it will start to come through soon and pick up demand for months like May, September and October,” she said.

Hotels such as the Metropole in Cork have seen a huge spike in bookings since Friday’s restriction announcement.
Hotels such as the Metropole in Cork have seen a huge spike in bookings since Friday’s restriction announcement.

Sandra Murphy, Group Communications Manager for the Trigon Hotels Group which manage the Metropole Hotel, the Cork International Hotel, and the Cork Airport Hotel, said that they saw a huge spike in bookings since Friday’s restriction announcement.

“The corporate market is very much back with a bang. A lot of offices are planning the return to work, and as a result we’ve received a lot of inquiries for meeting rooms, and a lot of solid bookings for meeting rooms. 

"There is a sense from a corporate market that they're back to business, and they're looking forward to doing business in person where possible,” she said.

A scene from 2018's St Patrick's day parade in Dublin. Sandra Murphy, Group Communications Manager for the Trigon Hotels Group said: “We are carefully planning for, and grateful to the government for that extra bank holiday weekend for the St Patrick's Day Festival." Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
A scene from 2018's St Patrick's day parade in Dublin. Sandra Murphy, Group Communications Manager for the Trigon Hotels Group said: “We are carefully planning for, and grateful to the government for that extra bank holiday weekend for the St Patrick's Day Festival." Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

“We are carefully planning for, and grateful to the government for that extra bank holiday weekend for the St Patrick's Day Festival. Obviously, bank holidays are really important to the hospitality industry, and we only have so many in the year. 

"So having that four-day weekend, it does afford people the opportunity to book that vacation. It will be nice to have the Patrick's Day Festival because we haven't seen that for a couple of years,” she added.

John Foley, general manager of the Dingle Benners Hotel, said the easing of restrictions has brought a sense of settling down and positivity about the year ahead.

Dingle’s fame as a destination for the New Year usually leaves every bed in the town booked up on December 31. Mr Foley said for the celebrations just passed, the hotel was only at half capacity. As of this week, they are nearly fully booked for New Years Eve 2022 already.

“If everything on the books comes to fruition, the year is looking good. But that's not a guarantee of course, I mean, as we’ve seen things turn very quickly. Our reservations have been the busiest they've ever been, booking and cancelling and moving things over the last couple of years,” he said.

Michael Brennan, managing director of the Killarney Hotels Collection, said they expect a very busy year ahead from both the domestic and international market.

(Left to right) Chefs Jamie Connor and Gary Olman preparing lunch for customers in Benners Hotel. As of this week, the hotel is nearly fully booked for New Years Eve 2022. Photo: Don MacMonagle
(Left to right) Chefs Jamie Connor and Gary Olman preparing lunch for customers in Benners Hotel. As of this week, the hotel is nearly fully booked for New Years Eve 2022. Photo: Don MacMonagle

“The phones have been hopping and we expect to have a very busy February, March and April. The season ahead looks very good,” he said.

“It's great that people will be able to see the hotel as it normally is, with all the loungers around the pool areas, no more ropes and bollards to indicate where to queue for check-in and all these things. The furniture is back in all the restaurants and barstools back at the bar and things like that,” he added.

The Irish Blue Book Association is a group of Irish country houses, manors, castles and restaurants. CEO Michelle Maguire said that last week left people really hopeful. They have received a steady flow of calls from people eager to finally book celebrations they had been forced to postpone.

“That 60th birthday party that was put on hold, or the 30th wedding anniversary, they’re the events that are going to happen now. People will finally get to celebrate. Basically, nobody's aged for the last two years, and we're expecting everyone to turn 50 now in the next six months,” she said.

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