OPEN FOR BUSINESS: HOTELS - ‘We’re delighted. It is just great to be welcoming people back’
Hotels, restaurants and their customers were in buoyant mood yesterday (Monday) as the reopening of the country continued.
Everyone was in celebratory mood, despite the many measures that had to be taken to ensure social distancing and safety.
The Darnley Lodge in Athboy was busy as customers returned for the first time in over three months.
“We are delighted. It is just great to be welcoming people back,” said Hazel Clarke who runs the hotel with her husband David Sheridan.
She said they were particularly grateful to the people of the Athboy area who were so loyal to them, during the lockdown.
“We got a lot of support for our take away service and we will continue with it for those who still don't want to come in.”
A lot of preparation has gone into ensuring the hotel is safe with social distancing measures, tables re-organised to give two metre distance and hand sanitizers provided.
“Out staff have undergone Covid-19 training. It was strange to see 40 staff in a function room that would normally cater for 300 people.
“It was great seeing all the staff again. It is like family.”
Helen Leddy of Cusack Hotels who run the Newgrange and Ardboyne in Navan and the Castle Arch in Trim said they were very excited about the reopening of all three.
“It has been a tough and scary time for everyone so the sense of anticipation from our guests and staff is palpable. Over the past two weeks we have been working strenuously to ensure we are fully compliant with all government and HSE guidelines.
“All three hotels have been professionally deep cleaned from top to bottom. Our staff have completed all the relevant return to work protocols from the HSE and we have implemented a list of measures to ensure our staff and guest safety.
“The furniture in all public areas, restaurants and bars have been repositioned to ensure social distancing and guest comfort, sneeze screens are in place at reception and at payment areas for our carvery.
“We have directional signage to allow social distancing between guests, customers and staff and there are hand sanitising stations on entrance, exit and throughout the hotels.”
She said all guidelines and new procedures are very important. “Controlling the spread of Covid-19 is our top priority. More importantly it is great to welcome back returning guests who have been waiting patiently for the hotels to reopen and of course to welcome new customers.”
The Headfort Hotel in Kells has had a major refurbishment during the lockdown.
“We took the time to rethink and re-imagine the business,” says Olivia Duff.
“The whole hotel has been repainted inside, including the bar, bedrooms and cafe.
“The Kelltic bar has a tribute wall with photos of Kells taken during the lockdown.
“We have incorporated the Vanilla Pod Restaurant and the Kelltic Bar into one interconnecting area to allow for social distancing and we have same menu throughout the hotel.
“We have two new brands – Headfort at Home, the take away service we began during lockdown, which will be continuing and The Headfort Bakery, selling baked goods by our pastry chef, Orlaith Murphy.
“Our staff have all received training and all the necessary safety measures are in place.
“Our accommodation packages involve outdoor activities such as visits to Causey Farm, Girley Bog, picnics at the Spire of Loyd and the ‘World History of Kells Tour.’”
The Headfort Arms outdoor Garden Kitchen will also be open all summer.
Patrick Curran of the Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim says they have a new outdoor seating area for food, afternoon tea and drinks and all procedures are in place to ensure the highest standards of safety throughout the hotel.
All of the hotels services have now resumed including the spa and all HSE guidelines are being complied with.
“We have a couple of small weddings after 13th August and some bigger events in September, but the limit for those weddings is still 100.
“Conference business has picked up too,” he said.
Cllr David Gilroy chairman of Boyne Valley Tourism said we are fortunate “to live in a region that literally is brimming with everything you could want, the best of food producers, the best of activities, the best of pubs, hotels, guest houses and restaurants.
“These businesses form a centre of our communities, employing local people, sourcing locally and spending locally. In these new and ever changing times, we the people of the Boyne Valley can help ourselves by ensuring that we take the time to explore our own region,” he said.